Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Education Programming IT

Will Peggy the Programmer Be the New Rosie the Riveter? 333

theodp writes "The Mercury News' Mike Cassidy reports that women are missing out on lucrative careers in computer science. 'The dearth of women in computing,' writes Cassidy, 'has the potential to slow the U.S. economy, which needs more students in the pipeline to feed its need for more programmers. It harms women by excluding them from some of the best jobs in the country. And it damages U.S. companies, which studies show would benefit from more diverse teams.' The promise of better financial results, says Anita Borg Institute Director Denise Gammal, is making diversity a business imperative. It's 'the sort of imperative that cries out for a movement,' argues Cassidy, 'maybe this time one led not by Rosie the Riveter, but by Peggy the Programmer.' So, where will Peggy the Programmer come from? Well, Google is offering $100 to girls attending U.S. public high schools who complete a Codecademy JavaScript course. 'Currently only 12% of computer science graduates are women,' explains Codecademy, 'and great tech companies like Google want to see more smart girls like you enter this awesome profession!' Google joins tech giant-backed in incentivizing teachers to bring the next generation of girls to the CS table.

But Silicon Valley claims the talent crisis is now (although there are 19 billion reasons to question SV's hiring acumen). So, what about the women who are here now, asks Dr. AnnMaria De Mars. 'If you are overlooking the women who are here now,' De Mars writes, 'what does that tell the girls you are supposedly bringing up to be the next generation of women in tech that you can overlook 15 years from now? Why do we hear about 16-year-old interns far more than women like me? If it is true, as the New York Times says, that in 2001-2 28% of computer science degrees went to women compared to the 10% or so now — where are those women from 12 years ago? It seems to me that when people are looking at minorities or women to develop in their fields, they are much more interested in the hypothetical idea of that cute 11-year-old girl being a computer scientist someday than of that thirty-something competing with them for market share or jobs. If there are venture capitalists or conference organizers or others out there that are sincerely trying to promote women who code, not girls, I've never met any. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but it means that whoever they are seeking out, it isn't people like me.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Will Peggy the Programmer Be the New Rosie the Riveter?

Comments Filter:
  • Dangit Peggy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:03PM (#46351121)

    Peggy Hill as the spokeswoman. I could get behind that.

  • Geez... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:05PM (#46351167) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, what the fuck difference does it make what sex, race or religion you are to be in IT??!?!

    If a group isn't interested, they aren't fucking interested. You don't HAVE to have two of every creature in every positon.

    Hell, the NBA is really lacking of white college educated women....are we freaking out and trying to induce them with $100 to work to get into the NBA (and god help them if the teams discrimate!!).

    Geez, please...get over it..people will do what people want to do.

  • Um, what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:11PM (#46351233)

    "The Mercury News' Mike Cassidy reports that women are missing out on lucrative careers in computer science. 'The dearth of women in computing,' writes Cassidy, 'has the potential to slow the U.S. economy,

    No they are not, there is no such thing, and I smell bullshit.

    If you make up fairy tales, you can put any ending you want on them. That is what is happening here. Women are not missing out, they are choosing to not do certain things. Let's look at a very good reason for this to be the case.

    Programmers tend to work horrible and long hours. Most women are choosing to manage life and work together, and not work 60+ hours a week. That is a choice, and I have no issues with them doing so. I used to work 60+ hours a week, and decided I was missing out on too much living to continue. I'm glad more women refuse to work 60 hour weeks, more men should do the same. Your average company does not reward you for the extra work, they simply take advantage of you for doing it.

    This is similar to the myth that women on average make less money than men doing the same work. Sure, there is some of the good'ole boy network that does this intentionally, just like certain places won't hire minorities. Those places are extremely rare, and not "normal". If a man works 50 hours a week and a woman works 40, the man does and should make more money. Women on average choose not to do this for various reasons.

    Reality is a real drag when you start to look at it, but it's reality. I don't buy this line of shit because that's what it is. It's a piece of trash intended to increase hostilities toward each other and ignore the bigger issues like corruption.

  • Re:Geez... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by firex726 ( 1188453 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:15PM (#46351261)

    Yea, there was a Ruby workshop I was interested in attending; but seems it was only open to women.
    If they felt men as a gender would be disruptive then that should be handled on an individual basis regardless of gender, and even then I find it hard to believe that it'd be a widespread issue.

    As it stands, women probably have a far greater opportunity advantage from Diversity Quotas, Gendered Scholarships, and Classes. lsu many of the complaints can be attributed to the female dominated HR field; which has shown that women in HR will not hire other women they consider to be prettier then themselves.

  • Todd the Teacher.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:19PM (#46351327)

    You missed the big one.

    Todd the Teacher.

    Men have been practically excluded from teaching, by being painted with the sexist assumptions
    that they are all child molesters and pedophiles with nothing positive to contribute.

    In comparison to this particular problem, an imbalance in programmers is nothing.. bias in the
    teaching of our children should be a huge priority, and yet, its not....

  • I think not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sesshomaru ( 173381 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:20PM (#46351337) Journal

    No. No she won't.

    Padma the Programmer, however, is a name with potential.

  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:27PM (#46351419) Homepage

    This is soooo freakin tired. And not just on /. Women are not stupid. Or no more so than men. If they want a career/job in comp. sci they certainly can figure out what to do. Can we stop wetting our pants that 51% of the work force in industry X is not women?

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:28PM (#46351423) Journal

    Programmer burn-out and turn-over to other IT careers is high. Age discrimination and RSI injuries are common, and you are competing with 3rd-world wage-slaves and typically work long hours. For those who want to be involved with family life, long hours is not a selling point.

    Programming is a stepping-stone job into project, network, equipment logistics, and server management, but not the only path. It's only real appeal is quick money out of college. After that you statistically will flat-line compared to other options.

    Enough STEM career bullshit already.

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:32PM (#46351465)

    I've seen an absurd number of stories on this topic, probably ever since the Hour of Code crap started. /. would you please give this topic a @#$% rest???

  • Sigh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:37PM (#46351519)

    Enough of this narrative already. Women are given every opportunity and are practically begged by universities (via discriminating scholarships under the guise of 'diversity' programs) to major in comp-sci and other engineering/science majors. They've been doing this for decades, now, and they're still looking at it as though it's 1970. The problem is they're measuring success by the standard of equal outcome on the false premise that men and women are physically and psychologically the same. They're not, so they won't always make the same life choices given similar backgrounds and opportunities. Despite what the PC crowd will say, there's nothing wrong with this at all. This is the very essence of diversity. In a diverse systems, equal outcome is not a given.

    How about we focus on equal opportunity based upon relevant attributes (ie demonstrated interest and aptitude), rather than building systemic bias into society under the guise of eliminating it? After that, let individuals make their own life choices. The only thing this bias does is teach women how to play better victims, which denies them opportunities to earn real respect among their peers. Getting society to discriminate against men will not empower them, either. It just creates more irrelevant discrimination and bilateral bigotry.

  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:47PM (#46351623)

    Seriously, what the fuck difference does it make what sex, race or religion you are to be in IT??!?!

    It makes a difference when the path to the field, and the field itself, is hostile to non-straight, white, men. Reading through the comments here there's a lot of really angry, hostile, dismissive posts. Which certainly doesn't help counter the argument by TFA.

    Hell, the NBA is really lacking of white college educated women....are we freaking out and trying to induce them with $100 to work to get into the NBA (and god help them if the teams discrimate!!).

    Aside from the fact that a sports league has nothing to do with IT, when's the last time you watched a WNBA game? Can you name a SINGLE WNBA player playing this season? How about a single hall-of-famer? Can you name your area's WNBA team? When was the last time you even accidentally came up on an WNBA game on TV? (hint: rarely, because they're not televised nearly as often.) Or how about this: why doesn't the NBA sanction both men's and women's leagues, ie, why did the WNBA need to be formed in the first place? Answer: because the NBA refused to allow women's teams.

    So, women don't get the same TV coverage, sponsorship, press, etc.

    The gender bias in professional sports *is* a huge problem. And it's a problem in scholastic/collegiate areas as well, which is the whole point behind Title 9 - all the money for scholastic and collegiate athletics was going to men's sports.

  • Re:Get Over it FFS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:56PM (#46351717)

    MOST women don't like to code, stop fucking trying to turn them into programming machines. Some do, good for them, let them be great programmers, but for fucks sake stop trying to force women to do shit most of them have no interest in doing. Its not going to get you a girlfriend, you'll still be an asshole.

    I think the problem isn't attracting women to the field, it's that the field is so full of men who are at best crude with their social skills. To be honest, seeing interactions between developers is quite eye-opening at times. You'd think by their language that they were stereotypical construction workers full to sexist jokes and innuendo, catcalling, and the like.

    It's going beyond programmers having poor social skills, it's poor social skills AND being some of the most sexist people on the planet. Heck, in any other workplace, a lot of their behavior would count as sexual harassment.

    And perhaps that's the reason why women aren't entering the field - they're entering workplaces that haven't really evolved beyond suffrage, while the rest of the world evolved and modernized. Like programming is the last refuge for manliness.

  • by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @07:19PM (#46352009)

    The female hostile tech work environment is largely a myth nowadays. I've heard atrocious war stories from older female engineers who were treated like secretaries at former employers... and then they proclaim how much better they are treated at their current job. I've also heard numerous women with no actual experience paint an unappealing picture of what they perceive to be the work environment in (non-bio) science and engineering.

    The reality is that the majority of women just aren't as interested in doing that type of work, either due to social conditioning (Barbie: "Math is hard") or innate lack of interest. There have been decades of effort to promote women in STEM positions with no real results other than the biology related sciences. Is that the fault of men or it is just because women aren't interested no matter how much boostering is directed their way? Is it really that important to put so much effort to create an artificially level paying field? Nobody is complaining about the paucity of male elementary school teachers. Why aren't there alarmists crying over that?

    In my experience, the technical women are treated fairly and the negative image is just an outdated stereotype perpetuated by women themselves. I'm sure there is still a level of unfair bias and inappropriate behavior but from my observation the modern male tech worker is the most welcoming to women compared to other fields. I can't enumerate all the times I've heard inappropriate comments come from female coworkers that any male compatriot would not dare say for fear of going to a reeducation camp.

  • Re:Geez... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @07:55PM (#46352447)

    But that does show up as a problem, and no, it's not just a lack of Amish representation.
    Which is why efforts are made to remedy that.

    What problem? The one that the article falsely claims? TFA starts with a false premise, and then repeats a fabricated statistic as propaganda. Here [] is a link to a set of data that disagrees with the idea that women make less money than men. I'm not claiming that there are no differences, but the differences are minor. It's not .77c on the dollar as people try and claim for propaganda, reality says it's much much closer. Sure, we can always improve but if the 'problem' is distorted then the solution will also be distorted.

    You are arguing that a person should not have a choice because your liberal viewpoint is that everything should be equal all the time. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Utopia does not exist and people won't do something simply because -you- and people of a similar belief want them to. Many times, the forcing of behavior has the opposite effect in fact (basic psychology, read a book). Further, society can't function if everyone is in a technical field. We need doctors, plumbers, welders, farmers, and many people want to perform those roles in society and not be pigeon holed into what -you- want them to do.

    Ask the basic required questions, and these would be true for any claim of bias or discrimination (gender, race, religion):

    1. Do the people have the same opportunities to education? I'm pretty sure we can state that the system is pretty fair, not perfect, but fair. If they have the same opportunities for education then they could get into the same line of work if they so choose unless there are barriers to entry in the field. This is why we have so many women doctors, pharmacists, lawyers, etc..

    2. Do they have opportunity for employment? I work with a lot of women programmers, most of them are originally from China and Russia, so you would have to show me proof that there are entry barriers to employment for women. If you have knowledge and skill, you get jobs even if your English is not so good and you may have difficulty in communicating.

    3. Does society discourage them from working in these fields? Again, you need to show me proof that this is happening. I have not seen any advertising or articles talking about how poor a specific gender, race, or religion is in any field since I was a kid. Anything that would even hint at a bias today would end up in court extremely quickly. I'm sure you could dig up a company that was found guilty of discrimination in recent times, but that company would be an anomaly and not a 'normal' company with what society considered acceptable practice.

    If those questions are answered "yes", "yes", and "no", then it's possible that people are just choosing not to do certain jobs. Why not let them make up their minds about their careers instead of trying to force them to be what you want them to be? What I find very ironic is that most people will tell you today that if you want to make an excellent living, you go into welding or plumbing because there are real shortages there. But that's not what -you- want them to do.

  • Re:Geez... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @08:00PM (#46352491)

    Look at the gender distribution in most of them. 90% male? 95% male? 99?

    But that's not a forced distribution, that's because 90-99% of the people who are interested are men. That's a completely different story than a conference which flat out locks out attendees based on their gender.

    If you find the gender imbalance (and some of the nastier aspects of that) in IT not to be

    Ruby is not "IT" it's CS. Calling a programmer "IT" is like calling an Architect a "Construction Worker".

    > As it stands, women probably have a far greater opportunity advantage from Diversity Quotas, Gendered Scholarships, and Classes
    That's an opinion, and you're perfectly entitled to it.

    No, he's 100% correct. There are scholarships which are offered ONLY to women, but you do not find any offered only to men. There are also no Quota requirements to employ at least x% Men in any field, but there are in some places requirements to employ at least x% women.

    But given that we don't have hordes of female junior programmers - it's probably wrong.

    Which is assuming that the ONLY thing keeping women out of CS majors and jobs is a lack of Diversity Quotas and Scholarships. And given that college enrollment for women is on par with men, drawing that conclusion is entirely incorrect.

    > which has shown that women in HR will not hire other women they consider to be prettier then themselves.
    Citation, please - or did you just make that up on the spot?

    Women are threatened by other women who are perceived to be better looking than they are. If you need a Citation there are entire sections in your local book store written about this very subject, both in the Business and Economics categories as well as "Gender Studies" and the like.

    Logically that would imply the HR department is populated by the ugliest people you can find that are still qualified to do the job

    You obviously need to work on your reading comprehension. The people in HR are hiring for all the positions in the company, not just in HR. But the counter-point is that while women DO feel threatened by what THEY perceive to be better-looking women, they are also extremely Catty and tend to avoid hiring "ugly" women nearly as much. The primary problem you have with seeing this is that what women perceive as "good looking" is not always the same as what MEN perceive. Women place far more importance on how other women dress than men do, just as one example, and with women who you know is far more important. So a butt-ugly but well-dressed woman who knows a lot of people is far more "hireable" than a really good-looking woman who knows few other women and dresses in a similar fashion.

  • Re:Geez... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @08:36PM (#46352899)

    When I start seeing movements to increase the dearth of men in the fulfilling career of nursing, I might start having some actual respect for efforts such as these.

    It's been happening for a while, you just aren't paying attention. For example: []

    Some people get stuck in a single solution mentality. There may well be less inherent motivation to join programming in women. But every time the point is even close to being raised, Slashdot seems to have a collective hissy fit and shuts down and refuses to talk about it. Which itself is a sign that there's probably a problem, because we can't even talk rationally about whether there's a problem.

    And frankly, if you don't see discrimination against women in IT, you are really not paying attention. I say this as a man in software development. When we ask if there's a systemic bias, it doesn't mean "are you, briancox2, personally a sexist radical who advocates giving women 1/4 pay and rescinding the vote from them". I think a lot of people take it as a personal insult.

    Absolutely be welcoming and warm in our acceptance of anyone. Totally agreed. And when we see inequality, think critically about the possible causes. Are women not interested? Are women too stupid (most agree that no, that's not it, but strictly it's a possibility)? Are women pushed out of the field intentionally? Are women pushed out of the field unintentionally by social factors? Are women pushed out of the field unintentionally by physical factors (as a ridiculous example, if upper body strength were correlated to typing speed)? Is it because women have better alternative options that men don't have? Is it because men have safety nets that women don't have, and thus men can choose a higher-stress occupation? Is it a combination of factors?

    Is it possible that some of these factors are actually pushing women into the field, but other factors are stronger? For instance, hypothetically it's possible that women are actually much better suited than men at programming but they won't do it because they have a fulfilling career in nursing that men can't break into. I don't think anybody actually believes that one; I chose it specifically so that we wouldn't get off-point by debating specifics. I don't really know the answer and nobody on Slashdot is really talking about it. They've landed mostly on "it's 100% from natural preferences" with a few on the "umm, obvious pervasive sexism???" and just a couple "actually everyone is discriminating against white straight middle class men".

  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:02PM (#46353143)
    This is a huge problem for elementary (Grade 1 to 7 ) schools. Any male teacher who wants to work in elementary schools and isn't a specialist (Librarian or Music Teacher) is viewed with great suspicion.He must be some kind of pedophile. The school I went to as a child had 5 male teachers out of 25 total. Now 25 years later my kids are there, and there are no male teachers at all and 35 women.
  • Re:Dangit Peggy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @09:29PM (#46353373) Journal

    Let me see if I have this straight:

    A: 12 years ago, we expended the resources necessary to educate a *relatively* large number of women in computer programming
    B: The objective of that resource expenditure was to increase the net number of computer programmers in society
    C: We do not currently see a lot of these women from 12 years ago in the workforce as computer programmers

    It may or may not be in the best interest of womens development to spend resources educating them in computer programming. But, unless A or C are factually incorrect, the evidence seems to suggest that, if your primary goal is to compensate for a lack of computer programmers in society, educating women as computer programmers is a piss poor way to do it.

    We could try forcing them into the trade with the threat of punishment. We could try to create an even more unbalanced economy, increase the level of poverty among the masses and hope that the carrot becomes sufficiently appealing to motivate them to "freely" seek a career they wouldn't otherwise choose.

    Or we could just acknowledge that, even though they're not going to be the ones taking responsibility for these programming problems, we're not going to pressure them, because they have lots of intrinsic value just the way they are.

    The people behind this article seem to really be unsatisfied with women. Like a man who always wanted a son and tries to turn his daughter into one.

  • Re:Dangit Peggy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @02:36AM (#46354855)

    We DID see many women in the workforce as programmers! Those 30% CS grads who were women thirty years ago did get into the field. I see plenty of them. The problem is that these numbers are changing. If you look at more middle aged computer professionals you will see a larger percentage of females compared to entry level jobs.

    One issue is that new women coming into the field that I see tend to be the brilliant and determined ones, whereas there are plenty average Joes who squeak in for their boring 9-to-5 job. The average Janes are the ones who are becoming rarer over time.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson