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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 mmmmbeer ( 107215 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:52PM (#36912768)

    There may be some disagreement about what it means to "dominate." Clearly the author feels it requires a higher disparity.

  • by nschubach ( 922175 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:01PM (#36912916) Journal

    I question the "leaving in droves" comment though. Did the females leave or did the number of males coming in just go up an a rate faster than women? According to their data, far more men have submitted resumes than women.

  • Numbers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:06PM (#36912970)
    In 1987, 42% of the software developers in America were women... the percentages of women who earned Computer Science degrees rose steadily, peaking at 37% in 1984
    If women with computer science degrees peaked in 1984 at 37%, then it also means women working as software developers were less likely to have a degree.

    From the Article: "In the past year, the number of women majoring in Computer Science has nearly doubled at Harvard, rising from 13% to 25%"
    If there was that much change in a single year, I'm betting it has more to do with the admissions process or other factors than any society-wide phenomena.
  • Just my theory. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:08PM (#36912994)

    It has to do with the complexity of the systems. Those early computer systems were not very complicated. Then, throughout the late 80s and 90s systems and software became much more complex. However, in the last ten years or so, much of the complexity is hidden. Programming and systems management has become just a lot of pointing and clicking without any need (usually) to really understand what's going on underneath the covers.

    I want to add that this is just a theory, and that tt's not that I think women are incapable of understanding very complex systems, it's just that I think the majority of them have no interest in that kind of work.

  • Re:Oh I'm sorry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:14PM (#36913072)

    The fact that this is the first comment on this article is pretty ironic, given that it's these kind of attitudes that keep women away.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:22PM (#36913200) Homepage

    It's always had majority men, but 58-42 is very different from the roughly 80-20 split that it has now. It's sort of like the difference between pediatric medicine (currently about 55-45 in favor of women) and nursing (95-5 in favor of women).

    In the cases where you have a gender in an extreme minority, you often get silly social reactions around them. For instance, male geeks who stay in all-male environments might not get used to treating women professionally rather than drooling over them or harassing them. Similarly, some female nurses (particularly older female nurses) have been known to mistreat male nurses because they think there is something wrong with the men.

  • Cause and effect (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:23PM (#36913208) Homepage Journal

    I don't think it has anything to do with a rising interest in IT. its that women need jobs these days too, due to the economy, so i bet you will find ALL industries are increasing their woman count. Especially 'clean' jobs since most women ( or men really ) don't want to go out and dig ditches for a living.

  • Re:Oh I'm sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:24PM (#36913226)

    ... given that it's these kind of attitudes that keep women away.

    If that were true, wouldn't women keep out of pretty much every industry?

  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:26PM (#36913278)

    These days your average person pushes a button, types in a username/password, and starts clicking things to get to work.

    She powered up various large devices in order, typed a long hex boot string into the system, then proceded to load punch cards, open reel tapes and hard drive cake platters, and perform other various complicated tasks.

    It's a lot easier now.

  • Re:Oh I'm sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:27PM (#36913282)
    Yeah, because you know jocks aren't chauvinists. There is nothing endemic to geek culture which is necessarily negative toward gender equality or respect. Those negatives exhibited by males in geek culture or jock or metrosexual or what-have-you are endemic to the social values imprinted across the entire gender. It is wrapped up in what it means to be male and how men should value themselves vs. women, and the cultural context in which these are expressed, be it geek culture or some other, is really just a lens on that broader social deficiency.
  • Re:Oh I'm sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smelch ( 1988698 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:31PM (#36913356)
    No, that's not it. Girls love to be talked to that way, they dont' like seeing other girls talked about that way when they aren't. The problem with geeks doing it is that they're overtly creepy and unable to bluff enough "casual" interest to cover the scent of their all-too-eager interest.

    Women stay away because guys intimidate them and don't respect their intelligence, it has nothing to do with sexual jokes.
  • by Rakishi ( 759894 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @04:49PM (#36913540)

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

  • Re:Oh I'm sorry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LandDolphin ( 1202876 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @05:36PM (#36914098)
    Rules to workplace flirting:

    1) Be attractive
    2) Don''t be unattractive

    /Or something like that
  • by binarybum ( 468664 ) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:11PM (#36915070) Homepage

    Yep, you're on to us. We wanted to keep it a total secret etched in the tablets of our elk lodges, but we totally prefer the fat, anti-social, greasy fingered, soda sipping dweeb mold rather than simply trying to look for the most qualified individual for the job. It's completely overt - we are even willing to give up our capitalistic ideals and endure dents in our bottom line to maintain this fraternal tradition.

    It's probably okay that you know this now though - we are not frightened of loosing our stronghold. We know that you are incapable of taking overt action because we have evidence that is equally as strong as what you have presented, that you are all spending your time having topless pillow-fights in your sororities.

    This all makes total sense if you don't think about it and just assume that a significant majority of people in high places are just filled with hate to the point where they are willing to sacrifice financial and technological gains to consciously perpetuate an arbitrary standard.

    Signed CEOs everywhere

May all your PUSHes be POPped.