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Attracting Women Into Computer Science 1174

Frisky070802 writes "U.S. News & World Report has an article about attracting women into Computer Science. '...That sense of isolation and inadequacy is one reason the number of women earning computer science degrees in this country has plummeted over the past two decades--with women dropping from 37 percent to 28 percent of graduates--at the very moment their presence in other scientific and engineering disciplines has soared. 'You look at the national statistics,' says Rick Rashid, senior vice president of research at Microsoft, 'and you just have to be appalled.'' It describes how some companies have even started summer camps to attract high school girls into high tech."
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Attracting Women Into Computer Science

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  • Don't... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cwebb1977 ( 650175 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:33AM (#9945949) Homepage
    Just don't show them how we use that one-handed keyboard.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:34AM (#9945950)
    How about just "Attracting women" for starters....
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:14AM (#9946107)
      Bold, new initiatives like this have to start with small and vaguely achievable steps, so, for starters, just work on not repelling women.

    • by Madison K ( 678992 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:23AM (#9946434) Homepage
      How about just respecting women?

      So many times I talk or I see another woman talk to you guys and your eyes just gloss over like you go into some standby mode until we finish. Then many of you keep right on as if we said nothing at all.

      Just a thought.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:29AM (#9946466)
        Yes dear.
      • by fuzzix ( 700457 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:45AM (#9946581) Journal
        So many times I talk or I see another woman talk to you guys and your eyes just gloss over like you go into some standby mode until we finish.

        I think it's due to the fact that most, if not all us men are driven by that overriding biological imperative, sex. Personally I try not to let it intrude on my platonic and professional relationships and think I am quite successful at this - but I'm never sure :)

        You could help out by pointing it out whenever it happens - ("I'm up here!") but most guys don't even realise their doing it - it's instinct. I have a belief that we are endowed with intelligence to make instinct redundant - intelligence gets you further in life. When's the last time you saw a successful professional (outside management) working solely on the archipallium? Thing is, a lot of the time people have a tendency to abandon their higher functions for a bit of hootin' and hollerin'

        Just know that the next time a guy glazes over, becomes a gibbering wreck, acts like a pompous ass or keeps gawking at certain physical attributes it's nothing personal - it's a rush of hormones to the head...

        But most geeks are probably loath to admit that :)
        • by mandolin ( 7248 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:50AM (#9948635)
          She was complaining about our eyes glazing over, not our eyes glaring down at her chest.

          This is simply called "not paying attention to what the other person is saying". Both sexes are guilty of this. Fixing it is more of a matter of acquiring conversational skills than suppressing your hormones (unless some beauty queen is competing for your attention).

          Ever heard of someone who's a "good listener"? They just know how to pay attention.

          OTOH, if you notice somebody drifting off, and it's not important, it's wise to just change the topic. Either they're just not interested, or you screwed up the delivery.

      • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @10:23AM (#9947555) Journal
        How about you not talking to us about who is the hottest cutie on the latest reality soap eh?

        Oh you don't do that, that is just some women who do that and some men as well?

        Then why do you lump together all men?

        I have worked with a number of women in both tech and non-tech, in both boss and superior roles and I think that sexism goes both ways and you just proved me right once again.

        Many techies are not the greatest communicators, don't attribute to sexism what can be attributed to pisspoor verbal skills.

        I sometimes get a kind of glazed look. It usually happens when a non-geek woman tries for whatever perverted reason to join a geek conversation. The glazed look comes from trying to work out how much you gotta dumb down the conversation without it becoming insulting. The same occurs when non-geek guys try to talk geek but there we don't care about being insulting.

        Best way to avoid the glazed geek look? Don't talk to us. Many many women already took this advice.

        As to the problem of CS students. I think many men take CS because it is their hobby. The few women I met who are into CS mostly took it as a career option. They figured that it is light physical highly paid work and they got the brains so why not. Or they become programmers as a step up to management. Only one woman I ever met in work was into programming for her hobby. And she was working in Human Resources. Oh the irony.

        • by shastasino ( 805004 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @04:46PM (#9952490)
          As a woman who has gotten her CS undergraduate degree and currently is a computational scientist (in another scientific field) I'm finding many of these comments patently ridiculous. I can only speak for my own experiences but I do believe them to be indicative of what it means to be woman in CS. In undergrad I fell in love with coding and added a CS major to my degree. I found that I was tolerated but not important. However, I wasn't going to let the fact that no one took me seriously get in the way of my education. I asked all the questions I could, used every resource available to me and ignored that fact that people pretty much helped me out of paternal amusement. No one actually thought I'd do anything useful in the field. I never let on that I got better grades than all of them. I took my skills to another area of science where I'm valued and I still get to use my computer skills. I administer my own set of machines, I write my own code, I design and implement my own projects and I'm expected to contribute and work damn hard (as everyone I work with is expected to, male or female). Let me kill some myths here. It's not that I was one of a few women in CS that was the problem (I'm still in science here, trust me I am pretty much only surrounded by men). It was how I wasn't even important to anyone. I didn't count, no matter how well I did. I wasn't respected. And don't tell me that your 'hormones' kick in when you talk to a woman so you can't listen to what she says. You're an adult. Get over it. And as for this 'glazed' look everyone keeps talking about when you, god forbid, have to talk to someone who doesn't quite know what you know. In my field, it is my responsibility to be able to communicate my ideas effectively regardless of the background of the person in front of me. This ability affects my access to funding, enables me to form productive collaborations and to express the importance of science to the wider social community as a whole. Think about how isolated your life and how narrow it is if you can only communicate with the very few people around you who know exactly what you know. How do you ever get new ideas for your work? All my best ideas come from interactions and exposure to different fields and approaches. Anyway. I've left the field of standard CS and never looked back. My advice to any woman who's struggling in the CS field, Take your skills and run. There are many places where you will be respected and valued, just not in CS.
      • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @12:02PM (#9948797) Homepage
        What a brilliant fucking idea! Respect... women... Treat them like you would anyone you respected. Judge them by their actions, not the descended/undescended status of their gonads...

        Naw, that will never work! We need a HOWTO that tells us not to use the word "bitch"! No, wait, we don't need that, because women suck at math and don't want to be programmers anyway, and it's not sexist to acknowledge this obvious fact!

        Damn. Anyone who wants to study why women feel unwelcome in computer fields simply needs to parse this thread and see who is actually in the field themselves. I think they'll find the answer right there.
    • "Aim a little lower"?

      I'm already staring at their chest... maybe you should say aim a little higher?

      <eddie murphy>It's just jokes baby!</e>
    • Am I the only one who glanced at the topic and saw "Attractive woman in Computer Science" ???
  • HOWTO (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brainix ( 748988 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:38AM (#9945963) Homepage
    For those interested in encouraging women to become involved in Linux (and computer science), there is an interesting HOWTO [].
    • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Funny)

      by linsys ( 793123 ) <linsys.intrusionsec@com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:41AM (#9945972) Homepage
      Here is a quote from that HOW-TO:

      3.3. Don't call people bitches

      Using the word "bitch" (and several other words) is derogatory to women, no matter whom the word is referring to. I wouldn't have bothered to include this except that it's apparently not as obvious as I thought, as I have recently heard Linux developers use "bitch" in a serious manner with apparent nonchalance"

      YA THINK??

      I couldn't stop laughing when I read that...

      • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:02AM (#9946696) Homepage Journal
        Quite seriously, for a man to say "bitch" and then say that it's not anti-woman is kind of like a white person saying "nigger" and then saying that it's not anti-black. Some insults are just insults, especially when used by a member of the group that's not being insulted, and there's no way to change that. It amazes me how many people don't get that, and when they're called on it, whine about "PC". It's not political correctness, folks, it's a matter of basic politeness.
        • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bogado ( 25959 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:52AM (#9947193) Homepage Journal
          Words are harmless, meaning are. It doesn't matter what word you use if you mean it as insult, it is a insult. I can imagine easily a couple calling themselves the worst insult words in a romantic (not sexy, but romantic) manner and it is also quite easy to picture a racist using politically correct words to insult everyone and their neighbors.

          I usually think the wiser persons would, should, not be offended by the use of a specific word. The use of a word is extremely personal, and could have many meanings.

          Said that, I am just want to state that I am not saying to everyone start using bad words to people you don't know, this would be impolite at least. But I do believe that a little informality is aways more comfortable.
    • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:42AM (#9945975)
      I think the fact that there is a HOWTO for this speaks volumes about why there are not more women involved in IT.
      • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Brainix ( 748988 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:53AM (#9946016) Homepage
        I think the fact that there is a HOWTO for this speaks volumes about why there are not more women involved in IT.

        I'm not sure what "volumes" it speaks, and I'm also not sure if you've read the HOWTO, but I feel the need to comment.

        The HOWTO is more about the mentality (specifically the attitude towards women) of many people who are involved in technology, rather than about the female mind or technology itself. The HOWTO suggests that such attitudes tend to keep women out of technology, not the nature of the female mind or technology itself.

        Sorry if I seem a bit defensive. I am male. But I have a younger sister who can run circles around me when it comes to math/science/technology.

        • Re:HOWTO (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) * < minus poet> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:15AM (#9946396) Homepage Journal
          Man, just don't get it do you?

          There's a frigging HOWTO for interacting with women in this field.

          Let me say that again:

          THERE IS A FRIGGING HOWTO. Look, do you need a how to interact with women in other fields? No? Then why would you need one in this field?

          Maybe it's because a lot of the men in the field are completely inept individuals with the people skills of a rat? DING DING DING! We have a winner!

          • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Funny)

            by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:54AM (#9946646) Homepage Journal
            I resent that remark. Saying I have the people skills of a rat assumes that rats have people skills. I, sir, have the people skills of a phicus plant.
          • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Funny)

            by Arathrael ( 742381 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:45AM (#9947119)

            ...a lot of the men in the field are completely inept individuals with the people skills of a rat?

            I would like to say that comparing the inept individuals of the IT field to rats is highly insulting. To the rats.

            Speaking as someone who lives with several rats, and as someone who is also only too familiar with the denizens of the IT field (because I'm one of them) I can honestly say that I would prefer to socialise with the rats any day.

            I mean, rats don't seem to feel the need to constantly womble over to me and remind me of their complete idiocy, in case I'd forgotten in the few minutes since they previously did it. Rats will sit quietly and lick my fingers. Admittedly I wouldn't want the IT guys to do that, but small furry mammals can get away with it. They both may try to steal my biscuits, but the rats take smaller quantities and seem to appreciate it more. They also both steal my pens and chew on them, but the rats seem to do it less, and can easily be distracted by a small piece of biscuit - and they don't claim they were 'just borrowing it' and accuse me of being overprotective of my stationery. Rats don't laugh/snort at their own bad jokes. Rats don't think that everyone in the world wants to hear their opinion on the latest developments in the Star Trek universe. They also don't think it's more important than anything else I could possibly be doing. And they don't tell me, whatever I'm doing, that I'm doing it wrong. Admittedly rats will occasionally chew through unprotected cables, which isn't something I can say I've seen the IT guys doing. But IT guys will occasionally steal, sorry, 'borrow' the cables, or unplug my computer, or delete my files, etc., so I think that balances out in the rat's favour.

            And I can put rats in a cage, and they're not too bothered about it. IT guys complain if I shut them in the closet. Admittedly non-IT people complain about that too though. I should probably stop doing that.

            Rats are also cleaner, better groomed, and smell less. A lot less. And I'm not kidding about that.


      • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Funny)

        by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:43AM (#9946228) Journal
        So you're saying it should be a man page?
    • Re:HOWTO (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:14AM (#9946104)
      Informative? This HOWTO is awful!

      "Don't make sexual advances towards women"

      er...1)in which profession hobby is it ok to do this? and 2) I doubt this is a reason women avoid computer science, not that I'm any expert, but it just sounds idiotic. Men are making sexual advances on women at anytime of day and place, and I doubt that prevents women from computer science. The rest of this howto just seems to be making victims out of women. "If there is one bad apple in your group of 25 users, women will stay away. Ok... and there are no bad apples outside linux users groups, and women don't stay away from those other things. "Women are less confident of their computing knowledge". Yech. How can anybody write this. My gosh, what a broad sweeping load of crap. This HOWTO seems like a crock of shit. Just my flamebaited opinion. n/t
      • Re:HOWTO (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Creepy ( 93888 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @10:26AM (#9947599) Journal
        Unfortunately, I think women being turned off by technology starts very young. Back in my pirate/hacker days (Elementary school and Jr-high, mostly), my nerd clique dissed girls who had any interest in computers, or at minimum, hogged the computer time. I only knew two female programmers (sisters that bragged about being babysat by Seymore Cray) by high school and about 30 male (only about 6 good ones), but even those two girls weren't really programming much when I knew them.

        By college, there were only a handful of women, and many of them had little practical experience programming, where by that time I had a lifetime. In this way, I believe in the "less confident about computing knowledge" - having programmed since 9 has a very different learning curve than starting at 18 (college, where most of the women I knew/know started programming), although having started at 9 with no formal training means unlearning a lot. One thing it does do, though, is boost confidence - I was completely overconfident that my Apple ][ BASIC knowledge would make Pascal easy (it didn't, but mainly for formal matters like indenting, not coding itself).
    • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Davak ( 526912 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:58AM (#9946302) Homepage
      Still, others regard the industry's gender crisis as the product of a more challenging problem--its image as nerd central. At Intel, where she chairs women's initiatives, Liu finds herself trying to convince visiting teens and Girl Scout troops that's a bad rap. "We're trying to show girls that this is something cool and fun," she says, "and that we look like regular people. We're not weird or geeky." The National Academy of Engineering has also launched a website called "Engineer Girl!" with jazzy graphics and job stories of fun-loving young female engineers trying to make a difference.

      We're not weird or geeky?

      Let's be a realistic here. I am a ubercool kinda dude, and most of my "nerd friends" are as well. My fellow geeks that I work with have played professional sports, won skateboarding contests, gone to medical school, and been in successful rock bands.

      These are very cool guys and gals for the most part... however, we are all still geeks. It's like saying that doctors shouldn't express their type A personality... we want doctors who are type A!

      To be a good computer person, you have to enjoy staring at code on a screen! That messes with your brain!

      Trying to change the image of your average geek is pointless. Pay us more and give us more benefits... that will get more people into our field!
      • Re:HOWTO (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:52AM (#9946629) Homepage Journal
        No shit. And apparently the implication is that girls can't be geeks? Ggeek-ness is something that cuts quite nicely across gender lines. If they're trying to recruit the kind of girl whose main concern is clothes and makeup and who makes head cheerleader into tech ... well, that's their tough luck. Go for the smart, quiet ones in the back of the room, same as with the boys.
  • by laserbeak ( 794029 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:39AM (#9945964)
    Well you know boys, a nuclear reactor is a lot like a woman. You just have to read the manual and press the right button.
  • WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:41AM (#9945970) Journal
    Why do these figures matter? How about we look at how many men become nurses, or how many men become child minders (I remember a news story on one guy being accused of attraction to children for getting a job like this, even though he never harmed a single child in any way).

    I don't care if theres 10%, 50% or 103%. It just isn't important to monitor such trivial things. As long as you can do your job why should it matter if you have a penis or a vagina?
    • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:46AM (#9945987)
      I was just about to mention how many nurses are women until I saw your post. Some majors are just preferred by one sex over the other. It doesn't mean schools should start a huge new politically correct campaign to convince women it's their duty to go into the sciences. People should study what intrests them, schools should leave it at that.
      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ba3r ( 720309 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:56AM (#9946030)
        The preference certainly is taught by society; and changing the traditional roles of women is something not easily overcome because many have what they think is a preference, but is probably heavily influenced by role models and experience (like female nurses).

        That being said, I am not against gender roles in society, and extreme androgeny offends my better senses, but I will readily admit this is mostly due to my upbringing (and of course my hormones that tell me that a women is not attractive when she looks like a man).
      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BabyDave ( 575083 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:02AM (#9946060)

        But what about women who are interested in CS, but are intimidated away from it because they see it as male-dominated? What about men who would enjoy nursing, but are afraid of the stigma (real or imagined) attached to male nurses?

        Sure, don't try to force a 50:50 ratio no matter what, but it's good to encourage the breaking of badstereotypes, so people don't feel the need to take crap like that into account when chossing a career.

        • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:45AM (#9946239)
          My cousin David is a nurse. Funny thing is at first he wanted to be a truck driver, but couldn't find a job after getting his commercial license, so he went back to school.

          He's very happy (except maybe for that bit about ending up living next to the WTC as a result). As you point out pressures are exerted both ways to persue "sex appropriate" jobs.

          I've spent a few years as a "housewife" (excuse me, "homemaker"). If you're a man, socially this means "bum." The stigma is real in some quarters.

          Fuck 'em. Do what you want.

          • Re:WTF (Score:5, Informative)

            by Unordained ( 262962 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:56AM (#9946295)
            Working from home (as a guy) is just about as bad for your image. My mate works in a "real" job (IT manager for the county), so she pokes fun at me for being the one staying home. I get to watch the cat, change the laundry, accept packages arriving (for her) ... and yeah, pretty much everyone around me asks if I work. Apparently to work, you not only have to have income from it, you also have to have an office away from home. (I fully respect "homemakers" for the work they do, particularly if there are lots of kids at home ... but then, I vacuum and do the dishes, and wouldn't have it any other way. If one of us weren't employed, we'd still split the chores.)
        • Re:WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nwbvt ( 768631 )
          I think in this case it is even worse because not only is their a perception of the CS world as male dominated, but there is also a prevalent notion (even among many so called feminists) that women just suck at anything having to do with math, science, or logic.

          Thats why when you take a standardized test the math section is always much easier than the verbal section. Having a difficult math section is considered sexist by many because "women are no good at math" (these are probably the same people who co

      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Catskul ( 323619 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:09AM (#9946086) Homepage
        I agree, this push to get women into technology does the women who want to be there a dis-service. When people who were coaxed into a major that they didnt really want to be in, I think they tend to shine less when they enter the work force. If you get to have alot of disintrested women entering the Tech work force, it creates a stereo type that will unfairly be applied also to the women who actually wanted to be there, and went into tech on their own. This is the same problem that exists with affirmative action. Treating the symptoms only makes the problem worse.
      • Re:WTF (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kalidasa ( 577403 ) *
        The reason so many women are nurses is inertia. In the beginning, it was nearly impossible for women to become doctors (nearly!), so women interested in health became nurses or studied the "allied health professions" (phlebotomist, dietician, physical therapist, etc.). After all, look at where the name of the profession comes from. Now, women tend to go into nursing because ... wait for it ... women tend to go into nursing. It's become a "women's thing," as CS has become a "guy's thing." Some women who'd be
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by seraphina ( 722336 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:51AM (#9946010)
      Actually, it's just as important that we get more guys into childminding and nursing as well as getting more women into IT. As a female grad student in a male-dominated lab, it's essential that these role models exist. They are few and far between - the two female profs here are both slightly mad with no life outside of work. It's important to show women that you can do IT/tech/science jobs and have a life. In an ideal world it wouldn't matter if you were a man or a woman. But it does, so I think programs like these will help us get towards a more sex-neutral workplace
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by j-beda ( 85386 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:03AM (#9946065) Homepage
      Why do these figures matter?

      Generally speaking, we as a society are better served if a broad spectrum (no pun intended) of our population are involved fully in all aspectss of society. If any field is over-dominated by one segment of our population, we run the risk of making errors in decision making and direction and value. Perhaps rather than "error" it would be more accurate to use "sub-optimal decision" or something like that.

      If all doctors are males, perhaps we are less likely to have advances in health issues for females. If all child-care workers are females, perhaps our children will have difficulty creating healthy relationships with males. If all street-seepers are Western Antarticans perhaps no one will ever use the more efficient broom-twist developed in Eastern Antartica.

      If all (or an overwealming majority) of any group is homogenous, there is the danger of not having a wide enough number of viewpoints to be able (or likely) to arrive at optimal solutions.

      Thus, it is generally a good idea to encourage participation in a variety of fields by a variety of people.

      Of course the optimal use of limited resources to encourage diversity, and the optimal level of diversity, and the relative importance of diversity in a variety of fields, is not obviously clear. It is left to the reader as an exercise...

      The comp sci numbers quoted seem pretty good comared to physics... I think med school and law school are currently more than 50% female.

    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

      by djtrialprice ( 602555 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:14AM (#9946108)
      I used to think like this. What does it matter what the percentage divide is? We shouldn't be looking to get more women into computing. We should try to get the best people into computing, regardless of their sex.

      However, after reading somet HOWTO about how to ease women into IT (I thought it would be funny) it actually changed my opinions.

      Little subconcious things that us males do to women in IT segregate the two sexes e.g. hitting on them. Also, (I've been guilty of this in the past as a University Lab demonstrator) if we were helping a guy out with a problem we'd explain what to do / talk them through it. If it's a woman, we take their keyboard and do it for them - thus they learn nothing.

      Oh, and really, we are one of the biggest cliques around. It's hard to get into. I just think we could do more to get women into IT, not by treating them differently but by trying to treat them the same.
      • Re:WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

        by questamor ( 653018 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:53AM (#9947207)
        I used to think like this. What does it matter what the percentage divide is? We shouldn't be looking to get more women into computing. We should try to get the best people into computing, regardless of their sex.

        Definitely. Get the people in who are interested and who have the skills. As a woman who's been there and done that, I'd recommend to anyone not to read the title as "Attracting Women into Computer Science" but "Stop turning women away from computer science". OK, it's not exactly that situation, but somewhere in between. There are many of us, MANY, who share a common story. We're young girls who, aged 13, find computers. DOS. Linux. whatever. We enjoy computing, we game, we script, we learn to code. Then we come up against...

        Little subconcious things that us males do to women in IT segregate the two sexes e.g. hitting on them. Also, (I've been guilty of this in the past as a University Lab demonstrator) if we were helping a guy out with a problem we'd explain what to do / talk them through it. If it's a woman, we take their keyboard and do it for them - thus they learn nothing.

        Spot on!. We come up against those little things. And while they're little individually, when they happen constantly, day in & day out, over and over it's a drain to have to deal with it. Any guy ever had the odd bad boss and had to move on? The attitudes of many men feels like that. Not just one, but many all the time. For all the good guys out there there's still many who can't take a hint. Look at a GNAA troll for example. It's funny once, right? Someone's put some effort into a troll. Six months later when 20 of those trolls are cluttering up a story it's not even remotely fun.

        I had a discussion with a male friend at university once, who tried to understand how much a PITA it could be and I described the issue of unwanted advances from guys I really didn't care for. He described in great detail how it once happened to him. At the start of the year (a few months prior) a new girl began in his help shift and latched onto him. He felt he knew what it was like, and it was no big deal, he eventually got rid of her affections & moved on. He understood my point when I mentioned that so far that day I'd had 3 unwelcome advances from guys, ones who'd done it before. Just in that day. Guys, it's like spam. Really. Once is flattery, thirty times a week is "I'm going somewhere else, really". I consider myself pretty damned boring as girls go. I'm plain, overweight, completely unstylish and still this amount of attention pops up.

        I just think we could do more to get women into IT, not by treating them differently but by trying to treat them the same.

        You have it pretty much on the ball. We're all just geeks in the end. Nobody has to try getting any & every woman into IT, that's unfair to the women and men involved. Just let the girl geeks have the same fun as the boys, without the condescending hit-ons put-downs and crap that happen daily, over and over.
      • Re:WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

        by clambake ( 37702 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @10:03AM (#9947294) Homepage
        Also, (I've been guilty of this in the past as a University Lab demonstrator) if we were helping a guy out with a problem we'd explain what to do / talk them through it. If it's a woman, we take their keyboard and do it for them - thus they learn nothing.

        More likely than not we'd make him feel like a total ass for not already knowing and call him retard until he figures it out for himself just to stop us from bashing him. Is that something that women respond to?
    • Re:WTF (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sm1979 ( 558600 )
      I certainly don't agree with you. The reason why girls are less attracted to sciences is not some god-given natural fact. It's how boys and girls are raised and possibly lots of prejudices and sexist comments from science teachers etc. I remember quite some anecdotes of physics teachers mocking the girls in class that they don't even know how a washing machine works. And I was on a mathematical and natural sciences high-school, that was an all geeky place. Guess what the boys/girls ratio was.

      Ignoring th
    • Re:WTF (Score:5, Interesting)

      by YouHaveSnail ( 202852 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:39AM (#9946535)
      Why do these figures matter?

      These figures matter because women have long been discouraged from going into science for no reason other than the fact that society thought women weren't smart enough or tough enough to work in science.

      These figures matter because when you have some professions that are chock full of women and others that are devoid of women, it's easier to discriminate against women. Compare salaries for teachers and nurses against those for software engineeers. It's easy to say "oh, it's okay that nurses make 60% of what software engineers do, because there are lots of nurses, and nursing is less technical and less important." Well, there's currently a huge shortage of nurses, and an overabundance of software engineers. If you think it's less technical, you don't know much about modern nursing. The nurses I know save lives on a daily basis, and that would seem more important by any measure than writing, debugging, and meeting with other people about code.

      These figures matter because I like women. And not just to look at and fool around, but to work with and talk to and socialize with. The best projects I've worked on (best here = most productive, highest quality code) are the ones where I've worked closely with a woman. Same was true in college. For whatever reason, there's just been a really good, effective dynamic there in terms of helping each other to understand requirements, come up with good designs, and build solid implementations. But the group I'm in now has zero women out of thirteen programmers, and the one I was in before had two women out of twenty-five programmers. Getting more women into software development would be a good thing.

      It just isn't important to monitor such trivial things.

      It is very important to monitor and learn about such things. The reasons behind these changes tell us useful and important things about our industry, and about society. It could turn out that there are legitimate reasons for the change in the rate of women entering computer science. Or, it could turn out that schools and businesses are discouraging women from entering CS, and that discouragement might rise to the level of unfair gender discrimination.

      One obvious reason to monitor such things is that there's a history of discrimination against women, and we want to make sure that we're not falling back into that historical pattern.

      As long as you can do your job why should it matter if you have a penis or a vagina?

      Exactly. So, why does it seem to matter?

      Maybe there's a difference between the genders that just makes men enjoy the challenges that software brings, and makes women all want to go into nursing and teaching. Maybe it works out that way completely voluntarily, because we're all enlightened and obviously everyone is treated equally and without gender discrimination. Let's just accept that for a moment.

      So we've got this fairly interesting gender difference staring us in the face. It's so strong that it accounts for a 4:1 ratio of men:women in computer science and probably other engineering fields, and a 1:4 ratio in teaching, and a 1:15 (or something like that) difference in nursing. Wouldn't it be important from an academic point of view to study this difference? What is it that drives men into some fields and women into others?

      Alternatively, there's some outside force, something other than innate differences between those of us with a Y chromosome and those with a double dose of X, that has at least some impact on the matter. And I can't think of any kind of outside force that wouldn't qualify as gender discrimination.

      If there is unfair discrimination, then hiding your head in the sand and saying "why do we even bother monitoring silly things like this" is the thing that allows it to continue. Trying to understand it, and to make sure that you and your own attitudes are not part of the problem, is the only way to begin to end it.
    • It's actually quite simple. Accepted studies show that there is no gender "benefit" to being a male and studying compuer science. Hence, if women aren't going into computer science or related fields, the profession is losing valuable insight and talent that it otherwise should have had. Or look at it this way... everyone who enters the field has a chance of doing something that benefits society at large (like develop the Linux kernel, or develop an efficient algorithm, write Tripwire, etc). If we're losing
  • Well gee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Epistax ( 544591 ) <epistax@gmai l . com> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:43AM (#9945977) Journal
    Many boys are given legos. Many girls are given dolls.

    Go figure.
    • Re:Well gee (Score:3, Funny)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 )
      Which is why men build machines/gadgets and women break them? /me ducks
    • Re:Well gee (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Khali ( 526578 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:01AM (#9946052) Homepage
      Many boys are given legos. Many girls are given dolls.

      My sister and I were both given Legos when we were young. We were both given dolls too. And it happens that I'm now into computer science, while she's baroque music. So even when given the same opportunities as kids, grown up by the same parents at the same place and going to the same schools until we were 17 year old or so, we have completely different interests now.

      So, either we were born with differences, be they related to gender or not, or there are just too many factors to be taken into account through one's life and any individual signal we pick and try to analyze is completely undistinguishable from the overall noise.

      • Re:Well gee (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Elsebet ( 797203 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:34AM (#9947010) Homepage Journal
        When I was in 9th grade I asked for a typewriter for Christmas, instead my Dad suggested a computer. Where he got that idea I have no clue, but I got one. After my brothers helped me put it together (none of us knew anything about computers) I taught myself how to use it. I was hooked! I took all the computer science courses at my tiny high school and my teacher (much

        Now that I have a BS (in CIS) and have been working a few years, I do notice most other women I've worked with in IT really don't have the driving interest in technology I do. It's more like just a job. Hence I bond more with the geeky guys where we can chat about the new video cards, OSS, or whatnot.

        Really you can't force a love of technology on anyone, male or female. If they're into it, they'll find their own particular area. Not giving them the exposure or serious chance is the worst crime.
    • Re:Well gee (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mxyzptlk ( 138505 )
      Hehe - my mother brought up me and my brother during the 70's, and she thought that we should be raised independently of us being boys - all in the name of equality.

      Oh boy, did those dolls suffer... :-) We were a bit disappointed that the dolls didn't have an exciting internal design, like watches or radios.
    • Re:Well gee (Score:3, Informative)

      by pubjames ( 468013 )
      Many boys are given legos. Many girls are given dolls.

      The old nature/nurture debate - do girls become girly because we treat them so?

      Well, ask a parent. Let me tell you, it really changes the way you see this issue. Girls and boys are different in their behaviours, very different, from an early age.
  • by danormsby ( 529805 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:44AM (#9945979) Homepage
    Do we want to be attracting more women or do we want to be attracting the best people?

    I've never been comfortable with the social engineering of equivalising M/F ratios in any given discipline.

    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:58AM (#9946044) Journal
      and they want their sexism back. You're correct that we do want the best people, however it would appear that some of the brightest and best are not going into the field. In College, the smart women were all math majors. They were more than qualified to pursue CS, but there was so much blatent sexim in the department they were discouraged from entering the field. Its not so much as encouraging as it is not discouraging.
      • Er wha? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:41AM (#9946215) Homepage

        Stop throwing around generalities in an attempt to build a straw man.

        In College, the smart women were all math majors.

        In what College? When? Have any numbers? There were hardly any female mathematicians at my University, the ratio was around 85% men to 15% women.

        I ten to agree with the other posters - despite what everyone would like to believe, man and women *are* different. They like different things. For some stimuli different areas of a mans brain react than a woman. It is a fact that men and women's brains have evolved differently over the ages. We simply do not know enough about the brain to speculate at this point whether on average one brain is more optimized to certain types of tasks than another, although evidence would support this (women's communications centres are larger, men's spatial-relationship centres are larger).

        SO, given all this uncertainty, how about instead of trying to exert undue pressure on one gender to fill a certian role, we just let people do what they want to do?. I would never, ever, ever become a PR consultant. I can't stand the type of work it is ( running aorund, chatting it up with people, lying for a living). However, that does not mean that I hold PR people in a low regard or that I do not respect their intelligence, to the contrary, they're some of the smartest people around I wager (look at the shit they get us to buy!).

        So why can't the same be said of women? Why is it if a woman does not want to enter a science or computer sicence field they are being discriminated against?

    • by twiddlingbits ( 707452 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:06AM (#9946352)
      Given the current state of the IT field with many jobs leaving to go to those in India or other low wage nations, why, would anyone WANT to get in the field? If these folk are really the best and brighest they should use that intelligence in some area they can earn a decent living. If they are still interested, even though making thier living in another area, they can contribute thru the F/OSS movement.
  • by MOMOCROME ( 207697 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:44AM (#9945980)
    you've got to be kidding me.

    We all know how unattractive CS people can be, especially the ones getting red in the face over frequent online arguments about KDE vs. Gnome.

    To imagine these hard-up saps actually trying to pull off a frickin SUMMER CAMP to ATTRACT some TEENAGE GIRLS into the sorry world of the code monkey, why that's the most cock-eyed, half baked plan I ever heard of!

    Maybe when this fails to play out (and it will, seeing as how anyone with a brain can see right through the scheme), perhaps they can regroup and try to trick these girls into the backs of their vans, with some candy bars.

    sheesh. this is why there are marketing departments, people. You just can't let the code monkey crowd interact with the public.
    • I attended one (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kria ( 126207 ) <.roleplayer.carrie. .at.> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:19AM (#9946843) Journal
      Well, actually, I attended a total of three summer events at colleges, while I was in Junior High or High School.

      The first one was called Summerquest and was at Eastern Michigan University. It was for both genders and covered a wide variety of topics. I was there for the Creative Writing part. I don't think anyone from that group is earning their living through writing... ;)

      The second one was called Summerscience for Girls, later, I believe, renamed, though I could be wrong. This was obviously just for females and included groups on Physics, Chemistry, etc. I was in the Physics group. I truly do believe that more of us ended up with an interest in science. In addition, I heard quite a few stories from girls who really had been discouraged by teachers and other adults from science and math, and I think that this summer program may have given them a bit more strength on that.

      The third program I attended was the Michigan American Legion Auxillary Girls' State. Essentially, it was a thing for learning more about politics, and many of the girls who went were ones that were very involved in school politics and the like. While some of them were very bright, it was definitely not true of all of them, and I enjoyed it considerably less than the other two, where participants were sent based on academic record. It also totally turned me off any idea of going into law (I was my "city" lawyer) or politics.

      I, personally, have not had a problem with _teachers_ or _parents_ discouraging me from science and math. I've been exposed to computers since I was four (ah, the TI 99-4/a), and always told I can do whatever I put my mind to do. On the other hand, I have certainly felt discouraged by peers, while I was in high school, at any rate, with the typical ridicule for getting good grades, being "too smart for my own good", and reading too much.

      Despite the fact that I went to a college ( that was only allowing women in in my class, the class of '99, I did not feel that there was anything wrong with my being there. I feel very little pressure of that nature here at work, despite being a programmer on a defense project.
  • Figures seem high (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shard013 ( 530636 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:48AM (#9945994)
    Even that 28% seems fairly high to me. At my uni in computer science I would say probably not even 10% are female. I'm in Australia too.
    • thats about right. My college there were two females in my class. One graduated early, so now there is only one. This is out of roughly 20. I don't know how many females are in the other classes (I personally know of one, but I know they are more, just don't know who they are). Even if my university is low, I've heard of other colleges where the ratio is almost 50/50.
    • Sounds close to me - in first year. The female drop out rate was pretty high in my courses, so the numbers were lower my the end of it.
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:51AM (#9946012)
    I have Karma to burn:

    Why do we need any percentage of male/female for anything or everything? When the phonecompanies still used operators, it was women who were better in handling all these calls. They were better in 'multitasking' then men were.

    In the Netherlands, the phonecompany did exams for operators and made no difference in male or female. However the women were just better at it. They just hired the best qualified people.

    If women are not interested in those things, so what? It is not that we discriminate against women, that would be extremely bad. It is not as if we let the women study and then not give them a job.

    Being equal is not the same as being identical.
    • We need it because girls and boys aren't treated equally. Boys get more attention in school, get more technical toys, have more role models etc. That's the reason fewer women get into CS and that's not only suprression of a majority of the population it's also a waste of resources for a society since we're more likely to miss out on more than 50% of the geniuses.
  • Single sex classes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mxyzptlk ( 138505 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:54AM (#9946022) Homepage
    Sweden has used classes that only women can participate in. The women said it made them not feel as singled out as they would have been in mixed classes.

    Of course, studies has shown both that mixed sex classes are better, as well as single sex classes... It is probably best to offer both alternatives.
    • by ctr2sprt ( 574731 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:38AM (#9946205)
      I have a friend who's Jewish, and he confessed to me one time that he often felt very singled-out. Anyway, it was a big deal for him, and he often felt very alone at college. One time when we were talking about this (he was feeling especially down that day), I asked him why he went where he did instead of a place like Brandeis, where he'd be in the majority. And he told me that he did it because he needed to learn to live in the real world, where Jews are often few and far between. Going to Brandeis would be more fun, he said, but he'd have to make the transition sooner or later - and better to make it when all your expenses are still paid by your parents, instead of when you're living truly on your own for the first time.

      It struck me as a very wise point of view to have. And it's one I think applies here. You can go with single-sex classes, sure. But once these women graduate, they're going to be in environments where, quite often, they are the only women in the department or on the shift. If they can't take that, well, it's better to find out before you dump $40k+ getting an education in a field where you won't be working.

  • by BobWeiner ( 83404 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @06:57AM (#9946036) Homepage Journal India where there's a 70 / 30 ratio of men / women in Computer Science. Given the cultural push towards education over there, computer science isn't stereotyped as a male oriented field as it seems to be here in the US. This is also true in fields such as engineering.
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:06AM (#9946075) Homepage

    Other women... check!

    Jobs... check!

    Men with money... check!

    Men with power... check!

    Men with style... check!

    Men that will leave them alone when asked... check!

    Un-sexist men... check!

    Yeah, that's a lot of motivation to spend 4+ years at college in a tech degree. Seriously though. Would you want to go to a sports school to get a science degree, or somewhere like MIT for sports? No, you wouldn't, as you would not fit in nor would you likely enjoy the social atmosphere.

    I'm sure the social aspect has a large amount to do with it, but it's also likely that that technical fields simply don't appeal to most women. Women seem to be pre-disposed towards "social" tasks, and don't think in an engineer-like fashion anway (so psychologists say).

  • Give It a Rest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:10AM (#9946090)
    Ten minutes after it's publicly posted, and the vast majority of comments either say "how about attracting men to childrearing? Why isn't that an issue?" or "well, maybe they just ain't interested! Social engineering sucks!"

    I've not seen any evidence that women are somehow biologially inherently uninterested in the computer science field. You can talk about interactions all you like, but I dropped out of a pretty damn decent CS program because I realized I want human interaction, which is why I'm now in _IT_ rather than in programming -- so I get to deal with people. There _are_ CS-oriented environments and jobs that offer more interaction.

    My concern is that what we're seeing is artificial -- that women are either dissuaded from entering/staying in the field or are not as encouraged as men. This is bad both because we might be missing out on excellent people out there just because they don't have a penis and because if we discourage women from entering profitable fields (offshoring notwithstanding), we end up perpetuating an earning power inequity between men and women. This sucks because, well, when I get married I'd like my wife to make at least as much as I do (and ideally, much much more. Really, a sugar mommy wouldn't be so bad :) ). And when I have a child, if she's a daughter, I'd like her to have as easy of a time getting into a profitable profession as a son.

    So yeah. Honestly? I don't care about men in nursing; both because I don't think society has much to gain by pushing men to accept lower-income jobs (next, lets try to get affluent white kids to take up a career as janitors! That'd be useful!) and because, even in nursing, we see an earnings gap (male nurses get promoted faster and are paid more, on average, than female nurses).

    Oh, and forgive me for being a selfish asshole, but the other reason I'd like to see more women in CS is because I'd like to finally be able to talk shop with my loved one; I've known exactly three very attractive women who were in IT (and had a relationship with one of them). We need more.

    • Re:Give It a Rest (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrankyFool ( 680025 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:14AM (#9946102)
      Oh, one more point:

      I've personally witnessed issues with women in CS in terms of how clients and coworkers interacted with them. It verged from annoying (in my first IT job, I had a coworker who had about eight years of experience. There were customers who she'd tell something who would then turn to me to confirm/deny this, because, well, apparently having a penis made me really, really smart) to creepy with racist overtones (like the person who argued that the Indians who were harassing female coworkers were just adjusting to our own culture and in their culture it was perfectly OK).
      • Re:Give It a Rest (Score:4, Insightful)

        by l4m3z0r ( 799504 ) <> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:25AM (#9946896)
        to creepy with racist overtones (like the person who argued that the Indians who were harassing female coworkers were just adjusting to our own culture and in their culture it was perfectly OK)

        This attitude is something that I have no tolerance for, and so far I am fortunate to not have dealt with it at my job. The idea that we should turn back years of much needed social change in our country because some asshat from a sexist country comes here and desides that american women NEED to be put in their place is absolutely ridiculous.

        I'm perfectly happy to tolerate/embrace the way you pray, eat, or conduct yourself privately. But when it comes to respecting women, we shouldn't be asking for it, we should be demanding it.

  • it hurts (Score:4, Funny)

    by macshit ( 157376 ) * <.snogglethorpe. .at.> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:35AM (#9946193) Homepage
    Based on my experience, there's really only thing that will work:

    Professor Leonardo Dicaprio.
  • it's too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by themusicgod1 ( 241799 ) <themusicgod1@zworg . c om> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:40AM (#9946211) Homepage Journal
    After about the age of 3 or 4 the trends have allready been set and it will be a battle getting women interested into deckery or linux. A lot of superficial mental tokens of personal identification are reinforced and given to children before they get into grade 5 or so. By then it's allready too late. Complaints that engineering/CS fields are underrepresented by women are so because society at large treats women like property, stupid and unthinking, and expects them to act that way, at a very young age. Instead of becoming doctors they are taught to attempt to marry doctors.

    And believe me, the marketing departments of large corporations everywhere, expanding their influences younger isn't going to make things any better. There's fashion clothing stores with pseudosoftcore advertisements in public shopping malls for *children*! I realize that the next generation has got to try to out-do this one, but holy cow, using children as sexual objects of desire for mass marketing purposes? this is going to mentally retard the next generation, specifically women who are the targets for the majority of these marketing ploys.
    Why think when you can watch television, huh? and THAT is why you won't see quite as many women in the field.
  • by usurper_ii ( 306966 ) <<eyes0nly> <at> <>> on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:50AM (#9946265) Homepage
    at the very moment their presence in other scientific and engineering disciplines has soared.

    Maybe because they are smarter and are going where the money is?


  • by infornogr ( 603568 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @07:59AM (#9946306)
    Isn't it a little presumptuous to think that women must be equally _capable_ of succeeding in computer science, and that any observe discrepency between male and female success in the field must be the result of a "sense of isolation and inadequacy" to the exclusion of all else? This is like arguing that women aren't as successful as men at competitive weightlifting or hand-to-hand combat because of their "sense of isolation and inadequacy", and that it couldn't possibly be attributable to hormones and sex-linked genes. When you're dealing with fields of study like pure mathematics, chess strategy, computer science, or other subjects that are so incredibly dominated by men, you have to be open to the possibility that there are simple truths of evolutionary psychology that are preventing women from being successful in these professions. This isn't like wealth distrobution where you can just point the finger at sexism. If I recall correctly, among the top five-HUNDRED highest rated chess players in the world, there is only ONE woman. You don't see that level of male dominance anywhere in the real world outside of contests of pure physical strength, and probably not even there. You certainly don't see it in lists of the richest people in the world (there's two women in the top ten). If we assume that the cause of this is simply a "sense of isolation and inadequacy" or simple sexism, we have to ask ourselves if it really makes sense that chess players and organizations are really so much more sexist and induce such greater feelings of inadequacy, especially considering how much effort major chess organizations are putting in to attracting women to playing chess.

    Of course, computer science is nowhere near as male-dominated as chess, but I was just using it to prove a point that there are some limited fields where the discrepencies between men and women can't be explained away culturally. There _must_ be some deeper reason why women don't play chess, ,whether it's genes, nutrition, alien mind control, whatever, and we must accept the possibility that this reason is also applicable to computer science. Only once we understand the _real_ causes of differences between the sexes can be hope to change them. We can't eliminate sexism by deluding ourselves.
  • by Saunalainen ( 627977 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:23AM (#9946432)
    There have been a number of posts saying that this is because of girls' biological disposition against science and engineering - boys like lego(s) and girls like dolls, etc. However, the article (also quoted in the story) says that the underrepresentation in computer science is not repeated in other scientific disciplines. So, what is specific to computer science that is unattractive to women, compared to chemistry, maths, etc?

    The article contains a quote that

    girls--unlike boys--want jobs they believe can make a difference in society. But they don't view high tech as a key to that idealistic path.
    but surely biotechnology is also `high tech', and I see no suggestion that women's representation is decreasing in that area.

    So, what is it? At the risk of being modded flaimbait, is it perhaps that Physics, Chemistry, and Biology are somehow seen as more noble pursuits, that Computers are intrinsically a means to an end rather than an end in themselves? That CS majors are seen as an inferior type of geek relative to their cancer-curing, drug-designing, atom-smashing counterparts? Yet other branches of engineering (bridge building, rocket science) are also fundamentally concerned with solving practical problems, but somehow they don't carry the same stigma.

    Is there, after all, something intrinsically semi-autistic, and therefore testosterone-linked, in fiddling with computers?

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:48AM (#9946603)
    She was the first programmer, and she has a programming language named after her. Women are not incompetent at all in computer sciences, but they like other areas better, mainly those that they can deploy their instincts better.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) * on Thursday August 12, 2004 @08:50AM (#9946618)
    Why bother? More women in CS just means more jobs to eventually outsource to India. The few Americans whom are left in the US tech industry need less competition from new grads not more.

    In general, workers should never encourage people of any type to enter their field. Managers always encourage people to join their employees field because more people in CS means lower salaries for those currently in the field.

    Lets compare... young guy gets BS and MS CS degree in 7 years, makes $75K for 5 years, skills are obsolete, his job is sent to India, and he will never work in "tech" again. Or, young girl gets nursing degree, makes $50K plus paid overtime for the rest of her life. Who is the "smart" one? Obviously the young girl.
  • But why is it necessary to go to the effort and expense to "attract" them to compsci? I mean, some government bureaucrat comes up with magical numbers, that true or not, shows a 10% decline over the last couple decades, and now the old saggy feminists are in a tizzy or something? For all I know, those 10% of women decided there was more money in MBA's and they're all our bosses now. How could you possibly hope to persuade them (or their daughters, more accurately) back to compsci?

    Excepting any kind of discrimination that keeps them from pursuring careers in this field, why is this a problem?
  • by rben ( 542324 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:03AM (#9946700) Homepage

    It seems to me that women are just more pragmatic about career choices. With all the news about computing jobs going overseas and jobs being cut right and left in the industry, maybe it's become apparent to women that other engineering fields are better choices.

    I won't argue that computing has been portrayed as a boy's world and that it can be hostile to women, but then lots of other fields have been hostile and that didn't keep women from fighting their way in. Look at the medical field, law, and other engineering disciplines for examples.

    Being good at computer science requires a significant commitment from most of us. There are some who are so good that they can breeze on by, but for most of us, it's a constant effort to stay current with the technology. Computer science is still probably one of the most self-taught of potential careers. In order to be successful you have to commit to the same hours as a new lawyer at a high priced law firm, but without nearly the same pay. It's not the best choice if you want a balanced life.

    I would not be at all surprised if we see these numbers turn right back around when the economic situation for programmers gets better. Perhaps this is just a case of women being the wiser gender.

  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:05AM (#9946718)
    Because there aren't enough computer nerd-girls in high school.

    Everyone I know in college in CS who's any good at it has been coding or tinkering with his system for at least five or six years now. It intimidates me for crying out loud, and I'm one of them! When you're sitting in on your first real programming class and guys are talking about the security work they've been doing at Sun for five years (and the guy was maybe one year older than I am) you're going to be intimidated.

    Why does this affect girls more? Because society doesn't encourage girls to be social outcasts. Guys, for their entire lives, are encouraged to find a few things that they like and do them to obsession. So in high school you have jocks and nerds and car guys, etc. Now, the nerds KNOW that they're social outcasts, but they've chosen that path, and gain a feeling of personal worth and justification in being GOOD at what they do. And since they generally have no girls to be wasting their time with, they do it a lot and become very good at it.

    I've never noticed girls, as a group, creating that same sort of rebel identity, based on ability. I've worked a lot with high schoolers who are going into engineering this year, including a lot of girls, and none of them have seemed to have the "the world hates us but it doesn't matter, because we're damn good at what we do" mentality.

    So, when anyone looks at going into CS at college, they see the average person going into it as someone who already knows about half of what they're going to be teaching. They're cocky and confident in their abilities. Of course anyone's going to be intimidated. And, by the structure of our high school society, it is more likely for someone on the intimidated side to be a girl.

    My girlfriend's a CS major, too. She's an excellent programmer, and I've never seen someone get as excited as she does about her code working for the first time. She says she's never minded not having more girls in the classes; girls are silly and illogical, or something like that. However, she *has* expressed her concern on multiple occasions that the raw background experience of everyone in our classes makes her feel like she's completely out of her league.

    It's a tough situation. I don't see an easy way out of it, unfortunately, since the problems tend to go all the way back to middle school or earlier.
  • by emorphien ( 770500 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @09:26AM (#9946908)
    I remember when I was in High School, and when I graduated and went to a tech college (still there, going to 4th year) I heard a lot about this. My mother worked in the guidance office for a while when she got bored staying at home and shared a lot of interesting things.

    One of the biggest things she saw was the advice given to these girls. Some of the guidance counsellors hesitated to suggest girls pursue technical interests. My high school is better than some, a fairly high ranking (nation wide) public school, and we're better than the majority of schools as far as this kind of thing goes, but it still happens. If the good high schools have guidance counsellors who hesistate to support the girls' interest in a technical field, what kind of message is that giving them?

    High school girls (and of course younger) are constantly being told they don't have what it takes to make it in the tech world. It's often quite subtle, or even good natured such as guidance counsellors trying to help. But the result is that these girls have the idea impressed upon them that technology is not a field they should pursue. In high school they're pushed towards the honors and AP liberal arts classes, as opposed to the sciences like biology (always had the most girls though), chem and physics. The math department in my school was fairly homogeneous as were the AP science courses, but when it came to honors or electives you didn't see as many and I know people who came from other schools who said there were hardly any girls in AP math and science courses.

    The industry has obviously shown it would love to have them, and the universities are trying to entice them, but I think most of the things preventing more women from entering technical fields are happen at a young age.
  • It Happened to Me! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Orthoepy ( 702410 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:14AM (#9948161)

    Okay, I'm only seeing posts from guys, or from women who are actually working in IT, not from women who like computers/programming but who AREN'T working in IT.

    I was interested in computers and took a programming class in high school --PASCAL. (Yeah, I'm old.) I was one of two girls in the class; the instructor ignored us both, unless he was standing WAY TOO CLOSE. The guys did not want to partner with us for programming projects (although MY code always worked, dammit). My dad bought a PS/2; I was the only one in the house who used it. I took another class in college (Hypercard, also called Computer Programming as a Liberal Art). Two quarters. It was interesting (and taught by Don Crabb, anyone remember him?) but not very technical. My technical questions (How Do It Work?) were met by pats on the head and suggestions to just work with the program, not take it apart.

    I got a job in a very women-friendly field. However, my job brought me in contact with SGML/XML and (surprise!) Perl. I taught myself Perl from an O'Reilly book. I did a huge conversion project, all by myself, that would have cost my employer $25K to send out-of-house. When it finally ran, perfectly, I spent twenty minutes trying to find a co-worker to tell who would understand why I was so happy!

    I love Perl and use it almost every day. I enjoy programming immensely. I have three computers in arm's reach (two Macs and a PC) and another two in the next room. I don't need to call some guy to fix my network settings or my printer (I replaced the rollers on my laser jet myself). I might not be the best programmer ever, but I can hack my way through most of the problems that I need to solve. I even interviewed for a programming job once, but only as a way to get my then-employer to realize how much I was actually worth. (It worked, I got a 15K raise.)

    Perhaps we don't need to encourage women to go into CS, but rather let them know how CS skills can enhance their worth in other jobs that they may be interested in. (I find that I don't like to hire people who express disdain for computers -- it's like hiring people to do construction work that don't like hammers.) Also, I totally don't understand why people say women aren't good at programming -- they're programming LANGUAGES, aren't they? Women are supposed to be good at languages. (I find a language like Perl, that has so many Ways To Do It, very easy to work with. If the computer doesn't understand me the first time, I just rephrase my question. Just like I do with my husband. Simple.)

    (And I would have loved a computer camp. All those cute geeky boys, at a ratio of 5:1 or better?)

  • by sillypixie ( 696077 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @11:23AM (#9948254) Journal
    For crying out loud, the only thing the majority of you seem to be able to say is: "but men and women are different".

    The whole point is not to make women more like men. If the only answer to getting more women into Comp Sci was to make women more like men, then we might as well all save our collective (very repetitive) breath.

    We know that many women are smart. We know that many women are excellent problem-solvers. We just don't yet know how to inspire women to use their talents in the Comp Sci field. That is where the challenge is. It isn't in getting women to change. The challenge is finding a way to think outside the traditional, linear box that Comp Sci sits in right now, to come up with the way that this vast, untapped group of people can use their own skills in a way that satisfies them and inspires them!

    And, by the way, yes I'm a girl geek, yes I am good at what I do, and no, somehow playing with dolls as a child did not naturally predispose me to be a nurse or a teacher. That's right, I am feminine - analytical - and a geek and proud of it. The fact that I act like a girl (and have since birth) has nothing to do with whether or not I am capable of getting a comp sci degree. I'm very sorry to disappoint you... Just because we're different does not mean we cannot accomplish the same goals.

    Ug. Now y'all got me riled up....

  • by wintermute42 ( 710554 ) on Thursday August 12, 2004 @04:20PM (#9952130) Homepage

    Given the current state of computer science employment, I'm not sure that I'd encourage anyone, regardless of gender to go into this field. Given the instability in employment and flat job market, the only reason to go into computer science is because you love it.

    I went to a talk by a woman professor at the UC Berkeley engineering department. She pointed out that women act a bit like canaries in a coal mine. When they start to disappear, the field is getting toxic. I think that in may ways we have a toxic profession. Some of the best jobs are now with the government. This is a bad sign. It is a sign of an unhealthy job market and profession.

    In addition to the current job market we have a profession that is infamous for its age discrimination (look at empolyment statistics for engineers over 40). I doubt that it is an easy field for women to work in. I suspect that there is gender discrimination as well. This is why you see women gravitate to large companies like IBM and HP, or to government jobs. These organizations at least attempt to actively work against gender discrimination.

    So it should not be a surprise that while there are now notable women in mathematics (like Ingrid Daubechies), we are not seeing as many women in CS. I suppose that at least we can pat ourselves on the back that our field is better than Wall Street, where humans in general and women specifically are treated badly.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling