Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 27th Mar 2017 19:57 UTC
General Development

Modern computer science is dominated by men. But it hasn't always been this way.

A lot of computing pioneers - the people who programmed the first digital computers - were women. And for decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising.

What happened?

An older article from 2014 that - sadly - just refuses to become irrelevant.

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Comment by mramsey
by mramsey on Mon 27th Mar 2017 22:26 UTC
mramsey
Member since:
2012-05-28

I have an odd perspective on this question, as I'm African American, have been doing "deep" systems-level work (OS, compiler, network, and high performance graphics development) since 1973. I had a mother who was a "computer" (nice that I don't have to explain that any more) and a "computer technician" (what they then called programmers) during the 50s at MIT, a wife who is a programmer, and a daughter who is a sophomore majoring in CS.

When I started working back in '73, over half of the technical staff were women, most with degrees (often advanced) in mathematics, as standalone CS departments were still quite rare back then. Pay was poor by current standards (I was barely making over minimum wage to start), (white) men dominated marketing and sales, as that's where the money was.

Fast forward a decade to the mid-80s, and the proportion of women in technical positions was quite obviously dropping. It wasn't so much the presence of personal computers in homes that was the cause, the numbers were still tiny, few "grew up" with them by that point. The Sinclair ZX80 and Commodore 64 didn't come out until the 80s, and an Apple II with peripherals cost as much as a cheap new car. I learned to program in high school, but it was on a TTY connected to a timeshared minicomputer. Here's what I think caused the shift during the 80s:

- Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were by then celebrities and millionaires, computers had become hip, and seen as a new path to wealth beyond law, medicine, finance, and sales, all male dominated at that point.
- The emergence of Computer Science as a standalone field (and the notion that a CS degree was necessary to program), with (mostly male) professors often coming from EE backgrounds.
- The emergence of the hacker/nerd culture that was, from the beginning, not terribly female friendly.
- The slow decline of the mainframe and minicomputer industries on the US east coast, the rise of workstation and PC industries on the west coast, and the accompanying changes in corporate culture.

By the 90s, women had all but disappeared from technical positions in the computer field, it's only recently that the numbers have started to climb again. Those women who are working in the field, now, have to deal on a daily basis with characters like the author of the preceding comment (now removed, I believe). My daughter has a thick skin (and is well versed in C, Python, Java), otherwise I would have advised her to stay far away from the tech industry.

Reply Score: 10

RE: Comment by mramsey
by Thom_Holwerda on Mon 27th Mar 2017 23:21 UTC in reply to "Comment by mramsey"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

My daughter has a thick skin (and is well versed in C, Python, Java), otherwise I would have advised her to stay far away from the tech industry.


This is really the sad crux of the matter.

Even if you believe it doesn't matter if a field is all-male or all-female, by excluding women, you're still blocking possible geniuses from your field. Among all those women who aren't thick-skinned, or who don't come from a family supportive of their programming skills, there could be countless brilliant programmers who could be invaluable to the field.

An environment unfriendly to women isn't just sexist, it's also terrible on a financial and economical level. While balanced professions are fishing in a pond encompassing 100% of the workforce, you are artificially limiting yourself to just 50% of the workforce.

Sexism isn't just morally wrong - it's a terrible business practice. Tech companies unfriendly to women - which is effectively all of them, or at least all of the major ones - are run by complete idiots, because they are artificially stunting their own talent acquisition, and thereby their own growth potential. It boggles the mind that shareholders continue to accept the sexist state of affairs in tech.

Edited 2017-03-27 23:22 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by mramsey
by Alfman on Tue 28th Mar 2017 01:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by mramsey"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Thom Holwerda,

An environment unfriendly to women isn't just sexist, it's also terrible on a financial and economical level. While balanced professions are fishing in a pond encompassing 100% of the workforce, you are artificially limiting yourself to just 50% of the workforce.

Sexism isn't just morally wrong - it's a terrible business practice.


This makes the assumption that there is unmet demand that the "other 50%" could fill. But many highly skilled US workers are being laid off in favor of cheaper outsourcing firms. I've lost work to overseas companies even though I was much more qualified than they were. I don't know about elsewhere, but this is a very common trend I'm seeing a lot of.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/youre-fired/


This is by no means a justification to be sexist, however I don't see employers loosing any sleep over skilled workers given that many are laying off a bunch of skilled veterans anyways.


As a guy working in IT, I don't know why there aren't more women in this field. However I will note that the ratio seems pretty close to the number of women in IT at our university, so this in itself suggests that the low ratio might not be caused by employers but something earlier like university or grade school, maybe even environmental factors at home.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by mramsey
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 02:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by mramsey"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

As a guy working in IT, I don't know why there aren't more women in this field.


It's really very simple. Most women have little interest in technical careers. Those women who like science are far more likely to choose a people focused role such as medicine. These are biological not environmental factors.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by ianm on Tue 28th Mar 2017 03:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
ianm Member since:
2010-08-16

It's really very simple. Most women have little interest in technical careers. Those women who like science are far more likely to choose a people focused role such as medicine. These are biological not environmental factors.


This is complete nonsense. There is exactly zero evidence that there is any meaningful structural difference in women's brains that cause them to make different choices. Women have a defined preference for avoiding bigots and dimwits, and technical fields seem to attract them.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 07:56 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13


There is exactly zero evidence that there is any meaningful structural difference in women's brains that cause them to make different choices.


A recent meta-analysis (the highest form of evidence in medicine) totally disagrees:

Males and females differ in specific brain structures.

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/males-and-females-differ-in-spec...

"The results highlight an asymmetric effect of sex on the developing brain. Amber Ruigrok, who carried out the study as part of her PhD, said: “For the first time we can look across the vast literature and confirm that brain size and structure are different in males and females. We should no longer ignore sex in neuroscience research, especially when investigating psychiatric conditions that are more prevalent in either males or females.”

http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/males-and-females-differ-in-spec...


Women have a defined preference for avoiding bigots and dimwits, and technical fields seem to attract them.


Women have a strong preference for careers involving communication and social skills. Computer science and mathematics require negigible social skills.

That my friend is why so few women work in the tech industry.

Reply Score: 4

RE[6]: Comment by mramsey
by ianm on Tue 28th Mar 2017 12:04 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by mramsey"
ianm Member since:
2010-08-16



That my friend is why so few women work in the tech industry.


http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/11/brains-men-and-women-aren-t-...

Actually, that nonsense has been debunked. There are just a few neanderthals who won't give it up. The minor structural differences in are overwhelmed by the broad range of brain structures within each sex, so that there are plenty of women with more "male barins" and all kinds of men with more "female brains".

Differences in brain structures allows for bigoted jerks to dismiss the effect of their behaviour in driving women out of workplaces where they dominate.

I'm not really your friend...

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by Alfman on Tue 28th Mar 2017 08:08 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ianm,

This is complete nonsense. There is exactly zero evidence that there is any meaningful structural difference in women's brains that cause them to make different choices. Women have a defined preference for avoiding bigots and dimwits, and technical fields seem to attract them.


I know unclefester's point comes across as very crude and insensitive, but you just used a stereotype as well. You'll find jerks in every profession and I don't see evidence that techs are any worse than other occupations. Factoring in my own experiences I find it implausible to chalk it up entirely to discrimination, it just doesn't add up. So I'm not really convinced that discrimination is the whole story.


Here's one theory: we've never been high on the social order, many of us are introverted. It's even possible that individuals with mildly autistic attributes will disproportionately pursue computers on account of their social deficiencies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_spectrum
Features of these disorders include: social deficits, communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues, and in some cases, cognitive delays.


Females are driven away by these traits and meanwhile they're less likely to have autistic tendencies themselves:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_autism
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are currently more commonly diagnosed in males, with a ratio of about 1 female for every 4 males diagnosed.[1] Currently, one in every 189 females and one in 42 males is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

According to a female protective effect hypothesis more extreme genetic mutations are required for a girl to develop autism than for a boy. In 2012, Harvard researchers published findings suggesting that, on average, more genetic and environmental risk factors are required for girls to develop autism, compared to boys. The researchers analyzed DNA samples of nearly 800 families affected by autism and nearly 16,000 individuals with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders. They looked for various types of gene mutations. Overall, they found that females diagnosed with autism or another neurodevelopmental disorder had a greater number of harmful mutations throughout the genome than did males with the same disorders.



I've often wondered why more women don't seem interested, even at computer clubs outside of work and school that aren't the least bit discriminating. This is the first time I've come up with a theory that could explain it through a more deeply rooted gender difference. Maybe we can have an interesting discussion debating it's merits ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by mramsey
by henderson101 on Tue 28th Mar 2017 09:20 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by mramsey"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Having worked in the IT industry for 20 years, and having worked with a lot of Women and Men, I think the Autism argument has to be taken in to account. I meet a lot more socially inept people in this industry. The people with social skills rise quickly and move out of daily programming (they become evangelists, managers, architects, consultants - you know, customer facing.) The rest of the people - the code monkeys, the career programmers, are pretty much socially stunted. There are two types of people that remain in the lower ranks - nice social (or partially social) people with no drive to succeed, people on the Autistic spectrum. End of story.

The thing is, Autism is very different in Women and Men. Autism tends to be more extreme in males - and by that I'm not talking about the type of Autism where kids can't function in real life, I'm more talking about Aspergers and PDA** and similar conditions. Women and girls often go undiagnosed because their symptoms are less pronounced. It's only the very extremes of ASD in Women that often get picked up on. On the other hand, a very mildly Autistic male will exhibit very noticeable behaviour patterns. They're the odd kid, the kid in to weird stuff, the kid who wants to sit in a dark room with a computer all night, play games 24x7, sleeps badly, wakes late, feels alienated from regular kids. They have trouble socialising. They don't feel like they belong. Classic Geek. I've seen enough of these types of people to see that a lot of people in IT are pretty much on the AS. It's my opinion, obviously, so don't shoot me.

Qualification: nothing official. But I have an Autistic step son and had an Autistic cousin that I grew up with, so I'm really very experienced in dealing with this stuff. Both were on the AS leaning towards Asperger's, step son has PDA.

It's tough. Some kids with Autism are very broken, even when they are not totally inwardly looking. Not all kids with Autism are genius Savants.

**Pathological Demand Avoidance - a condition I think many don't recognise. But look at the symptoms and you'll know at least one person with this condition. It's often incorrectly assumed to be stupidity or laziness, but it's really just one of the extremes of Autistic Spectrum disorder.

Reply Score: 4

RE[7]: Comment by mramsey
by adkilla on Tue 28th Mar 2017 15:03 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by mramsey"
adkilla Member since:
2005-07-07

I can relate to some of your points as I am on the spectrum myself. I won't refer to people with ASD as broken though, they are just wired differently. Most of the time it is sensory, they feel things and see things differently. I was good with computers at a very early age, learned to code C++ by 15, knew C very well by 12. But have forgotten some of the stuff I've learned with age catching up. People would often refer to me as an odd ball. I wouldn't swing my hands while walking, had phonic tics and could only talk about computers all day. This went on well into college. I did not know I was on the spectrum till I met kids with ASD while helping out a friend. Had myself evaluated and then learned to deal with behavior better.
People with ASD tend to avoid social situations because it causes lots of anxiety and that causes them to weird out. I have a friend with tourettes and we work well together, because I understand his condition and am not weirded out by it. He has a better time keeping it under control with me because there is reduced anxiety.
Sadly, people are often ignorant, insensitive and react very negatively. It'll take a lot more education and understanding to help or accept people with ASD. If we could accept LGBTs, I believe this is an achievable goal. Then maybe they do not have to disappear into modern 'catacombs' and be ignored.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Comment by mramsey
by ianm on Tue 28th Mar 2017 22:57 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by mramsey"
ianm Member since:
2010-08-16

The variation in normal brains completely outstrips the differences between genders. There is no discussion on the merits that seeks to excuse the completely awful culture in IT / computer science. My sister has a Ph.D. and had been tenured for the last ten years teaching in a CS department and her experience in industry before she went into teaching and after, when she moved to academia has been consistent. It's not about brain differences... she just works with a bunch of assholes.

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Comment by mramsey
by Alfman on Wed 29th Mar 2017 03:52 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Comment by mramsey"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ianm,

There is no discussion on the merits that seeks to excuse the completely awful culture in IT / computer science. My sister has a Ph.D. and had been tenured for the last ten years teaching in a CS department and her experience in industry before she went into teaching and after, when she moved to academia has been consistent. It's not about brain differences... she just works with a bunch of assholes.


I've met some of them myself, our CS department head was an asshole around me and other students, yet I'm a male! I'm not dismissing it as acceptable, but to be sexist males and females would need to be treated differently. I'm going to push back on your assertions that the tech sector is disproportionately filled with bigots and assholes because in general that's just not true. If your sister really does work with a bunch of assholes, then she needs to find a better place, that's not the norm.

We need to be absolutely clear on something: we often do work in a stressful anti-social environment and that's something you should expect going in. A people person is probably not going to like it much regardless of gender. I think it's completely unfair to the majority of IT workers for you to state that women aren't welcome when by and large most of us would be happy to work with more of them.

I really do think the disparity starts at a much younger age and carries through college and then eventually to the workforce.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by grat on Tue 28th Mar 2017 19:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
grat Member since:
2006-02-02

This is complete nonsense. There is exactly zero evidence that there is any meaningful structural difference in women's brains that cause them to make different choices. Women have a defined preference for avoiding bigots and dimwits, and technical fields seem to attract them.


Now, if I said women weren't in CS jobs because men have a preference for avoiding bimbos and... "witches", we'll say, for the sake of this argument, that would be considered sexist, and I'd be severely castigated.

Please don't use sexist arguments when arguing against sexist behavior.

As for the idea that there are no physiological or biological differences between men and women, that's just sad.

Pretending there's no difference between the sexes (or cultures, for that matter) is just as deranged as holding those differences against someone.

We should be celebrating diversity, not stereotyping it, judging it or discriminating against it.

As for sexism preventing women from entering computer science, I suspect it's cultural values being imposed on kids before they get to college-- As a member of that "hacker / nerd" culture in the 1980's, it was always refreshing to meet a woman who could talk about algorithms, programming and computer technology without her eyes glazing over.

Or, to put it simply, women aren't terribly interested in computers as a rule.

Social perception of "geeks" and "nerds" is fueled by Hollywood and industry stereotypes (all gamers are guys who live in their parent's basement and have no social skills... ring any bells?).

Those stereotypes are being perpetuated by both sides, and until they go away, there's going to continue to be a bias against women entering STEM fields.

Don't tolerate a stereotype-- mock it, disprove it, demonstrate how small minded they are-- But don't use your own to replace them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by Wondercool on Tue 28th Mar 2017 12:07 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
Wondercool Member since:
2005-07-08

@Unclefester

Why was it 50-50 though in the 70's? What caused the decline? Your assertion that women and men have different brains can't be an explanation as before the 90's women *did* participate in IT a lot more than now. Unless you think that womens and/or mens brains have changed only in the last 30 years?

@mramsey


Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were by then celebrities and millionaires, computers had become hip, and seen as a new path to wealth beyond law, medicine, finance, and sales, all male dominated at that point.
- The emergence of Computer Science as a standalone field (and the notion that a CS degree was necessary to program), with (mostly male) professors often coming from EE backgrounds.
- The emergence of the hacker/nerd culture that was, from the beginning, not terribly female friendly.
- The slow decline of the mainframe and minicomputer industries on the US east coast, the rise of workstation and PC industries on the west coast, and the accompanying changes in corporate culture.


Except for the emergence of hacker culture, I don't see why this would lead to a decline in women programmers. Can you elaborate a bit more? Especially , what does Jobs and Gates wealth and status to do with a decline? Wouldn't it be an incentive to join the IT industry for anyone?

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by Alfman on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:11 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Wondercool,

Why was it 50-50 though in the 70's? What caused the decline? Your assertion that women and men have different brains can't be an explanation as before the 90's women *did* participate in IT a lot more than now. Unless you think that womens and/or mens brains have changed only in the last 30 years?


Given that this predates my own experience, I have an honest question: do we have any evidence that men and women were 50/50 in the same roles? It seems quite possible that while they were working in the same industry, their roles might have been just as sexist as today, doing punch cards is roughly equivalent to modern secretaries doing data entry.

A picture says a thousand words:
http://www.officemuseum.com/1942%20Key-Punching%20Checks~*~...


So I don't know if there is evidence to suggest that there was a significant "decline" in role ratios, perhaps it was instead a decline in female dominated roles. Thoughts?

Edited 2017-03-28 14:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Comment by mramsey
by Wondercool on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Comment by mramsey"
Wondercool Member since:
2005-07-08

Looking at some more statistics, you might have hit something.

This link shows the number of bachelor degrees since the 70s (in computer science)

https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_349.asp

It looks like early 70s women participation was low, rising to it's highest in middle of the 80s and slowly declining again. Of course programmers != computer science degrees but surely there is a relationship?

I got my info (and they state a few more reasons why women participation dwindled) from

www.computerscience.org/resources/women-in-computer-science/

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by mramsey
by David on Tue 28th Mar 2017 01:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by mramsey"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

At my last startup, we hired a very skilled and experienced female CalTech alum as VP of Engineering. In San Francisco, where competition for talent was fierce, she put the word out to her alumni network, and we ended up with a great, 60% female engineering team. Once talented female programmers heard there was a new startup that wouldn't be a shitty place to work for a woman, they stepped right up. So yes, by fostering a hostile environment, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: Comment by mramsey
by Alfman on Tue 28th Mar 2017 02:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by mramsey"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

David,

At my last startup, we hired a very skilled and experienced female CalTech alum as VP of Engineering. In San Francisco, where competition for talent was fierce, she put the word out to her alumni network, and we ended up with a great, 60% female engineering team. Once talented female programmers heard there was a new startup that wouldn't be a shitty place to work for a woman, they stepped right up.



I've only worked in stereotypical IT jobs: boring, monotonous, cold, musty, dim cubical farms with no windows, not very sociable. I've got a strong drive for CS and even I'm tired of my physical surroundings, it's not glamorous at all. It may be sexist even to say this but I would understand why a female wouldn't want to work in that sort of environment, even if they like CS itself. I'd be very curious how the presence of more women has changed the work environment. I guess they may have better working conditions in california and around the valley.


So yes, by fostering a hostile environment, you're shooting yourself in the foot.


If it were completely true, then xenophobia and racial discrimination would disappear under capitalism. Unfortunately I don't think it works that way, by refusing the hire muslims (for example), that hurts the muslim community far more than it hurts the employer. It sucks, but discrimination isn't necessarily hurting the ones responsible.

Edited 2017-03-28 03:07 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by David on Tue 28th Mar 2017 04:15 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

If it were completely true, then xenophobia and racial discrimination would disappear under capitalism. Unfortunately I don't think it works that way, by refusing the hire muslims (for example), that hurts the muslim community far more than it hurts the employer. It sucks, but discrimination isn't necessarily hurting the ones responsible.


I don't disagree with your conclusion, but I think that part of the problem is that there's no such thing as pure capitalism. No human being acts in a completely rational way, and people neither have access to, nor would they be receptive of, the information that would guide them to make a pure, economically self-interested decision.

Our decisions are always based on flawed intuition, prejudice, fear, and plenty of other messy emotions. We're instinctively tribal, and we feel comfortable around people who are like us. So whether a more diverse workforce would be better for the firm is largely irrelevant.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 08:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

If it were completely true, then xenophobia and racial discrimination would disappear under capitalism. Unfortunately I don't think it works that way, by refusing the hire muslims (for example), that hurts the muslim community far more than it hurts the employer. It sucks, but discrimination isn't necessarily hurting the ones responsible.


Xenophobia, racial discrimination and blatant sexism don't appear to have hurt the Japanese and South Korean economies too much.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by David on Tue 28th Mar 2017 16:33 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

On the contrary, economists and political leaders in Japan have recognized for a long time that relatively low participation of women in the workforce has been a drag on their economy, and they've been trying to address that: http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/12/23/a-surge-in-womens-employment-is...

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by dsmogor on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

I've only worked in stereotypical IT jobs: boring, monotonous, cold, musty, dim cubical farms with no windows, not very sociable. I've got a strong drive for CS and even I'm tired of my physical surroundings, it's not glamorous at all. It may be sexist even to say this but I would understand why a female wouldn't want to work in that sort of environment, even if they like CS itself.


Well there's one factor that might trump all above mentioned in many cases and it is the fact that IT is one of the surest paths to financial independence.
Compared to many underpaid, unrewarding jobs and roles many women are stuck in the conditions you mentioned aren't really that bad.

And you're right, given the proper critical mass of women participants in the field (including both decisive and plain engineering roles) they would ultimately start changing the work environment to make it more bearable for themselves.
And in fact that change might not be very comfortable for existing workforce as tolerance for poor social skills (for better or worse) would definitely diminish.

Edited 2017-03-28 14:01 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by mramsey
by dsmogor on Tue 28th Mar 2017 16:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by mramsey"
dsmogor Member since:
2005-09-01

That's very interesting. I'm curious how male employees with impaired social skill find themselves in a female dominated work environments.
Or you steer clear of such a workforce?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by mramsey
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 01:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by mramsey"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13


Sexism isn't just morally wrong - it's a terrible business practice. Tech companies unfriendly to women - which is effectively all of them, or at least all of the major ones - are run by complete idiots, because they are artificially stunting their own talent acquisition, and thereby their own growth potential. It boggles the mind that shareholders continue to accept the sexist state of affairs in tech.



What a load of BS.

Men and women are fundamentally different (despite the brainwashing you have undergone). Men are typically attracted to technical roles and women are typically attracted to people focused careers.

A STEM focused female is far more likely to be interested in a career in medicine or dentistry than software or engineering.

Shareholders are only interested in the bottom line. They don't give a f*ck about about diversity.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by mramsey
by ianm on Tue 28th Mar 2017 04:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by mramsey"
ianm Member since:
2010-08-16



What a load of BS.

Men and women are fundamentally different (despite the brainwashing you have undergone). Men are typically attracted to technical roles and women are typically attracted to people focused careers.

A STEM focused female is far more likely to be interested in a career in medicine or dentistry than software or engineering.

Shareholders are only interested in the bottom line. They don't give a f*ck about about diversity.


This is unsubstantiated nonsense. Women are motivated to avoid falling with people who promote bigoted nonsense like this, and there is apparently an oversupply of this type of person in IT workplaces. This opinion has no foundation in valid science; it's just sexist BS.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 08:21 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

See my above post regarding the Cambridge meta-analysis. showing that male and female brains are structurally different.
http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/males-and-females-differ-in-spec...

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by ianm on Tue 28th Mar 2017 21:13 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
ianm Member since:
2010-08-16

See my above post that debunks your bigoted nonsense.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by TheNorseWind on Tue 28th Mar 2017 19:56 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
TheNorseWind Member since:
2015-07-21

"This is unsubstantiated nonsense. Women are motivated to avoid falling with people who promote bigoted nonsense like this, and there is apparently an oversupply of this type of person in IT workplaces. This opinion has no foundation in valid science; it's just sexist BS."

Given that you can develop on your own, and ask questions on forums without ever giving your gender, why should they have to fall in with anybody at all?

I admit that it's harder to go solo as an OS or business suite developer, so let's use web development as a control: A List Apart claims that over 80% of web developers were male as of 2009. That's a field that can be learned independently, and in which many of the customers will be female.

Yet it's still overwhelmingly male. Why?

Edited 2017-03-28 19:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by ianm on Fri 31st Mar 2017 04:05 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
ianm Member since:
2010-08-16

The kind of shitty behaviour that drives women away from tech begins in grade school and just gets worse. I taught tech in high school and grade school for ten years, and had lots of success getting young women involved. It was a constant struggle to overcome cultural attitudes, but it had nothing to do with aptitude or interest.

If you systematically treat people like garbage, and act like a lot of the obnoxious neckbeards that seem to troll around here, you will drive them away.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by mramsey
by David on Tue 28th Mar 2017 04:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by mramsey"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

Men and women are fundamentally different (despite the brainwashing you have undergone). Men are typically attracted to technical roles and women are typically attracted to people focused careers.

A STEM focused female is far more likely to be interested in a career in medicine or dentistry than software or engineering.

Shareholders are only interested in the bottom line. They don't give a f*ck about about diversity.


I agree with you 100% that, due to hormones and other physiological factors, men and women are different, and we do ourselves a disservice by trying to dodge that fact.

However, I think your assertion about a predilection for technology is pretty shaky. People used to say that a woman could never be a doctor, but it's clear now that if anything women have more medical aptitude than men, if current medical school enrollment is an indicator. All it took was a change in the culture. And in fact, when it comes to computer science, all it took was a change in the culture for it to transform from female-dominated to male-dominated in the 1960s.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by mramsey
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 10:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by mramsey"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13


However, I think your assertion about a predilection for technology is pretty shaky. People used to say that a woman could never be a doctor, but it's clear now that if anything women have more medical aptitude than men, if current medical school enrolment is an indicator. All it took was a change in the culture. And in fact, when it comes to computer science, all it took was a change in the culture for it to transform from female-dominated to male-dominated in the 1960s.


The great historian Hugh Trevor-Roper once said "The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there." Unfortunately most modern writers make bold claims about past discrimination without understanding the historical context.

Medicine is a highly skilled trade with a strong emphasis on people skills. The scientific component of medicine is relatively superficial and mostly learned by rote.

Medical school were admitting women by the mid-1800s. By the 1920s there were few institutional barriers to women entering medicine. The real problem was that a large percentage of females didn't complete their degrees or quit soon after graduation to start a family. This was a huge burden on the community. Meanwhile their male colleagues often worked very long hours for another 40-50 years. In the 1960s the invention of the contraceptive pill (by a female) allowed women to plan their family and pursue a career.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by mramsey
by David on Tue 28th Mar 2017 16:38 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by mramsey"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

You're probably right. Women should focus their energies on fields where interacting with people is paramount. Let's see:

CEOs
Enterprise Sales
Marketing
Business development

Let's start setting up some structural and cultural barriers right away to drive men away from these career paths, since they're obviously ill-suited to them. Let's help men focus on what they're physically and mentally best suited for: physical labor and sciencey stuff, especially if it involves sitting in dark rooms and typing.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by mramsey
by henderson101 on Tue 28th Mar 2017 09:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by mramsey"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

Sexism isn't just morally wrong - it's a terrible business practice. Tech companies unfriendly to women - which is effectively all of them, or at least all of the major ones - are run by complete idiots, because they are artificially stunting their own talent acquisition, and thereby their own growth potential. It boggles the mind that shareholders continue to accept the sexist state of affairs in tech.


Thom, this is the best thing you've written in a while. You are pure comedy genius.

In reality, I've never worked for an employer that wouldn't hire a woman. I've worked for two employers that hired Transexuals for example. I mean, I don't know what you really know about the IT industry, nor what your qualifications to have an opinion are. It seems you read the news about Uber, et al, and believe that equates to all companies. That it just sad. My partner is a programmer and came to be a programmer via being a web designer - because she loves this kind of thing. I work with women on a daily basis. Should I tell the other female programmers I work with that you're sure they don't exist, or that they are not really in the great jobs they hold down because Thom doesn't believe that women get breaks in the IT industry? Maybe I should also tell the Senior developer I know that is making in close to £100K p/a that she should give up, because she'll never succeed in this male dominated industry.

I don't tell you how to do your translation business, so why do you think you understand the whole of the IT industry? Seriously... you don't.

Fact is - as Unclefester (I think) states elsewhere, women and men are wired up differently. My girls (yes, I have 3 daughters) are all very much in to social interaction related industries or art/performance, my boys (2 of them) are both very much oriented towards the IT industry. This isn't social engineering. They just found their own ways. I gave the 3 that are my kids (rather than 2 that are step kids) no push in any direction. My eldest daughter wants to be an artist, my middle wants to be a Pharmacist, my youngest is too young to really have a strong career path yet, but loves performing. No programmers. Why? It just does not interest them. They find it boring.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by mramsey
by Carewolf on Tue 28th Mar 2017 21:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by mramsey"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

But the CS environment isn't the one being unfriendly to women, it is the surrounding culture. The girls in CS always have problems with family and friends not understanding why they want to work with computer, while none talk about issues with sexism in the field, just in the mainstream culture.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by mramsey
by David on Tue 28th Mar 2017 02:03 UTC in reply to "Comment by mramsey"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

There's an interesting podcast on this topic. The hypothesis is that the introduction of the personal computer was the catalyst that pushed women out of computer science programs because early PCs were marketed as toys for boys. So boys arrived at college with experience (and their nascent gamer bro/BBS nerd culture) and women were disadvantaged and repelled.

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2016/07/22/487069271/episode-576-...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by mramsey
by OldProgrammer on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:29 UTC in reply to "Comment by mramsey"
OldProgrammer Member since:
2015-11-28

Somewhat off-topic, but did your mother write down her stories of being in the business, or have you written down what you recall of those? A lot of the lore is being lost, unfortunately.

My dad started in the 1950s also, and I convinced him to write down some of what he did through his career.

Reply Score: 1

OldProgrammer
Member since:
2015-11-28

"Computer Science" isn't the same thing as "coding", it never has been.

My wife has been programming (and doing other related things in the field) for almost 40 years, her degree is in math.

Reply Score: 6

bannor99 Member since:
2005-09-15

"Computer Science" isn't the same thing as "coding", it never has been.

My wife has been programming (and doing other related things in the field) for almost 40 years, her degree is in math.


Not true, not everywhere. When a couple of my friends were pursuing CS degrees in the mid-80s at the same university, the undergrad program was broken into 3 (or 4) options.
One chose Theoretical Comp Sci, another chose Software&Systems. Can't recall what the other options were. Regardless of the specialization, everyone had at least one course in C, Pascal & Assembler

Reply Score: 2

Newspeak
by unclefester on Tue 28th Mar 2017 01:33 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

'Coders' (in the original context) were responsible for entering code (punchcards or typing) into mainframes. They didn't write software.

Once PCs were introduced the role of 'coders' largely disaperared

Edited 2017-03-28 01:37 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Newspeak
by feamatar on Tue 28th Mar 2017 10:26 UTC in reply to "Newspeak"
feamatar Member since:
2014-02-25

Which is of course not true.

ENIAC, for example, had only the input on punchcards and the computer had to be set up for each individual program separately. Or look at UNIVAC which also did not employ punch cards and one of its programmer's was the legendary Grace Hopper. And let's not talk about analogue computers, because computing did not start in the 1960s.

Reply Score: 1

Whatever
by OpenGLCoder on Tue 28th Mar 2017 04:04 UTC
OpenGLCoder
Member since:
2006-10-17

My wife just laughed and said that this article was the stupidest thing ever. I laughed along with her. If you want more women in CS, by all means go out there and try to convince more of them that it's a good choice in life to sit in front of a keyboard for 12-hours a day for the next 40 years in isolation while your back breaks down, you lose all youth and muscle tone, and you work free overtime reading osnews, arstechnica, stackoverflow, anandtech, slashdot, and codinghorror in order to keep your industry knowledge current. I'm thinking that women avoid CS because they're smarter than us men...

In all honesty, I love programming. I've been doing it almost non-stop for the past 20 years (Since I was 14), and still can't believe people pay me to do this for a living.

Edited 2017-03-28 04:11 UTC

Reply Score: 1

From an employer stand point
by gilboa on Tue 28th Mar 2017 08:01 UTC
gilboa
Member since:
2005-07-06

As an employer, I would really like to have more women in CS, as it'll give me more options to choose from.
More-ever, in the last twenty years or so, I've had the honor to manage and be managed by amazing wome.

That said, more-or-less every woman we ever hired came with a number of drawbacks that make them 'less' attractive compared to their men counterparts.
A. They work less hours regardless of their marital status.
B. In many cases they tend to be less competitive and less focused when it comes to pushing themselves and their technical skills forward.
C. Women usually opt for big(ger) companies, as they, unlike men, tend to require social interaction with 'people' and prefer not be locked in a small men-dominated companies.

In my experience item C is the biggest hurdle. While men will usually select the company that will advance them the most, either technically or financially, women will usually select the most convenient / socially friendly company. In time, this will create a financial and technical gaps.
... And that's before we start talking about the price of raising a family (that usually falls on the wife's shoulders).

- Gilboa

Edited 2017-03-28 08:04 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: From an employer stand point
by torp on Tue 28th Mar 2017 13:06 UTC in reply to "From an employer stand point"
torp Member since:
2010-08-10

A. They work less hours regardless of their marital status.


So men are suckers who do unpaid overtime, and women are smarter than that?

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: From an employer stand point
by gilboa on Thu 30th Mar 2017 09:00 UTC in reply to "RE: From an employer stand point"
gilboa Member since:
2005-07-06

Should I care as an employer?

- Gilboa

Reply Score: 2

Baby boom
by Adurbe on Tue 28th Mar 2017 10:01 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

What the article fails to consider is the changes in society around the time.

I am better versed in the UK so will speak from that angle. During WW2 so many Men were sent to fight in the war women fulfilled traditional male roles in factories and in the new engineering technologies.
As a result you ended up with a female workforce who were highly skill and experienced. (bit of trivia: Blonde bombshell comes

Even when the men returned, many women were able to continue in their previously male dominated professions (in many cases as equals). But with returning soldiers, there was a baby boom! Society was ready and accepting for women in factories, until they had children.. Effectively it stopped the career for many and their roles became male dominated once more. Losing the female presence in the workforce which is still visible today.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by ins0mniac
by ins0mniac on Tue 28th Mar 2017 13:22 UTC
ins0mniac
Member since:
2008-10-01

Back in high school, that was in the early '90s, I attended the national CS high school competition twice. Out of the 200 odd competitors there were about 5 girls.
It's hard to tell what were all the factors that led to this imbalance, but I suspect that the social ones were the most important: both family and schools were pushing girls towards humanities and boys towards math. Of course back then CS was still an outlier in Romania. I was being pushed to put more effort into real subjects like math and physics, not waste my time "playing" with computers. Yeah, fat chance. But in a orthodox misogynistic society like the romanian one where girls are taught early on that they have to obey their fathers and then their husbands, most of them wouldn't even have the chance to try CS.
Now things have changed, CS is not an outlier anymore, there's money to be made so parents are not steering away girls from CS as much as they used to, but I still find it harder to find female programmers. We're a small company, but other than software development and one guy in content we are an all women company ;)

Reply Score: 1

That explains a lot.
by TheNorseWind on Tue 28th Mar 2017 14:13 UTC
TheNorseWind
Member since:
2015-07-21

"In the '70s, that never would have happened: Professors in intro classes assumed their students came in with no experience. But by the '80s, that had changed."

When parents want their kids to master a foreign language, they start challenging them at a young age. Concordia Language Villages even has pre-kindergarten programs. They attract people from all over the US, and probably farther. Chelsea Clinton went there as a kid in the '90s.

Why take computer science less seriously?

Reply Score: 1

Wouldn't promote, to my kid girl.
by dionicio on Tue 28th Mar 2017 15:05 UTC
dionicio
Member since:
2006-07-12

Very unhealthy, unforgiving & badly retributed. Also, the career has gained -on his own- bad fame. Nothing to do with gender, that wouldn't be a problem for her.

Reply Score: 2

TheNorseWind Member since:
2015-07-21

Very unhealthy, unforgiving & badly retributed.


Are you saying that all of the public schools teaching foreign languages to kids under 12 are hurting them? The most ardent supporters of those programs in the US are generally female.

Reply Score: 1

dionicio Member since:
2006-07-12

Planar Ass; So we are called. At Her High School. No Additional Comments.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by smashIt
by smashIt on Thu 30th Mar 2017 20:17 UTC
smashIt
Member since:
2005-07-06

"I remember this one time I asked a question and the professor stopped and looked at me and said, 'You should know that by now,' " she recalls. "And I thought 'I am never going to excel.' "


the funny part is: thats exactly the answer I got from my math-professor at university.

there were only 2 differences:
1.) I'm a white man
2.) I grabed a book and found the answer myself

Reply Score: 2