I like to think of myself as competent although I'm actually a Sr Unix Admin. I have a _lot_ of scripts in place for various things and started off as a programmer.
I also am self-taught in a majority of what I do including programming. I bought a Z80 and then a Color Computer in order to create a program for generating cars for Car Wars (lots of tables :) ). From there I got a part time programming/cow chasing/surveyor job and then a full time job programming before I shifted into LAN Administration.
Back in 1980, there were computer magazines and the real helpful CoCo programming Basic books. Then BBS's where I wrote programs for PCBoard (Doors). Then the Internet at Johns Hopkins APL.
And I'm with you on the male student bias. With 16% of elementary school teachers being male, and 70% of divorces filed by females (I mean "women"), quite a few boys don't have male role models until they reach puberty. With a female oriented public school system (25% of _all_ public school teachers are male), it's no wonder 60% of college graduates are female. Colleges are starting to be concerned about the lack of male interest in college in part because when colleges reach the female tipping point, the schools are afraid women will stop going to college.