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Girls Don't Want To Be Geeks 624

Silas writes "According to a new study by the American Association of University Women, highlighted in this AP article, 'Girls have the ability to learn and use computers, but they are turned off by technical careers that they view as full of geeky guys'. The study blames the general sentiment on a gender imbalance in access to computers, and on social pressures that steer girls away from technology. What say you, women of the Slashdot population?" Stand up and shout on this one, ladies. I think that it takes a special breed of person to be attracted to this line of work, not necessarily a specific gender. Tell us what you think.
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Girls Don't Want To Be Geeks

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  • Becoming hacker to just to make money makes no geek. If girls where only in it for the money, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near any of them. Thankfully, not all of them are (Even though, the most of traditional men-jobs that woman gets into are high-paid, non-techie). Becoming a geek is to love the tech. To live with it. For it. And don't care about money, altought, money won't probably be any problem...
    --The knowledge that you are an idiot, is what distinguishes you from one.
  • by nano-second ( 54714 ) on Tuesday July 04, 2000 @06:30AM (#960281)
    While your observation might be entirely valid, I don't think it has much to do with the capability of a particular gender.
    Most parents, unintentionally, will treat their children differently based on their preconcieved notions of that gender. It is most likely very unconcious, but it happens. It is this social conditioning that I think really creates the disparity in technology careers. By the time girls (and boys) first reach school, these concepts are already programmed in. It doesn't just affect interest in math/science/comp.sci... but that is one effect.
    (For example, in the average grade 1 class, most girls are much better with "fine motor skills"... they can use scissors much more effectively than the average boy. This is likely because boys are encouraged to play outside more often when they are young.)

    These sort of seemingly trivial differences end up affecting how girls view math and science, and they are less likely to pursue those topics in high school and university. It becomes a vicious circle, because there are few women in these fields, there are fewer role models.

  • Woo woo! Common ground.

    See, now if everyone in the world could reach a consensus like this, all our problems would be solved! =)



  • In general, men and women aren't the same.

    When people try to deny it, I think they are really oversimplifying because it's easier to "assume that everyone is the same" than it is to grok and communicate the real issues involved in treating people fairly. And our societey tries to value fair play.

    Ultimately, eneralizations are of limmited use when dealing with individuals.
  • We are constantly bombarded with media images of women who are obsessed with lipstick, clothing, weight, popularity, perfect skin and hair.. and the list goes on and on. Under this constant pressure, and even for reasons completely unrelated to it, many women are indifferent or even contemptuous towards intellectual pursuits.

    The media might be responsible for some bad ideas that girls get of what a woman should be like.
    However, as women make up about 50 percent of the people at universities, that obviously doesn't keep them away from the intellectual challenges of university. They simply seem to study other things, for whatever reason.

    There is an interesting article on that, 'Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?' [mit.edu].
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday July 04, 2000 @03:34AM (#960302) Homepage
    My S.O. could testify for this : when we geek guys unleash our techspeak, we just make any non-geek feel stupid and ignorant, both men and women. Now don't start tossing eggs in my direction, I don't sit on these stereotypes but I will use them simply to expose my theory.

    Now the problem might stem from the common observation that men are typically better with pure logic and can usually figure the stuff out with a few well placed questions ("So you're saying this CPU thing is like the carburator ?"). Anyways, in contrast, women seem to have (in general) much more difficulty in relating abstract concepts to more physical/familiar counterparts; they're more confortable sticking with purely abstract things, not crossing over with metaphores and real-life examples.

    Let's take our favored example : Math. I'd have to say that 90% of all women I've known totally suck at math, yes even my geek mother. It's a very exhausting experience watching my gf do her math homework, mainly because she asks me more questions than she has to answer. How hard can it be to understand that a trapezoid is really just a square + 2 triangles ? I must have spent the whole afternoon shoving some spatial sense into her head.

    Anyways, PC's are prime applications of this abstract-to-concrete train of thought. We have small rectangular icons we call "objects". They're not the objects like coke cans, or long-range throwable desk phones.. but if you can look beyond the physical aspect, the computer representation of an object is right on par with the real-life object. This is the key analogy that most female specimens seem to have trouble with. I'm not saying they're too stupid to figure it out, because the ones who persevere DO end up grokking the goods, but it's a relatively long process for women, at least from my personal observations. IMHO, women who have difficulty with this type of symmetric thinking are the ones who shy away from technical jobs because they have more trouble deriving solutions when faced with unexpected hurdles.

    Another thing I've noticed is not necessarily the hostility of non-geeks vs geeks, but more importantly the reverse situation. Intellectual, technical types such as myself look upon the rest of the crowd as somewhat ignorant and pointless. Spending a day without thinking, without creating.. that's a wasted day to me.

    My gf throws a small fit whenever I spend more than 10 seconds at the keyboard when she's around, which usually results in her being totally ignored for a few hours to pressure her. It's a natural reaction to her hostility toward my career, and I'm sure it gives her a bad impression of the type of people I work with. We're all highly focused tech-gods, each trying to prove him/herself right and the other person wrong. This holds for "geek girls" as well. We have a spoonful of them here, and they're a bunch of sore-tempered perfectionists. Now quite frankly, I'd rather have a dumb but sociable assistant, than these long-haired psychos. Anyone who knows a true geek girl will agree with me that they're independent, stubborn, and aggressive. Just like us guys. The problem is that this behavior may be expected in men, but most managers just don't know how to handle it in women. The workplace is such a gender-centric environment. I'm one of two tech guys transplanted into a human resources department, and wouldn't you know, we're the only guys on the whole floor. Managers hire along certain gender patterns, and people apply for work along similar patterns as well. All these things are slowly changing with the implementation of a gender equity process, but for the time being, every single department is dominated either by men or women. And gender favoritism set aside, there will always be more guys in tinkering work and more women in paperwork. That's just what we each do best.

  • This is mostly because of carrer choice. Tech jobs can pay very well. Some people feel that gender pay inequality is bad for society in general - contibuting to the childhood poverty rate and such.

    There are rather more factors involved. Many of which are outside of "employment" issues. One of these is that whilst it is not acceptable for a man to "marry for money" it is acceptable for a woman to do so. (Women demanding husbands and boyfriends earn more than they do undoubtedly contributes to these kind of statistic.) Another factor is that state and charity "welfare" are often not gender neutral in their application.
    Much of this statistical difference could be accounted for by men having to "pay their way" more often than women.

    There are lots of reasons but I believe that the 70% figure only counted people who actually work, so housewives and welfare mothers weren't counted. The statistical analisis concluded that the biggest determing factor in one's pay is one's job choice (No, really?) . There are lot's of other factors but carrer choice was the biggest. Women who don't feel pressure to be head of the household, because their husbands make more money, may choose less demanding positions that don't pay as well. But remember that there are single mothers, single women, women who don't subscribe to the man-as-breadwinner mentality and women who don't end up with a high-earning man. And with the increasing finacial pressure on the middle class (it's well documented that the middle class is shrinking) 2 income households have gone from being an option to being a necessity.
  • One thing that bothered me about that article, is the 'oooh, icky-poo!' attitude of the female people they quoted. IMHO, the woman they quoted can go have and have her stupid non-tech career, and I hope she fails miserably and has a disgusting job while seeing all those icky geeks around her do well. I hate this attitude, and nothing makes me shut down more with regards to helping someone than hearing it.

    The chicklets they quoted were super annoying. Makes me wonder whether most highschoolers are that vapid and grateing or if the reporter went out of his/her way to pick the most inflamatory comments.
  • That's exactly the point... but you still don't get it. WHY don't women want to go into these fields and why are they generally less interested in math and science at school?
    I don't think it's because they are "wired differently". I think it's because of unconcious social conditioning. Subtly, our parents and schools have molded our expectations, based on theirs. Most girls, no matter how 'progressive' their parents are, have dolls, and most boys, have action figures. The mode of play encouraged is very different. What does this suggest? Sure, you can brush this off as of no real importance, but these small differences when we are children is what make us into the adults we are and what controls what we want to do. I bet if girls had more of a chance to play with computers when they were young, and if they were not discouraged, there would be more women in technology.
    Note: when I say 'discouraged', I don't mean directly being told they aren't smart or that computers are for boys. I refer to the subtle pressures of their teachers and classmates. (Don't kid yourself, they are certainly there. Despite being in the same classroom, boys and girls often DON'T receive the "same" education. Reliable studies have shown that boys are more likely to get chosen to answer questions, for instance.)
  • If there was more girl geeks, it'd make for interesting mid-coitus arguments about BSD and Linux.
  • Maybe he's onto something.. if there ARE chicks in CS, I definitely think they should partake of some fine canadian beer.

  • it can't be social pressures steering girls away from technology, because frankly, social pressures steer GUYS away from technology too! I mean, really, football is a lot more popular than chess club, and the social pressure is always on in school to perform athletically. It's no different for girls than it is for us guys.
  • We I started University there were very few women engineers, by the time I left (6 years later) there was quite an improvement. I think that support is needed to associations like the Society of Women Engineers, PASAW, and other womens groups. I sure that having male members support is just as key, the females.

    CAD, kicked, good [cadfu.com]
  • Oh, please...it definitely has its moments. My FEMALE roommate and I were watching it, and they had this bit where they go to the mall and postulate this question to women: "If you could have an operation that made you smarter, but your butt got bigger, would you do it?" To a one, every woman asked said "no". Both my roommate and I found it very funny. Of course, being male, I enjoy the girls on trampolines, and my roommate leaves the room during that bit...

    it wasn't every woman they asked, it was every woman they showed. They probably asked 50 women and edited it down to the 5 funniest. That's how t.v. works. I'm sure if they asked guys the same questions, except making the penis smaller they'd get simmilar results.

    Although, they probably didn't ask any latina or black chicks ... if i could make my butt as big as Jennifer Lopez, I wouldn't need brains :)

    Quoting my MALE hubbie: "I've seen teenagers getting high for the first time not giggle during the man show, I'd rather read Bazooka Joes. "
  • It's all a question of the sample group. Of course, I go to a college with a 4-to-1 male-to-female ratio. I'm also in Computer Science, a male dominated major. I would honestly have to say that my classes are under 10% female. Sometimes, it's worse, sometimes it's better. Of course, the classes that are better are ones also taken by non-CS majors. For example, my databases class was about 25% women, but it was only about 30% CS majors and the rest were of other majors, mostly management and industrial engineers.

    I also work a co-op job to pay for school. In both companies I've worked for, women filled less than 10% of technical roles. Most women were in accounting, management, sales, and other non-geek roles. The engineering, quality assurance, technical support, and IT deparments were almost completely staffed by men.

    You should check out this [slashdot.org] gender poll on Slashdot. Note that out of over 20000 respondants, only 5% clicked on female. It's not unsubstanitated. There are far less women in this field than men, much to the dismay of us men. We wish there were more girls interested in this area, but the linked story is probably right. If more women found computers to be an area of interest, many of us might have been less angsty in high school. <grin>
  • See, this is another problem. You have your definition, I have mine. I don't necessarily agree with yours and you have issues with mine.

    If everyone agreed with everybody else, this planet would be boring as hell. =)

    The trouble comes when a group decides that their world-view is the "right" one. There is nothing so arrogant as believing your personal belief system is more valid than someone else's.

    This is why I so dislike these politically correct societal revisionists telling me that "my kind" is responsible for "repressing" group X. Instead of pointing fingers at me and demanding restitution, why don't they do something constructive and help out the underprivileged?


  • Just like some men. The point is, not all men are good with technology and computers and code, and not all women are good with them either. Unfortunately, due to this article and many others like it, we are going to see an influx of women who just want to get into it because they are ticked off that it is "male dominated". What this really means is that we are going to have a whole bunch of new people who really have no natural talent for computers, but are in the industry anyways. For all of us "real" geeks, the ones who got into it for the love of the craft, this means that we are going to be spending the vast majority of our time either training people who really have no basic interest in what we're teaching, or cleaning up the messes made by people who have no skill for computers.

    I know I'm probably sounding like a pretty chauvanistic jerk right now, but the same thing goes for guys who are getting into the industry just because it offers larger salaries. The only reason to get into a technical field is because you love the field and you have a talent for it, not to "balance out the gender gap" or to "make the big bucks".

    That's just my thoughts on the matter.
  • ' I like having the "geek industry" dominated by males. '

    *nod*. What I think is worthwhile pointing out is that these people who say "look everyone, the geek industry isn't 50% male/female, there's something wrong here" really don't know fsck-all. They start from the assumption that what works for members of one sex works for the other and say "all probabilities are 50%". Er....
    What's *wrong* with there being an uneven distribution of skill level, interest, suitability, whatever, between the sexes?
    (Stereotypical caricature alert: I wouldn't "go for" a woman into chopping trees and I would be surprised if all females on the planet "went for" guys who knitted and sew!!)

    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • These are all great points, and I must say, it's difficult to argue with them - but for the sake of discussion (and since I like to play the Devil's Advocate) I'll play the cold-hearted right-winger.
    Regardless, your friend shouldn't have to choose between getting a big salary or getting maternity leave.

    Shouldn't have to. But this is the real world. In an environment where everyone "owns" her/his projects (and everyone is over-worked), how do you deal with the loss of a quality employee for six months?

    It's very difficult to transfer all the knowledge, the contacts, the understanding of a project to someone new - particularly if the recipient is already burdened with her/his own work. It's even more difficult to train a temp or a new employee.

    There can be a definite expense to the company to lose an employee on maternity/paternity leave. Legislation or not, it's still an inconvenience at best.

    What is going on is that people are trying to enourage and help women get themselves in better paying positions.


    Ummm, it's called compliance with labor law and I require it of any company I consider working for (and I don't even want to have kids).

    Labour law is one thing. Working environment is another. Is it reasonable to expect in this industry that when you return after six months, that nothing will have changed?

    In that time, customers who used to deal with you directly may have forged new contacts with your co-workers. You may have been passed over for promotion. Projects you were working on may have wrapped up.

    All of these are very possible. They may be unjust, but nobody ever said life is fair. It's definitely a setback.

    As for the boys who want to go but can't afford it, there are grants available for them as well.

    I have a problem with this reasoning. Often these types of grants are very poorly advertised, and the only people who end up getting them are the ones whose parents know about them in the first place - not the parents who work 60 hours a week in some hot kitchen to make ends meet.

    Studies have shown that boys can be very agressive which has a negative affect on girls in school. So the idea of a computer camp for girls sounds kinda cool to me.

    Studies have also shown a predisposition towards different types of "play" in infants - who are very unlikely to have been contaminated by social expectations.

    I don't think it's entirely valid to point to just one study and say "this is conclusive proof". There's no such thing as a conclusive study in psychology. It's virtually impossible to design a study that isn't riddled with confounds. Nobody is really sure how much is nature or nurture... but pretty much everyone agrees by now that most behaviour is a product of both.

    Well, as far as self-serving charitable contibutions go, this would hardly be the worst culprit. But given the choice between spending my free time tutoring girls or tutoring random kids, this might be enough to make me lean towards tutoring girls through a SWE program

    Good for you! I think this is exactly more of what's needed. Positive role models, not legislation. More importantly, active participation for everyone involved, not selective exclusion by gender.


  • I have read a wonderful book on this but as I can't remember the name/title/publisher/isbn I probably shouldn't bother to mention it ;-)

    I have a collection of lectures by Ursula Franklin (a retired physicist from the U of Toronto) that sort of addresses what you're talking about. She doesn't go along gender lines though. The book is very dry too. I hope she was a much better speaker.

    But anyways, she does mention a book called "Economic Anthropology" by M.J. Herskovits (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952) that apparently addresses some of the holistic/directed issues.

    For the record, while I wouldn't go so far as to generalize and say women are better, I agree that both approaches are complementary.

    Furthermore, it's just more evidence that men and women aren't the same. Why do we have to deny this? It is such anathema to our society.


  • Well, since there is no evidence that women don't like tech fields due to a genetic difference (and you would probably have a hard time arguing that there is one since there is no real evolutionary advantage to it), then the cause must be social influence.

    That is a very slippery slope you've built yourself there. It has been very well documented that in general men have much better spatial perception than women, while women have superior language ability.

    This is just one of many studies from a quick Google search: from John's Hopkins [unisci.com].

    Also, social trends != discrimination. If you don't want to work in an industry because there's a large proportion of "geeks", I'd suggest that you are the one who is prejudiced and discriminating.


  • You missed the line where I said the whole thing was sarchasm. I was giving you the exact same treatment that you were giving me. And guess what? You didn't like it, did you?

    My little demonstration got you to admit that YOU DON'T KNOW ME.

    How does that crow taste?

    Think before you judge next time.

    Gotta give you credit though - you flamed me with your real name and I respect that. The one other person who flamed me was an anonymous coward as well as a hypocrite.
  • You've never laughed when someone said something completely idiotic, when you weren't expecting it?

    You fucking hypocrite.
  • Sometimes the problem's not so much "finding a geek wife" as it is "helping your SO find her inner geek."

    Case in point: When my wife first moved in with me around four years ago (and about three and a half years before we finally tied the knot), she knew virtually nothing about computers. Before going to work one day, I sat her down in front of my PC and showed her, "this is how you switch it on, this is how you connect to the Internet, this is how you can send email to me at the office, and--oh yeah--here's where the Web browser is." It didn't take her long to get hooked.

    She continued her explorations, learning about different things the computer could do. I provided her more help as she needed it, showing her how to use the word processor and other applications. Eventually, it got to the point, about a year and a half ago, where I had to buy her her own machine because she and I were starting to fight over mine. The one I bought her was more powerful than mine, and its arrival not only restored domestic tranquility, but enabled her to further expand her knowledge.

    Today, she uses that box for at least several hours every day. She corresponds with family and friends via e-mail, shops online at many different sites, talks with people around the world on ICQ, and listens to music via RealAudio and MP3 (she even rips her own MP3 files, stashing them on a Samba server I have set up). I've added a CD burner to her system recently, and provided her with additional software as she needed it. After she got jealous of my Palm VII, I bought her her own Palm IIIe, and she's rapidly becoming proficient in its use. Her machine runs Windows 98, but she wishes that the people working on WinModem support under Linux would get something working so she can try it out herself. She's not a programmer yet, but she's been thinking of learning something like Visual Basic or Java; she has, however, been learning HTML. She now has no problem understanding computer talk; if we ever go shopping for a notebook for her, I think I'll just let her talk to the sales guy.

    My advice for anyone else contemplating attempting to bring out your SO's inner geek:

    • Don't push her. Let her learn at her own pace.
    • Be ready with help when she needs it, but encourage her to experiment and find the answers herself.
    • Try not to get too upset at her hogging the computer :-).
    • If you have to spend money on getting her her own hardware, that's a good sign.
    • Try to explain why you have the opinions you have about certain subjects (AOL, Microsoft, the RIAA, what have you); not only will this help her understand why you like/hate something so much, but it may help you refine your own advocacy techniques.
    • Your own SO may not be as receptive as my wife was to learning all this stuff. Don't sweat it if she isn't.

    Our experience has been generally positive; it has improved my wife's self-confidence as well as her marketable job skills, and it's also helped our relationship. Here's hoping you have the same good fortune.


  • Hey,

    I think the reason that most Males pursue IT-related careers is because they love technology, where as most women don't. The big question is, however, *WHY* do we like technology?

    My theory is simple: All technology was sreated with one aim: Women...

    Fire --> Keep warm, whilst seducing women.
    Club --> Threaten and impress women.
    Printing press --> Look at women.
    TV --> Watch women.
    VCR --> Watch more women.
    Internet --> Look at neked women without having to go into embarrasing shops.

    It could easily be true, you've got to admit...

    Michael Tandy

  • Hooters Media, c. 2000
    "We bring you the bust, re, best in news!"

    Government officials reported that men are not entering into certain career paths. Statistics show that men, regardless of government sponsored initiatives, are not entering into certain gender dominated career paths.

    "It's staggering. The female-to-male ratio in certain areas of health care are almost 100-to-1. All areas of nursing are suffering from an acute shortage of male representation." Other sectors also affected are stay-at-home parenting, geriatric care and child care facilities.

    "Our survey data was gathered from secondary school male students. Some of the responses to why they would not choose a career in these traditionally female-dominated areas ranged from, 'There's no math involved. It's all touchy-feely,' 'I don't want to be labeled a homosexual' and 'All the cool jobs are in technology and aerospace. Besides, who wants to be surrounded by emotional chicks all day?'"

    Government officials are at a loss on how to correct this imbalance.
  • If women aren't flocking in droves to technical fields, perhaps it is because they don't want to.

    in many cases, they don't. however, in many cases, they don't, because they have been conditioned out of it, or just outright told that they could not do that becasue of a simple accident of gender. I'm not all so old (hell, I haven't even finished my BS yet), and I've been told that more than once. now, I'm not claiming that this is a universal experience, but it seems to be fairly widespread.

    oddly enough, people do hire me quite readily, and I really do resent the implication that certain people have been known to make (not directly to me) that (in general) it's easier to get by in the computer/science/engineering field as a female, becasue standards aren't as high. as you say, the emphasis is on what you produce -- and if it isn't, it should be.

    These fools acts as if thirty years of conscious gender equalization did nothing to level the playing field.

    oh, it did. now jobs aren't listed separately by gender, so these jobs are open to women like me now. women aren't systematically excluded from technical schools. etc.

    what do we see? a dramatic legal change in status. however, there are some things that are slower to change -- specifically people. right now we get a few types:

    1. the throwback -- either older people or people who learned attitudes from them that I am really emabarrassed to hear expressed (example: my step-grandmother said at dinner the other night "well, I don't understand this fuss about women not being paid as much as men. they aren't as competent, and have babies to take care of". it got worse as she tried to backpedal when everyone's jaws dropped)

    2. the over-compensator -- if anyone ever were to give me a chance NOT on my merits as a researcher and a scholar, but instead on my femininity, I would be very, very, very upset. there are people who want to "do a favor". they aren't. truthfully, I've never seen this type in action, but the guy I work for says that they exist -- and that, do what I may, graduate school admissions people have a different standard for female applicants. to them, I have to say that lowered expectations reduce the ability of the objects of your (surely unconscious) contempt to perform as her peers.

    3. balanced people -- the people who don't have a heart attack on a MUD or a BBS when I happen to mention I'm female, specifically, and the ones who don't see me only as one of a few prospective dates in the EECS department -- and who don't get frustrated beyond belief when they find I don't want a date, thank you very much. they expect that I'll do as well or better than they do, since many of the females who make it as far as college in a technical field tend to be many of the most competent people in the department.

    until we have more balanced people -- which will take time -- people who don't have to consciously compensate for any contempt of their own or others, perhaps you should think twice before posting a diatribe of that type. we'll know we have arrived when it simply isn't an issue anymore -- and if you ask women in these professions, you'll find that many of them consider it one.

  • All of the attitudes in this thread illustrate why women don't want to be involved in the industry - from patronzing head-patting, to the outright hostile.

    There doesn't have to be a 50/50 split in everything - however, when the discrepancies are startling, they should be examined.

    I don't mind so much, being outnumbered. I'm used to gaming circles, where females are decended upon by geeks desperate to meet a girl that they have something in common with. I don't mind so much because I see it changing, every day. But the crap on this thread scare me equally, 'cause for every girl who's willing to put up with the undercurrents of sexism, there's prolly five that will walk away.

    Take a look at the posts in this thread. How many of them that are moderated up are from women?


  • I know, it's really a shame. Some of the coolest people are really the most colorful. Hawaiian shirts, crushed velvet hats, whatever. I get a big kick out of that stuff. Actually I have a couple of nice Indonesian batik shirts with designs on them that would probably be considered "effeminate". Funny how only the US is so screwed up and uptight about that stuff.
  • You're awfully judgemental. Do you suppose that I told the *entire* story? OK, OK I left the part out about how we all went down to the cafeteria right after that and had lunch. Shoot me.

    If you assume that I didn't explain what a vector was after we were done chuckling, then I can only feel sorry for you. Perhaps someday you will learn that refraining from judgement before you know all the facts is what makes a mature person.

  • Well... &nbsp since everyone is "outing" themselves... hee hee.. might as well join the club.

    Yes, I'm a geek lady and one in a management position as well. &nbsp I think that the times, they are a-changing, and for those who aren't aware (although based on most of the comments here, people ARE aware), alot of those old "keypunch" operators and data-processing clerks (traditionally the "female" IT occupations) have made the leap to higher tech....

    When I was going through college in the late '70s-early '80s, the Computer Science departments were just forming. &nbsp Most of the folks who I knew were interested in a career in computers, were electrical or mechanical engineers who might have taken some programming classes in COBOL or Fortran... &nbsp Otherwise, folks learned on the job.

    Funny how times have changed....&nbsp for *everyone*!

  • Well, it was an assumption that you used your real name. As long as it wasn't anonymous coward then it's an acceptable primary key.

  • Uh-huh..

    Perhaps I need to give you an analogy, as you clearly don't have much real world experience besides being jealous of some person who plays games.

    That man is like a man who goes to the surplus computer store to buy computers. Sure, he may get a lot of 386s (they are only 5$ each!), but they are cheap and slow compared to what you get if you put out the effort. Do you just want to play some quick Doom before deciding to buy another cheap computer, or do you want to work hard to get that nice K7 fully loaded which will last you for years to come and do everything for you?

    Your decision.
  • I once had a girl friend who used to complain every time I started to talk abut programming with some friends at parties. (We were all programmers). It's not like I was only talking about programming but just because it wasen't something she liked. And I've seen lots of women act that way. You can see them roll their eyes and say, "here they go again"...

    actually, that's a pretty damn good description of what my boyfriend does, since he's a MechE geek... he actually will not go to parties that he knows are all computer geeks (think Eta Kappa Nu banquet -- he hates to dress up, and he hates to talk about programming)

    he's a sweetie, and I can't blame him, becasue the humor gets pretty bad when the EECS geeks get together!

  • Well it's good to hear something like this. I've sort of been of the opinion that it is BOTH hardwiring AND social pressure. But it's impossible to know until you try to remove one or the other influence. I wonder if in absence of social pressure would a female still in general choose traditionally "female" careers (proving that there is at least a little "hardwiring"). It would also be interesting to see what would happen to a male if given the same type of social pressure (teach him how to cook and take care of children, etc.). But in that case we'd probably be ending up calling him a panzy or wussy. There is definately a lot of social pressure on males. Just witness the rising trend in male body dismorphia disorder, previously pretty much only occuring in females. If there actually is any "right" way to be, neither males nor females in this country have really attained it. I guess it all goes back to being a "well balanced" person. A guy who doesn't feel his masculinity threatened if he has to take care of the children, or put on an aprin and bake some cookies, and a women who doesn't feel her femininity threatened if she plays rugby or works in a traditionally "male" field.
  • No one said anything about pushing girls into tech careers. The whole point of the gender (or racial or age or whatever) divide is that assuming people are in fact equal, why is there this huge difference in the percentage of men in tech fields vs women in tech files? Since we assume that people are equal, we expect the percentages to be the same, and if they aren't, then we say, something is "wrong."

    Ok, I just have to say this here. I am SOOO Tired of everyone screaming about how everyone is equal. Everyone is NOT EQUAL! NOT! People are Equal in the Eyes of the Law. That does not mean that if JoeBob the weightlifter can bench 415 then I can bench 415, It doesn't mean that if I can strip down a computer to its component parts and then reconstruct it that JoeBob will be able to. We all have different skills, different abilities. Those skills and abilities aren't always divided along racial or gender lines but sometimes they are. No one is Equal to me, I am not Equal to anyone else. We are all viewed as equal by Law. Which is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT concept.
    So now that I've got that rant out of the way you can continue your conversation.

  • yes there is a long history in the united states of women having the "motherly" role.. while feeling unable to function in other circles of their environment.. hopefully in time less women will be hung up on the stigma of being accepted by the majority

    Maybe when our society stops thinking of child birth as such a wonderful accomplishment that will decline some. But everyone praises these couples that have 8 kids at once even though there is no way 2 people can support 8 kids. People need to realize that there are 6 billion of us, that's enough for now, let's chill out on the breeding for a little while and learn to manage our current population.

  • by Carnage4Life ( 106069 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:40PM (#960469) Homepage Journal
    Why is it that people always feel that everything has to fit according to statistics or all is not well. Gender imbalance reminds me a lot of the so called Digital Divide...lots of liberal middle class whites who feel that the poor underclass must be forced to be as technically inclined as they are. Frankly, I'm black and I have lived amongst and known black people all my life, and being computer savvy is not high on the average black person's to-do list. No amount of government intervention is going to turn the average poor black person into some cybersurfing, net junkie simply to balance some statistic chart.

    Back to the topic at hand, why is it that people feel the need to try to push girls into technical careers? From my experience most females including the ones that are good at Math (both my last two girlfriends got A's in Calculus II but one's an English major while the other is studying criminal justice) do not like technical fields. Frankly the crap about gender imbalance to access computers is a load of bull, this isn't the fifties when women couldn't eat without a man supporting them...any woman worth her salt can get a job and buy a PC or go to the library. The last time I checked the neither CompUSA nor BestBuy was discriminating according to sex. Also, the article describes negative social pressure for women to get into technology, but fails to mention that until the Internet boom of a few short years ago there was negative social pressure for men to get into technology as well. I remember being teased and taunted for being a computer geek while in school and even when I grew older I was still looked upon by others with disdain, off course being uninterested in sports probably didn't help this.

    PS: I am very tired of self righteous people who want to mold the world in their own image. Women don't like technical fields, so what? Men don't flock towards positions in elder care, nursing or child care yet I don't see articles bemoaning this.

  • It's unfortunate because when your whole company is made of 25-35 year old straight white males (like mine)

    What?!?! Where do you work at? Every place I've worked since college has consistently been a melting pot of white, asian, asian indian, latino, etc. men and women, and yes, several gay men/women too. I think you're grossly oversimplifying by saying the industry is flooded with nothing but "straight, white males". The fact here is that the computer industry is one of the most diverse that there is! Sheesh... Someone's got a chip on their shoulder.

  • at work. *in our society women are almost chided if they try to do anything but power their cheeks and paint their nails. * almost? ever looked in one of those mags they're encouraged to read? ever think about the true nature of the barbie doll, or kid's toys in general? we are all generally brought up to fill certain narrowly defined, well channeled gender roles, specifically designed to give us social 'handles' that can be used to direct our perceptions and therefore actions.. boys do this, girls do that, deviate and you're a 'fag' or a'slut' or something else we've been trained to fear being labeled. and just for the record goths, and other sub-cultural mutations(there are soooo many), are the smart-assed opposite-reaction to this sort of immersive control..
  • i think that it just takes a certain type of person to be interested in technology, not a specific gender. it also takes a certain amount of determination as a woman to be willing to dive into a male dominated culture like geekdom.

    i think that another thing that holds women back from achieving really well in technology is that to be a true uber-geek you need to put in really long hours. technology has to be your 24hr/day obsession. i think that most women would rather go home at the end of the day, see their friends or family and have a little more balance, a little more of a life.
  • by Knunov ( 158076 ) <eat@my.ass> on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:44PM (#960478) Homepage
    I've had a rather bizarre life. I was a lifeguard in high school, a jock AND a lifeguard in college, and am now a network engineer in 'real' life.

    I still look basically the same. 6' 1", 210 athletic pounds, dark blonde hair, blue eyes. The anti-geek. But when I was lifeguarding and in college, I picked up WAY more girls than I do now, even though I am exposed to just as many.

    My personality is basically the same, but that twinkle in my eye and uncontrollable grin that takes over my face when I talk about encryption or compression or alternative operating systems seems to be a genuine turn-off to girls.

    I don't know if they are intimidated by me because they don't understand what I'm saying or they are simply assuming that I'm a geek at heart (which I am) underneath my athletic frame.

    Girls are taught that geeks are not desirable men. Here on /. and in the IT world we throw the term around affectionately, but you must realize that most of the world isn't in our circle and in THEIR world, a geek is not a good thing to be.

    I don't wear glasses. I'm not fat. I don't shoot milk out of my nose when I laugh. Well... I *usually* don't...

    But once girls find out what I do, I'm suddenly a geek.

    I think society's perception will change in time as the IT profession becomes more and more important. Network engineering will one day be thought as 'cool' of a job as being a lawyer or doctor.

    The upper echelon (top 15% or so) already makes the same amount or more money than the other 'prestigious' professions. Respect will come in time, I think.

    Many people are already dismissing the 'geek' notion just because someone is into computers. But even more are clinging onto the stereotype. People in my company can't even comprehend why I make 2x to 3x more than they do. Sometimes I feel like handing them a keyboard and saying, "If it's so easy, YOU do it."

    If they really get to you, just do what I do. Hack into their home machines and leave a "y00 h4v3 ju$7 b33n h4xx0r1z3d bi 4 31337 h4xx0r d00d. $$$$$$$$$ EZ $$$$$$$$" message on their screen.

    They'll be your best friend the next day :)

    Remember, you aren't getting paid big bucks for what you know. You're getting paid for what the rest of the world doesn't know.

  • my last girlfriend was pretty geeky. Most of my friends are girls, and very geeky. Well, I think that has some sort of bearing on that you HAVE to be a geek in order to spend more than five minutes with me :-)

    Anyway, I've known just as many geeks who were female as male. Just because a girl doesn't talk about Star Trek or whatever doesn't mean she doesn't like computers, or isn't good with them. I think if you're going to just go from initial impressions, yeah, you're going to find that guys are alot "geekier" than girls. But I find there really isn't too much of a gender split, except on the most shallow levels. Even that is overgeneralization, as that I've known girls who WERE the stereotype.

    I guess what I'm trying to say (albeit poorly) is that if we're GOING to make over generalized statements like this, we need to define what makes a "geek" versus "non-geek". Personally, I define it as "devotion regardless of popular opinion". If someone does computers because they think it's the cool thing to do, then they're not a geek. If someone loves obscure movies not because they're obscure, but because they do regardless of what anyone thinks(good or bad), then they're a geek.

    As for the article, consider the source :-) And yes, the last relationship failed miserably due to my poor social skills. However, if any girls out there are Nurse With Wound fans . . . :-)
  • Thank the failed "Equal Rights Amendment." It proposed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of <b>sex</b>, and some bright bulb opposed to it realized that "sex" can refer to either a noun (the plumbing) or a verb (what you do with that plumbing). Gender isn't a verb - you'll never here someone singing about how they want to "gender you up."

    Toss in a non-unreasonable legal interpretation (if a broader word is used instead of a more precise word, the author must have chosen it deliberately) and a bit of fear-mongering about the Law of Unintentional Consequences, and you get the charming theory that the real effect of the ERA will be to prohibit laws banning sex with members of the same sex (remember, the ERA was debated in the 1970s when gays didn't dare show themselves outside of a few major cities), interracial couples (ditto), to say nothing of pedophilia, necrophilia, etc.

    Look at the current debate over "gay rights" and multiply it 100-fold. Most of the opponents of the ERA were misogynists of the type that you only find in the Southern Baptist Convention today (or am I the intolerant one for mocking their stated belief that wives must be subservient to husbands, women must stay out of the pulpit, etc.?), but a significant number of liberals were also concerned with the ERA because of the very real possibility that it could be viewed as covering more than intended.

    Unfortunately, as another poster observed other people are defining "gender" in psychological terms. It's not <i>that</i> far from "homosexual female trapped in male body" to "13-year-old horndog trapped in 25-year-old body." The latter may even be a valid description of someone with arrested sexual development, but that doesn't mean that we as a society must condone pedophilia.

    Bottom line: you may have had a point a generation ago, but this is one area where the language is rapidly evolving.
  • Football and programming are not mutually exclusive.

    I hate football AND basketball. Too tense. Too commercialized. Too many rules. Rigidly timed games. Too much stats. Anything deviating from the stats is called an "upset". I always wonder why people watch if they have such a strong pre-determination of what they're about to see.

    Baseball is far more relaxing and enjoyable to watch. A little more random. No clock to worry about. No scary buzzers. Far less cheating. No stress. Which is exactly what I need after racking my brain staring at severely inbred (inheritance wise) C++ code.

    Aren't there any baseball fans anymore?

  • Girls have the ability to learn and use computers, but they are turned off by technical careers that they view as full of geeky guys.

    Quite frankly, any group of guys has a tendancy to stray toward the "geeky" side of things. Don't think that "geek" is not synonymous with "aficionado". It is. Listen to the boys talk about the big game. Listen to the connoisseurs talk about last year's Merlot. The subject doesn't change the pattern.

    I looked long and hard to find a job were I couldn't describe the Devel. Dept. as "The Nerdery". Some people are willing to work in them, but I won't. I think women, in general, aren't fulfilled by the same work as men. Who expects them to be?

    I should probably note that "women in general" means an assortment of girlfriends, past and present, sisters, cousins, etc. and I'm in no way claiming to speak for all woman-dom <shudder>.

    The Point: Equality has nothing to do with the number of different groups in any one situation. It just means that everyone has the same access. If a woman doesn't want a job from a tech co sweating to give here one, all the power to her. I'm not going to worry about it, because she'll find another way to contribute to society.

    ps. A belated Happy Canada Day, Canadians! Um... is Independence Day "happy"? Anway, a premature Happy Independence Day to those denizens of the U.S. of A.

  • Humans evolved from peripheral beta males who had to find ways to cope with the marginal resources of ecological ranges or die. Frontiers. Technology and its gender bias is an abstraction of this ancient gender bias.
  • Ever thought how modern computing would be different if it was women dominated by the start?

    I always find these postulations ridiculous. Human nature is similar enough between genders and external factors are constant, so it's not like we would program computers by arranging flowers on screen and all computers would crash once a month. The only difference that would matter is that we would all be reading an article about how guys don't want to be geeks.

    And if you are interested in the influence on early computing by a woman, look up Grace Hopper [yale.edu]. Of course geeks might not be too happy about her support of COBOL.

  • by OOG_THE_CAVEMAN ( 165540 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:54PM (#960512)


  • Who encourages them to do all of these dastardly girl-stereotype things? There is actually quite a bit of evidence that much of this behavior is not learned, but is instinctual.

    I know for a fact that my little 18 month girl already displays many of the stereotypes that you are ascribing to cultural engineering. For example, her favorite toy is a ugly hairless little doll that apparently materialized in our home. I am not exactly how it came to be in her possession (neither my wife nor I was interested in giving our daughter toys that were "gender biased), but I don't dare take the darn thing away from her. Last time I took it away she wandered around the house looking for it for hours, crying all the while. She doesn't even form sentences and she is already playing with dolls!

    I am not stating that cultural engineering doesn't happen. I have lived in different countries, and so I have a pretty good idea at how important our customs can become. I simply am not willing to believe that there is some mysterious "them" that is using our culture as a weapon against us. Nor do I believe that counter-cultures like the Goths are somehow more enlightened than those that more closely fit the gender stereotypes. Painting my hair green and putting a nail through my nose does not make me any harder to stereotype. In fact, it makes it easier. Now instead of guessing my observers could simply conclude that I was a "Goth," with all that this generally entails.

    Cultures have grown, for good or ill, out of the combined observations of millions of people over hundreds and thousands of years. Social norms and morals generally have distinct biological reasoning behind them that has allowed these cultures to pass on to the next generation. In a way cultures evolve in much the same way as the genetic hosts that they are propogated on. The 1950's Beaver Cleaver culture that you rail against is simply a culture that has been fairly successful at being propogated, although it certainly has undergone a great deal of modification in the last few generations.

  • I don't think men or women like working in computer fields. The enviornment created by today's high tech companies is terrible. Long hours, no social interaction, constantly fighting stupidity that is out of your control. Most guys in computer fields are unhappy, or at least neutral. You find few working in the field who are truly happy with what they do.

    So, what is the difference? Women are willing to put their happiness first, and choose other jobs. Men are more inclined to put up with the crap, in the quest for the dollar. That's why computer sallaries are so high, it's not that techies are really worth that much, rather if they were not paid that much they would go into other fields.

    In effect, this is good for women, at least from a mental health point of view, and bad for men. Of course financially this isn't true, and too much of "equality in the workplace" is focued on sallaries, which is a poor way to judge equality.

  • No joke. The sample is *way* too small. And where's the sample from?

    Ugh--where can I get the *real* study? Most studies are pure crap anyway. It amazes me that there are even *published* studies that use bad statistics and 90% rhetoric to get a point across. *Published* studies! My God! Rhetoric doesn't prove anything! Quotes don't prove anything. The quote at the beginning of the article? I can find you *at least* 70 men that would say the same thing.

  • The last time I checked the neither CompUSA nor BestBuy was discriminating according to sex.

    Actually, last time I bought hardware in person, I went to CompUSA (or was it Future Shop? I forget.) Anyway I was getting a modem and I was trying to find out which were PCI and which were ISA (since they were all behind the counter and I wasn't wearing my glasses). Every time I'd ask a question the sales guy kept answering towards my husband - who wasn't even looking/listening - since he dosen't deal w/ the computer's guts. Finally Chris realized that this dork was trying to talk to him and he said "Don't tell me, I don't know anything about it"

  • Men don't flock towards positions in elder care, nursing or child care yet I don't see articles bemoaning this.

    Well, to get off-topic for a moment, I'll bet that if you checked magazines/websites in those industries, you would find such articles. I spend between 5-10% of my day in a nursing home hanging with my Dad, and I know they are desperate for male nurses; many of the female nurses simply don't have the physical strength needed to lift patients.

    In addition, the school systems are always looking for male teachers -- so many kids these days are without fathers, that there is a real need for male role models in the schools. And, of course, the public schools want to balance out the gender make-up of the staff. (My wife's school has only one male teacher out of about 20.)

    I don't know if it's genetics, cultural biases, societal remnants from bygone eras, or what, but technology is not the only industry that is heavily weighted one way or another.

    And just to broaden the scope a bit, the make-up of the nursing/patient care staff at my father's nursing home is about 90% philippina, with a few russians thrown in. That is most certainly a cultural thing -- My sister-in-law (also a philippina) helped care for my father when he lived with me.

  • by bridgette ( 35800 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @05:39PM (#960549)
    There dosen't *have* to be a 50/50 split in everything but there are a couple of good reasons why some people are trying to encourage woment to persue sciences:

    1) On average, women make less money than men. This is mostly because of carrer choice. Tech jobs can pay very well. Some people feel that gender pay inequality is bad for society in general - contibuting to the childhood poverty rate and such. Some people feel that as long as women have second class finacial status, they will have second class political and social status. Personally, I tend to feel that everyone should have an equal chance to take care for themselves financally and feel these these efforsts help remove barriers.

    2) We could use more tech workers and women are an 'untapped resource'. With all the companies lobbying to increase the number of visas, it only makes sence to spend some effort in genreating more applicants at home.

    3) Having people from diverse backgrounds working on design and problem solving often yields better results.

    4) People already in the industry (both male and female) would, all other things being equal, enjoy having some more women in the office.
  • I don't know what salary ceiling you're talking about. I'm making 90/hr as a contractor, and I'm only 23. My last permanent position (a startup) offered me 90k/year plus 1% equity to stay -- and I turned it down. Maybe attitudes are different where you live (I'm in Boston). Or maybe you just aren't as technically skilled as I am -- I dropped out of high school five years ago and I've been doing C++ and Java ever since.
  • It is much easier for Corporate America to pit genders and classes against each other so that they're too pre-occupied with pointing fingers back and forth to bother doing anything about the general, broad-stroaked shaft that everyone get's hit with in technical careers.

    BoyGeeks and GirlGeeks are not the enemies. Ask any male in a technical field and he'll tell you that he wishes there were more women in his line of work. If a finger has to be pointed anywhere, point it at the people who make choices and actually have impact on the hiring and encouragement of women in these careers (and classes in school). Further, do something about it.

    I don't fall for the statistical bullshit. Men and women are different creatures and there are obvious reasons why there are such rifts between careers paths. It's natural. More women stay at home to be mothers. More women take maternity leave. More women work only part time instead of full-time, to take care of their children. This is just the tip of the ice-berg of differences and we haven't even touched the inherent trend of differences that cause is to find our interests in various fields and areas of life.

    So do we just shrug and say "well, that's life and we're different -- I guess we'll just have to live with it".

    No. When an industry needs more people to populate its positions, it advertises, reaches out to schools, conducts press-releases, gets as much air-time and play as possible, to attract people.

    So if we're so interested in bringing more women "into the fold", then lets do something about it. Offer to help children of all ages, genders and nationalities to learn about technical careers. Some will get bored to tears and give up, but others will sink their teeth into what you have to offer and either run with it as a career or enjoy it as a hobby. Don't focus on males or females, just put the information, encouragement and assistance out there and let it affect as many people as possible. You can't force people into anything, but you can offer them a chance that they didn't have before.

    And for businesses -- reach out to a younger crowd. Screw gender; just offer more itnernships, employment or outreach programs to the communities that you are 'a part of' and teach skills to people who want to learn. You tend to offer jobs and careers to people who have had the privelage and oppertunity to attend four year colleges and universities, but what happens to the sixteen-year-old boy or girl who pounds away on coding or other engineering projects in his or her bedroom day and night, but can't afford schooling or certificates to catch your attention? You're exhausting your pool of potential employees, because you're failing to help out. It's cheaper to hire out to other countries and bring people in on visas (not that there is anything at all wrong with that, but then you turn around and complain about it -- citing lack of employable people in this country! God, you're such hypocrits!).

    Just because the pay-off isn't within your immediate future doesn't mean the investment isn't worth your time and money. If nothing else, the publicity and good-standing with communities for your efforts to help people who want to learn and get a toe-hold in the business will be worth the cash and time.

  • It appears as though lots of study has been done on gender differences in learning, especially in math and science.

    This [columbia.edu] This appears to be a good technical summary with lots of subsiduary references. Or try feeding "gender differences math" to the search engine of your choice.

    One point must be made is that men and women are different. (and oh what a beautiful difference) This difference starts at a fundamental chemical level and is revealed in physical appearance and social behaviour.

    One study which I saw some time ago and alas can no longer find study the way groups of high school math students solved problems. The females were happy to accept a solution, even a wrong one, that the majority of the group accepted. While individual males would support their solution against the majority if they considered it correct. (general disclaimer: whether other groups or individuals behave this way, who knows). What it does show is that social behaviours have a lot to with scientific investigation.

    There was also that british study that showed that London taxi drivers grew their brains to better navigate the city. I am sure the amazing adaptable human body can make up for any basic gender differences if the appropriate training is provided.

    The questions we should be asking are:

    1) To what level should individuals be subjected to training that will change their natural gender tendancies.

    2) What level of maturity is required before individuals are allowed to select such training for themselves or are others allowed to make against gender training decisions for them.

    3) Is it desirable or detrimental to society as a whole to have the natural gender bias result in gender unbalanced professions. Or should some professions require that a reasonable balanced be maintained between the genders.

    These are basic rights questions. We have the technology, should we and to what level be using it.

  • by heidiporn ( 152250 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @03:09PM (#960557)
    I think I may be one of the few chicks to answer thus far, and I hesitate because I'm probably not as qualified as most to answer this, as I am not currently a full-fledged geekchick, though I hope to be someday.

    A friend sent me an article once - I think it may have even been posted on /. - about why a lot of girls don't become programmers. It offered up the notion that most girls are reared not to obsess over how and why things work but, rather, over their social relationships.

    In an era when it is cooler than ever before to be a dork-guy, when guys who run internet startups are sought after for their bank accounts and their geeky sensuality :), I'm afraid it is still not cool to be a geeky chick. I think this owes itself at least in part to the fact that there are currently so few (relatively speaking).

    The geek-chick bandwagon does not yet exist, so it is hard for even those who desire to immerse themselves in all-things-geeky to jump on...

    Girls, ladies, women, chicks, babes, broads, pieces-o'-ass or whatever you want to call them are taught to nurture relationships. Doing so inhibits their ability to sit in front of a computer all day and pore over code or read /. A lot of women don't see overclocking a 1 GHz Thunderbird in mineral oil or soddering or disassembling some piece of electronic equipment, rewiring it, and then reassembling it or sitting in front of a computer screen for hours and hours a day as valid, socially acceptable ways to spend their time. For many women, it is a better use of time to spend time with friends, talk, position themselves in a career where they can work with people, rear their children, or involve themselves in charity work. (Don't get me wrong; these are all noble things.)

    Moreover, in an effort to support their social relationships, girls (and the eventual women they become) learn they are supposed to worry about grooming, going out, shopping for the latest trends, decorating their homes, hosting dinner parties, caring for their kids (even in a two-career family), and so on.

    I know this is fairly incoherent, and I apologize... I wish I were expressing myself better... because I am very passionate about this issue. I am a chick, and I am a dork, and I am proud to be both.

    To sum up that which I have spent several paragraphs babbling about: It's still not cool to be a geek-chick. I hope one day it will be, as I am one of the few, the proud, the sexy :) who aspires to be one. :)

    -heidiporn :)

  • by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @04:12PM (#960564) Homepage Journal
    I must relate the recent tale of woe that has befallen my beloved.

    Act One: Computergrrrl meets the patriarchy
    Computergrrrl has been a geek of many stripes for most of her life. About 2 yrs ago, she decided to actually pursue computer programming at school. She went, saw and conquered, and with her freshly-minted diploma in hand, landed a job at an internet startup [interconn.com]. Her job description was titled "junior programmer". The immediate reality, however, was different. This company made two hires in the same week, both fresh grads; one was computergrrrl, the other was a boy who we'll call Rob (well, that's his name). Rob was plopped down at a desk in the "back room" and set to work on ASP stuff immediately. Computergrrrl was plopped down at the reception desk and told to answer the phones and compile a list of office supplies. When computergrrrl pointed out to her new employers that she had no secreatrial training whatsoever, she was told that she should find "it came naturally" and that they "couldn't possible have one of the guys do reception"

    Act Two: Geeks ride to the rescue
    This company is divided into two layers. Business guys who have the money and call the shots, and coders who write the product (service?) and get free pop. After a few days, the "head coder" who we'll call Gord (well, that's his name) started to realize what was going on. At the end of a week, he confronted the owners and told them that they were denying him a valuable resource (computergrrrl) and that this "misallocation of talent"(his quote) was unacceptable. The owners hummed and hawed over transferring her, finally prompting gord to ask them why they had chosen to hire a woman in the first place, if they really felt her gender precluded her from doing her job. The answer: "We figgured she could do the reception work and help you out with little things in her spare time."

    Act Three: making a loooong story short(er)
    The ultimate compromise, was that computergrrrl was moved to web design (it's artsy! girls are good at artsy!) and, over time, into some backend coding (computergrrrl to owners "java is a new language. I have a talent for languages." language=artsy.)

    The long-awaited moral of the story
    Geeks tend to work on a merit-ocracy. You're judged on your chops, not your sex, race, religion (unless it's linux) etc. Sadly, a lot of the hire decisions are made by the money people. They can't tell good code from bad code (hmmm. I can't decipher it. It must be a good code...) and tend to have more "traditional" views of women in the work place. If you're a girl and you're a geek, find a boss who's into computers more than s/he's into money.

    thank you for your patience.

  • Women don't watch The Man Show for the same reason as men - because it isn't funny.
    (although I know some guys who will try to catch the girls on tramolines bit at the end)
  • OTOH those positions that you mentioned men don't want aren't seen as positions of power so...

    What about:

    "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." - W.R. Wallace

    Would Hitler have been Hitler if he had a different childhood experience? What about Einstein? Bill Clinton? Kurt Cobain?

    Saying that work with children isn't important because you don't make public policy is just plain ridiculous.

    If you ask me, the garbageman contributes more to society than your average hack politician. I still remember my kindergarten teacher - her name, her face. Do you remember who your MP (Congressman) was twenty years ago?


  • I don't know what women they spoke to in that study, but I wouldn't have minded adding my two cents. Sorry, but all that junk about women not being able to hack it (no pun intended) in technical jobs is garbage. I'm in a technical field, and I've taken my share of crap from idiot guys who resent my presence, but it all comes down to self esteem, folks. I might not be the best at what I do, but I know that I'm good, or I wouldn't be getting paid :) If you're shying away from a profession you might enjoy just because most of the workers are "geek guys," your priorities are screwed up. People like this are one of the reasons that women still ARE treated as inferior in certain professions. OK, there was my two cents :)
  • That's bull. Tell my girlfriend that. She's going into it. She doesn't care much about salary - she does it for the love of geekdom. She's every bit as good at what she does as I am at what I do. And in many cases, better.

    That, and since she likes me. :)

    Anyone that goes into the field for any other reason isn't a geek.


  • being with tons of other pale looking geeks at 4am is not exactly called being *social*. i mean...come on. do you really expect /. readers to swallow that one ?
    Yes, he expects us to swallow that one. In the same way that staggering home, often with someone who's name you can't remember, at 3 am can be considered *social*. Pull your head out of your ass and remember that different social groups prosecute their social rituals differently.
    personally i see most girls being to scared off/repelled by geeks & technology to really call themselves geeks.
    Geeks love technology, that's one of the pillars of the definition. If you don't love technology, how can you call yourself a geek? There are lots of job opportunities in tech fields where you go home at 5 pm. You are welcome to take them.
  • If you think that evolution is what has caused different approaches to career selection and emotional state, you've been living with blinders. And if the other guy geeks on this board agree with you it's no wonder they keep complaining about needing a date.

    As a girl, from the time I was old enough to know the difference I was treated different from boys. I was given different chores, different toys, different clothes... I was repremanded for getting dirty and told to that "good little girls" sat quietly, spoke softly and politely. My brothers, on the other hand, were encouraged to be aggressive and "take things apart" because they were boys.

    Just in case you think my parents were the only influence of this type... I have been told by countless teachers, counselors, and college department heads (the cs department no less) that my interest in computers was misplaced because it was "no place for a woman". All this inspite of the fact that I graduated in the top 10% of my class, have been programming since I was 12 (on an old tandy that hooked to a tv), and continue to rank first in almost every programming class I take which are made up of 99% men.

    The only reason I have managed to stick with it inspite of all the discouragement is that everytime I sit down infront of this damn thing I remember how much I love it.

    And as for the different approaches to emotions/analytical thought that you claim are "evolutionary". Try to remember when you were 5... you and your sister both fall down, your mother wraps your little sister in her arms and comforts her with soft words and tells her how cruel the world can be...your father tells you to buck up...boys don't cry.

  • I would guess that the reason that girls that are geeks are classified as geek girls is that there are so few female geeks that being male is implied. It is unfortunate if it made you feel ostracized, but it almost certainly is unintentional on the part of the geek community.

    After all, this is the same group of people that wore directory listing down until there was nothing left but `ls' and yet somehow created approximately 400 legal flags for `tar'. We want a maximum of efficiency without sacrificing for flexibility. Hence the more common male geek is simply a `geek' and a female geek is a `girl geek'. Also note how this notation leaves room for geeks from other species (eg. `alien geek'). You will also note that your geek friends probably don't refer to you either as a `girl geek' or even as a generic `geek' (with the male implication), but instead refer to you more directly as the_v (or perhaps simply v).

    The "guys" that somehow supposed that "girls can't be geeks" are A) clearly not geeks, and B) probably delusional. After all, anyone who holds to such an idea in the face of all of the available evidence is clearly not geeky enough to truly be considered a geek.

    P.S. I prefer the term nerd, but that is probably because I don't have any friends.

  • Actually HP is pretty prograssive about getting the underrepresented into management. They will go out of their way to encourage promising women to consider persuing management.

    And, IIRC, the head of the computer division and the head of the printer divisions are both women as well.
  • by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @03:17PM (#960592)
    turned off by technical careers that they view as full of geeky guys

    The problem, then, is that we're the same guys that they didn't want to go out with in highschool and didn't want to sit next to at lunch.

    Assuming the line of this statement, I am lead to understand that if the industry was full of handsome, athletic jock guys, they would have no problem?

    Further, what does 'geeky guys' have to do with a career? Either you like the technical side of life or you don't. What next? "Gee, I don't want to work in the technical fields because of all those foreigners..."?

    If anyone is so nearsighted that they'd give up something they're interested in because they don't like the class of people that are already in that field, then maybe they should stay far away in the first place and go find a job where they can gawk at men with firm white asses as they walk by the Sam Goody's in the mall.

    I'm a bit geeky. I was also a very successful jock. I'm a young white male. I work with great people. I work with a lot of talented men and women of all ages, backgrounds, educations and ethnicities. If nothing else, the people in this industry are a reason to want to work in it, not shy away from it.


  • by Krystalia ( 157252 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @03:17PM (#960593) Homepage
    What makes it hard for me, as a women in the technology field, is that my parents tried to steer me away from computers and tried to steer my brother towards them. It happened to turn out the exact opposite... i love computers just as much as the next guy, but when the people that you are supposed to listen to tell you that girls shouldn't play with computers, it makes it harder for us to get into that stuff. Lucky for me, in high school i happened to get involved with the Computer Club by accident and totally fell in love. All my friends turned out to be guys, "geeks", who love computers and taught me so much, even got me into using linux. I don't think all women/girls get as lucky as i did and fall in with the right crowd.

    It's almost as if it's taboo to be a girl who like computers, at least where i live. I was the only girl in the computer club, I was also the only girl really willing to get involved and learn things. Sometimes i feel really inferior compared to the males, it's almost as if they treat my like i'm stupid because i'm a girl... though i try harder then most of them to learn things...

    I think parents need to encourage both girls and boys equally. That would be the first step in getting more females interested and it could start to even the playing field.

    Just my two cents :)

  • 1) On average, women make less money than men. This is mostly because of carrer choice. Tech jobs can pay very well. Some people feel that gender pay inequality is bad for society in general - contibuting to the childhood poverty rate and such. Some people feel that as long as women have second class finacial status, they will have second class political and social status. Personally, I tend to feel that everyone should have an equal chance to take care for themselves financally and feel these these efforsts help remove barriers.

    The friend I mentioned in my previous post was recently hired at Ford Motor Company. IMHO, she's a damned good Controls Engineer and could easily have gotten an excellent starting salary great benefits and far better opportunity for advancement at any of the smaller contractors Ford hires to design and maintain their machines.

    Instead, she chose Ford itself - not because they offered to pay her more or because she's on the fast track to management. You know why she chose Ford? Because they offer a great maternity leave package and job security. That was the deciding factor.

    She wasn't even looking for the biggest salary or upward mobility - she was looking for a comfortable job with a decent salary. A job that won't make her feel guilty leaving when she decides to have kids.

    I don't think it's fair to point to statistics that say "women earn less, pay them more" because there's a fundamental difference in what a large number of women are looking for when they seek employment. Yes, those statistics often cover the value of benefits too. But how do you measure something like the knowledge that your job will still be there when you return after a six-month leave?

    2) We could use more tech workers and women are an 'untapped resource'. With all the companies lobbying to increase the number of visas, it only makes sence to spend some effort in genreating more applicants at home.

    Yes, but how are you generating those applicants? Are you in fact generating more applicants, or just different ones?

    The article mentions big names like Cisco and IBM sponsoring tech camps for girls. What about the boys that would have _killed_ to go to those? Are you going to get Betty Crocker to sponsor Summer Cooking Camps for boys? =) It sounds ridiculous, because it is.

    3) Having people from diverse backgrounds working on design and problem solving often yields better results.

    Can't argue with that. Good point. Although, arguably, removing immigration barriers accomplishes this too. Perhaps even moreso.

    4) People already in the industry (both male and female) would, all other things being equal, enjoy having some more women in the office.

    This is hardly a good reason to push girls into science and engineering. So that it's easier to put together a co-ed office softball team? =)


  • by Chaosnymph ( 207249 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @03:19PM (#960596)

    I guess it depends on the geeks. If you've got to be around teenage guys, I think the geeks are certainly better than the alternatives.

    Maybe what we really need is for the media to just portray geeks in a better light and feature them in afternoon specials or whatever kids are watching these days.

    I dated a bunch of geeks in high school and they were all sweet, polite, intelligent, and a lot of fun. They also seemed likely to want to spend the evening talking or doing something fun and frivolous (contrasting, it seems, to many guys who were only interested in sex.)

    And certainly when trying to date, a 5 to 1 ratio is not a bad thing: at least from the 1 side ;-) Even if there are a few that that aren't yet ready for that level of social interaction, you've probably got your pick (and the rest are usually pretty trainable). I don't think any of my fellow female geeks ever had trouble finding dates. And we used to just laugh at the various complaints of the others about insensitive guys who never called.

    Ah, well, perceptions can be so important. Maybe we need to start a date-a-geek campaign.

    Maybe if we lure the young ones into math clubs and computer teams with thoughts of dating they'll fnd that the subject matter is pretty interesting too. I can just see the posters in the halls:

    Join the math team - 5 guys to every girl
    Need a prom date? Come to the next chess club meeting.

    Or maybe I'm just getting a little silly now. :-)

    Chaosnymph - (who recommends geeks to all her friends)

  • by softsign ( 120322 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @04:21PM (#960597)
    I took an introductory psych course this year taught by a moderate feminist prof.

    One day in class she was lecturing on gender bias in the elementary school system and how girls/women are discouraged from careers in science and engineering because teachers have this preconception that boys are better (and subsequently devote more time to them).

    At one point, she stopped and we listened to this girl in class describe how she, personally, had experienced this phenomenon in her gr. 5 class and that because of this, she was no longer capable of doing well in mathematics courses.

    Well, during this whole sob story, one of my best friends was sitting right next to me, snickering. She later recounted to me her own experience in high school: her gr. 13 physics teacher had laughed in her face when she told him her post-secondary plans. Electrical Engineering. He told her then rather dubiously to come and visit when she got her degree.

    She's planning a visit in six weeks.

    WHY DOES THERE HAVE TO BE A 50/50 SPLIT IN EVERYTHING? Is it not possible that some women just aren't as interested in some things as some men are? And vice versa? Why do we need to engineer our society to be perfectly symmetrical?

    Somebody please give me a good answer to this. Explain to me why.


  • I would tend to agree, but if a person's gripe is that they don't like the kind of people they'd have to work with, then it should not be presented as if they are being the short straw.

    Whether or not women are actually paid less than men for the exact same amount, quality and length of work and whether or not they are encouraged to participate and enter that workforce -- they are at least understandable qualms to have. If they are valid, then I have sympathy for those people who are slighted by the way things are.

    If, on the other hand, the problem is that they don't like the type of people they would have to work with, then my answer is "Tough shit. Go work somewhere else.".

  • You're absolutely correct, except they were interviewing high school girls. 16, 17, 18 years of age. That does seem to be the group that they questioned, when you take in all of their other answers to questions. The problem is very obviously not that these girls (at least the sob-story ones indicated in this article) are not given the oppertunities (hell, they're in a high school computer class, learning programming aren't they? When I was in highschool, comptuers were for learning how to type).

    The problem is the attitudes. "Oh, that's so much work" and "oh, you have to like, be exact and stuff..." -- boo hoo.

    ``It's tough work getting it to work exactly correctly and it's frustrating because one misspelled word and you can't get it to work,''

    Referring to Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates, she added, ``I say let him have it all, let him do it all.''

    That's the spirit! Let someone else do the work. After all, who wants to be like, all detailed and stuff. I mean, at least when you're at Burger King, the only important thing is that you squirt some mustard on the burger. Nobody cares where or how much!

    '`I don't want to take computer science. ... Just looking at it, all the programming and these funny-looking things on the paper. It (takes) so much stuff to do one thing on the computer.''

    I'm having flashbacks to the Barbie Doll that used to say "Math is soooo hard! - let's go shopping!"

    ``The reason why you see more men doing computer stuff is that girls are more ambitious than that. My parents always say, 'Do something with computers,' because it is stable and stuff, but a lot (of people) don't want to be at a desk from 9 to 5.''

    Oh my god. I actually laughed out loud at this last statement. "More ambitious"... What, like being the next Britney Spears or Ricki Lake?! And you have to love the "be at a desk from 9 to 5". I'm not sure about everyone here, but most of the people I know, including myself, are at their "desk" probably at least double that. Further, how can you be looking for an "ambitious" career, where you only have to work under eight hours a day?!

    It's nice to know that all of us out here who are making wads of cash -- many without formal educations (or even highschool educations) are lacking ambition.

    So, like -- ohmygod!

  • So you want a women

    The 7 step guide to getting a lasting relationship.

    Note: if you just want to get laid, you're better off masturbating or going to a party where the <ahem> women go to get drunk and laid (bring extra-strength condoms).

    Common myths you should forget:
    * Women love to hear about other conquests
    * Women will get turned on watching women have sex with women
    * Women love muscles and/or bodily perfection

    Step 1: be presentable. This means you should shower regularly (i.e.: daily or better), wear deoderant (old spice is nice), and try to have your clothes aranged in a suitable fashion (i.e.: shirt untucked if normal shirt, tucked if dress shirt, and never ever partially tucked!).

    Step 2: be yourself. Women are attracted to "together" guys (i.e.: confident and assured), not guys who attempt to be all things to all people (if you're not confident, well, that's really another whole essay in itself). Follow the Unix philosophy, and show that you can do one (or a few things) well. Don't make it a pissing contest between you and every other guy on earth, and don't lie about what you know.

    Step 3: understand her motivations. By now you've selected a girl, talked to her, and generally had pleasant small talk with her. Use this to find out more about her, and what makes her tick. Knowing a woman's motivations is like having the source code!

    Step 4: gently ease into it. Don't just call her up one day and say, "hey, wanna fuck?" Doing so will not get you anywhere (or if it does, you probably don't want that woman anyway). Assume that step 3 will take a month or more. As you know her better, signal that you appreciate her by offering subtle flirtations (i.e.: you seem stiff, would you like me to rub your shoulders?).

    Step 5: learn even more! Now that you have a small relationship started, you can take the opprotunity to learn more about her motivations. This is beyond having the source -- this is "understanding to the point of being able to implement new features" having the source. You should be able to help her with any personal problems she might share with you

    Step 6: enjoy the relationship. A relationship is not about sex. It's about having a partner of your perfered gender with whom you have a deep, mutual understanding. Sex (and sexual play) is a fringe benefit (a very nice fringe benefit). If you get to step 5, and feel nothing for her, you're probably going to hurt her a lot if you continue.

    Step 7: lead into other things. Now is when you get to consider sexual relations. It'll come as a natural extension of everything you've done so far. Enjoy it.

    Addendum to step 2: where to find women you'll like, and how to chat them up.
    First off, don't assume you'll get the hotest woman with the curves of a goddess, and the cleavage of the Indian subcontinent. Assume instead that you will find a woman whose intelligence is to the levels of Mensa. Those are the kinds of women whom geeks appreciate the most, and geeks are the kind of men those women tend to appreciate the most.
    Obviously, the best place would be your local library, or other place of learning. Find a local woman you know through mutual friends, and talk to her via a neutral medium. Shared parties, shared activities, etc. After a while, you'll get to the point where your conversations are private, one to one afairs. The woman will likely not be interested in computers. Get used to it. You probably don't want your sweetie to be intensly interested in the thing you find dearest to your heart, because having her point out your code flaws can be somewhat emasculating. Get a local Unix buddy for that kinda stuff.
    Be attentive. You certainly can appreciate it when people's eyes don't glaze over at the mention of "Unix" or "compilers," so try not to do the same when she mentions things important to her. This will make your conversations flow more smoothly, and allow you two to grow closer.
  • Is it because girls ar more sociable? I mean, guys tend to tinker with things, like cars, VCRs, stereos, computers, etc. It's almost a given that if I give an object to a little boy or a little girl, the boy will try to take it apart, and the girl will try to use it.

    I realise this is massive gender stereotyping, but perhaps the majority of girls aren't interested in socially-deprived isolated activities like staring at code for hours?

  • but I love it when i hear stories like this. Not just about how girls don't want to enter a technical career, but stories like the skills shortage, inability of IT businesses to find staff, lack of interest amongst school kids to pursue an IT tertiary education etc etc. It just means that the pay packets stay high in our industry ;-)
  • I know I'm gonna get flamed for this big time but I've got the karma so here it goes....

    Maybe teenage guys (on average, in general) view sex as a commodity more than their female counterparts. At that age hooking up with someone really hot seems like The Most Important Thing In The World. There is the belief (true or not) that hot chicks will fuck/date/marry anyone as long as he's rich. So by that reasoning it dosen't matter where a guy works so long as he's successful.

    Getting a trophy wife seems like a worthy ambition to an upwardly mobile 16 year old guy but his female counterpart would be more likely to expect her mate to make as much or more than her. And teenage girls are probaly more interested in the non-sexual aspects of relationships than thier male counterparts (the guys do catch up eventually). So a HS girl who knows that she wants to have relationships with peers and will want to put herself around as many desireable peers as possible.

    Of course, geek guys aren't all unattractive, trophy wives aren't as satifying as interesting and intelegent women and being rich dosn't necesarily get you laied. But they'll all learn that eventually.
  • I think maybe the *creative* possibilities of computers need to be emphasised more to get girls' attention, and the web is a great way to do that. When I was at school I would never have considered going into computer science as it seemed really boring, but I ended up following a kind of roundabout route of arts degree -> journalism -> web design -> programming and realised to my surprise that coding was actually really interesting and rewarding and fun. I hadn't expected the feeling of *power* - not in the sense of dominance but the ability to create stuff out of your own head - or the aesthetic satisfaction you get from really elegant code. It was nothing like my preconceived notions of a programming job as being something akin to eight hours of long division a day.

    People trying to encourage girls into computers should be using web development as a point of entry, because it really makes it clear how creativity and code interact, and scripting languages like PHP make it really easy to get started. You can learn a few basic principles and then go in whatever direction your imagination takes you, and once you get over those qualms about the 'funny-looking things' you realise there's heaps more interesting stuff out there.

    Of course it's still not going to appeal to everybody, and there's no particular reason why Katy Prendergast *should* care about programming if she'd rather be a travel agent or whatever ... just as long as girls get to have a go and see if it's for them before they write it off as 'too technical'.

  • Does anyone wonder why men greatly outnumber women in science, math, engineering and technology fields across all cultures, ethnicities, religion, and political lines all over the world, at any given time in human history??

    This is not an American phenomenon or some white male sexist chauvinistic conspiracy. It is purely Biology 101. You will find the same "problem" in Russia, Israel, China, Latin America, or Africa. Men greatly outnumber females in tech fields across all racial and ethnic groups all over the world.

    The genetic differences between males and females simply lead to different tendancies in how men and women use their brain. In short, men tend to think better spatially and thinking of things as objects, whereas females tend to personalize in their thinking. Women have no trouble going into social sciences or practicing law. The men who go into tech fields tend to have the most extreme levels of spatial/objective ability. Even though most men do not feel comfortable or desire a science/math/engineering/tech career, because these fields really demand the most extreme in spatial/objective ability, most people who do will statistically on average be men, thus men will outnumber women.

    Now, whether we want to increase the number of females in tech fields is a seperate issue. It depends on how far we want to social engineer people to do certain things because we want everything to be politically correct.

    The excuse that women don't want to go into tech jobs because of us geeks is true, but it is not the core reason why women don't go into the jobs. That's like saying most men don't want to go into daycare because they don't like taking care of little children. Anyways, biology is not really interested in what you want or don't want, that is subjective, and for psychology to interpret. Biology is only interested in action, what you ultimately end up doing.

  • So maybe when we're all cyborgs, and hacking code is indistinguishable from "hacking people", this won't be an issue...


  • What men, in their imbecility, constantly mistake for a deficiency of intelligence in women is merely an incapacity for mastering small and trivial tricks. A man thinks that he is more intelligent than his wife because he can add up figures more accurately and because he understands the lingo of the stock market, and follows the doings of political mountebanks, and knows the minutiae of some sordid and degrading business or profession, any soap selling or the law. But these puerile talents are not really signs of intelligence; they are merely accomplishments, and the differ only in degree from the accomplishments of a trained chimpanzee.

    The truth is that the capacity for mastering them is the sign of a petty mind, and Havelock Ellis, in his great study of English genius, shows that men of genius almost invariably lack it. One could not think of Shakespeare or Goethe or Beethoven multiplying 3,456,754 by 79,999 without making a mistake, nor could one think of them remembering the price of this or that stock last July, or the number of beans in a pound, or the freight rate on steel beams from Akron, Ohio, to Newport News, or concerning themselves about the cost of producing a stick of chewing gum, or the pay of street car conductors, or the credit of some obscure shopkeepr in Memphis, Tenn, Such idiotic concerns are beneath the dignity of first-rate minds.

    That women always try to evade them - that they have little capacity for the childish complexity of tricks upon which men base their so-called business and professional skill and cunning - this is but one more proof of their intellectual aristocracy. They are not stumped by such enterprises because they are difficult, but because they are trivial.

    - from "Meditations on the Fair," H. L. Mencken, 1917

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • I work at HP which has a female CEO, and my manager is a woman. Of course that doesn't mean she's any better than the normal clueless managers ;) There has been a lot of press about the CEO though.

  • by Eil ( 82413 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @04:35PM (#960645) Homepage Journal

    I think the problem here is that people aren't yet understanding that the two genders in our society are not the same. They have different behaviors (in general), and are interested in different things. Does this mean that one sex is obviously better or superior? Of course not. Does this mean that women aren't capable of some of things men are generally more proficient at (such as programming) or vice versa? Don't be absurd.

    My point is that females are just different than males. Just what is so wrong with *most* women not liking the same things as men? Trying to figure out *why* this is the case is irrelevant, and so far it's leading to a whole slew of stupid assumptions in this thread, since it's fairly obvious that it won't change a whole lot in the near future.

    I see nothing wrong with trying to introduce females (and maybe more males) to technology, computers, and programming. But specifically trying to recruit more women into computer technology fields simply because the male/female ratio isn't balanced is just plain ignorant. It's exactly the same as pushing more females to become NASCAR drivers or encouraging males to do cheerleading in highschool. And if I don't keep repeating this, some troll is going to flame me: This doesn't mean that [gender] can't do [activity], it just means that most [gender] aren't interested in [activity].
  • I've actually heard from guys who have pinups of Miranda (User Friendly [userfriendly.org]) and Ki (GPF Comics [gpf-comics.com]) on their walls. In fact, many of us would like nothing more than a girlfriend who could actually code. Sadly, I know of only two females who can write anything more impressive than basic HTML. (Before I get angry responses, I openly acknowledge that I do not know everyone in the world.)

    I wonder why it is that girls don't go for guys in IT. Sure, the occasional one of us is a fat slob or turbo-nerd, but I don't think those subsets are in the majority. And, we tend to have more money than the average Joe Six Pack, which is supposed to be attractive (according to the Discovery Channel, because it signals the women that we're more apt to provide for their young).

    So, what's up? Why do the women keep flocking to the high-power lawyers (which is just as non-physical, academic a job as programmer), while neglecting us? What the hell is going on?

  • I have found that many geek guys know all too well that they are smart - and it's true, many of them are more intelligent than the average person. Trouble is, they let ppl know about it.
    And I've seen it happen time and again: the geek get's up on his mountain top to show everyone he's the king and knows everything. And that just turns anyone (not just girls) away faster than
    greem stuff between your teeth.
    (unless you happen to have a faster processor, more RAM and a bigger HD - "birds of a feather flock together")

    Also, I've come across many geek guys that just haven't grown up - they're still playing computer games at 30. Girls mature faster than guys, guys laaaaaaaaaag behind signicantly until late teens (so I'm told) - but some guys just don't seem to break the teen-male mentality. I've spoken to many girls who just take one look at a geek guy and see a child...

    I won't start on personal hygiene, because that is something every geek must get together - for the sake of his friends and especially those of the opposite sex.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:11PM (#960667) Journal

    Somebody had to say it.

  • by drix ( 4602 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @06:44PM (#960687) Homepage
    Jesus Christ, amen to that. If women aren't flocking in droves to technical fields, perhaps it is because they don't want to. I'm consistently amazed at how often this simple point it just overlooked by some self-righteous feminazi with an axe to grind. These fools acts as if thirty years of conscious gender equalization did nothing to level the playing field. Well, guess what, it did. People can carp about the "glass ceiling" all they want, but the fact of the matter is that there are basically no barriers to female employment anymore in many fields. Hell, most companies strive to have female execs, just to curry goodwill in the eye of the public. This is just so especially true in computer fields, where the emphasis has always been on what you produce and not who you are, what you look like, or whether you have a penis. So this whole argument about a "tech fraternity" or woman being somehow excluded is just total bullshit. Almost all of my highly nerdly friends are guys. Do I know why? No. But it's not like I don't know a hundred girls who had the exact same education as we did, came from the exact same socioeconomic background as us, and simply chose to do other things with their time. Because I do. They went on to become doctors, lawyers, whatever. The thing to notice here is that they were never discouraged from choosing a tech field. They. Just. Didn't. No one really stops to consider they maybe men and women are just wired differently, despite the fact that they obviously are. I'm not saying that women are any less smart than men in tech fields, I'm just saying that something inside their heads makes them less interested in it. I think it's rather pointless to try, in vain, to change this.

  • by drs ( 122029 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:18PM (#960704)
    I think the attitudes of the people in this discussion show us exactly why the "ladies" and "girls" often don't start into technical careers. Its a system that feeds on itself.

    And the salary ceiling that women hit in technical fields if they don't move into project management or sales isn't much of a positive incentive either.

    It's unfortunate because when your whole company is made of 25-35 year old straight white males (like mine), you are naturally going to have a limited number of approaches to a given problem. Divesity is a real benefit. Too bad we don't get more of it.

  • by knghtbrd ( 593 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @06:55PM (#960721)
    Arguably I have little room to talk given that the last time I looked I was male, but this so-called gender gap in technology is a joke. YES there are men in this field, there are men in lots of fields. Yes (especially places like irc) anyone known to be female joining an irc channel is going to get a bit of crap from a few of the males there who are young, hormonal, and can't seem to behave themselves. That sort of thing is going to happen anywhere and it doesn't just happen to women because they're women. It happens to people in general because they're not the same. This is a very sad thing, but it happens in every field and everyone is going to face some form of social discrimination at some point, usually over something as pointless as their sex. The same applies for age, nationality, school or experience background, appearance, social class...

    While it is true that discrimination happens, this has the feel of someone feeling that someone set out to prove there's inequality for the sexes in technology. Look hard enough for something and you'll find it. This story doesn't deal with schools being harder on female students or employers disregarding apps because of the sex of the applicant.. No, this is a study saying that because there aren't enough females in technology, there aren't enough females in technology. Give me a break! I don't believe in effects causing themselves - especially when it comes to people. As a species, humanity is more stubborn than that. And the half a dozen female geeks I know seem to indicate this to be true. They don't care if the industry is populated by men - geeks are what they are and the "geek lifestyle"(?) is the one they've chosen.

    I encourage any woman who wants to go into technology and has even a shred of self-respect to do it. If they meet resistance, keep fighting. I feel I was just about born a geek and I wouldn't let anyone in the world take that away from me - they shouldn't either.

  • So the majority of girls don't want to watch the Man Show, or to play Football. (Yes, there are exceptions.) The reason probably isn't so much that they are male dominated. Perhaps women aren't as interested in computers because the male domination has steered everything in a direction that they are really not interested in. Ever thought how modern computing would be different if it was women dominated by the start?
  • by Brave Little Toaster ( 111113 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:20PM (#960731)
    'Girls have the ability to learn and use computers, but they are turned off by technical careers that they view as full of geeky guys'.

    This really does depend on which girls you talk to. If it's teeny-boppers who love Britteny Spears and who care lots about what other people think, then yes, they will be concerned about working with 'geeky guys.'

    If, however, you talk to a more independently minded young woman, she is more likely to give real reasons besides cooties for not wanting to persue a tech-related field.

    The study blames the general sentiment on a gender imbalance in access to computers, and on social pressures that steer girls away from technology.

    Now, this I buy. Generally speaking, schools do not do a good job of encouraging our girls to get into science and technology. This has improved in recent times, but there is still a long way to go. Parents also don't always do a good job of encouraging girls to try out computers. In fact, some unwittingly discourage them. (I continually thank my mother for giving me legos instead of an easy bake oven when I was a kid.)

    And never underestimate the social pressures women face in the workplace. Not every person can deal with sexist attitudes that many women encounter in tech-related jobs, and so some women choose not to deal with it and persue other careers. While I think this is sad, I personally know two women who left the computer science field because of sexism and other social pressures they continually faced from their peers. It does happen.

    Nevertheless, there are many women such as myself who love computers, technology and science, and who thrive on working with geeky people. In fact, for me it's a requirement...

    brave little toaster


  • by small_dick ( 127697 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @06:58PM (#960733)
    [to the tune of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"]

    she won't stare at the monitor's light
    society says "don't you wanna hack all night?"
    we just don't care about zeros and ones
    and grrls, don't wanna be geeks
    no, grrls don't wanna be geeks.

    lasted three days in a programming class
    those "for loops" and "call stacks" really kicked my teen ass
    just can't log into those x-terminals
    and grrls don't wanna be geeks
    no, grrls don't wanna be geeks.

    not what they want, not a geek,
    let the boys balance red-black trees,
    cuz grrls don't wanna be geeks.
    no, grrls, don't wanna be geeks.

    they don't wanna, they don't wanna,
    they don't wanna, they don't wanna,
    grrls, oh, grrls, don't wanna be geeks.
  • by knghtbrd ( 593 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @07:02PM (#960738)
    I think 2/3 of the geeks here can attest similar results. In fact, every time someone tries to ask a young woman if she really wants to go into technology, there's someone beating the crap out of a young man for being a geek. I won't speculate which is worse, but the fact is that schools---at least American schools---favor athletics over intellectuals. As I noted in another message, there's no gender gap or sexism there - just different measures to discourage the intelligent from being so.
  • by g33kch1ck ( 207300 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @07:23PM (#960771)
    The article seems inherently flawed to me. For one, it's statistical fact that not many people are entering computer science programs, no matter their gender. The biggest flaw, however, seems to be that the University Chicks were asking high school kids what they wanted to do with their lives. Now that's fucking brilliant. I'm going to be 27 this year, and I've only recently figured out in which ball park my career will reside, much less nailed down the specifics... I've gone from a dual major in English and Journalism, right out of high school, to Computer and Information Sciences and Information Design. There is a difference between the two. Asking an 18-year-old child what she wants to do With The Rest of Her Life is the stupidest of grounds upon which to found a study, in my opinion. The fact is simply that being a geek is a life style, not a career choice. It takes a special breed of HUMAN, male or female, to be a geek. If the University Chicks are upset by their stats, the realization should follow that more people should be recruited for technology careers, not just more women. As for the statement, "they are turned off by technical careers that they view as full of geeky guys," I can only retort that I wouldn't want to date anyone with whom I couldn't discuss the things that interest me. At the risk of practicing age discrimination, I'll ask how many high school aged girls know what the hell they're looking for in partners? I know when I was 18, I dated a drastically different kind of boy than the man I am with now. Incidentally, he's a hell of a lot prettier than the non-geeky guys I dated then, too. Frankly, most of the quotes in the article seem to come from girls who are probably great until they open their mouths and ruin the effect. "I don't want to take computer science. ... Just looking at it, all the programming and these funny-looking things on the paper. It (takes) so much stuff to do one thing on the computer." This girl is, in effect, saying, "Math is hard." I'd like to know how well this female did in school over all. The socialization issue warrants further study. Female children are not taught they may manipulate their environments, and some studies link this rearing style to female difficulties in math. If little Jimmy is running through the house and breaks something, boys will be boys. If little Jenny does it, she's being unlady-ish. Still, this issue speaks to a larger socialization issue, and only reflects on the technology industry in the same way it would reflect on any other industry: all PEOPLE should be raised equally. But what do I know? I'm just a poor, helpless girl.
  • by the_v ( 49077 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:27PM (#960774)
    When I was younger geek seemed to be a word that was used to describe people with an extreme interest in anything (ex. soccer geek)...

    but now it seems that definition has been applied to guys who like computers.. emphasis on _guys_..

    It seems that if a girl has an interest in computers, she's singled out as a _geek girl_

    girls don't seem to be included in the new definition of geek...

    For a while I had a problem with this.. being a member of the female population with a major interest in computer engineering I felt a little put off...

    The last thing I wanted was feel excluded from my feild of interest because of my gender... I didn't want to be singled out either..

    So I decided to forget about the whole thing until I realized that there was no good reason for it...

    Now that I've gotten passed the initial batch of "girls can't be geeks" guys and I've met some really cool people, male and female, who don't have these prejudices and now I get to work on some neat stuff.

  • by linuxonceleron ( 87032 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:30PM (#960808) Homepage
    AFAIK, Most lawyers drive a BMW 750iL and socialize at a country club, wear designer clothes, have nice furniture. These are accepted as symbols of wealth. Your average geek is more likely to drive a reasonable car, and spend his money on computers/electronics and all. To a woman, the nice car and furniture is more appealing than a Sony ES home theatre system and a Dual PIII 933. But as far as women not becoming geeks themselves, I don't know, there probably are, we just don't notice them or something.

  • by tarka69 ( 159890 ) <(tarkasteve) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:36PM (#960864)
    My girlfriend and I had a discussion about this last week. It got a bit heated (wine was involved :), but in the end there was one main thing we agreed on: while men and women may be capable of the same things, men often go further because of focus.

    It's one thing to have a talent for something. But to to truly master a field requires a certain amount of mono-mania. This is what makes true masters of their art what they are. It's also what makes many geeks insufferable people to deal with.

  • by zorba ( 124513 ) on Monday July 03, 2000 @02:38PM (#960867)
    The people trolling this story are the same ones that cause females to turn away from technical careers. Even if a female is inclined to technical pursuits, she has a powerful reason not to, when the technical field is filled with sexist, insecure, and socially incoherent people.
    A male has to deal with social pressure from outside the geek community, but within the community, there is support and like minded people. I'm generalising here, but a female has to deal with harrassment from both inside the community and without, and for most of them, it just isn't worth it. I have a tremendous respect for females in technical fields, because they have to deal with social difficulties on two fronts.
    In other words, don't treat female geeks as aberrations, prospective geek wives, or otherworldly creatures... treat them as fellow geeks.

If you're not careful, you're going to catch something.