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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.'"
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Will Peggy the Programmer Be the New Rosie the Riveter?

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  • Flame Time.. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @06:17PM (#46351285)

    Can we get past the PC nonsense and accept that reality that there are actual differences between the sexes (some due to social environment, some biological), and from that accept that some jobs just aren’t well suited for one sex or the other.

    I’m all for providing the opportunity for either sex to do whatever job they want as long as they are capable, and to a certain extend I’m all for breaking down cultures that make the job less appealing to women for reasons unrelated to the job, but beyond that I think we have to accept that there are certain aspects to programming beyond the male dominated culture that are not appealing to a large number of women.

    Now here comes the inflammatory part. What might those reasons be? Based on a very limited sample size and keeping in mind that we are talking general case here, there are plenty of exceptions, my best guess is:

    - Weird hours. I know it’s not PC to say it, but yes, women tend to be more burdened by their life schedule then men. Sudden "ok everyone has to stay till 2am to get this working" are common in the job, and this can be a major stressor.

    - Stress. I believe there’s different types of stress. Some men handle better, some women handle better. The kind of "you need to find a solution to this problem by 8am tomorrow or you might actually get fired/company might go out of business" stress you sometimes find in this job or even the "been pounding my head against this problem for 3 weeks and getting chewed out by management about why I haven’t made any progress" is a very specific kind of stress that (and again, this is a very small sample size) seems to hit women harder then men.

    Reading what I just wrote, how the hell is this a "best job in the country". Many women have more common sense and realize that this is actually a shitty job with a lot of stress and crazy hours and a career path consisting of "you're probably fucked when you hit 40".

  • Umm... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @07:11PM (#46351877) Journal
    Does that question even make sense without some sort of suitable historical context?

    Is there some massive draft underway, with hundreds of thousands of code monkeys being churned into cannon fodder, that I missed out on?

    Even casually equating a total-war domestic propaganda/production mobilization exercise with the half-assed plan of the day by silicon valley to get slightly cheaper programmers just seems... tone deaf. At best.
  • Re:Get Over it FFS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Wednesday February 26, 2014 @11:27PM (#46354051) Homepage
    It's funny because what you're describing, to me, sounds like another planet. I'm at university in computer science. What I see is a bunch of guys (and a few girls) doing maths and programming, learning computer science, and geeking out along the way. We'll play card games, computer games, make jokes about whatever you can imagine (but largely about computers and science, obviously) and just have a good time. I don't see anything socially inept or sexist about it. I see people.

    I can tell you that there's a good subset of people who are shy, much more so than average, and who look awkward in social situations. They're not sexist either.

    So really, I think there's often some massively wide brushes being used here. You're basically taking your bad experiences and branding the entire field with the same stroke. That's a gross generalization. By saying this, you're basically doing the same thing that the sexist machos (who do exist, I'm sure, what I'm not sure is whether they're representative) do when they put all women in the same basket.

    I'd also often be curious to actually read those sexist jokes and innuendos. Perhaps I'm just not noticing them and they permeate the culture as you say, but thus far I've only seen them referenced, but never really documented and dissected.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 27, 2014 @01:15AM (#46354509)
    Posting AC because of previous moderation.

    Well, maybe you can start by combating the sexist assumptions that women are naturally more nurturing (a story uniquely suited to keeping those pesky women in the home). You can follow up by setting teacher pay to a reasonable level, so that they're competitively compensated for the amount of schooling and long hours that they need to put in.

    Oh, Bullshit.

    This smacks so much of the "Young girls are being fed bad body imagey by Barbie." Adherents

    At some point, somewhere, somehow, These fragile little snowflakes, just waiting to be devastated, and ruined by the evil menfolk, has to stop

    I worked in a University environment that practiced a complete reversal of the evil menfolk, and the glass ceiling. If there were two people applying for a position, and one was female, the other male - the females automatically got the job. Heck, I had one promoted over me after being on the job for 1 year, when the minimum requirements said 2 years.

    All a woman had to do was not quit, and she'd rise really quickly.

    Lest you think this is bitterness, I participated in heavily the drive to get women into engineering and technical positions. I ended up with the belief that it takes more thna just men changing their "evil ways".

    But we worked really hard to get the women involved. A number quit to raise families, others because it took up "too much time". And the vast majority of young women at Take our sons and daughters to work day simply were interested in other fields.

    The problem is the almost universal assumption that men are at fault, and the woman never is. Instead of what men have to change to include women in Tech and engineering, at some point we need to address what women have to change.

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings