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Education Programming

Girls Go Geek Again 378

nessus42 writes "Computer science has always been a male-dominated field, right? Wrong. In 1987, 42% of the software developers in America were women. And 34% of the systems analysts in America were women. Women had started to flock to computer science in the mid-1960s, during the early days of computing, when men were already dominating other technical professions but had yet to dominate the world of computing. For about two decades, the percentages of women who earned Computer Science degrees rose steadily, peaking at 37% in 1984.... And then the women left. In droves. looks like women are now returning to computer science."
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Girls Go Geek Again

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  • by Grond ( 15515 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:21PM (#36913184) Homepage

    Women didn't leave the field voluntarily. Once it became apparent that programming was becoming a lucrative field women were systematically driven out by a system that favored men []:

    Eager to indentify talented individuals to train as computer programmers, employers relied on aptitude tests to make hiring decisions. ... [T]he tests were widely compromised and their answers were available for study through all-male networks such as college fraternities and Elks lodges. ... [A] second type of test, the personality profile, was even more slanted to male applicants. Based on a series of preference questions, these tests sought to identify job applicants who were the ideal programming “type.” According to test developers, successful programmers had most of the same personality traits as other white-collar professionals. The important distinction, however, was that programmers displayed “disinterest in people” and that they disliked “activities involving close personal interaction.” It is these personality profiles, says Ensmenger, that originated our modern stereotype of the anti-social computer geek. ... Although the stereotype of the anti-social programmer was created in the 1960s, it is now self-perpetuating. Employers seek to hire new recruits who fit the existing mold. Young people self-select into careers where they believe they will fit in—for example, women currently comprise 18% of computer science undergraduate majors, down from 37% in 1985.

    The gender disparity in programming is not the result of slight differences between men and women or subtle unconscious biases. It is the result of overt discrimination going back decades to the origin of the profession. And it will take overt action to correct the disparity.

  • by Cutting_Crew ( 708624 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @05:05PM (#36913742)
    Even though this was a small sample, as Joel mentioned lets look at the numbers:

    Made it to resume review: Female - 75.68%, Male - 72.05%
    Made it to the coding stage: Female - 28.38%, Male - 26.49%
    Made it to phone interview: Female - 0.054%, Male - 0.099%
    In person interview: Female - 0.041%, Male - 0.0565%
    Received an offer: Female - 0.041%, Male - 0.0194%
    Official Hire: Female - 0.014%, Male - Male - 0.013%

    Even though this was a small sample, is there anything we can derive from this? The last stat to me doesn't matter as much, even though the numbers were for all intensive purposes the same percentage, even though there were 8 times more male applicants.

    If we were to break down the stages the women had better percentages up to the phone interview. Does this show or should this show that the males did better at the coding assignment? If we can agree that that is what happened then the whole "boys play with computers more, tinker, etc etc" might have 'some' truth to it. Before the phone interview the females led by nearly 2%. By the time the phone interview came around, the males had gained that 2% but additional ground on top of the that.

    However 100% of those females that made it to the in person interview made it to the offer stage while the men lost the ground that they gained during the coding stage. Does this mean perhaps that the males had poorer social skills to cause some doubt in their ability to do the work or perhaps be a good fit? Did the women wear low tops?(i am not suggesting the Joel and his interviewers are biased regarding to this, but i am just babbling there).

    Would be interesting to see what others think or perhaps what Joel thinks of the numbers after he printed them(assuming that he wasnt keeping track as things progressed through the entire process.
  • Grace Hopper (Score:5, Informative)

    by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @05:53PM (#36914280) Homepage

    Let's not forget Admiral Grace Hopper [] who programmed, developed a successful programming language, led successful standardization efforts, managed--did just about everything you could do with computers both as a direct individual-contributor and as a high-level manager.

    She was a nerd and she did "stuff that mattered."

  • by Velex ( 120469 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @05:54PM (#36914290) Journal

    So they selected anti-social people who at the same time were highly social in joining fraternal organizations? Sounds perfectly and utterly non-contradictory.

    Wish I had mod points. Of course it is. Look deep enough into any of this women-as-perpetual-victims crap and it always contradicts itself.

    Feminism is built on the idea that all gender differences are the result of some direct action by a man in a position of authority.

    No women stay in math class long enough to solve a simple equation (say 5 = 2x)? Somehow that's a man's fault, and it couldn't possibly be her mothers' fault. Even if her mother and her female, math-phobic teachers contributed to that, it's still somehow men's fault at large that the women a young girl is modeling herself after socially are math-phobic.

    So, since men are clearly the culprit, women can't possibly be held responsible for being part of the solution. It's beyond feminism that these math-phobic older women should correct their own problems. It's far, far beyond feminism for these young women who learn math-phobia to fix their own problem.

    What always floors me about feminism, though, is how they willfully ignore the fact that someone who can't do basic algebra, no matter whose fault that is, will never make a good programmer. If I were hiring, why on earth would I hire a woman who can't do math over a man who's gone to school and has experience just to "even things out?" It's completely ridiculous.

    I'm not saying that women can't do math. There are female math majors out there that could run rings around me. I'm not saying that women can't program, I just haven't met any. I see no reason why a woman shouldn't be able to learn programming, but it's not a skill that you just pick up during the first week or two of a new job out of the blue. Women need to recognize that it's a skill that takes a long time to learn and a longer time to get good at.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton