I have a great many thoughts on this topic as I have a 10 year old daughter who I am trying to rear with a love a learning and desire to get into the STEM fields academically. She has great math skills and won this year’s round of math-Olympics at her school. That said, she probably wouldn’t excel at math if her mom and I didn’t push and insist at doing well in math. She hated dad trying to introduce her to programming and HTML, but when she was exposed to a summer camp of HTML (semi against her will) and discovered she could use it to create her own webpages and blogs she suddenly became quite enthusiastic about using at home. Similarly I suggested she might like Minecraft as it was a creative form of game playing and she demurred, citing specific geeky boys that were into Minecraft. About a month later a teacher she likes suggested she was so smart and curious she should try Minecraft. Nothing would do but I download Minecraft that evening and now she plays Minecraft.
Now comes my Ah-ha moment, the reason women are not in our field is not about them, but about us. Not in the typical harassment fashion which one hears about anecdotally, and which is I believe is overstated at best – but because we geeky guys are not perceived as attractive socially. Rightly or wrongly we are not perceived of has having brawn or power.
Women flock to lots of careers that have tons more harassment than the typical IT house will have. Lets face it, other than a few awkwardly made, bad taste jokes, our ranks can be quite milquetoast. I for one cannot conceive of myself or any of my coworkers pulling a female coworker into a side-office to grope her, and yet in many institutes of politics and money this seems to come to light quite often.
I’m not saying women want to be harassed, far from it, but they are attracted to Alpha male types and the careers they have. We my comrades (the male programmers out there) are the Betas, and women know the power flows not from us. That said, many a considerate, intelligent, and even attractive women can be found that knows we are the best bet for building a family and future, even if they are not programmers like ourselves.