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Education Programming

Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment 608

theodp writes After an NPR podcast fingered the marketing of computers to boys as the culprit behind the declining percentages of women in undergraduate CS curricula since 1984 (a theory seconded by Smithsonian mag), some are concluding that NPR got the wrong guy. Calling 'When Women Stopped Coding' quite engaging, but long on Political Correctness and short on real evidence, UC Davis CS Prof Norm Matloff concedes a sexist element, but largely ascribes the gender lopsidedness to economics. "That women are more practical than men, and that the well-publicized drastic swings in the CS labor market are offputting to women more than men," writes Matloff, and "was confirmed by a 2008 survey in the Communications of the ACM" (related charts of U.S. unemployment rates and Federal R&D spending in the '80s). Looking at the raw numbers of female CS grads instead of percentages, suggests there wasn't a sudden and unexpected disappearance of a generation of women coders, but rather a dilution in their percentages as women's growth in undergrad CS ranks was far outpaced by men, including a boom around the time of the dot-com boom/bust.
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Solving the Mystery of Declining Female CS Enrollment

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2014 @08:31PM (#48237139)

    ... more about systems than people and women are more interested in people than systems.

    • by rhune ( 3890977 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @08:36PM (#48237177)
      You must find putting everyone in your boxes pretty easy.
      • by Jawnn ( 445279 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @08:51PM (#48237253)

        You must find putting everyone in your boxes pretty easy.

        You must find confusing valid observation of a trend with something else pretty easy.

      • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @08:52PM (#48237257)

        When you are looking for why a segment of the population is or isn't doing something, working out generalised patterns between members of the group should be the first thing you should do.

        There is an exception to every pattern, but means little when answering questions of percentages. If you are the exception, then maintain that it doesn't apply to you and move on.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:45PM (#48237743)

          When you are looking for why a segment of the population is or isn't doing something, working out generalised patterns between members of the group should be the first thing you should do.

          The problem comes when people confuse cause and effect.

          The implicit assumption here is that women are less "curious" about systems than men because they are biologically predetermined to be that way, rather than they have been socially conditioned to be that way. So far there is very little evidence for the former, but good evidence for the later. [livescience.com]

          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @09:27AM (#48239717)

            The problem is when people confuse group averages with universal, individually applicable facts. Women choose CS programs less often than men do. That could be because something in females makes them less attracted to CS, or something in typical female upbringing does. A followup question is whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. The author argues that women who avoid CS are actually making a good career decision. Either way, it doesn't say anything about the abilities or interests of any particular person.

          • by Tyr07 ( 2300912 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @09:37AM (#48239815) Homepage

            You're right, it does come when people confuse cause and effect.

            Equal opportunity does not mean equal results.

          • I managed to track down more information on that paper. It had some very interesting results. The non-traditional gender role group outperformed both males and females from the traditional gender role group (The men still outperformed but just within the margin of error). It doesn't have anything to do with curiosity though. They offered a quarter of a day's wage to put 4 puzzle pieces together which is a pretty high incentive I'd say.

            Likewise it is a pretty large jump to form a conclusion that spatial abi

          • A single study is "good evidence" because it finds interesting correlations beyond the dozens if not hundreds of studies that find gender differences in spatial ability, which you call "very little evidence". As if the "spatial ability" measured is the same as being "'curious' about systems".

            Who is actually fishing for data to fit the narrative here?

      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:03PM (#48237327)

        Well, unfortunately, these boxes happen to describe reality. We had 8/250 women in CS after the first 2 years and as it turns out, they had all pretty non-standard reasons to be in the field. One had a male twin (typically causing more testosterone-influenced behavior), one had a father that was an engineer and wanted a son but taught his daughter instead, and so on. Really, the reason there are significantly less women in CS is that significantly less women want to be in CS and the reasons seem to be all the traditional ones.

        • by Stardner ( 3660081 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:52PM (#48237771)

          I have a male twin and was taught by my father, who was an engineer. From my experience, I have come to the same conclusion.

          People are heavily influenced by gender. For many women, sticking too closely to gender norms during developmental years will shape her into the kind of person that is unlikely to develop an interest in CS. It's the same reason you see more women (or gay men) than straight men becoming stylists.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kaladorn ( 514293 )

            Those gender norms are really societal constructions. When women get bombarded by subtle messages every day growing up about what will make them happy and what are presumed to be appropriate values, concerns, toys, goals, etc. then we can hardly expect anything else.

            Gender stereotyping is a massive aspect of where women end up going. Same with boys.

            Those who aren't comfortable with non-stereotypical gender roles like to argue this is nature, but it isn't (at least 95%), it is nurture (education and advertis

            • by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:23AM (#48239147)
              Crap. People who say this don't have kids. No matter what you try and railroad your kids into they'll eventually find their own path.
              • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

                No matter what you try and railroad your kids into they'll eventually find their own path.

                The vast amount of media and advertising and social pressure they are bombarded with is far more influential than you are.

                You also have to remember that children think differently. If a toy shop has a girl's section they don't question what makes the toys in it girl's toys or if they would prefer the toys from the boy's section. Same with advertising. If dolls are only ever shown being played with by girls then young boys will assume that is just how the world is and do the things that they see other boys (

    • by unixisc ( 2429386 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @08:49PM (#48237233)
      Mod parent up (just exhausted all my mod points). I know a lot of people won't like this, but it's true. Not that there's anything wrong w/ either, but it's just that it then translates into ground facts, such as women are more interested in nursing than men are, while men are more interested in cars, planes, computers and all other things (not people) that one can think of.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:04PM (#48237329)

        The problem is not whether or not it what the GP said may be true for the group as a whole. The problem is that these stereotypes are applied to everyone in the group regardless of whether they fit it or not. Thus, countless women who do not fit this gender stereotype are intentionally being pushed out of a field they could excel in because "only boys do that". People should be encouraged to explore things regardless of whether that field fits into these mostly dated gender stereotypes.

        • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @09:59AM (#48239991)
          My, but aren't you the soft bigot, thinking that women are so shallow that "only boys do that" will convince them that they shouldn't. Whatever drove you to conclude that women are that thoughtless and easily persuaded? That they didn't have minds of their own and buckled to non-peer and peer pressure so easily? Look in the mirror.
        • by Hodr ( 219920 )

          Who is pushing women out of the CS field? There are obviously a lack of women entering the field (for any of the meriad of reasons posted in this thread), but in my 20+ year experience in the field I have never experience an environment where women are pushed out. If anything they are championed because of their differences and often treated with kid gloves.

          In my current office a majority of the women have risen above the rank and file. Whether it's due to talent (in my opinion it is, as most do seem to be

      • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:05PM (#48237331)

        The problem here is not the skewed gender-relationship, the problem is that observable facts collide with feminist theory and hence some evil plot must be the reason. Guess what, it is not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Guess what, it is not.

          It is when it works to discourage women who do not fit the stereotypes, and there are many who do not, from entering fields they could excel in. There are plenty of women who love math, science, computers etc. and aren't into nursing and making babies. The generalizations coming from the GP are only useful for mapping trends over an entire group and should not be used as a blanket way to treat all individuals.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by gweihir ( 88907 )

            There are actually not that many women that love math, science, computers etc. I met a few and they all said that it was no problem for them to become Mathematicians, EEs, Computer Scientists, etc. The thing here is that I have yet to see any credible evidence that women that are good at STEM subjects are somehow "discouraged" or "prevented" from going into these fields for any gender-related reasons in significant numbers. Lets face it, there are few men good at these things and fewer women. Typically they

            • by Mr_Wisenheimer ( 3534031 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @11:56PM (#48238033)

              1. Ignore the peer revied data that is easily available and quite clearly shows a number of artificial cultural barriers to women in Computer Science because you have not "seen" it (Argument from Personal Incredulity Logical Fallacy).

              2. Proceed to base your conclusions on your own anecdotes rather than the copious amounts of scientific research that have actually been done on this subject (hasty generalization logical fallacy)

              • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @05:25AM (#48238819)

                You mean feminist peer reviewed data gotten from skewered studies? The only institutions involved here are already heavily influenced by feminists. I hardly call that science. Would you buy anything taken from a book called "The Faith and Science Reader"? Probably not. There actually is a book called "The Gender and Science Reader" which provides a "comprehensive feminist analysis of the nature and practice of science." They cherry pick facts that fit their ideological precepts and then mix it in with their bullshit. There's a phrase for this: science fiction.

                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

                  So you are rejecting the study, without offering any contrary studies or detailed analysis of your own, simply because you dislike the source? It's a classic ad-hominem attack. If you have an argument, make it with evidence and reasoning.

              • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @06:58AM (#48239083)

                The "peer reviewed data" does not fit observable facts. There is rather good evidence that it produced desired results rather than accurate ones. And as to "peer review", I know exactly how low the quality of that can get, while you seem to be unaware of it.

            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              That's because, unlike the Black man, who usually gets a beating as a child by a police officer or other white authority figure to give them a specific date and event at which their spirit was broken, the woman is kept "down" but millions of tiny pressures. Parents that aren't as supportive, because "girls don't do that" or friends that suggest hairdressing, or teachers who suggest such subjects aren't for them. Usually, there's not a single event so large as to make the divide explicit and obvious. But
              • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @04:02AM (#48238643) Journal

                That is true. Another day, another feminism thread, another time for me to wheel out a recent anecdote.

                My neice is 4. Both her parents have PhDs. Her father (my brother) would like nothing more for her to be a physicist (actually this puts a who lot of inappropriate pressure on, but that's a rant for another day). A few months ago she declared "girls can't do physics". Where the hell did that come from?

                Who knows? But out there there, there is still a vast, continuous low-level pressure against women doing these sorts of things. Anyone who tries to deny it basically has their head in the sand or shoved vey firmly somewhere else. The socialisation starts very early (not all parents are enlightened) and is spreads via peer pressure, which is an immensely influential thing.

                • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:24AM (#48239157) Journal

                  We've been asking this question for decades. We have some ideas and some answers, but aren't satisfied. Political Correctness makes it harder to check some ideas out. It's also just a plain hard question.

                  Yes, there are gender expectations that work against women going into engineering. But there could also be innate differences in our brains which bear some responsibility for the gender gap. It's not PC to suggest that, but not being PC doesn't make the idea untrue. And that's where we run into a lot of trouble. Testing hypotheses about high level thinking is very difficult. We have good progress on understanding small, more deterministic parts of our brains, like our vision system, but it is very hard to answer why people choose or reject an option that has no obvious advantage or disadvantage, an option that isn't clear cut, that isn't a choice between two chess moves, one of which immediately loses the game.

                  The article suggests that women are put off of CS by the boom and bust nature of employment in the field. There are a lot of parts to that notion. Are women more risk adverse than men on employment prospects? Is software engineering such an uncertain career path? When choosing a subject to study, do people think first and foremost of where the most and "best" jobs are, or do they try to discover what subjects they like on the idea that having passion for a subject makes one better at it, and therefore more employable? Or, employment opportunities being as arbitrary as they are, do people say the heck with trying to figure that out and merely try to find something they love and do that? In any case, often what matters is having a college degree. If it's not in a field that's in high demand, like STEM is supposed to be if the screams from employers are to be believed (take cries for more STEM workers and H1B visas and all with large grains of salt), then the particular field may not much matter. Lot of people end up working in fields that have nothing to do with their degrees.

                  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:04AM (#48239279) Journal

                    But there could also be innate differences in our brains which bear some responsibility for the gender gap.

                    There may be some innate difference, but no innate difference is going to make a 4 year old declare that girls can't do physics. A 4 year old doesn't even know what physics is!

                    If we can eliminate social pressures, then what remains will be the result of innate gender difference, and that will be fine.

          • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:31PM (#48237683) Journal

            It is when it works to discourage women who do not fit the stereotypes, and there are many who do not, from entering fields they could excel in

            It's OK to be weird.

            Every fucking geek my age is weird. All of us were "discouraged", women and men alike, and as a result are quite welcoming to any who make it through.

            I sure hope we're past the days where being into formal logic/math/whatever automatically made you the target for bullying (or at least that it's a bit better now), but life includes obstacles! If children are afraid to do what they like, when it leads to a well-paying career (the top career outside politics in many nations), maybe the problem isn't that their slightly discouraged by the culture. Maybe the problem is we're not raising kids with the strength of character to overcome adversity.

            Life will have "discouragements" and setbacks of various sorts. That's just how life works. Don't let it stop you!

            • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @01:08AM (#48238245)

              And that is exactly the problem. Men are constantly told they're privileged and to stop whining and suck it up. Women are constantly told they're oppressed and everything is an earthshattering act of victimization.

              Fearmongering and disempowerment rhetoric are what keep women out of CS... which is only 10% of conferred degrees, while women as a whole earn a little under 2/3rds of all degrees including a majority of STEM fields.

      • There is a difference between American women being more interested in perusing a field and women in general being "naturally" more interested in a field. For women to be naturally less interested in it would imply that they are born with some kind of physiological difference that makes them less likely to decide to pursue the field.

        If I were to say that women are naturally more interested in nursing children than men, I think I could back it up with some pretty good data (mainly the fact that most men cann

    • by PacoSuarez ( 530275 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:34PM (#48237453)

      If you don't agree with the parent, you need to watch this documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      • by Durrik ( 80651 ) <pwright@ryksyl[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Sunday October 26, 2014 @11:59PM (#48238045) Homepage
        Very interesting, thanks for sharing. There were a few problems I had with the video.

        It did make the guys who professed that biology had nothing to do with it look a bit like closed minded idiots, but that was mostly their own fault. With the two that were shown the studies contrasting their views starting to call the studies weak, and almost name calling.

        The video alluded to many studies that proved that biology had something to do with it, but only really went into details with two of them, and those looked to be one off studies. If they had been repeated by other scientists then I would give them more weight.

        The video was a bit bias in its selection on who to present. The 'biology has nothing to do with it' looked to be young and barely out of post grad and wanting to make a name for themselves. They also seemed defensive and emotionally invested in their views. The ones on the other side of the debate were older, and looking to be more established. This gave the 'there's a biological link' a more credible appearance.

        Personally I'm with the guy who said that you can't ignore biology and you can't ignore culture. That's also known as the grey fallacy, but when you're trying to find the root cause of something like this you can't cut out one side of the argument, even if its bee proven wrong. You have to continue to prove it wrong with hard facts and understanding, and each time you do you promote more understanding of what the issue is.

        The video was also nice in that it pointed out, it was only the scientists form the culture is everything camp that discounted the biological portion of it. The scientists from the biology is important camp didn't say that culture wasn't important.
    • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:06PM (#48237569)
      Was this less true prior to ~ 1980-81? Because the % of women CS grads peaked in 1984-1985 at 37% before dropping to its current level of 18%. The % of female grads in other fields (that had around the same % as C.S. in the early 1980s) continued to rise.

      Any reason given for the low rate of women in C.S. must explain why the trend shifted around the mid 1980s.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:59PM (#48237797)

        What year was C++ released ?

        See the trend between objectifying programming and women running away ?

        C++ and JAVA are to blame.
        Women naturally think like cobol and fortran compilers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 26, 2014 @08:38PM (#48237185)

    That women are more practical than men, and that the well-publicized drastic swings in the CS labor market are offputting to women more than men was confirmed by a 2008 survey in the Communications of the ACM

    That sounds about right. Why would you bet your career on something that is increasingly being viewed as a blue-collar profession?

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:07PM (#48237341)

      And falsely so. The reason there is so much bad software out there is that most people producing it do have neither the aptitude nor the passion for it. We definitely have far to many people in IT that have no business being there.

      I agree on the "view" though. Quite a few companies, among them well-known names, will fail in the next few years because they do not value solid engineering anymore, but regard engineers as somehow sub-human.

  • Congrats guys (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KingTank ( 631646 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:20PM (#48237399)
    Now we're not just sexist pigs, but we are also in an unstable industry and women will avoid us like the plague. Actually I don't find this stuff as insulting as the "anyone can code" meme. Maybe we should all wear suits so that people take us seriously, like lawyers. Actually, that might be the real reason women don't get involved. Their parents don't take the profession seriously, so they steer their smart daughters away from it.
  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:21PM (#48237405)

    Comparison of the demographics of undergrad CS majors [staticflickr.com] at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1984 and 2014.

  • by Alicat1194 ( 970019 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:30PM (#48237433)
    Has anyone, you know, *asked* women why they don't go into CS?
    • Multiple researchers have tried doing this. The problem is doing it after the fact... who at age 30 can tell you why they *didn't* do something at age 8 or 16? The answers come back mushy, like it just didn't seem interesting or "not my kind of thing". That doesn't get to the question of what about it turned them off. And something must be turning them off (or turning them on to something else) because there are also studies showing girls who do get exposure younger are just as adept at programming as the b

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday October 27, 2014 @12:21AM (#48238097) Homepage Journal

      Has anyone, you know, *asked* women why they don't go into CS?

      When the last story came out, a friend of mine posted it and called it [effectively] bullshit. She said she went into computers despite it being a social death sentence at the time (she would have been the target age when those ads were running). Programming a computer was high geekery and something only a true nerd would take on.

      She credits (hold on to your hats, Slashdot) - Bill Gates with making computers cool. Because he was well-known, a complete nerd, and, oh, a multi-billionaire. That last part has some sway with the popular culture still. Jobs may have made Apple cool again, but she sees the swing before that.

      Anyway, her point was that her generation of girls avoided computers like the plague because they cared about social standing, by in large, more than males did. Certainly many males did too, but more males didn't care than females didn't care.

      I think you have to go back a few hundred million years to find a point where some percentage of adolescent male primates didn't stray from the social group in larger numbers than the females. Blame the culture, I guess, and maybe the marketing people reinforced it, but I don't think those ads were largely seen outside of the target groups anyhow.

      People will go on about popular culture promoting boys in computing, but - come on, Wyatt and Gary weren't the center of their social order - they were nearly outcasts before they made Lisa. More girls heard "only freaks use computers" while more males heard "you can have a lot of fun with computers". But, yeah, we should ignore any biological basis and probably shame the chimps for their social orders while we're at it.

    • by Shadow of Eternity ( 795165 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @01:50AM (#48238353)

      Yes, and one of the foremost women in Linux wrote an article about it once: http://www.linuxjournal.com/co... [linuxjournal.com]

  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:34PM (#48237451) Homepage

    My #1 complaint about that BS article every time I see it pop up is this: there is a few false assumptions in it. Firstly, "Computer Science" isn't the ONLY school route to teach computer programming. It is also offered under the label of "Information Technology", or as elective classes under other fields such as "Network Administration" or "Database Administration" - And the other assumption is that SCHOOLING is the only way to learn things. Pretty sure just about everyone here on Slashdot can easily agree that they've learned a hell of a lot more tech either on the job or on their own than they could have ever imagined learning in a classroom environment.

  • Makes no sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cryptizard ( 2629853 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @09:40PM (#48237467)
    Woman are more rational than men, and don't want to go into CS because it might be a bad job market. So fields like psychology and art history, which have more than enough women, must have amazing job prospects, right? Anyone who thinks about it for two seconds can see that the problem is not that simple.
    • Rational? I don't think you understand. It's harder to make a sarcastic point when you don't understand. You are right, that " the problem is not that simple."

      Practical is the word that keeps coming up, and it fits much better than rational.

      The trends, right there in one of the hundred or so links, show that enrollment goes up for women when the job market looks good, and down when it looks bad. Not grossly, but enough to satisfy numbers people. If it were just avoidance because of a possible job marke

  • by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:02PM (#48237561)
    ...why the sudden change started around 1984-85. Did the labor market for CS grads suddenly start its "drastic swings" around that time frame? Or, since we're looking at % of graduates, about four years prior (e.g. 1980-1981)? If not, then I'm not sure how women's (alleged) aversion to "drastic swings" explains the sudden change.
  • by theodp ( 442580 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @10:44PM (#48237739)

    If you were trying to discourage girls from trying to program computers, you'd be hard-pressed to top Apple's famous Ellen Feis 'Switch' ad [youtube.com] (2002 Slashdot discussion [slashdot.org]). Btw, by introducing 'The Computer for The Rest of Us' in 1984 without a viable hobbyist programming language [folklore.org], Steve Jobs and Bill Gates no doubt helped discourage both girls and boys from studying CS, even if BillG is trying to make amends now [code.org].

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @11:08PM (#48237843)

    That is all this study confirms. Because men are willing to get into things that might not be the best financial move. If women only go into it if there is a lot of money then they're showing up for the money... not the coding.

    This confirms what has been established many times already. Men and women get job satisfaction out of different things.

    There are jobs women will go into that don't pay as well as other options because they find them personally rewarding.

    Men are the same way. But they find different things rewarding.

    Shocker... humans are sexually dimorphic. Any biologist or anthropologist or medical professional could tell you this in a heartbeat.

    The gender studies academics have their heads so far up their own asses on so many issues. We're sexually dimorphic. Get over it.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Sunday October 26, 2014 @11:35PM (#48237953) Journal

    ...was that absolutely CS is like many professions a labor of love, you follow what interests you.

    And 100% of the girls in high school - even the ones that were brilliant in science and math - had far, far better things to do with their spare time than to fuck around with a computer in mom's basement or dad's attic.

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:16AM (#48239135) Homepage Journal

    Looks at decorative towels and wash clothes in bathroom we're not allowed to use taking up prime realestate that would be great for useful things.

    Looks at fake flowers sitting on top of storage furniture I access frequently that must be moved before accessing said stored objects and returned.

    Looks at useless decorative items that must remain on kitchen counter despite being useless, in the way, and knocked around regularly.

    Thinks of how many times I've been asked to hold a purse because it's impractical for the owner to do things, or carry something in my pockets because the objects owner didn't bring their own pockets.

    Thinks of how the toilet paper is stored in the closet at the entry of the dwelling because the storage areas in the bathroom are taken care of rarely used beauty products and appliances.

    My head is shaved - literally a bar of soap, a stick of deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a razor and some shaving gel is all I have for bathroom use in comparison.

    I call this quote for the summary into question

  • by Stolpskott ( 2422670 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @07:51AM (#48239245)

    I have seen quite a few hand-wringing and postulative articles about why there are not more women in programming or general IT disciplines, and why the ratios of men to women in CS courses widen so much as they progress.
    One thing I have not seen in any of those articles is a report on any attempts to reach out to those girls/women and the boys/men who dropped out of CS courses to switch to other options, about why they chose to switch. It seems such an obvious choice that I am sure it must have been done at some point, except that nobody seems to want to mention the results.

  • by zerofoo ( 262795 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @08:32AM (#48239381)

    Everyone is entitled to equal opportunity, but absolutely no one is guaranteed equality in outcome.

    So long as the CS field is accessible to everyone - that's all that matters. If a group of people decide that CS work is not for them - that's OK. That is how markets work.

    We should stop wringing our hands about things we cannot control and start focusing our efforts on real problems.

  • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday October 27, 2014 @09:05AM (#48239589)
    Is it a natural and inevitable fact that without societal pressure that all occupations will reflect gender distribution? Do we have research showing this to be true?

    If it is true, is the over- riding reason that gender imbalance is due to men doing things that discourage women from entering those professions?

    The "reasons" we hear, that we stopped advertising to women, therefore discouraging them, must mean that we got what we wanted in computer programming, shy and socially awkward males.

    If the "reasons" are that these males are sexist pigs and they harass women, of which the "dongle" incident is the biggest example, how do we reconcile the two?

    Even if we don't reconcile it, the reasons start to sound more like excuses than verifiable actual causes.

    Moreover, why is it possible to discourage women so easily? I can only say as a sample of one, that I have worked around some disagreeable women, yet they have no more influenced my career choice than the wonderful women I have worked with. I just accept it as different people being different, and no mean person is responsible for my career choices, only me.

    The most discouraging aspect of this entire discussion is that once you buy into the premise that women are discouraged by advertising, or by guys making "dongle jokes", you are saying women are inherently weaker than men, because they give up easily, and are influenced away from science and tech careers by advertising. I've heard women in the workplace make many off color jokes, and just figured it's what people do at times. It's just people

    Do we really want to say that women don't have the ability to stick to what they want to do, and are turned away by what are actually trivial things?

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