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Encouraging Female Programmers 343

aquarium writes "Why is programming dominated by males? The St.Louis Post-Dispatch has a story that states one of the reasons is that girls are not encouraged to experiment with computers. Speaking as a male, I did not need anyone to encourage me to experiment with computers. It was something that just came naturally." According to the story, Carnegie Mellon University is actively recruiting female CS majors. This year they expect 37% of freshman CS students to be women, up from 8% in 1995.
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Encouraging Female Programmers

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  • I have read so many things about how women aren't encouraged to go into computer science. How women are not wired for computer science, how women just don't have the hacker gene, what not.

    To tell the truth I get kind of tired of it all. I am yet another geek girl, and I know I am not the only one. My first experience with a computer was with a Commadore PET in about 1980. You can click here to see the picture if you like.

    PET pic []

    Since then I have not been without a computer. My father has a degree in computer science and through his job was able to bring home loaners from all periods of the history of the pc. I had a Vic 20, Commadore 64, an Atari 600 (I think), One of the first Macs, a Monroe Litton, IBM PC, Zenith AT, a 286, a 386, a 486, and a pentium.

    I taught myself Basic, when I was 12, Pascal at 13, and C at 14. The year I taught myself C, was the same year I was in Grade 10, and I had my first computer class in school where I was "learning" Basic. I came out of that class with a perfect mark, and managed to start looking at assembly language by myself.

    I saw high school computer classes as a waste of time and did not take another one, that didn't keep me from teaching myself new principles.

    My dad first got me an internet account in 1992 because I was on BBSes all the time anyhow. So I went on the net, and learned Unix so I could make the most of my internet account.

    I have the geek gene, it definately is neither a male or female thing. I am stubborn enough to want to keep working on things till they work, I am curious enough to keep learning about new technolgies, and I just plain love computers. Past Boyfriends have pointed to the monitor and accused it of stealing all the attention they wanted.

    IDIOTS, It is the CPU I love.

    Point at the case and you may have a relevant point. :)

    One boyfriend called the computer my other boyfriend. My boyfriend now, he's a geek too, and he knows that if I am coding, that I am in the zone, and that he comes second. He doesn't mind, I have more computer knowlege and experience than he does, and when I am done, I'll be ready to show off what I have done, and explain it to him. A few of his friends, fellow techies - know I am more geeky than them too, and they are used to it now.

    I made the mistake of not going directly to university out of high school, but I went back to school a few years ago to start my computer science degree (I am not finished it yet - I am on a break while I try to recoup financially). I encountered my first experiences with stereotyping at a university level. I would never be assumed to be in computer science by strangers, after all, I am female, I must be in Social Work, or Psychology. I didn't encounter any stereotyping from my classmates in computer science or any of my instructors. I was in the top 10% of my class and I quite enjoyed working with people who appreciated my mind and my technical abilities instead of (or perhaps as well as) my looks.

    Girl geeks get stereotyped by society, yes, as shy introverted socially awkward plain janes. Male geeks are stereotyped too. Unattractive socially awkward dumpy short and wearing glasses. I am sure the male geeks appreciate the stereotypes just as much as the girls. I am an attractive woman, and I know attractive men in computer science as well.

    Having a brain does not disfigure the body!

    I think more women should go into computer science, so I can have more women friends to chat with who will understand when I am having a problem debugging a program at 4 am. So I can talk about a concept I thought up for setting up my server in a new more secure manner. I want female friends I can talk about the things that excite me, and their eyes will not glaze over.

    The problem is not female role models, or sexist stereotypes.

    Women, girls, check out MECCA and join the Syster's mailing list, or if you are a student, the Syster Student mailing list ( be prepared for tons of mail from Syster's).
    Their url is []

    That is almost enough of a ramble for me, I have decided not to include in this such things as a long ramble on Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, or any of the women who programmed the ENIAC, because if you knew anything about computer history - these are givens.

  • Hmmmm, I think it might have more to do with the fact that the male brain seems to respond and focus on visual cues, while females are more inclined to respond to auditory and tactual interaction. As programming takes alot of time spent staring at a screen silently, it just may inherently not be a womans cup of tea. For example I know alot of woman who use computers, and while they are in chat rooms in AOL or channels on IRC, they talk out loud when they respond, or read what is being typed to them. It might just sound silly to them to read C code out loud ;-)

  • S&P 500 utility eh. Well given Fl*rida's whopping economy I guess if you work in Fl*rida you work for TECO.
  • This is going to piss off all of the feminists, but the truth is, the workplace was not intended for women. When I say "workplace", I mean the entire phenomenon of people going to work at a business to make money. Men, feeling their innate need to do create something with their own hands and minds, got together to create the "workplace". It was intended as a means for men to do what men were born to do. It was not intended to accommodate women because, at the time, women didn't care about these things.

    Times changed, and women started to demand access to this creation of man. That's when all the problems started. Men resisted women's attempts because they created the workplace to get away from women! Men wanted to act like men and do manly things, and this would have to stop if there were women around. Now we have all these extra rules and restrictions, and forcing men and women to act alike is making life difficult for everyone.

    None of this would have happened if men treated women right in the first place. Women figured (rightly so) that if they were financially independent, they wouldn't need to depend on men, and they wouldn't have to put up with men. I believe that if men weren't such assholes and treated women properly, we'd have a lot fewer problems in our society.

    What has this to do with women in CS? Well, the CS field is just one of those things that was created by men for men. That's not to say that women can't be programmers, but based on all the other comments, there seems to be a consensus that of the few women in the CS field, almost none of them are real hackers. And it's the real hackers that drive the industry. Men need to drive things, to push them forward, to discover what can and can't be done. There are some women who feel that way, but only a small percent, and apparently it depends on what field.

    Having said that, I believe that it's very important for women to be encouraged into fields that are male-dominated, because we need to make sure that those who are able to compete in these fields (and believe me, it IS a competition) should be given the opportunity to do so if they want. But that's something that I think everything should have, not just women.

  • Where are more people like you? I've looked, honestly. All the female 'geeks' I've ran into have been maried. Oh well, guess I'll have to stick to dating art/music women for now.

    they're taken becuase they who find them know they've found A Good Thing.

    not that there's anything wrong with the art/music women, either. for me, the ultimate is a programmer is who is also a musician.

  • Real communism actually is a good thing, but doesn't work with humans.
    Communism most definately can work with humans, just not really large groups (ie: large cities, states, countries, etc.). If you isolated forty people on a desert island and came back in couple of years, you would probably see a very communist lifestyle among the island's residents. A communist economy is give-what-you-can-take-what-you-need system, and I don't think that can exist unless the population is a small, tightly-knit community. A large population is just incapable of the level of communication that a small group can have, and thus people get would left out of the major decisions and there would be endless bickering/feuding.

    I can see your point, though. A communist system can crumble into dystopia when corruption is present (I think Stalin is a fairly good example, even though the USSR didn't have a true communist economy). Having a large population increases the chance that there will be people that abuse the system. But now that I think about, it wasn't intended that in capitalist economy 5% of the people would control 95% of the wealth, as seen here in the US.
    Straying slightly from the subject, though: why is it that whenever discussions on communism in slashdot spur up, it never has anything to do with the subject that the person who mentions communism is talking about.
  • Also, women have been found to "double task" between brain hemispheres almost twice as efficently as males.

    That you cited this point indicates that you agree that there is a fundamental difference between the inner workings of male and female brains. The brain is barely understood today and it is very likely that fundamental differences in thinking schemes could create improved efficiency in some kinds of problem solving while decreasing the efficiency in others. Therefore, to admit that there is *any* difference in the way men and women process information and complete tasks (as you did) also suggests a possible difference across the genders as to which forms of thinking/problem solving are more optimized and which ones are less optimized.

  • Where are more people like you? I've looked, honestly. All the female 'geeks' I've ran into have been maried. Oh well, guess I'll have to stick to dating art/music women for now.
  • just curious - what is the age ogf those female geeks? seems like in past the ratio was higher. in the older it shops there are more women than...

    just an observation...

  • well...i guess...stay on /. it seems to have worked for me!

    *in 1950's commercial voice* Gee Golly Rob! Thanks Slashdot!
  • My issue with this whole argument is that we just know way too little about cognitive psychology to clearly identify any putative cognitive differences (the way people's brains are wired) between men and women. Some have been claimed, but to my mind there isn't nearly enough evidence for any of them.
  • and i wasnt encouraged or discouraged by anyone! it was kinda like a calling....
  • by Mock ( 29603 )
    I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have a brain surgeon who graduated due to affirmative action working on me.

    As far as the CS industry goes, we already have too many morons and just plain stupid people punching out code as it is (How else can you explain Windows?). Pushing underqualified people into the industry will only make things worse.

    We're not talking about taking or providing jobs. We're talking about doing a good job.

    Adding encouragement to a particular group is one thing. Making a quota is quite another.
  • Cool! More stuff about us CMU CS students! I even know Gunisha "Sheena" Madan, quoted in the article.

    But enough about me. A more appropriate link than CMU's front page might be CMU's Computer Science Department [].

    And, about time we got more females... Maybe now they're joining the CS school in force, we won't have the common problem of them transferring out after a year or two. With low percentages of them, I can certainly understand why.

  • At least try to get your punctuation and grammar correct when you criticize another's use of english.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is typical politically correct agenda-based "journalism". I'm sure the reason that programmers are mostly guys has something to do with the way their brains are wired. There is no conspiracy to keep women away from computers. The capability seems to occur more frequently in men, but its not found at all in many men.

    You could make the same unsound argument about the men that take no interest at all in programming (the overwhealming majority). Is it because their parents gave them Babies instead of soldering irons? Thought experiment concluded.

  • I applaud CMU for trying to recruit at institutions which are good in math, science instead of lowering the standards. It also should change the balance of females here in technical programs to a reasonable level instead of the ridiculous level that it used to be. However using verbal SAT to recruit people into CS is just plain stupid i'll admit I got an 800 verbal but it only shows a large vocabulary not the creativity to solve a programming problem.

    More female CS majors is good
  • Coincidentally, the fields with high concentrations of women and minorities usually end up being the ones with the lowest earning potential. I figure that the best way to get society to push more women into programming is to cut programmers' salaries in half.
  • as an Orientation Counsellor. They're a pretty sharp bunch.

    The class of 2001 has 14 women.

    The class of '02 has 28 (my year). We were impressed by that.

    Way to go geek chicks!

    Seriously, I'm impressed that CMU has come this far without resorting to quotas, only recruiting heavily in the areas they feel need more diversity.
  • I was reading the replies that slashdotters left, and I have to say, there are some interesting theories as to why women aren't involved in CS or programming.

    Many theories are simply old prejudice or even phobia, but some deserve real consideration. Here are a few of the best:

    * Women are wired differently.
    - While this is true, the people I find saying this don't fully understand it. Studdy some evolutionary bioligy. You'll see that the difference between men and women is like the difference between 6+4 and 2+8 (a little different, but in the end still equal).

    * Women aren't raised to do this.
    - I can't say much about this. I wasn't raised with barbies, but I wasn't raised with toy trucks or army men either. I guess I'm a-sexual.

    * This is reverse descrimintation.
    - This is equal opportunity. They're just a little vocal about it.

    * High Schools are at fault. They push girls into other fields.
    - I've seen this first hand. Though, at my school, none of the girls have shown any interest in computing beyond the user definition. *That* is what needs fixing!


    It looks like the question behind all of these is: Why aren't more women in CS? What makes a geek?

    While I don't know what makes a geek, I can tell you what made me one, and maybe others can share the stories of their enlightenment.

    I was in elementary school; just drifting. My father went back to college when he was laid off. He minored in CS and got a computer. I started enjoying the games on it - JumpMan, Maria, Shamus, and Chess. It didn't take long for me to learn DOS and want to learn more. I was reading everything I could find on computer architecture. I became a geek.

    This has some positive side effects in other areas too. Geekdome changed me. When my first grade teacher wanted me to read "Dick and Jane" with the class, I had to put down my Steven King. When my classmates read "Goosebumps", I read "The Fundimentals of Logic."


    This needs to happen to more girls. It doesn't just make people programmers - it makes better people.

    So, the question is here. What exactly makes a geek? Can we make more girls geeks?

    P.S. I believe windows is making computing more surface oriented; that it makes users and stops people from really asking about the computer behind the scenes.
  • Guys, women who might possibly have an interest in entering CS often are discouraged from pursuing them in ways that you might not even *notice*, because they might not happen to you. It's bad to be a geek in high school, but it's worse to be a female geek, at a time when, as a girl, there is *tremendous* pressure to be *beautiful*. Not strong, or interesting, or intelligent or anything that would differentiate you from a Barbie Doll, but *beautiful*. This puts a big strain on girls who are intelligent, or strong-willed or weird in various ways, to conform, and play dumb and pretty in order to be popular, have friends, dates etc etc. These traits conflict with the intellectual confidence, competence and ambition necessary to succeed or even consider pursuing a career in a technical field. I mention high school because that is a fairly decisive time as far as potential careers go, since that is often when people will choose, or not choose, to take math and and hard science classes that will open the doors to technical programs at university.

    Another stumbling block is how much the communication style that prevails in technical cultures differs from what girls are taught. It's not that it's worse, or better, but it's different, and takes some getting used to if it's not native to you, and for most women, it isn't.

    That said, although I have encountered obstacles to studying and working in CS, they've all been worth overcoming for the fun and awesomeness that I have every day. I wouldn't trade what I have today for the chance to be a popular girl in high school, ever.

    As for some guy above saying female programmers don't make good hoo hoo: cry me a fucking *river*. Despite the fact that I get paid more money that my parents make to do what, to me, is playing with fun ideas and toys, work with insanely intelligent people, come and go as I please, get paid to travel and go to conferences, have such wonderful jobs offers that I agonize about what to do about them and don't have to wear anything else but a t-shirt and shorts to work, I feel *utterly* *unfulfilled* by the fact I am unfeminine and unsuitable to be some illiterate luser's wife. Yeah, right.

  • Nuts. Just when I thought everyone stopped whining about the womenfolk and their not liking computer stuff enough, some other people dig this idea's rotting corpse up, offer no nothing new -- no real insight at all, and even widen the gender gap by taking extra steps to get women. People do what they want to. Women aren't dumb. I'm sure they are well aware computers exist, and if they want to use them, I'm sure they know the steps to take to find them. Programs like this make me want to vomit.
  • English is supposed to be capitalized. :)
  • I might have to disagree on your point that "computing isn't the land of milk and honey." It is a very prosperous industry. Allen and Wozniak are very rich. Paul Allen owns TicketMaster, a sports team or two, among other things. And there are dozens (if not hundreds) of millionares at the companies they started (MS and Apple).

    Anywho, just FYI. :)


  • I just had the funniest mental image of a naked, wet guy running into the computer lab shouting 'Eureka!'. (Or however you spell that.)
  • Again, I don't know if there is a need for "artificial encouragement" here - little girls *are* given Barbies and baby dolls, and boys are given mechanical toys. Girls are expected to be quiet and feminine, while boys are encouraged to get dirty and take apart the toaster. Those are generalizations, and some families are providing non-stereotypical upbringings for kids, but mainstream media (including commercials) gives the same old message.

    Like most kids I know, I was given the toys I wanted. I don't know where people get the idea that parents influence kids by giving them gender-biased toys. Parents give kids the toys kids want or the kids complain.

    Nearly every time I have heard of attempts to make a crossover toy it has failed miserably. Anybody remember "My Buddy", the doll for boys? It was a horrible failure.

    There is a lack of good software for girls right now ... The fact that girls aren't drawn to the blood-and-gore shoot-em-ups does NOT reflect a lack of ability to program!

    No, but it does reflect a gender difference. Males are drawn to games that simulate the primitive hunting instincts. Girls are not.

    But the lack of games out there does mean that computers may not be as attractive for young females. Hopefully this situation will improve, at least the game companies will someday want to tap that market that they are missing...

    Do you honestly believe that game companies are intentionally ignoring this potential market??? The game business is incredibly competitive, and 90% of games flop when they hit the market. There's no way that game companies would intentionally not target a huge potential market like girls.

    The reason you don't see more software for girls is:
    1) Making a game that guys will like is easy. The formula is pretty simple. Nobody yet knows what girls will want.
    2) At least in the days before the Internet exploded in size, there really wasn't a market for software for girls. Most girls just wouldn't sit down alone in front of a computer for hours.

    It's not like big scholarships are being given to stupid girls or something.

    Not to stupid girls, but to relatively smart people only because they're girls.

    In my university program there were 3 girls in a class of about 30. One girl got a scolarship that was given out to "a female from XXX county in the Engineering Physics program". She was the only female in the program, so she didn't even have to compete to get the scolarship. If, however, the scolarship had been to the top student from that county there's a very good chance she would not have received the scolarship.

  • If you give two boys Barbie dolls, they'll end up beating each other over the head with them. There's been research done in this area, the preferences seem to be inborn not taught.

    Do you have references for this? I can only speak from personal experience, but when I was a toddler, I had barbie dolls. My friends and I (we were all about 5 then) would play rough and tumble outside, practice our Mr. T imitations, etc. Then my mother gave us barbie dolls to play with, instead of GI Joes or transformers. After a few minutes, we were all playing with the dolls and their outfits, playing house...

    That's why I'm interested in the studies you mention: are the kids examined the same sort of ADD-afflicted, neglected maniacs who like pro wrestling, or was the sample properly selected?

  • > just curious - what is the age ogf those female > geeks?

    Most are under 30. We tend to hire straight out of college. The female department heads are older, of course, 40s-50s.
  • Well, using *that* logic, you could just as easily say:

    "Losers whine about 'racism' because even though they have an unfair advantage due to affirmative action, they've still failed to make anything of themselves."

    I think you miss the point that we should not tolerate discrimination based upon race/gender/etc., in *any* form. This is a sword that cuts both ways. You can't have "affirmative action" while being against racial discrimination, without being hugely hypocritical. Affirmative action *is* racial discrimination, the only difference being the target of the discrimination, and that it is government-sanctioned. Two wrongs don't make a right.
  • In Hong Kong for example, there are a lot of female programmers. At the place where i worked this summer, half of the programmers were prolly female. I don't think one should localize the problem around female 'programmers', the whole US culture seems to deter women from any technically, scientifically oriented subjects. The central question shouldn't be just 'why are so few programmers female', instead, a more general question should prove more fruitful, i.e. one can't encourage more females to be programmers, while at the same time pay no attention to the cultural environment which deter them from doing mathematics, physics, and etc...
  • I don't think there's anything to get worked up over. If you're a female interested in medicine, CS, astronomy, whatever geeky career, and you have the drive, you'll do it no matter what.

    I'm really sick of the media buzz-word of the year, "mentor". Who says if you're female you should have female mentors?

    Whenever I've had the pleasure of working with male geeks, I learned tons, shared my skills, and had a great time. I really don't see why people think guys are so intimidating.

    BTW, I've attended some techie-girl clubs... they suck! They're so pre-occupied in female-empowerment that actual geeking-out and teaching never comes up.
  • As a female who is a programmer, and who is
    involved in the open source/free software/geek
    community on a day to day basis, I have to say
    I'm getting kind of sick of seeing the same
    things over and over again. One of the things
    I see most often is ill-conceived affirmative
    action intended to encourage women into technical
    fields, often doing more harm than good. I mention this because I think CMU's
    efforts in this case are *not* ill-conceived and
    I want to make it clear that I'm not just saying
    that because I'm female yada yada yada. As far
    as I can tell from the very short and shallow
    article, CMU seem to be doing the right things.
    They're not setting arbitrary quotas, they're
    just getting out there and selling the course in
    places where women happen to be listening. They're not changing to course to fit the women,
    but rather are pointing out the applicability of
    the subject matter to a wide range of fields
    (many of which just happen to appeal more to women). So it will be interesting to see how it
    all turns out. I suppose it's unlikely that
    they'll post followup stories, though :(

    If anyone's interested, there's an article I wrote
    a few weeks ago which you can read at hick2/ []
    about female geeks, how to encourage them, and
    whether we actually want more of them in the
    Open Source/Free Software community.

  • I think a lot of males have no idea what it is like to have your friends from elementary school suddenly turn into idiots in middle school. Yes, it's good because the number of academic competitors decreases, but I find it very hard to relate to many of them. I do have friends but when it comes down to computers or just technology, their only thought is "AOL" and "chat" I haven't experienced as much discouragement but my teachers often tend to ask the boys in another room for help with technical problems even when I'm right next to them. Of course, those boys are all some of my best friends.

    In my family, I'm the one who is the most computer literate and both my parents work with computers for their jobs. My brother learns mostly from me.
  • Ellen Ullman

  • As others have stated before, assuming that 50/50 will make everything alrightfor men and women is simply... stupid. People, be it geeks or jocks, are each socialized to be part of their gender culture.
    Its happened before and it'll happen again. Females will break into whatever field they like. Keep your "men are made for this, women are made for that" argument for the 19th century.
    Putting out a notice that this or that school is 'safe' for females is a nice gesture, but essentially meaningless. If there isn't a market to attract in the first place why bother?
    Proposals to somehow make women love tech in high school sounds a lot like mind control to me.
    "Yes, we will mold them at an early age." Sorry, everyone has the right to be typical - look in the mirror geeks.
    Not that I'm pulling a half assed psuedo-social commentary on WHY men do this and women do this. If you could explain all the effects on culture for each gender you probably would have better things to do than post here.
    The worst part is how most posts end with "Now I'm gonna get some." Sad guys, really sad.

  • I am male.

    I am a geek.

    And you seem to - SUCK!

    Damn. I don't care whether a girl is computer interested or not - she does not even have to look like a model or so. If I like her then I like her - simple, isn't it?

    - root 66
  • I wish I had spent more time on spelling. I'm so proud of technological achievements, but I can barely spell my own name! How do you teach yourself to spell so much later in your life?
  • I am pondering why I am not a female CS geek. I know that I could easily be a CS geek if I desired to be so, but I lack that desire. I have had a computer since I was 4 or 5 (a Vic 20 :) and I had computer class with logo once a week throughout elementary school. My parents encouraged me to play with computers as well as read and ask questions (they bought me multiple books on programming in basic before I was 10). I'm even comfortable with cryptic UNIX commands (even if I forget them half the time, that's what man is for :). However, I completely failed to become a hacker (at least in the computer sense). I am a geek-in-training of neuropsychology.

    I suspect that this might be a little wider than simply "females don't like to program". CS has to compete with other sciences for females like me who enjoy scientificness. I would be interested to see if this isn't a greater issue of females not into science rather than females not into programming, as I suspect.
  • Well, I'm sorry I didn't carry this post out with more elegance...;]

    As for the stereotype of coke-bottle glasses and highwater pants...the community I live in is backward enough to still have that mindset around. I live in South Dakota in a small hickish community, and many people think a Pentium (as in P5) is incredible technology.

    As for getting excited about fitting the description? Hey, I don't have a life. ;]

    And I couldn't care less what the prep snots think. They think perl is a color of nail polish.
  • your website is odd.
  • I started out in computer science too. And, yes, the lack of meaningful social interaction was a big part of my reason for changing out. Computers just aren't emotionally satisfying.

    Supposedly, I'm a good programmer, but I just don't find it satisfying. So I'm going to be a lawyer instead. And in my spare time I'll do a little programming on the odd free software project, and get annoyed at all the whiny boys who think girls are only good for chasing.
  • At this moment in my life, I work in a completely male dominated job. I work in forestry in western Canada. Where men think they are men.. and women prove them wrong. Ive slaved 10-12 hours a day, proving I can cut it, pushing along side better qualified men.. and less qualified. But, I can do the job, and I have always wanted to. Ive came across alot of rednecks who believe I should be in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, and not doing what I do.. but I do it. My graduating class for Forestry had 3 women out of a class of 60 graduate..(a few women dropped out in the first year)
    But Im through with forestry, the pay is great, but heck, Im getting old, and cant see myself being a bush monkey for the rest of my now I choose CS. Not because I feel the need to prove myself. Ive done that already, but because it interests it probably does many other women..But..the hardest thing, male or female, is getting started. Perhaps men have more ambition in that department, I really dont know. Lifestyles still leave the burden of taking care of yourself more on men. Its not as 'strange' to see a women not working, but a man is considered a bum. This point has little to do with CS precisely, but that occupation desc. is included in there.

    Women can and do have the smarts for it, we just dont always know it.

    Thats my .02 canadian cents..

  • I think your brain is getting a bit spongy. Need proof, just look at the choices that you use to illustrate your point. The ABA? The NFL?

  • Give it up... This is a new low for /. I think ... you publishing that URL. And you wonder why there are so few geekgirls around (and/or willing to show their faces) --- here's a hint : it's geek-guys like you.

    Note: I don't mean all geek-guys by this (I've known my share, and they generally had more manners than this one)

    To the girl this AC was posting about -- he's right, you seem pretty cool (Linux, band, pix), but don't take his shit too seriously.

    -Andra ---------------------


  • Furthermore, a question: Why does the woman of your dreams HAVE to be a computer geek?

    It's the ideal that counts. Have you ever seen Ally McBeal? There was an episode where this woman dreamed of a guy so real that she felt like she was cheating on her husband and divorced him (because he wasn't the ideal.) Most of the fascination lies in the dream, the reality always leaves much to be desired. It's the dreams that drive us. And given that that's a cheezy line, I'll back it up with the pragmatic, you have to have someone to put at the top of your scale so that you have some relative absolute to work from.

    It's all about being able to have a relatively decent conversation with a female over coffee, and she being a geek femme able to converse on the merits of mmapped i/o would make that conversation more than decent.

    Anyway, I'm sure that if such a woman as exhibited the ideal (so poetically described as a Linus-Natalie Portman half-breed) existed, most computer nerds (myself included) wouldn't stand a whit of chance anyway.


  • Now, I know that's how the stereotype goes, but how does it actually happen in practice: did your parents take you aside on a sunny afternoon and say: "Honey, you know we really love you and all, but for heaven's sake, will you act a bit dumber please? You're scaring off all the boys, and we're NOT going to get stuck with you at home!"

    You already answered yourself :

    Later on, though, the girls just drop off the map somehow. Could be the rising self-consciousness...

    Girls drop off the map because they learn quickly in grade school that boys are intimidated by intelligent girls and relegate them to buddies at best and ridicule them at worst. And when everyone hits puberty, that becomes a huge social imperative - to be acceptable to the opposite sex and your peer group.

    My parents were very supportive and proud of my intelligence. And they encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be. But I still remember coming home from some event and crying on my dad's shoulder because my dumb blonde skinny cousin and I went together and she'd get all the attention from guys and I wouldn't even get noticed.

    You get real sick of being ignored after a while. Or being the buddy, or the sidekick, or the comic relief.

    And even among geek guys, you can get it on occasion. There's a guy who I'd even call a friend, but I get the impression that when I beat him at trivia games, he feels irked in a way that doesn't seem to apply when a guy beats him.

    When you're 28 and still lookin' for geek love, that's a really depressing realization. The likelihood that I will ever find a guy that I can be intelligent and my usual BOFH self around becomes increasingly scarce.

  • I think that this so-called 'gender gap' in computer sciences has a lot to do with personality, rather than gender. Many people who code for a living or play around with computers are by nature solitary, self starting types who can care less about the social pecking order or who said what to whom. Most Western women are not raised to do that- they're taught to be malleable 'nice girls' and be sociable. (Guess I missed that 'class' as a girl!)

    That said, there may be something to the growing trend of teaching girls and boys seperately. In an all-female environment, girls will play with computers a lot more- mostly because there aren't any aggressive boys pushing them out of the way or ridiculing their way of learning things.

    It is tough being female in a mostly male career field- but I have been 'playing with the boys' for 20 years. Some of the more boorish ones have made my life miserable- but their spouses and girlfriends can be much worse!

    I look at the whole thing this way: This is a career field that takes brains, not brawn, and women can apply themselves and succeed in it as well as the guys. My main word of advice for programmers of either gender is this: Treat your colleagues the way you would like to be treated.
  • Geek guys *wish* there were more geek girls out there. It is exactly the opposite of what you say. The fact that there are fewer female techies than male ones is a constant source of frustration for us geeky guys. It means we have to either compete for the few geek girls, which is a very oversaturated 'market' or we have to try to find that rarity among rarities: a non-geek who doesn't mind being around geeks. (That's rare whether you are talking women or men).
  • well, yeah, that too :)
  • For a moment, let's consider the opposite question. Don't ask "Why don't more women program?", ask "Why do all these men program?".

    I think the answer goes something like this: Most men who become geeks, computer nerds, programmers, warez dorks, etc start out as the "unpopular loner" or quasi-loner in junior-high. For whatever reason, some guys are "popular" and some are the "outsiders". The outsiders don't have lots of friends, don't have a reputation, don't have full social calanders, just lots of empty evening with themselves. The computer is a natural companion, even though it's a difficult friend to get along with. It crashes, hangs, gives weird errors, it barks, it drools, it sleeps above the covers....

    I digress.

    But seriously, how often has your school jock or ladykiller also been a a computer geek? I imagine it happens everynow and then, but not often.

    So why don't women outsiders get into computers as much? Not being a woman, I can't really say. Maybe women are better at socializing and don't ever fall so low as to spend lonely nights in front of the cruel glowing screen. Maybe they're all smart enough to realize that programming is really just a cruel and unusual punishment dragged out until you're 35, when you become unhirable, something that us dumb guys don't realize until it's too late!

    If any genuine women outsiders out there want to comment on the behaviors and activities of the female outcast, feel free to fill in the blanks!

    P.S. I'm not fealing sorry for myself for one second, given the chance I wouldn't trade my life with a "more popular" one no matter what! It's a lonely road to geekdome, but I wouldn't pick any other one!

    P.P.S. In my computer engineering classes at Case Western, out of a class of 120 or so, I remember there being about 5 girls. They all sat togeather, in the front row.
  • i forgot about those pics!

    time to clean out the directory!
  • After reading all the comments people made, I started to wonder how many people who read Slashdot are females? So here's a poll idea:

    Do you consider yourself:

    1. A Male Geek
    2. A Female Geek
    3. A Male non-Geek
    4. A Female non-Geek
    5. None of the above :-)
    6. Jar Jar sucks (sorry, had to throw it in :-)


    "Software is like sex- the best is for free"
  • I don't know much about computers, but i know i like them. Most of my friends are hackers, crackers, or whatever else you want to call them... all the computer suave are guys. All of my guy friends are supportive and have offered to help and teach me things about the computer, none of them have discouraged me in any way, shape, or form. None of the girls at my school give me funny looks and scoff at me when i carry a computer book. In fact, they often ask me questions about some things. None of the peers at my school have prevented me from liking computers.

    "They figure if they so much as do more than point-and-click, they'll end up having to date a skinny nerd weirdo with coke-bottle glasses, high-water pants and dental problems. No, they want to hang around with the athletic guys."

    Where did you get this from? *L* No one at my school is afraid to touch computers, and yes, this includes females! Btw, every guy and girl i know that is at least somewhat computer literate is (very) attractive... No coke bottle glasses, high-water pants, dental problems, etc. If you ask me, that image was smashed quite a while ago.

    I, too, am still in high school. Eventually, when i have money, i'll learn to build a computer and install Linux. For the record, I have been wanting to major in CS ever since 6-7th grade.

    Basically, what i want to say is:
    Everyone keeps saying that nothing is happening and we need to do something, but I think something is already happening. I think we're in the middle of a major change. (And it's for the better.) Who cares if the sciences are still male-dominated? At least women are getting better chances of surviving and being accepted. :-)
    And one more thing... Whether or not people encourage me, i'm probably going to go into CS anyway. People think we always need to encourage others, but this is not so (not for me anyhow). When i was in 8th grade, i was one of two girls in metal shop. At the time, i hung out with the 'skater' type guys and one day girls on skateboards came up into a discussion. One of the guys (who i wasn't very fond of) said that girls should skateboard, it was a guy thing. Talk about reverse psychology, i got me a skateboard and proved him wrong. I still skateboard to this day, and people tell me i don't suck. It was somewhat encouraging when i heard him say that girls couldn't skateboard because i wanted to prove him wrong. I don't know if this applies to anyone else, but that's how i think. :-) Ok, i think i've said enough now, hehe.
  • i guess i commend you on finding those pics, i kinda forgot about them, so im not really upset that you saw them, hey, its a free web, but im just kinda embarrassed that it hit a /. posting...

  • Because we're a rare breed and those who are fortunate to meet us early know that and quickly tie the knot.

    My friend at Waterloo actually said, "We need more female geeks" as well. We exist... there are a few unmarried ones still, but note the word, "few".

  • Interesting theory...the problem is it's simply not true. The notion of the "workplace" is part of the heritage of the Industrial Revolution. Before that started, men worked "at home", meaning in the fields surrounding their cottages. Women came out to work the fields when required, like at harvest time. At other times, women worked at home, and they did plenty more than just take care of the kids and cook for Poppa. The family unit was a cooperative work unit.

    So the Industrial Revolution comes along. The capitalists (not a perjorative) needed workers, and a number of factors encouraged/forced people off the land and into the cities. At this point -both- men and women worked 60-70+ hour weeks in the factories. Women did the same work as men, and worked alongside men, except for the jobs that required so much brute strength that most women couldn't do them (most men couldn't either). Oh, and women were paid the -same- as men (a pittance).

    The work practices of the Industrial Revolution had a horrific effect on the children of the time. Wages were so low that both husband and wife had to work very long hours in order to make enough money to support the family. There were no public schools as we think of them today. Children were simply abandoned to their own devices during the day, placed with members of the family too old to work (if possible), or even forced into the factories and mines themselves.

    To counter the effect this was having on children, the family, and society, the first "feminist" movement was formed: the "Family Wage" movement. Their goal, which was achieved, was to -introduce- wage inequality. They wanted to see men paid a large enough wage that the women could stay home and take care of the kids and family. Ironically, given current conditions, this was a very liberal, progressive movement.

    Read some history of the early days of the Industrial Revolution in England. Read about the changes in family lifestyle, and what that was like before the Industrial Revolution. As for CS being "created by men for men" ever hear of Grace Hopper, among others?
  • Hence the students who _are_ in school because of a genuine interest in the field get bored with their classes.

    Whoo! Ya hit it right on the head. That drove me nuts. Of course, I went to a state school. I hope that real schools aren't in quite as bad shape.

    My favorite classes were the ones where the prof would basically just barrel headlong through the course, not stopping for the lamers who hadn't learnt what they were supposed to in prereqs. They were almost universally unpopular, because most of the people in my school's CS program didn't like to work. Hell, most of them didn't have their own computers. *sigh*

    A host is a host from coast to coast...

  • Maybe females are less profitable computer programmers because they are not as likely to stay up all night?

    There's more truth to this than you might think. I, personally, don't care for the vast majority of female computer programmers. I am not sexist (my wife is an advertising exec and makes twice as much as I do), but in my experience women programmers are not nearly as efficient as male programmers. Case in point:

    Several years ago I was hired by a "new" software company that was just making the transition from a garage-based operation to a fully legitimate company. When they hired programmers, they did everything possible to get a fair mix in their employees. Male, female, white, black, asian, and hispanic...they were all represented in the programming staff. Well, it wasn't long before problems started developing with the women.

    First it was the hours. The company paid us extremely well, but expected us to work our asses off for it. Sixteen hour days were the norm, and the women didn't care for it. They objected to the highest management, and we were ordered to cut our workdays to 12 hours max. The women still objected, and were given permission to leave after working 8 hours. Their objections were fair (they had to pick up their kids, they had to make dinner for their families, they wanted to spend time with their kids, etc.), but because of this they didn't get nearly as much work done as the men.

    The next step was predictable. Time came for promotions and raises...and the men got FAR more than the women. To me, and the rest of the male programmers, this was fair. We did more work and we got a greater reward for it. To the women it was discrimination, and after hiring a lawyer to look into it the company relented and gave them equal raises. But that was the beginning of the end. By the end of the following year, all of the women had left the company and no new women were ever hired.

    I can't blame women for being poorly suited to programming, but it doesn't change the fact that most of them are. They have other priorities that, to them, are more important than their work, and rightly so. But there are certain sacrifices that employers expect, that many women aren't prepared to make.

    Note: To be entirely fair, I have met several unattached women with no family or responsibilities who were very well suited to programming. But they are very rare and, presumably, will end up married and no longer suited to the job.
  • Perhaps I'm just one girl who lucked out and in the future one geek guy who will too. I was playing with an Apple IIe when I was smaller and then my father taught me my first few commands of DOS (executing a program and changing directories only really) and then I was suckered into the geek culture. Go fig. I really don't know about social conditioning, but yes my brain must have been fried by the computer the first day I touched one. Because I do enjoy the company of a male dominiated group/club. I was going to be an artist/musician at first but got some hands on experience with engineering (more like modling geodesic domes with rolled up news paper). Computers has always been my hobby but looks like it will be my career.

    It looks like I'll be going into Electrical Engineering with perhaps a joint major in CS. Hopefully at MIT, but I might end up applying to CMU as well if not Waterloo (where I'm already staked out, hah).

  • Actually, willpower is directly related to testosterone (it is, of course, not the only factor).
  • A number of geek girls have responded on this topic. For those of you still in school, I just want you to know that not all IT shops obey the stereotypes that we've seen mentioned on this topic.

    I work at a S&P 500 utility in Florida. We have an in-house IT staff of several hundred. I'd say that roughly 30-40% are female. Half of the department heads are female, and our acting CIO is female. And these women aren't stuck in the touchy-feely areas either. We have female C programmers, Unix admins, Oracle DBAs, web programmers, etc., etc. Right now my own team doesn't have any females, but that's unusual. At one point it was about 70% female.

    So what's the point? Just that these notions that women "can't do" the techie stuff are baloney. Some of the sharpest programmers I've known are women.

    As to "encouraging" women to go into CS, I have mixed feelings about that. I'm not sure that -anyone- should be "encouraged" to go into CS. It's a very difficult field. Not because of the smarts required; plenty of fields require that. No, because of the commitment and dedication required. The field moves so fast; learning is constant. I think if you're not at least somewhat "driven" to be constantly learning about new technology, on your own time, then this is not the field for you. I've seen a number of young people burn out and leave the field (or worse, stay on and just become obsolete and incompetent) once they realized that graduating from college wasn't the end, but rather the beginning of their learning.

    But if you're driven, whether male or female, hang in there, because we need you! :)
  • Sounds like we are dealing with a second-rate white male geek who likes to imagine his own mediocre success is caused by female, racial, and communist conspiracies.
    How's this any worse than any second-rate coloured female geek-wannabe who likes to imagine her own mediocre success is caused by corporate right-wing white male-chauvanist conspiracies, or any of her sympathizers?
  • After reading all these comments, what I want to know is, what is it all you boys are afraid of?
    Being outprogrammed by a GIRL? Grow up.
  • of the first Woman admirals.

    She just invented the compiler, that's all;-)

    Not to mention 50% of my CS professors...
  • My roommate was skimming an issue of _Cosmo_ a few months back, and I glanced over her shoulder at an article listing 30 practical things women really should be able to do (change flats, set VCR clocks, etc.) I nearly hit the roof when it listed "trying to add memory to your computer" under a sidebar of 5 things *not* to try!

    I didn't read the article, but I have to say something. IMHO, "Trying to add memory to your computer" is a good thing not to try, regardless of gender, unless you are at least fairly deep into computers. Do you know the size, speed, parity, EDOness, feature-du-jour of your [SD]IMMs? I don't, and I built one of my machines from scratch!

    To go with the gender analogy, I could see a similar note not to do your own RAM in Car and Driver or Popular Woodworking.

  • Perhaps you might consider that females are socialy more 'group- oriented' , and do not generally wish to take up an interest which, if they were male, might at least proffer upon them some element of "coolness", but as a female, totally ostrasizes them from the group of both male programmers and 'normal' people. At least in high school, which is where most CS majors seem to get their start.

    It's not that much easier for men in this respect.
    At the risk of exhuming the hellmouth stories, geeks both male and female are generally ostracized from "normal" society.
    As to which sex can cope better, I will leave that up to biology/psychology majors.

    I do, however, resent the comment about female programmers being ostracized by male programmers.
    I treat all programmers the same. Anyone who can code a decent program is at the top of my books.

    The only difference with female programmers is that I'm much more likely to ask one to marry me =)
  • i forgot about those pics! time to clean out the directory!

    I'm sorry it had to come to that -- that you had to censor your own site because of what somebody else said/wrote. I hope I wasn't partially at fault -- for responding to an AC (after all, his (her?) score would have been 0 and most people would have missed it).

    At least you took notice -- too bad you had to -- and took the situation in hand.

    Side note: to crystalize a few thoughts. As you originally stated, and as I agree with you: "I didn't need any encouragement!" (neither did I, even though I'm *sure* I received it, subtle or otherwise from people I looked up to!) I think this AC's post, combined with those of many of the guys here points out that there are *2* main things to consider: encouragement and positive reenforcement on the one hand, and subtle and/or even passive, if not active, discouragement on the other.

    I find it's the little things -- both positive and negative -- that can so affect the direction someone goes. The little nods from people you respect on the one hand, or the almost insignificant slights and remarks on the other hand. A teacher putting me down I can respond to, just to spite them; an environment that makes it uncomfortable for me to work in, is another matter.

    Sorry, I'm rambling (as usual!) I guess I should have stuck this in another thread, but it came to me here, and since I'd posted in this one earlier ...

    -- Andra


  • And people wonder why I'd NEVER send my kids to public school...
  • I've heard people bitch about how few males
    do languages at school and/or university,
    and how few males do ballet.

    I did a language at university in my spare
    time (my main subject was maths). As it
    turned out, I was probably better at the language
    than I was at maths, but I didn't change
    subjects. I did go and live abroad for 6 years
    immediately after graduating, though.

    Male linguists were very very rare. About
    the same situation as female mathematicians
    or computer scientists, I guess. I was sometimes
    the reason lecturers had to use male plurals
    when referring to "the students" in our group.

    Would people feel any differently about a scheme
    to encourage male students to do languages?
    Actually, in the UK and USA generally everyone
    could do with being encouraged to do a language.

    As it happens, I've also done an introductory
    ballet class that was run for "oldish" (teenage)
    male beginners in an attempt to encourage more
    men to do ballet. I was dreadful, but it was
    an interesting experience.

    I'm not sure I understand the "encouragement"
    thing, really. I didn't need male linguists
    to model myself after, or anything. Almost
    all the good linguists I know are female.
    So what?
  • Anyway, I'm sure that if such a woman as exhibited the ideal (so poetically described as a Linus-Natalie Portman half-breed) existed, most computer nerds (myself included) wouldn't stand a whit of chance anyway.

    Not true. If she really did have the mind of Linus, she'd be smart enough to see how sweet a lot of geek guys can be. ;) She would merely select the sweetest, least neurotic, most sensible geek guy and have many many Linus Mini-Me children.

    "Mini Me, you complete me..."

    BTW -- I'd like to claim the parent post to your reply as mine. I swear I was logged in and it put me down as an AC. Ack!


  • by Trojan ( 37530 )
    1. There have always been more male programmers than female programmers (except for the first few years of the computer era when the hardware was guy's stuff and programming was seens as a woman's job, just like all the human calculators of the pre-computer era were female). Online porn is something of the last 5 years.

    2. If you're online for porn you have no time to learn to program.

    3. There are as many woman online as men.
  • Two years before I became a female Stanford CS major, I knew little about programming computers. Not until my mom got a PPP account (and configured our Mac's TCP/IP! I'm still proud of her..) did I begin to experiment with HTML, because I had to to express myself. Females learn programming because they have a project, not just for the sake of tinkering.

    Anyway, I wrote a research paper for my high school senior project, Women in Computer Science [], which has a bunch of internet background material references in the Research section. Enjoy.

  • Finding porn (or anything else, for that matter) on the internet does NOT require programming skill, or even much "techno-savvy". Just point-click-and-drool on the spam that arrives in your mailbox.

  • Whoa! hang on there!

    So what you are saying is that because women in general are taking care of kids & family, they are ill-suited to be programmers?

    Please explain your logic here.

    How do domestic responsibilities affect someone's ability to program?

    First it was the hours. The company paid us extremely well, but expected us to work our asses off for it. Sixteen hour days were the norm, and the women didn't care for it.

    16 hour days??? Are you insane????
    I certainly wouldn't want to work for your company.

    (they had to pick up their kids, they had to make dinner for their families, they wanted to spend time with their kids, etc.), but because of this they didn't get nearly as much work done as the men.
    The next step was predictable. Time came for promotions and raises...and the men got FAR more than the women. To me, and the rest of the male programmers, this was fair. We did more work and we got a greater reward for it.

    I see... so you expected to be adequately compensated because you willingly deprived your children of a father during the most needy part of their lives?

    I can sure see how far off-base the women were for complaining about this situation.

    There is a reason why the law protects the 8 hour work day. Happy marriage.

    I can't believe I actually defended you guys in my earlier posts.
  • Hear, hear!

    I'm tired of being in the minority at work.
  • tis truly a Good Thing when you know that youre not the only one out there in the battle (though you feel like it sometimes..)

  • As a side note, I just had a discussion with my mother-in-law, and was quite suprised to find that she agreed with me. She became quite a talented programmer during her career from 1974-1984, working for companies like IBM, Apple, and others. She left her career in 1984 to take care of her family. She told me that as the computer industry developed, the demands on programmers grew greater and greater. More and more, programming and family became mutually exclusionary. To excel in programming, you must be willing to give up a real family life. She wasn't willing to do that, and neither are most women.

    The truly sad thing is that it is the money of the industry that is attracting these women. What many people (men and women alike) fail to look at is WHY our pay is so high. We are EXPECTED to work long hours and to put our jobs ahead of all else. For people willing to do that, the reward is high. People that aren't willing to do that wont last, and don't succeed. My greatest fear is that a large influx of women into the industry will cause employers to rethink the way programmers work, and cut our hours to placate all of the women. While this may sound like a good thing, it will cost us dearly. We WILL lose the high wages we're accustomed to. We're paid a lot simply because we're willing to put our jobs ahead of all else and work long hours. If we lose that, if programming becomes "just another job", then programmers wages will decline dramatically. Think about it.
  • For the International Olympiads in Informatics, we Dutch require our team to consist of two boys and two girls. The girls are selected from the 2 or 3 female contenstants that take part in the prelimary rounds. (And of course the boys from the hundreds of male contestants.) If you want to see what happens at the international competitions, read this [] and search for "logo" and "zero points".
  • No wonder we Purdue(west lafayette) CS gets less females this year. Send them back damn it!
  • I suppose encouragement and role models will help with some people. It didn't help for me, but maybe since I'm male I had some innate ability to not be thrown by that. As far as computers went, I received no encouragement and had no role models.

    I went through school picking and choosing what I wanted to learn (And boy did my grades suffer for it). When it came to computers, I learned outside of the curriculum (I didn't take CS in highschool. I snuck some of the microprocessor and assembly manuals from the electronics shop and read them on the bus and during my boring school subjects).

    I'm probably not the same as most programmers out there. I'm probably not the same as most people out there either. Then again, most people wouldn't write CPU emulation cores in their spare time.

    Even with that support, it was still difficult to be an intelligent girl interested in science and technology.

    It's difficult being intelligent. Period.
    I'm sure you must realize just how annoying it is trying to hold a technical/political/whatever discussion with the general riff-raff who's only experience with books amounts to leveling the sofa.

    (Recently a VB instructor commented to me that as well as being one of his "best" students, I was one of his "prettiest"... what an effective way to reduce me to a superficial level!!!)

    Ok, this is just plain lame. I'd have decked him one.
    Better yet, you should have decked him one. If he complained, just tell him you're evening the score (sexual harassment and all).

    -- A true hack's computer never has the case on.
  • Yeah? come and let's write programs. I'll beat your brains out.

    The very first programmer, ever, is Ada. A female. So shut up.
  • For a counter example, I only had to show that there was someone who would want to be the only X for any room. I showed that (I guess that in order to be complete, I should specify a room -> my bedroom).

    If I was in a situation where I was naked in a train station, a police station, a bar, or a jail cell, for what ever reason, I do not think I would want other naked men there with me. I think that the word "most" holds. I cannot think of a situation where I would want to be in a room with other naked men.

    I guess that if I was in a room with a rapist, I would want there to be a better looking naked man in the room to act as decoy as I made my cowardly escape (or hit said rapist over the head with a 2x4).

  • oh yegods! its not /that/ bad! no harm done, no harm taken! as i appreciate your formal apology, and if *you* wish to communicate with me further, email me (thats why its there, you know, if i was uncomfortable with emails i would be an AC too.), and from one geek to another: im glad you said something about it, because goddess only knows how long other people have been going there *nervous giggle*..

    but seriously, i was not offended, and yes, i am open for communication.

  • So we see where old school meets new school.

    Those old stereotypes no longer apply: this generations computer industry workers are not the forlorn lonely social zeroes of yesteryear, and I would think that more of us would be bitter about the use of such depricated ideas.

    Furthermore, why not geek love geek instead of geek love brain-dead waif or geek love brain-dead jock? Once again the type of mate you seem to idealize only exposes the shallowness of your person.
  • bullshit !

    Women for the most part don't like technology.
    It is true and you know it. How many female friends you have that share the same interest in computers as you do ?
  • Good point.

    I think both sides have got a point though. I've heard that girls do often get patronised and put-down by computing teachers - and male pupils - at school (no surprise there).

    In any case, affirmative action is bordering on sexism.

  • As for the "compliment", yeah, there is room for debate over its appropriateness and if I am overreacting in feeling that it was inappropriate.

    You are not overreacting. It was inappropriate.
    The fact is that he is a teacher. His only interest in the matter should be with her mind.

    I'd have felt pretty uneasy if my teacher had said "You are not only the smartest, but the most handsome as well". I'd feel even more uneasy if he was a guy =)

    - little girls *are* given Barbies and baby dolls, and boys are given mechanical toys. Girls are expected to be quiet and feminine, while boys are encouraged to get dirty and take apart the toaster.


    There is a lack of good software for girls right now ... The fact that girls aren't drawn to the blood-and-gore shoot-em-ups does NOT reflect a lack of ability to program!

    These two sentences seem contradictory.
    In the top one you are suggesting that girls should not be raised in the stereotypical "girl" sense.
    In the second sentence you are suggesting that computer games should be tailored to match the stereotypical "girl".

    Here are some interesting questions raised:

    - Are girls by nature more nurturing, or is it purely of environmental influence?
    - Are dolls more appropriate toys for girls?
    - Are girls really into the ruff n tumble play to the same degree that boys are?

    When I was in gradeschool, the boys' favorite lunchtime game was war, using sticks for guns, and watching the lunchtime fight, if there was one.
    The girls' favorite game was gossiping about the latest events (i.e. which girl everyone hated now) and playing dolls.

    Play tended to merge somewhat in the later grades, though.
  • I thought it might be useful for you guys to read this excerb from Appendix B of the Hacker Dictionary (aka Jargon File):

    Hackerdom is still predominantly male. However, the percentage of women is clearly higher than the low-single-digit range typical for technical professions, and female hackers are generally respected and dealt with as equals.

    In the U.S., hackerdom is predominantly Caucasian with strong minorities of Jews (East Coast) and Orientals (West Coast). The Jewish contingent has exerted a particularly pervasive cultural influence (see Food, above, and note that several common jargon terms are obviously mutated Yiddish).

    The ethnic distribution of hackers is understood by them to be a function of which ethnic groups tend to seek and value education. Racial and ethnic prejudice is notably uncommon and tends to be met with freezing contempt.

    When asked, hackers often ascribe their culture's gender- and color-blindness to a positive effect of text-only network channels, and this is doubtless a powerful influence. Also, the ties many hackers have to AI research and SF literature may have helped them to develop an idea of personhood that is inclusive rather than exclusive -- after all, if one's imagination readily grants full human rights to future AI programs, robots, dolphins, and extraterrestrial aliens, mere color and gender can't seem very important any more.


  • Geek chicks are so few, that in my school, the girls get their pick of the hoardes of geek guys. So, unfortunately, most of us geek guys have to get our lovin' elsewhere. I for one would encourage MANY more women, one's with nice cute butts, to get into computing.

  • I'm nearing thirty now.

    I'm nearing 25.

    I hope that things have improved, but I hold out few hopes.

    Things don't improve until you improve them.

    I was a good student at school. I took chemistry, physics and biology at A-level. The usual trio was two of those and maths.

    I had a C to C+ average.
    Hey! come to think of it, I learned C, then C++.

    The head of physics was all for girls doing physics - provided they didn't hold back the boys.

    Yes, and?

    In another science department, the newly-recruited female head of chemistry received trouble from some of the male staff (one of whom thought he should have had the job).

    If someone had my job, I'd let them know about it. Nothing new here...

    Despite it being totally illegal, her school split by gender: girls did needlework and boys did woodwork. No choice in the matter.

    So what did you do about it?
    Let me guess.. NOTHING!

    I remember being shunted out of the way when the school computer arrived, despite knowing more than the others did about how to work the thing, because I was female.

    So what did you do about it?
    Let me guess.. NOTHING!

    And it pisses me off bigtime to see this "Well, girls and boys are just different, that's all" crap

    And it will persist in the vacum of evidence.
    What are you gonna do about it?

    jokes about "We could do with more women, especially pretty ones" aren't funny.

    Okay, I'll give you that one.
    Mind you, some of the geek girls did say they were available...

    So tell me, what have you done to better the world in your life?
    What have you done to get where you want to go and do what you want to do? You certainly won't get there whining and complaining about everything.

    You've done enough talking, now DO SOMETHING.

    My life wasn't a cakewalk. I had my share of problems in the world. I VERY RARELY received any encouragement from anybody. My mother tried, but she suffered from severe depression. My father was always detached and never showed approval.
    I never took CS in highschool, nor was I encouraged to do so. I even had a teacher deliberately avoid me because I asked him some questions about C.

    And yet somehow I became a success.

    In grade school, I was told I couldn't use certain programs (which were password protected) on the school computers because they were for the older kids. So I hacked the passwords.

    In highschool, the electonics course just plain SUCKED. So I swiped the microprocessor manuals from the book rack and learned assembly. (I think I still have some of them around too =)

    The library computer had a modem but it was protected (Anyone remember Integrity?).
    So I hacked in and used the modem to dial into the local university's access ports (because they were too stupid to put in logins) to get onto the net.

    It's called ambition, babe. If you had any, you'd have overcome all of these obstacles instead of complaining about them.
  • by Yosemite Sue ( 15589 ) on Sunday August 22, 1999 @08:58AM (#1732261) Journal
    I am all for schools encouraging females to enter CS programs, but the real steps IMO need to be taken with girls while they are young. In a lot of cases, the problems are not just that girls are not encouraged to experiment and play with computers/technology, but that they are discouraged (sometimes actively, sometimes subtly). Around Junior High seems to be a critical time for girls, determining whether they will have the self-confidence to succeed in what they want to do, or whether they will succumb to the popular ideal and submerge their own personality.

    Girls also need more positive role models in science and technology. This has got to be one of the toughest things - society, as a whole, does not reward women who embark on a traditionally male-dominated career path. How many female instructors/professors have you witnessed in the physical sciences and in computer technology? This lack of role models is something that is rarely acknowledged as a problem, but has been shown to affect career choices of female students.

    I am lucky - my parents encouraged me to do what I wanted, and to have confidence in myself. Even with that support, it was still difficult to be an intelligent girl interested in science and technology. Subtle prejudice from teachers ("But you're so good at English!!!") and peer pressure made my life difficult at times. I still find sometimes that my appearance is taken more seriously than my work (Recently a VB instructor commented to me that as well as being one of his "best" students, I was one of his "prettiest"... what an effective way to reduce me to a superficial level!!!)

    Oooh, the rant must stop. But as one of the minority of female programmers here, I just have to mention that there is a lot of negative stuff that still affects females in non-traditional areas. I am lucky, most of the negative feedback I have had has been silly and petty, and hasn't limited my advancement ... yet. Unfortunately, that is not the case for a lot of women.

    Sometimes I wonder if I *should* be encouraging females to go into CS/IT ...

  • Hmmm... I'm having trouble distinguishing between your argument and that of the other AC. Care to post some evidence yourself rather than just pointing out that the other AC didn't?

    It'll be much harder for folks to ignore the evidence if you'll post it! ;)
  • > Geek chicks are so few, that in my school, the
    > girls get their pick of the hoardes of geek
    > guys.

    It reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon, where Dilbert is trying to explain the blessing of being an engineer to a high-school class. (from memory)

    Dilbert: And since there are so few female engineers, they have the added advantage of being able to pick among a lot of male engineers for dating.

    Girl from class: Would we *have* to date an engineer?
  • heheh! But, seriously, while you're clearly being sarcastic, reread your argument and consider it coming from another perspective. With a few words changed to switch the genders, the last half of your post sounds like you're making fun of official affirmative action itself!

    However, while your logic clearly argues against affirmative action, I'm left unsure whether or not you support it, at least in this case. [Ed. note: "affirmative action" is used here to mean any unequally applied effort to recruit or assist one gender/race/ethnic group over another.]
  • [T]he real steps IMO need to be taken with girls while they are young
    This is exactly the case, and I suspect that the problem is fixing itself to a certain extent. People entering college now are among the first where female hackers/engineers are perfectly acceptable; the first who grew up where at least some were encouraged as children to take apart toasters when they felt the urge. As this attitude prevails, we'll see greater equality (of gender at least) in engineering schools.
  • I should leave this alone, but I can't ...

    Role models don't HAVE to be of the same sex ... but it certainly helps if you can relate to the role model. Girls will often relate to other women, go figure. And it always strikes me, if I walk into a workplace that is all male - why aren't there women here? Is it an unfriendly place for a woman to work?

    As for the "compliment", yeah, there is room for debate over its appropriateness and if I am overreacting in feeling that it was inappropriate. But in a career where there are allegations that women get jobs because of their looks, not their skills, it is difficult to be taken seriously when your appearance is the focus. I don't expect most males to understand this, but I have seen previous /. posts claiming that "airhead" girls get CS jobs because they are "babes".

    Now my experiences in high school are my own, and I hope that other females have had better ones! My science teachers were the ones who practised the subtle prejudice in their career suggestions. Steve, the 4th highest student in Chem, Physics and Bio, was encouraged to go into engineering. Girls held the top 3 spots, but we were encouraged to go into "journalism", "education" and (well, this isn't so bad) "law". Science/technology was never suggested to us.

    I have some references in terms of limited advancement for women (and minorities too) in comp sci:
    Educational Pipeline Issues for Women []
    Women in Science and Engineering []
    I doubt if the males out there who suggest there is no problem will read these articles, but they may be of interest to other women in this area ...

    Again, I don't know if there is a need for "artificial encouragement" here - little girls *are* given Barbies and baby dolls, and boys are given mechanical toys. Girls are expected to be quiet and feminine, while boys are encouraged to get dirty and take apart the toaster. Those are generalizations, and some families are providing non-stereotypical upbringings for kids, but mainstream media (including commercials) gives the same old message.

    There is a lack of good software for girls right now ... The fact that girls aren't drawn to the blood-and-gore shoot-em-ups does NOT reflect a lack of ability to program! But the lack of games out there does mean that computers may not be as attractive for young females. Hopefully this situation will improve, at least the game companies will someday want to tap that market that they are missing ... Perhaps the computer itself is not the thing that is not interesting, but the lack of any uses that computer can be put to by the girl in question. The web, with its boundless information resources and communications capability is already bringing large numbers of women into the computer-using world, and I hope will also help young girls become more comfortable in using computers and see a reason to do so.

    One thing I find interesting in this debate is how upset some of the men out there are getting about this. It's not like big scholarships are being given to stupid girls or something. Getting the feeling there is a lot of insecurity out there ...


    PS. My C instructor was a pretty cool guy - only comments he made to me were about my programming skills ... same as to the higher-scoring guys!
  • Geeks are a lot like a separate species - we have different habitats than the average, we do different things to survive, and so on. So when there is no balance of sexes within the geek world, there is no joy in geekdom. We could, of course, mate outside of our species by trying to attract, say, girls in the more female friendly arts. But that's outside of our native habitat, and it's hard to not feel like a fish out of water when visiting the clubs and what-not where people normally congregate to meet members of the appropriate sex.

    Probably the best way to improve this alarming situation is to recruit more females into our ranks. I would argue that this is not purely a gender equity situation; consider it an attempt to ensure the survival of the species by allowing us to reproduce with those of our own kind. Otherwise, geek traits are bound to die out, and it will be our own fault.


  • I wonder about how hard Carnegie-Mellon is encouraging females into their CS depts. I'm all for encouraging young women into CS/IT, but I hope it's not with artificially positive reinforcement and promises that CS would be a wonderful major for many girls who might not be prepared for it. My biggest mistake was going into a Writing major when I should have gone into Art or CS, simply because I got a lot of positive reinforcement towards writing. (I hate it now)
  • The women's magazine Cosmopolitan does severe damage to women's independence and abilities. My wife reads a bunch of these magazines, and I swear, after about an hour of reading one, she sounds a lot dumber. She starts saying and thinking stupid things that she normally wouldn't.

    I think the biggest problem women have (as well as most minorities) is that they oppress themselves and don't even know it. They demand all sorts of equalities and opportunities, and then they go back to their old ways. "Cosmopolitan" claims to empower women, but I think it backfires.

A computer without COBOL and Fortran is like a piece of chocolate cake without ketchup and mustard.