OT somewhat: How can companies make themselves more attractive to women in IT?

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estherschindler

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Mar 14, 2008, 2:16:40 PM3/14/08
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I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
this question, but usually from the periphery. That is, someone will
post a message about behavior (in, say, a job interview) that's a turn-
off, making the woman decide that this company is probably not a good
choice for a woman who wants to get ahead, or for one who just wants
to enjoy her job.

But I've been thinking about this, particularly as I continue in the
series of articles I've been writing about Women in IT for CIO.com,
such as "The Executive Woman's Guide to Mentoring" ( http://www.cio.com/article/187300
). I'm planning to write another article, this time with more input
from both IT women and men (not just CIOs, though I expect I'll get
some input from them), looking for the attributes/behaviors that a
smart company can adopt to make itself more attractive to women.

I want to make this largely about POSITIVE things that companies can
do -- not just the painful anecdotes. Certainly, there will be value
in mentioning the turn-offs. But it'd be ideal if I could enumerate "7
ways to make your company more attractive to IT women" -- the "DO
THIS" not just "DO NOTs."

For instance, one obvious attraction is flexible work options (which
obviously appeals to both genders, but certainly is a Plus for women
with small children).

Anyway -- I'm hereby collecting input. Ideally you can share your
name, company, and position with me. Private messages are fine, though
I dare say there's value to be had by making this a public discussion.

I have a fair amount of input already, but I hope to collect a little
bit more by Monday, so I hope you can contribute. Starting Monday,
I'll compile and turn into an article that, I hope, may make life just
a little bit easier for techie women and the men who work with them.
I'll also let y'all know when the article is posted.

Esther Schindler
(in her devilish disguise as senior online editor, CIO.com)

Mensanator

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Mar 14, 2008, 3:27:58 PM3/14/08
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On Mar 14, 1:16 pm, estherschindler <est...@bitranch.com> wrote:
> I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
> this question, but usually from the periphery. That is, someone will
> post a message about behavior (in, say, a job interview) that's a turn-
> off, making the woman decide that this company is probably not a good
> choice for a woman who wants to get ahead, or for one who just wants
> to enjoy her job.
>
> But I've been thinking about this, particularly as I continue in the
> series of articles I've been writing about Women in IT for CIO.com,
> such as "The Executive Woman's Guide to Mentoring" (http://www.cio.com/article/187300

> ). I'm planning to write another article, this time with more input
> from both IT women and men (not just CIOs, though I expect I'll get
> some input from them), looking for the attributes/behaviors that a
> smart company can adopt to make itself more attractive to women.
>
> I want to make this largely about POSITIVE things that companies can
> do -- not just the painful anecdotes. Certainly, there will be value
> in mentioning the turn-offs. But it'd be ideal if I could enumerate "7
> ways to make your company more attractive to IT women" -- the "DO
> THIS" not just "DO NOTs."
>
> For instance, one obvious attraction is flexible work options (which
> obviously appeals to both genders, but certainly is a Plus for women
> with small children).
>
> Anyway -- I'm hereby collecting input. Ideally you can share your
> name, company, and position with me. Private messages are fine, though
> I dare say there's value to be had by making this a public discussion.
>
> I have a fair amount of input already, but I hope to collect a little
> bit more by Monday, so I hope you can contribute.  Starting Monday,
> I'll compile and turn into an article that, I hope, may make life just
> a little bit easier for techie women and the men who work with them.
> I'll also let y'all know when the article is posted.
>
> Esther Schindler
> (in her devilish disguise as senior online editor, CIO.com)

I'd like to know how to get more attractive women into IT.

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 15, 2008, 5:17:36 AM3/15/08
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"estherschindler" <est...@bitranch.com> wrote in message
news:7ecb798f-e9f2-4f50...@x41g2000hsb.googlegroups.com...

> I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
> this question, but usually from the periphery. That is, someone will
> post a message about behavior (in, say, a job interview) that's a turn-
> off, making the woman decide that this company is probably not a good
> choice for a woman who wants to get ahead, or for one who just wants
> to enjoy her job.
>
> But I've been thinking about this, particularly as I continue in the
> series of articles I've been writing about Women in IT for CIO.com,
> such as "The Executive Woman's Guide to
> Mentoring" ( http://www.cio.com/article/187300
>
Generally women aren't very interested in programming computers. For
instance if you look at recent posts in this newsgroup you'll find only one
female regular, which is Julienne. (Apologies to anyone I've missed).

Whilst it's much easier for women to get into male dominated industries than
for men to get into female-dominated ones, a woman will still find the
culture set up for men. For instnace when I was a games programmer at one
company I worked for not a single person was married, not a single person
was over 30 years of age, and hours like 3 till 3 were not at all uncommon.
Obviously not the sort of place a married woman with young kids would feel
comfortable. We had one lady programmer, however, Vicky.

That's not something I see a point in trying to change. At college there
were three of four girls on the engineering course. All but one went on to
jobs in areas other than engineering. Basically the others had been pushed
into engineering by ambitious schools who'd been hit by the WISE (Women into
science and engineering) campaign.

--
Free games and programming goodies.
http://www.personal.leeds.ac.uk/~bgy1mm

Richard Heathfield

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Mar 15, 2008, 5:57:05 AM3/15/08
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Malcolm McLean said:

>
> "estherschindler" <est...@bitranch.com> wrote in message
> news:7ecb798f-e9f2-4f50...@x41g2000hsb.googlegroups.com...
>> I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
>> this question, but usually from the periphery. That is, someone will
>> post a message about behavior (in, say, a job interview) that's a turn-
>> off, making the woman decide that this company is probably not a good
>> choice for a woman who wants to get ahead, or for one who just wants
>> to enjoy her job.
>>
>> But I've been thinking about this, particularly as I continue in the
>> series of articles I've been writing about Women in IT for CIO.com,
>> such as "The Executive Woman's Guide to
>> Mentoring" ( http://www.cio.com/article/187300
>>
> Generally women aren't very interested in programming computers. For
> instance if you look at recent posts in this newsgroup you'll find only
> one female regular, which is Julienne. (Apologies to anyone I've missed).

False conclusion, for at least two reasons.

Firstly, many people post here under pseudonyms. This is obviously true for
names such as "user923005", but there's nothing to stop people posting
under a false name. I'm not saying anyone does, but it's easy to imagine
situations in which they might. For example, trolls with the brains not to
want potential employers to see their deliberate idiocies, or high profile
people who are loathe to attract a zillion "gosh, are you the real <X>?
Please do <Y> for me" articles, or of course people who are, or who
consider themselves to be, vulnerable to net-stalkers and wish not to
reveal anything about their private lives unnecessarily - quite possibly
including gender.

Secondly, interest in programming computers and interest in posting
articles to comp.programming are not the same thing. Many people post here
who have no interest whatsoever in programming (e.g. spammers). And many
people who are very interested in programming do not post here. Examples
(assuming they don't post under a pseudonym) include Donald Knuth, Niklaus
Wirth (still alive, I believe, at 74), Charles Petzold, Douglas
Hofstadter, Linus Torvalds... Are these people not interested in
programming?

> Whilst it's much easier for women to get into male dominated industries
> than for men to get into female-dominated ones, a woman will still find
> the culture set up for men. For instnace when I was a games programmer at
> one company I worked for not a single person was married,

By definition, single people are single! :-)

<snip>

--
Richard Heathfield <http://www.cpax.org.uk>
Email: -http://www. +rjh@
Google users: <http://www.cpax.org.uk/prg/writings/googly.php>
"Usenet is a strange place" - dmr 29 July 1999

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 15, 2008, 6:41:16 AM3/15/08
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"Richard Heathfield" <r...@see.sig.invalid> wrote in message
news:OqSdnWAJzboAAUba...@bt.com...
There's a difference between a slightly ropey conclusion and a false
conclusion. As you point out, comp.programming is not an exhaustive
enumeration of everyone interested in programming. However it is a sample.
The natural conclusion is that it is a fair sample, and the relative absence
of female names indicates a relative lack of female interest in the subject.

However there are other possibilities. I think women are less interested in
Usenet than in other social networking sites, maybe because there no sense
of a "homepage" or "personal profile". Also they might be disproportionately
more likely to use genderless or opposite-gender pseudonyms. However there
will always be this kind of objection to any kind of observation of humans.
It doesn't mean that the simple, natural conclusion is in any sense
disproved.

Phlip

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Mar 15, 2008, 11:45:40 AM3/15/08
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Malcolm McLean wrote:

> Generally women aren't very interested in programming computers. For
> instance if you look at recent posts in this newsgroup you'll find only
> one female regular, which is Julienne. (Apologies to anyone I've missed).

Maybe women aren't too interested in USENET.

I can't imagine why...

--
Phlip


Phlip

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Mar 15, 2008, 11:57:03 AM3/15/08
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Malcolm McLean wrote:

> However there are other possibilities. I think women are less interested
> in Usenet than in other social networking sites, maybe because there no
> sense of a "homepage" or "personal profile". Also they might be
> disproportionately more likely to use genderless or opposite-gender
> pseudonyms. However there will always be this kind of objection to any
> kind of observation of humans. It doesn't mean that the simple, natural
> conclusion is in any sense disproved.

Getting objected to doesn't make you right.

To help us discuss this, let's start with a little exercise. My SO has
trouble remembering which mouse button to click for what action. She also
navigates a car strictly by landmarks and memorized routes - never a mental
map. She's also heavily into child care, and into ordering me to keep the
house clean.

Does this sound stereotypical enough for us? I hope it's beyond objection
because it's the truth, not an aphorism.

My next simple, natural observation is that 95% of the teams I have worked
with (over >cough< 20 years) have had female programmers. I can only recall
two that did not. And my daughter has taught herself touch-typing, and I
have caught her editing HTML, though she refuses to let me think she will
ever learn programming.

I conclude nothing from any of these observations. Conclusions are
pointless. Should I conclude that all males have a tendency to spout
chauvinistic claptrap on USENET, too?

I'm sure these technically literate females were just aberrations, and they
only were able to program due to an atavistic capacity for intricate tasks,
such as knitting, not large-scale group planning, such as hunting mastadons.

--
Phlip
http://assert2.rubyforge.org/


Phlip

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Mar 15, 2008, 12:22:26 PM3/15/08
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estherschindler wrote:

> I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
> this question

Esther, don't worry your pretty head about such things!

(-;

(BTW we don't more caucasoids, asians, or pacifics. We need more blacks and
latinos! I have only ever programmed with one, briefly...)

--
Phlip


estherschindler

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Mar 15, 2008, 12:23:09 PM3/15/08
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Yeah. It couldn't be the culture, could it?

--Esther
former compiler engineer who spent several years on usenet (starting
in 1987)


Ben Pfaff

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Mar 15, 2008, 12:24:00 PM3/15/08
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"Malcolm McLean" <regn...@btinternet.com> writes:

> Whilst it's much easier for women to get into male dominated
> industries than for men to get into female-dominated ones, a woman
> will still find the culture set up for men. For instnace when I was a
> games programmer at one company I worked for not a single person was
> married, not a single person was over 30 years of age, and hours like
> 3 till 3 were not at all uncommon. Obviously not the sort of place a
> married woman with young kids would feel comfortable. We had one lady
> programmer, however, Vicky.

I think that games programming is at one extreme of the industry.
The computer networking startup I work at is quite different. We
have about 6 developers, about evenly distributed between
under-30 and over-30, all but one married, some with kids, and
mostly working between 8 am and 7 pm (usually 8-9 hours somewhere
in that range). We have one woman developer, who is amazingly
good at what she does.
--
Ben Pfaff
http://benpfaff.org

Phlip

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Mar 15, 2008, 12:43:38 PM3/15/08
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Ben Pfaff wrote:

> I think that games programming is at one extreme of the industry. The
> computer networking startup I work at is quite different. We have about
> 6 developers, about evenly distributed between under-30 and over-30, all
> but one married, some with kids, and mostly working between 8 am and 7
> pm (usually 8-9 hours somewhere in that range). We have one woman
> developer, who is amazingly good at what she does.

The term for that obnoxious behavior in the game industry should be
"Rambo Coding".

As an outlying statistic, underrepresentation for women in that part of
game industry is similar to underrepresentation in firefighting, or deep-
sea fishing, or other dangerous jobs we reserve for men.

--
Phlip

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 15, 2008, 1:59:42 PM3/15/08
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"Phlip" <phli...@gmail.com> wrote in message
news:47dbf1d2$0$22815$4c36...@roadrunner.com...

> My next simple, natural observation is that 95% of the teams I have worked
> with (over >cough< 20 years) have had female programmers. I can only
> recall two that did not.
I think comp.programming is a better test of interest than job survey.
Interest in a monthly salary cheque isn't always the same thing as interest
in the work.

Having said that, I don't think people would survive long in games without
some attraction to videogaming. And I've never had a "serious" job.

George Peter Staplin

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Mar 15, 2008, 2:43:33 PM3/15/08
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I'm reminded of this:
http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/
http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/x168.html#AEN203


Some of the first programmers were female, such as Ada Byron, and Grace
Murray Hopper, however that doesn't carry over as well today. It's not
that women are much different in their desire to create, I think it's
mostly that women are at odds with the social structure of some of the
current society. A society I believe to be falling apart, for good, and
bad reasons.

I've tried to teach my female friends, and girlfriends about
programming. It hasn't turned out very well. They view it as boring
generally, but it at least helps them respect what I do at times.

There is so much fun under the surface with programming, if you can find
it. I've regained some of the fun recently, by working more on things I
enjoy that are only a little challenging (networked multiplayer games).
While letting some huge projects sit idle or get much less of my time.


Good luck,

George

santosh

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Mar 15, 2008, 3:45:46 PM3/15/08
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George Peter Staplin wrote:

Is that so? As I see it, modern western modelled societies actually seem
to be favouring women.

Around here the IT workforce is quite well represented with women
(though they are still a minority), but then the vast majority of the
IT workforce here is there to make fast cash, irrelevant of gender.

I don't really know the situation in the West, though of course I have
often heard about this complaint that women are underrepresented in IT.

Is it perhaps because they are overrepresented elsewhere and thus get
good enough jobs. After all, to 95% of people jobs are about money. It
doesn't matter what you do, as long as the pay is good enough.

Women here work around twelve hours a day (or should I say the night),
and brave a lot of difficulties because the PAY is good, given their
qualifications. I am talking about Call Centers of course. Money is
power for men, money is freedom for women.

> A society I believe to be falling apart, for good,
> and bad reasons.

I agree. And not just the "West", it's the whole world.

<snip>

Ben Bacarisse

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Mar 15, 2008, 9:15:16 PM3/15/08
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George Peter Staplin <georgeps...@xmission.com> writes:
<snip>

> I've tried to teach my female friends, and girlfriends about
> programming. It hasn't turned out very well. They view it as boring
> generally,

So do the vast majority of men.

--
Ben.

Phlip

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Mar 15, 2008, 10:55:53 PM3/15/08
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>> I've tried to teach my female friends, and girlfriends about
>> programming. It hasn't turned out very well. They view it as boring
>> generally,

> So do the vast majority of men.

A repost from else-net:

Hank Gillette wrote:

>In article <20041002200802.865...@newsreader.com>, ctc...@hotmail.com
>wrote:

>> I've never noticed computer geeks taste in women being all that
>> discriminating.

>I doubt that you are seeing their first choice.

Dear diary,

Today, I found a useful new feature in class inheritance in Python,
but had a problem I couldn't work out, then I had breakfast. I love
the smell of cold pizza and Pepsi in the morning. Then I fixed my
room-mate's scanner (will he never learn about TWAIN protocols over
USB?!) and played NetHack until noon, when my parents (huh!) came
round. Deadly dull. I gave them some pizza.

Afternoon, I went to fix elderly next-door's DVD and hacked it to
remove the region encoding, but they were more worried about some dog
and a vet or something. Anyway, I disabled Macrovision encoding too,
so they can record to VHS if they ever get a VHS recorder. Their
nurse was nice, but was more worried about cleaning up after their
incontinence than NTSC/PAL conversion.

In the evening, I was working on fractals, trying to generate
landscapes for my new, up-coming 3D RTS game, when this cute blonde
chick from down the hall knocked on the door. Turns out she wanted
help - she kept saying she "needed a man right now". Luckily, I'd got
a copy of The Sims 2, so I quickly generated a male character, burned
it to a CD and gave it to her. Of course, I labelled it with my CD
pen, and put it in a jewel case and did a sort of cover thing with a
green biro.

Then she left, crying, and didn't even take the CD with her. What is
it with women? They ask for something, you give it to them and
they're still upset.

Ayway, the class inheritance thing in Python turned out to be just a
typo on my part. Aren't I silly? Hehehe!

--
???


Ben Bacarisse

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Mar 16, 2008, 4:54:25 AM3/16/08
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You've snipped all the attribution lines. I've had to put them back.

"Phlip" <phli...@gmail.com> writes:
> Ben Bacarisse writes:


>> George Peter Staplin writes:
>>> I've tried to teach my female friends, and girlfriends about
>>> programming. It hasn't turned out very well. They view it as boring
>>> generally,
>
>> So do the vast majority of men.
>
> A repost from else-net:

|Hank Gillette wrote:
|In article <20041002200802.865...@newsreader.com>, ctc...@hotmail.com
|wrote:
|
|| I've never noticed computer geeks taste in women being all that
|| discriminating.
|
|I doubt that you are seeing their first choice.

<stereotyped geek diary snipped>

I don't get your point, unless it is to say that George's sample is
hardly random. If that was it, then yes, no doubt it is highly
selective but my point was more general -- to estimate the prevalence
of a rare trait in a population you need a big sample. All of my male
friends glaze over if I try to talk about computers and I would not
dream of trying to teach them programming, but that tells you very
little about the male population's interest and aptitude.

I have some experience of another highly selective, but much more
telling sample: teaching men & women who *wanted* to learn programming
and computer science. Over the years I kept some stats and there was
no significant difference between men and women in terms of degree
results (this was a postgraduate conversion course).

There were some interesting differences between the men and the women
on the course (not statistical, only anecdotal). The most striking,
to me, being the degree of self-confidence shown regarding their
ability to cope with the new material. I don't recall any men, at
interview, expressing any miss-givings about their ability to cope
with the course, despite my pressing them about things like the
mathematics content. "Oh, I got a C in O-level maths, I'll manage",
was one remark I remember from a Geography graduate. I thought he'd
struggle and he did. In stark contrast I remember a women telling me
she knew she'd find it all very confusing, but she was not afraid to
put the work in to make up for this shortcoming. This alarmed me a
bit, so checked her application form -- she had a first-class degree
in Astronomy and Astrophysics. I could not persuade her that she'd
have no trouble. with it. She got a distinction.

That was a good learning day for me.

--
Ben.

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 16, 2008, 5:33:07 AM3/16/08
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"Ben Bacarisse" <ben.u...@bsb.me.uk> wrote in message

>
> I have some experience of another highly selective, but much more
> telling sample: teaching men & women who *wanted* to learn programming
> and computer science. Over the years I kept some stats and there was
> no significant difference between men and women in terms of degree
> results (this was a postgraduate conversion course).
>
You say they *want* to learn computer science. Whilst there is some truth in
this, since these are young adults and not in compulsory education, and
presumably with a choice of univeristy subjects, there are still many
pressures on students' decisions other than individual preference.

That's why I think that participation in comp.programming is a better
measure of interest. Here there is no qualification, no career point, no
payment per post to be had.

Ben Bacarisse

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Mar 16, 2008, 10:59:59 AM3/16/08
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"Malcolm McLean" <regn...@btinternet.com> writes:

> "Ben Bacarisse" <ben.u...@bsb.me.uk> wrote in message
>>
>> I have some experience of another highly selective, but much more
>> telling sample: teaching men & women who *wanted* to learn programming
>> and computer science. Over the years I kept some stats and there was
>> no significant difference between men and women in terms of degree
>> results (this was a postgraduate conversion course).
>>
> You say they *want* to learn computer science. Whilst there is some
> truth in this, since these are young adults and not in compulsory
> education, and presumably with a choice of univeristy subjects, there
> are still many pressures on students' decisions other than individual
> preference.

Of course.

> That's why I think that participation in comp.programming is a better
> measure of interest.

Ha! How do get from there to here? BTW I was not citing female
applicants to a conversion MSc as a measure on interest (though it has
*some* baring on that). I was countering the rather pointless remark
that was, in essence, "some set of women I know don't seem to want to
learn about programming".

I'd prefer a study of book purchases or something equally neutral as a
measure of interest. Counting posts in comp.programming will give you
a very odd measure, I suspect.

--
Ben.

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 16, 2008, 6:20:00 PM3/16/08
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"Ben Bacarisse" <ben.u...@bsb.me.uk> wrote in message
news:87lk4ia...@bsb.me.uk...
Your students, mostly, aren't there because they want to learn programming,
but because they want certificates that will lead on to highly paid jobs.
However they do choose programming rather than, say, accountancy and
business management, because it is less boring and unattractive than those
subjects.

Posters here are mostly here because they enjoy talking about computer
programming. Admittedly you have a few homework queries, or spammers, and
sometimes one wonders about the motivation of the trolls. But most have at
least some interest in computer programming that transcends the mercenary.
Very few of them are women, with a few exceptions like Julienne. Whilst this
is disappointing in its way, I think it's something we have to accept.

Phlip

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Mar 16, 2008, 6:25:53 PM3/16/08
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> Posters here are mostly here because they enjoy talking about computer
> programming. Admittedly you have a few homework queries, or spammers, and
> sometimes one wonders about the motivation of the trolls. But most have at
> least some interest in computer programming that transcends the mercenary.
> Very few of them are women, with a few exceptions like Julienne. Whilst
> this is disappointing in its way, I think it's something we have to
> accept.

I'm trying to remember a female programmer I ever worked with who would want
to post to USENET...

santosh

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Mar 16, 2008, 6:27:47 PM3/16/08
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Phlip wrote:

Why? What's so bad about Usenet?

Phlip

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Mar 16, 2008, 7:20:33 PM3/16/08
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santosh wrote:

>> I'm trying to remember a female programmer I ever worked with who
>> would want to post to USENET...
>
> Why? What's so bad about Usenet?

Ah, the innocence...

USENET is a bunch of high-value forums with zero admissions criteria. You
can find trolling here of such exquisite accuracy that WikiPedia will then
report that trolling as valid debate among qualified peers.

This "din of the asylum" effect disgusts many people, including but not
limited to females, who then don't participate in online forums.

Malcolm is free to survey these forums, and his workplaces, and is free to
underline his own conclusions about them. We cannot, however, insinuate that
USENET presents a balanced sample of the whole, if it comes with its own
biases. Certain populations, creeds, and genders might dislike USENET more
than others!

--
Phlip


santosh

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Mar 16, 2008, 9:40:18 PM3/16/08
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Phlip wrote:

> santosh wrote:
>
>>> I'm trying to remember a female programmer I ever worked with who
>>> would want to post to USENET...
>>
>> Why? What's so bad about Usenet?
>
> Ah, the innocence...
>
> USENET is a bunch of high-value forums with zero admissions criteria.
> You can find trolling here of such exquisite accuracy that WikiPedia
> will then report that trolling as valid debate among qualified peers.
>
> This "din of the asylum" effect disgusts many people, including but
> not limited to females, who then don't participate in online forums.

Well, the few groups that I usually frequent seem pretty sane and
interesting to me. Granted though that most of Usenet seems to be in
ruins, but the technical groups have held their own.

> Malcolm is free to survey these forums, and his workplaces, and is
> free to underline his own conclusions about them. We cannot, however,
> insinuate that USENET presents a balanced sample of the whole, if it
> comes with its own biases. Certain populations, creeds, and genders
> might dislike USENET more than others!

I agree here. It takes a certain amount of time and mindset to frequent
Usenet. Many people who regularly post in other web based forums
(usually moderated) don't like the relative "chaos" of Usenet. Others
may simply use their online time for taking a break from work. And we
must remember the hundreds of millions of technically qualified people
who don't speak English at all, or well enough to participate on Usenet
(I don't really know about the status of specific language groups).

estherschindler

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Mar 18, 2008, 6:14:47 PM3/18/08
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On Mar 15, 3:41 am, "Malcolm McLean" <regniz...@btinternet.com> wrote:
> As you point out, comp.programming is not an exhaustive
> enumeration of everyone interested in programming. However it is a sample.
> The natural conclusion is that it is a fair sample, and the relative absence
> of female names indicates a relative lack of female interest in the subject.

It is a poor sample, and a single data point. That doesn't make it
wrong -- it simply means that it's not enough data from which to draw
a conclusion.

Now, if you looked at a few dozen online discussion areas targeted at
programmers and other IT people, then you might, _might_ be able to be
able to draw some conclusions. But then you would have to extend
outside of usenet. Usenet has value, surely, but it's rarely the first
place that developers turn anymore. (The reasons why that might be are
another discussion entirely.) You would have to look at the MSDN
forums, and at IBM DeveloperWorks, and at systers.org (that's 3,000
women right there, all of whom are in IT), and WWWomen, and
phpdeveloper.com, and dzone.com, and many yahoo groups (such as the
extreme programming group)... well, I easily could go on for several
pages.

All of which, incidentally, have visible women.

You also don't take into account the lurker-to-poster ratio, which is
generally assumed to be 100:1. Someone can be listening on Usenet
without feeling the need to post a message. A woman faced with a reply
like, "I'd like more attractive women in IT" (however amusing it might
be) may not exactly feel welcomed.

> However there are other possibilities. I think women are less interested in
> Usenet than in other social networking sites, maybe because there no sense
> of a "homepage" or "personal profile".

What the heck would that have to do with gender?

You're making a whole lot of assumptions without any data whatsoever.

--Esther
who is, yes, actually female

estherschindler

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Mar 18, 2008, 6:21:31 PM3/18/08
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On Mar 15, 9:22 am, "Phlip" <phlip2...@gmail.com> wrote:
> estherschindler wrote:
> > I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
> > this question
>
> Esther, don't worry your pretty head about such things!
>
> (-;

/me smacks Phlip one upside the head

> (BTW we don't more caucasoids, asians, or pacifics. We need more blacks and
> latinos! I have only ever programmed with one, briefly...)

Since I live in Arizona, I see a fair number of Spanish-speaking
developers. What's remarkably rare, for this state, is American Indian
developers. But I've never been anywhere with a significant number of
black programmers.

Back in '95 or so, I wrote a few columns for Software Development
magazine and decided to write about the obvious dearth of women in
programming. So, to back up my assertion, I looked up the SEC codes
for programmers; that is, the checkbox that identifies your job on
your (U.S.) tax return. To my surprise, 34% of self-identified
programmers were women. Not the 10%-or-so that I had expected. My
article, as you might imagine, turned into something quite different.

(I also gleaned from the state SEC codes that all of 84 (IIRC)
programmers in Arizona were Native American. Or took that label upon
themselves.)

I'm given to understand that the percentage has dropped from 34% to
something in the 20s. But the women are most certainly there. Just not
in Malcolm's shop, more's the pity.

Esther

Ben Pfaff

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Mar 18, 2008, 6:35:33 PM3/18/08
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estherschindler <est...@bitranch.com> writes:

> To my surprise, 34% of self-identified programmers were
> women. Not the 10%-or-so that I had expected.

My mother was a programmer for many years (before she retired).
My father has never been a programmer. But I have never run into
anyone else who said that his mother's example inspired him to go
into programming.

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 18, 2008, 8:45:32 PM3/18/08
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"estherschindler" <est...@bitranch.com> wrote in message
news:3d466efc-e306-46ca...@p25g2000hsf.googlegroups.com...

> On Mar 15, 3:41 am, "Malcolm McLean" <regniz...@btinternet.com> wrote:
>> As you point out, comp.programming is not an exhaustive
>> enumeration of everyone interested in programming. However it is a
>> sample.
>> The natural conclusion is that it is a fair sample, and the relative
>> absence
>> of female names indicates a relative lack of female interest in the
>> subject.
>
> It is a poor sample, and a single data point. That doesn't make it
> wrong -- it simply means that it's not enough data from which to draw
> a conclusion.
>
The null hypothesis that the shortage of women on comp.programming is due to
random unbiased sampling falls. That means we need an alternative
hypothesis.

The obvious one is the natural one. You clearly dislike it and you might
even be right. However consider what you're doing. You're rejecting the
natural interpretation of the data because of preconceived ideas that it
cannot be correct. However you don't yourself offer any alternative
explanation, in fact you pour cold water on the one I offered, which is that
Usenet is less attractive to women than other social sites because of the
lack of a homepage or personal profile. Just demanding more data doesn't
make what you've got go away.

estherschindler

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Mar 19, 2008, 7:12:21 PM3/19/08
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On Mar 18, 5:45 pm, "Malcolm McLean" <regniz...@btinternet.com> wrote:
> The null hypothesis that the shortage of women on comp.programming is due to
> random unbiased sampling falls. That means we need an alternative
> hypothesis.
>
> The obvious one is the natural one. You clearly dislike it and you might
> even be right. However consider what you're doing. You're rejecting the
> natural interpretation of the data because of preconceived ideas that it
> cannot be correct. However you don't yourself offer any alternative
> explanation, in fact you pour cold water on the one I offered, which is that
> Usenet is less attractive to women than other social sites because of the
> lack of a homepage or personal profile. Just demanding more data doesn't
> make what you've got go away.

Sorry, Malcolm, but you're jumping to even more conclusions.

You may want to be aware that I've written market research reports
about software developers, which apply the "real" form of market
research (for instance, the participants aren't self-selected). I've
also been running online communities, primarily technology- and
developer-centric communities, since around 1990, and a participant in
quite a few more. (For example, I'm subscribed to over 60 yahoo groups
alone.) And I obviously _still_ participate (randomly) on usenet.

And, of course, I've done gosh just a little writing about technology
issues, which _does_ require that I interview people about their own
experiences and perceptions, causing me to put my own opinion in the
background. (I stepped in with my own opinions here only after I'd
collected all the data for my article, which I am now effectively
procrastinating writing -- I do, after all, have about 50 women's
responses, at every level of the career ladder.)

What you're doing is a very natural and common thing: you're
generalizing from your own experience.

There are plenty of reasons that women may fail to participate in
comp.programming. One of them is that it's a community, just like live
communities, and the culture is not particularly welcoming to women.
It may be that other forums reflect their particular interest; for
example, one might posit -- and I'm not claiming that this is true --
that women want more granular information (i.e. sql-specific rather
than databases in general). It may be that they spend more time
serving their company's needs and fail to take the time to learn from
outsiders (for good or ill). Or whatever.

I'm not criticizing your conclusion as much as I am your methods of
getting there.

--Esther

CBFalconer

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Mar 19, 2008, 7:44:32 PM3/19/08
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estherschindler wrote:
>
... snip ...

>
> There are plenty of reasons that women may fail to participate in
> comp.programming. One of them is that it's a community, just like
> live communities, and the culture is not particularly welcoming
> to women. ....

Another possibility is the presence of boors using foul language.

--
[mail]: Chuck F (cbfalconer at maineline dot net)
[page]: <http://cbfalconer.home.att.net>
Try the download section.

--
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com

estherschindler

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Mar 20, 2008, 1:52:23 PM3/20/08
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On Mar 19, 4:44 pm, CBFalconer <cbfalco...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> estherschindler wrote:
>
> ... snip ...
>
> > There are plenty of reasons that women may fail to participate in
> > comp.programming. One of them is that it's a community, just like
> > live communities, and the culture is not particularly welcoming
> > to women. ....
>
> Another possibility is the presence of boors using foul language.

The boors, yes. The foul language... maybe not so much. Women no
longer faint when they hear a naughty word. <grin>

CBFalconer

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Mar 20, 2008, 9:31:58 PM3/20/08
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I actually know that. My daughters could outswear a herd of
Irishmen at 10. Luckily they have calmed down slightly in their
30s. I never could figure out where they learned it.

Phlip

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Mar 21, 2008, 11:26:55 PM3/21/08
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estherschindler wrote:

> What's remarkably rare, for this state, is American Indian
> developers.

So there I was in Motorola's Fab in Phoenix, with a Native American
semiconductor engineer. We were way up on the third floor, inside a maze of
cubes. He asked if I was parked in the West or East parking lot, and pointed
towards each one.

I asked him, "How can you do that inside a building???"

--
Phlip


Malcolm McLean

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Mar 22, 2008, 4:00:28 AM3/22/08
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"CBFalconer" <cbfal...@yahoo.com> wrote in message

> I actually know that. My daughters could outswear a herd of
> Irishmen at 10. Luckily they have calmed down slightly in their
> 30s. I never could figure out where they learned it.
>
The foul language might put off children, or more accurately induce their
parents to ban them from here. A lot of boys are very interested in
programming, so that's a real pity.

santosh

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Mar 22, 2008, 5:37:46 AM3/22/08
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Malcolm McLean wrote:

>
> "CBFalconer" <cbfal...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
>> I actually know that. My daughters could outswear a herd of
>> Irishmen at 10. Luckily they have calmed down slightly in their
>> 30s. I never could figure out where they learned it.
>>
> The foul language might put off children, or more accurately induce
> their parents to ban them from here. A lot of boys are very interested
> in programming, so that's a real pity.

What? Where is foul language in this group?

Anyway, back to your point, that's just silly. I'm sure most children
learn more swear words from their peers than from anywhere else. It
can't really be prevented.

Randy Howard

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Mar 23, 2008, 2:45:05 PM3/23/08
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On Tue, 18 Mar 2008 17:14:47 -0500, estherschindler wrote
(in article
<3d466efc-e306-46ca...@p25g2000hsf.googlegroups.com>):

> systers.org (that's 3,000 women right there, all of whom are in IT),
> and WWWomen,

So, wishing to be perceived as equals, they gravitate to sites aimed at
women only? Imagine if there was a site for "Men in IT", the outcry
would be unbearable.

Some of this seems to be self-inflicted.

--
Randy Howard (2reply remove FOOBAR)
"The power of accurate observation is called cynicism by those
who have not got it." - George Bernard Shaw

estherschindler

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Mar 26, 2008, 12:38:12 PM3/26/08
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On Mar 23, 11:45 am, Randy Howard <randyhow...@FOOverizonBAR.net>
wrote:

> So, wishing to be perceived as equals, they gravitate to sites aimed at
> women only?

I do take your point, but there's such a thing as looking for a safe,
supportive environment.

Malcolm McLean

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Mar 26, 2008, 6:34:34 PM3/26/08
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"estherschindler" <est...@bitranch.com> wrote in message
news:fcb05441-591c-41b9...@p73g2000hsd.googlegroups.com...
Also there is a difference between a minority banding together for mutual
support and a majority deciding to exclude a minority.

Nick Keighley

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Mar 28, 2008, 11:32:26 AM3/28/08
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On 15 Mar, 18:43, George Peter Staplin

<georgepsSPAMME...@xmission.com> wrote:
> estherschindler wrote:
> > I've been involved in a lot of discussions with IT women that address
> > this question, but usually from the periphery. That is, someone will
> > post a message about behavior (in, say, a job interview) that's a turn-
> > off, making the woman decide that this company is probably not a good
> > choice for a woman who wants to get ahead, or for one who just wants
> > to enjoy her job.
>
> > But I've been thinking about this, particularly as I continue in the
> > series of articles I've been writing about Women in IT for CIO.com,
> > such as "The Executive Woman's Guide to Mentoring" (http://www.cio.com/article/187300

> > ). I'm planning to write another article, this time with more input
> > from both IT women and men (not just CIOs, though I expect I'll get
> > some input from them), looking for the attributes/behaviors that a
> > smart company can adopt to make itself more attractive to women.
>
> > I want to make this largely about POSITIVE things that companies can
> > do -- not just the painful anecdotes. Certainly, there will be value
> > in mentioning the turn-offs. But it'd be ideal if I could enumerate "7
> > ways to make your company more attractive to IT women" -- the "DO
> > THIS" not just "DO NOTs."
>
> > For instance, one obvious attraction is flexible work options (which
> > obviously appeals to both genders, but certainly is a Plus for women
> > with small children).
>
> > Anyway -- I'm hereby collecting input. Ideally you can share your
> > name, company, and position with me. Private messages are fine, though
> > I dare say there's value to be had by making this a public discussion.
>
> > I have a fair amount of input already, but I hope to collect a little
> > bit more by Monday, so I hope you can contribute.  Starting Monday,
> > I'll compile and turn into an article that, I hope, may make life just
> > a little bit easier for techie women and the men who work with them.
> > I'll also let y'all know when the article is posted.
>
> > Esther Schindler
> > (in her devilish disguise as senior online editor, CIO.com)
>
> I'm reminded of this:http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/x168.html#AEN203

>
> Some of the first programmers were female, such as Ada Byron,

I'm dubious if Ada Byron *was* a programmer. She may have been
a technical writer.


> and Grace
> Murray Hopper, however that doesn't carry over as well today.

riight that's *two* over 100 years! I like the implication that Ada
and
Grace Hopper were some sort of contempories!

Anyone onto another point. Is this perceived lack of women an Anglo
Saxon
thing?

The UK University I attended had, for some reason, a high % of
Malaysians. They all took "useful" subjects (engineering and computer
science). They were roughly 40% women. Most of the women on these
causes
were Malaysian. I was once asked by a malaysioan woman why so few
english women took these courses. I was at a loss for an answer.

I work with Italians. A far higher percentage of my Italian collegues
are feamle than my UK collegues.

And away from Anglo Saxon bias to bussiness sector bias.
When I attended a database course half the people on the course
had an IT/Financial background rather than my Comms background.
Many more female programmers on the IT/Financial side.

>  It's not
> that women are much different in their desire to create, I think it's
> mostly that women are at odds with the social structure of some of the
> current society.

whatever the hell that means...

>  A society I believe to be falling apart, for good, and
> bad reasons.
>

> I've tried to teach my female friends, and girlfriends about
> programming.  

I don't even attempt to do that to my male friends!

> It hasn't turned out very well.  They view it as boring

> generally, but it at least helps them respect what I do at times.  

that surprises me!


> There is so much fun under the surface with programming, if you can find
> it.  I've regained some of the fun recently, by working more on things I
> enjoy that are only a little challenging (networked multiplayer games).  
> While letting some huge projects sit idle or get much less of my time.


--
Nick keighley

estherschindler

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Apr 1, 2008, 3:06:02 PM4/1/08
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On Mar 14, 11:16 am, estherschindler <est...@bitranch.com> wrote:
> I'm planning to write another article, this time with more input
> from both IT women and men (not just CIOs, though I expect I'll get
> some input from them), looking for the attributes/behaviors that a
> smart company can adopt to make itself more attractive to women. . . .

And that article is live!

Making Your IT Department More Attractive to Women
Want more women on your staff? You need to do more than offer family-
friendly employee benefits. Women at every level of the career ladder
describe the corporate behavior that can attract them to a company--or
chase them away.
http://www.cio.com/article/325513

I also submitted to slashdot and dugg the article. Obviously, I'd love
it if you voted it up!
http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=600882

Phlip

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Apr 1, 2008, 3:32:04 PM4/1/08
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> http://www.cio.com/article/325513

Women in business must perform twice as well as men to be thought half as good.

Fortunately, this is not very difficult...

blm...@myrealbox.com

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Apr 1, 2008, 8:53:15 PM4/1/08
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In article <87tzj73...@bsb.me.uk>,

Ben Bacarisse <ben.u...@bsb.me.uk> wrote:
> You've snipped all the attribution lines. I've had to put them back.
>
> "Phlip" <phli...@gmail.com> writes:
> > Ben Bacarisse writes:
> >> George Peter Staplin writes:
> >>> I've tried to teach my female friends, and girlfriends about
> >>> programming. It hasn't turned out very well. They view it as boring
> >>> generally,

[ snip ]

> I have some experience of another highly selective, but much more
> telling sample: teaching men & women who *wanted* to learn programming
> and computer science. Over the years I kept some stats and there was
> no significant difference between men and women in terms of degree
> results (this was a postgraduate conversion course).
>
> There were some interesting differences between the men and the women
> on the course (not statistical, only anecdotal). The most striking,
> to me, being the degree of self-confidence shown regarding their
> ability to cope with the new material. I don't recall any men, at
> interview, expressing any miss-givings about their ability to cope
> with the course, despite my pressing them about things like the
> mathematics content. "Oh, I got a C in O-level maths, I'll manage",
> was one remark I remember from a Geography graduate. I thought he'd
> struggle and he did. In stark contrast I remember a women telling me
> she knew she'd find it all very confusing, but she was not afraid to
> put the work in to make up for this shortcoming. This alarmed me a
> bit, so checked her application form -- she had a first-class degree
> in Astronomy and Astrophysics. I could not persuade her that she'd
> have no trouble. with it. She got a distinction.
>
> That was a good learning day for me.
>

*Very* belatedly putting in my two cents' worth, as a long-time
lurker, very occasional poster, and female programmer-of-sorts
(meaning that I've written code for a living, but now am employed
as a CS teacher/researcher) .... Mostly anecdotal evidence, but
perhaps of some interest:

If one goes by enrollment in beginning university-level courses,
it does seem to be true that a lot more young men than young women
are interested in programming. (It's certainly true where I teach,
and as I understand it is true in other US schools as well.)
But in my beginning class last fall, the student who displayed
the most visible enthusiasm about programming was a young woman
who had reluctantly signed up for the course to meet a breadth
requirement (for something science-y) and discovered that she
*liked* programming. Too bad she was graduating at the end of
the semester.

I also notice that in general female students are far less
confident than male students. My favorite anecdote concerns a
student in an introductory-level course in discrete math, required
for CS majors. She came to my office with questions, commenting
that she just didn't feel like she was getting the material --
despite having the second highest average in the class.

Back to lurking ....

--
B. L. Massingill
ObDisclaimer: I don't speak for my employers; they return the favor.

Ben Bacarisse

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Apr 2, 2008, 6:51:14 AM4/2/08
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blm...@myrealbox.com <blm...@myrealbox.com> writes:

> In article <87tzj73...@bsb.me.uk>,
> Ben Bacarisse <ben.u...@bsb.me.uk> wrote:
<snip>
>> I have some experience of another highly selective, but much more
>> telling sample: teaching men & women who *wanted* to learn programming
>> and computer science.

<snip>


> I also notice that in general female students are far less
> confident than male students. My favorite anecdote concerns a
> student in an introductory-level course in discrete math, required
> for CS majors. She came to my office with questions, commenting
> that she just didn't feel like she was getting the material --
> despite having the second highest average in the class.

Anecdotal, I know, but I often found this to the case. I would worry
about some of the male students who were not "getting it" but who
seemed oblivious of that, while so many of the women who were having
no problems with the work seemed very concerned they were not
understanding the course. It remains something of a mystery to me.

I used to be the admissions tutor for a post-graduate conversion
course in Computer Science. Since many of the students came from
non-science backgrounds I always asked prospective students about
maths since this was often a stumbling block. I don't recall any men
thinking that they'd have any trouble with that side of things ("Oh,
I've got an O-level[1] -- I'll be fine") but I remember a very worried
female applicant saying how she was prepared to put in extra work and
ask for help because she knew the maths would be tough. I had to
check her application form because I though I was talking to the wrong
applicant -- she had a first-class degree in Astrophysics. I could
not persuade her she'd be fine. She got a distinction.

[1] A high-school qualification. Now dead. All this was a long time
ago.

--
Ben.

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