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Sex

I knew that subject would get you interested!

Why do you think more programmers are male? Every book on programming or computers I have ever read was written by men, and most female programmers I have known are from non-Western countries.
The difference may be even greater in my field (web programming).
I've heard speculations on the reasons, but no really good explanations. It can't just be because women don't like math, since I think I've heard there are as many female as male mathematicians.
Maybe it's just a tradition, without any basis in reason.
I mean, you can see why more women are nurses or kindergarten teachers, or psychotherapists, and why more men are police or firemen or construction workers. But I can't see the reason for the low rate of women in programming, and the almost complete lack at the expert level (those who write books) in web programming.
I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this or that it matters; just wondering.

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

My Mum was a computer programmer! How's that for a role model.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I think it's because most women are nurturers by nature and programming doesn't appeal to that personality type.

flame away!
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

"there are as many female as male mathematicians"

This can't possible be right.  I just checked the websites of a few Ivy-league universities.  Their mathematics departments consist largely of male professors, with just a few females.

J. D. Trollinger
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I think that it is as simple as peer preassure in high school.
The then-boys didnt get the chicks, because it was considered uncool by female peers to hang out with programmer type people. So everybody hung out with the cool people instead.

If assembly programming the Z80 or 6502 would have been considered cool we would have alot of -70's chicks as colleauges ;-)

Patrik
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I hate math - always have always will! But I love programming - go figure.....

Let me clarify: I think it has to do with how Mathematics is taught in school. The teachers make it so boring that all you keep thinking is "When will I ever use this in real life?" Or you memorize stuff for the test then forget it.

But when I took CS electives in high school I thrived!!!! I Was hooked from then on.

Conclusion: I'm not sure that Math  has anything to do with it women not being in the industry.

Is it nature or nuture? Maybe a little of both?

KenB
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I'm a female programmer.  I think the reasons that not a lot of women go into programmer/engineering are:
- they don't know what it is.  When I was an Engineering student in the late 70's, all the other women in Engineering had one thing in common: their father or their brothers were Engineers.  I think that's the only way they knew what was involved.  Thankfully, the Society of Women Engineers has done a lot to try to educate high school girls about their career choices.
- It's a tough work environment for someone who is hoping to have a family.  My first job demanded that everyone worked nights and every weekend in the summer, in order to get products done (or at least demonstrable) in time for Comdex.  A schedule like that is hard to explain to a toddler - "Mommy loves you; she just won't see you for the next 6 months."
-This may be politically incorrect to admit, but having babies does put a bit of a jolt in the career path.  Every time I had a baby, I'd quit my current job to do part-time contract programming for a while.  I just couldn't see staying home for 6 weeks and then going back to work full-time if there was any possibility of something more flexible.  (I totally understand that many women don't feel they have that choice.)  [And as an aside, contracting turned out to be a much better career choice.  I got more experience, much more pay and flexibility.]

And hey, in response to the crack about women being nuturers:  Programming is done in teams.  I'd think you'd want a couple of nurturers around to handle all the egos.  Nurturers bring chocolate chip cookies to work.

don't get me started
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

All the women I know have traditionally female careers, except for two non-Westerners. Maybe this is just because I don't know all that many people, and it's just a coincidence (not a large enough sample).
But I am continually surprised at how everyone fits right into a stereotype. I think it's mostly because of tradition. A lot of women are getting law or medical degrees now, and those fields used to be all male, even though there's nothing about law or medicine that would appeal more to men than women. Both involve helping people and neither is math-intensive.
One possible reason for the discrepency in programming is that men think more about supporting a family and women try to find a husband with a good income, to support them while their children are young. Programming is hard to learn so people who don't need a good income don't want to make the effort.
There seem to be a lot of women in computer support jobs and web page design -- these jobs don't require a lot of studying.
On the other hand, law and medicine require a lot of studying and result in a good income. Why are there a lot of women in these fields? I think it's mostly an "upper class" type of women who becomes an MD or lawyer. In the upper classes, more is expected of women than in the middle classes. But even so, they stay away from hard sciences like physics, and from computer science. Computer programming isn't a high status profession, usually, so the upper class females aren't attracted to it. And, as I said, the middle class females aren't motivated to study that hard.
(All these are generalities and speculations based on my observations).

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Yeah, I think I figured it out. Programming is not high status enough for upper class women. They might become computer scientists but they have a choice so they take law or medicine which is more social.
Programming is relatively non-social and not high status, and requires dedication and studying. The most likely person to choose it is a middle class male who expects to support a family. It requires 4 years of school, usually, rather than 8, so you can start earning money sooner and get married sooner.
I also agree with "Don't get me started" -- most women have no idea that programming can be fun unless they had a father or brother who got them interested.

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

4 years?

I can't believe I wasted all that time with high school and college!

Steve Barbour
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

4 years of college, instead of 8 for law or medicine, or Ph.D. And some programmers don't even have a 4 year degree. You can get a certificate or teach yourself. It attracts a person who is motivated to work hard and wants a middle class income, but can't afford to spend a lot of time in school and isn't motivated primarily by status.

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

The life style a programmer leads is just not very glamorous. The only time you travel is to tweak a configuration or install a site. And you are shuttled back on the cheapest flight as soon as possible. No fancy lunches or customers trying to woo your attention the way a marketing type might get to enjoy occationally on a good day. The closest to serious social interaction is if you document something really stupid (how to pass around instant messages comes to mind) using an equally stupid platform by writing a WROX book and getting on the cover. And getting on the cover of WROX definitely won't get you a great night out at the clubs. The pay is shit at the beginning when you are just a code monkey and infinitely replacible. No attempt at free over-time will do anything for you anyway. Becoming intermediate or advances brings you more responsibilities and rarely the appropriate raises at most average companies. Why would anyone want to be a programmer? Except maybe Diablo playing nerds.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

So the answer is women have more sense than we have.

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Something like that.. although in foreign countries women seem to dig this line of work. Must be the water.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

In foreign countries the software industry is fundamentally different. 90% of countries have to naturalize SIEBEL and SAP while Germany and the States get to write the big blocks. The nature of the work is less slightly intensive. You don't catch people hiding in dungeons working out the next Apache or medical imaging library. You'll catch Microsofties and Webbies running around making what they can off of consultation. Always a more value added scenario than trying to code all day and all night. When you work for Microsoft Taiwan for example, you'll rarely be expect to write Microsoft Word. But may have a select few lucky(?) people figuring out the next big internationalization architecture. Otherwise you just push the naturalized software. There are so many software ready and prewritten that they just need to be customized. Got a problem or feature to add, just call Austin or Boston.

So in a way that could be an indicator of why women enjoy computer related work in foreign countries. Because 70% of it is consultation and selling. Lots of parties and outings.. and very very little coding (I am not saying the coding quality is bad.. in fact--you'll be amazed at the creativity and quality of work done considering how hard it is to do systems programming or anything heavy in a foreign country without the right peers)

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

And although so many industries are established in Asia. Where large in-house firms will be found in old cities like Tokyo or Singapore and will employ programmers capable of system programming and major customizations, there are plenty of new territories to be found. There's always new factories and companies being founded in India, Indonesia and China.. and all that fresh opportunity to install new systems promotes a sales industry, where custom programming is just a check box on the features list. And for the most part major western software companies have taken notice and encourage the sending of qualified software engineers to fly in and do some serious initial and subsequent customization. But often time there's no reason why these technicians can't just SSH into the remote system while rotting away in some humid damp dark dungeon.

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Well. It's good to have a male person bring up the topic for a change. I have observed that the people who really think and talk about women in technology tend to be women in technology.

This topic is important to me as one of those women in technology. And I've been so interested in gender equality over the years...can't resist to reply.

I think the reasons that women are not in programming are as varied as the people themselves. Why do people choose one career over another, really? Itseems to be family traditions (Dad was a lawyer, his dad was a lawyer, therefore...), natural talent and abilities, an influential teacher, or some other role model. Well, if you don't know any women technologists, then who can be your role model?

My intuition is that the lack of women in technology is the reason there are fewer women in technology. Not just for the direct mentoring argument above, but also because the culture of the field has naturally grown to be more male. Face it, men and women are different and they natually choose different self expression, reward systems, etc. Ask any mother of a son and a daughter, they'll tell you that they observe different behaviors in their children before there are years of cultural influence. My point is that the culture of the IT field has reflected the majority and people who are not in that majority sometimes feel unwelcome or uncomfortable in the majority culture.

It takes a lot of energy to constantly have to alter your natural behaviors from your culture to fit into another one, every day.

Slowly, we are changing that as each generation gets better at living in a diverse world.

To respond to The Real PC's comment about women tend to be in support roles or web page design. No, I don't think it has very much to do with the so-called "simplicity" of the job, or that it requires less studying to learn it. I can see  how it may appear this way. To me, the reason is more likely to be that support jobs actually *help people* and have *people interaction* - something that women tend to get more personal satisfaction from. Generalization, yes. This is a variation of the "nurturer" observation.

My thought on the reason web design jobs are likely to be more populated by women is that it is because the job is creative. I think, in general, more women are motivated and get satisfaction from creative (artsy, perhaps) endeavors than men tend to be. Generalizations again, and there are always exceptions, of course.

Another point I would like to make is that sometime women (and probably men) knowingly choose jobs that are below their abilities. The reasons for doing this probably have little to do with career goals - not everyone cares to strive for a stellar career full of interesting work and challenges every day and potential for unlimited income. Some people's priorities are elsewhere (family, the band they sing in on the side, missionary work, whatever).

What's wrong with men and women being different? It will be a true advance in society when we can get past this gender issue thing, in terms of job skills. That is, when there is a woman working on embedded systems, it's not even worth mentioning as unusual. The skill and ability to do the job is all that matters, in this realm

And when a woman chooses to be a nurse, that's not thought of as any "higher" or "lower" than a man choosing to be an aerospace engineer. It's what they want to do, and that's that. Unfortunately, we (in the US) still tend to value men's jobs more than women's, although this makes no sense whatsoever.

Lauren B.
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Our image has been driven by the press who think we all forget to shower, sleep under our desks for 2 hours every night, and wear pony tails. Not exactly the glamourous life most women in the west have been brought up to admire.

Here's a good example - I go to get my hair cut and the lady starts talking to me about life. She asks me what I do and I tell her that I am a programmer. She replies "But your not boring right? Most computer people are boring". So I replied "And the life of a hair 'stylist' is exciting?". Even the barber is taking pot shots at me.

I think most people think of life behind a desk as boring and I'm sure it would be if I was data entry goon of the year but programming is fun to me and I enjoy it. If I want excitment I'll jump out of an airplane.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

My old boss took a look at this question about 8 years ago, and has some interesting comments.

http://philip.greenspun.com/careers/acm-women-in-computing.html

choppy
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Just came across the interesting link on the Linux How-To site.  Thought it made some good points, especially about the nature of the technical community.

HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux

http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/index.html

An excerpt from the table of contents...

2. Why are there so few women in Linux?
2.1. Women are less confident
2.2. Women have fewer opportunities for friendship or mentoring
2.3. Women are discouraged from an early age
2.4. Computing perceived as non-social
2.5. Lack of female role models
2.6. Games, classes aimed towards men
2.7. Advertising, media say computers are for men
2.8. Life-work balance more important to women
2.9. Reasons women avoid Linux specifically

Will
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Re: Strangers saying "isn't that boring?"  Generally their eyes just glaze over right after "software" comes out of my mouth, and they rarely respond in any way, except for the older ones who are surprised and don't want to admit it.  At least, I get that a lot.  This is generally from females (my hairdresser, at least a half-dozen nurses).  Then again, I can't think the last time a man while doing his job asked me what I do for a living.

My doctor and my optometrist (both female) never had the "how odd" or "how boring" response, if that supports the high-status theory.

As to why more women aren't involved - seeing as it's hard to increase role models / mentors / parents' job distributions directly -  I always thought the biggest factor that could actually be changed was the antisocial image and the intimidation/competitiveness.

(More stereotypical generalizations...)  Guys are drawn to college CS programs by the rigorous provability / measurability of math, but with massive earning potential.  They get to work alone and hide from people.  When forced to deal with people they can bluster and bluff and intimidate them.  And then by their junior or senior year, they find out programmers have to work together and communicate.  Damn!  SuX0rs.  But soon enough they graduate and if lucky will be able to forget that part.

The women in my program freshman year ended up either honors graduates, or quitting before they found out the guys were full of BS.  As a woman I still to this day can't understand how my male CS student friends can reconcile "I am the greatest programmer ever, I am always right, you are always wrong," with "I failed all my classes last semester."

Mikayla
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I think you guys are way off the mark when you say males get interested in programming because of the "rigorous provability of math" or whatever. Most programmers I have met are shamefully terrible at mathematics. When I was an undergrad, about 2% of the people majoring in CS were guys who were into math.

The other 98% of the people were guys who were really into playing video games, surfing for porno on the internet,  buying random gadgets, bragging about who had the best video card, and modifying their honda civics with pagoda spoilers, shuriken rims, etc. They were also people who were thinking "whoa...$40K a year? I'll be fucking rich!!"
My theory as to why they were in CS is because they already sat in front of a computer 90% of their life anyway, so why not make that into a career? 

Sadly, you can get a CS degree without much work at most colleges and universities, so guys like this can maintain a C average and eventually get hired somewhere upon graduation. I actually couldn't stand the people (students and TAs) involved with CS at my school, so I got a double major in math and philosophy instead...

choppy
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

LMAO choppy.. how true. :)

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

In the US, programming is viewed as undesireable menial labor that is overpaid for. In india, the middle east and china, programming is viewed as engineering. Thus, in the US we see foreign women working as programmers but not american women.

Other Us careers with the same dynamics:

- plumber
- garbage collector
- bricklayer

Women are underrepresented in all these careers, all of which pay similarly to programming jobs. (40-70k)

Tony Chang
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Hey Choppy,

I guess I fit into that category of programmers who you hate. Math sux!!!!! Video games & gadgets are cool!

Sorry to let you down :-(

But I also can't stand typical arrogant Academia nuts who only care about theory & what school you went to!!!!!!!

KenB
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

KenB: yeah, you've summed up the attitude pretty well.

choppy
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

"Even the barber is taking pot shots at me."

Perils of the trade, Ian...perils of the trade....

OTOH: In India, I am sure my barber would hold me in high esteem if I told him that I was a software engineer...

Prakash S
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

First I have to admit that I am not a programmer (but am a woman). I have worked in a variety of roles in commercial software development for over 10 years.  Honestly, a lot of it is the American software development culture.  The male dominant culture of software development doesn't traditionally embrace collaboration or teamwork. It doesn't allow people to be wrong -- ever.  It is often dominated with huge male egos that won't tolerate women as equals.  That said, I love software development. I kept a developer from one job and still go home to him every night. Not all men  in software are impossible, but often the cultures they create  do alienate women to a degree that women cannot excel in the field without a tremendous amount of perserverance 

Sandy McDonnell
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Sandy, don't take this the wrong way, but IMHO that's pure sexism talking. I've worked on plenty of teams where there's teamwork, mutual support, negotiation, and even admission of fault.

I think software development is like any other human endeavour in that respect - it's about the people. You can have a room full of Type A Egos, or maybe a bunch of zealots, or perhaps a group of people that are open-minded professionals that are willing to learn. It all depends.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Scott Adams knows what I was referring to:

http://kaedrin.com/fun/images/stupidity.jpg

KenB
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I belong to a group of tech-oriented women, so I can offer some feedback based not on personal experience, but from discussions I've had.  Most of the women I have talked to who wouldn't consider a software development career feel that way because they see it as a "boy's club" that they can't be a part of. 

(Philo, this may seem sexist, but the question was why do there seem to be fewer women in software development, and this is one answer I have heard from several different women.)

Asthetics may be part of it.  I'm sure this will enrage some people, especially if you are used to more modern environments, but I know one person (admittedly, this was in the gaming industry in a small shop) who was horrified by the unkempt desks, unkempt developers, and unfriendly surroundings.  Clothes (sometimes old clothes) strewn everywhere, papers in a disarray, old dishes and beverage bottles piled everywhere, and so on.  The cloying smell of old soda cans drove her so crazy she would by physically ill by the end of the day.  The choice is: nag and stand out, or take it and "be one of the boys" - where is her individual identity?

For some, it's the sacrifice of time that seems to be required.  The traditional/romantic idea of the stoic software developer working well into the night and giving up his weekends just doesn't appeal to women as much.  They have social connections, family, partners, and they cannot disappoint them.

More recently, I've noticed an interesting turn-off: the dot-com image of trendy, twenty-something fashionplates living on caffeine and coding away (with style!) is just as repugnant an idea.  It's all about the environment.

Women are more into the idea when they are in gender-neutral environments (it doesn't matter if they are male or female, just as long as they can work with their team and get the job done) that encourage team-building and emphasise people over code. 

There has been a lot of time for sterotypes to become well-entrenched (in Western society, at least) and as long as they persist, they will probably scare off a certain number of the female population. 

Lydia
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Ever heard of Grace Hopper, one of the great pioneers in computer science?

http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/hopper.html

Grace Hopper is the person you can thank for the use of the word "bug" in computer programming.


Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I always thought it was because so many more male geeks than female geeks.  Plus, most of the female geeks I knew were literature geeks (with an occasional chemistry geek thrown in for good measure) rather than tech geeks.

One-Armed Bandit
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

These kinds of discussions always make me feel even more like an alien. I mean, what are the stereotypical traits of the male software type?
*Glasses - check.
*Overweight - check.
*Introverted - check.
*Messy desk/office - check.
*Can live on pizza - check.
And so on. The only thing I'm missing is a beard.

All the things women are supposed to care about leave me puzzled and feeling left out. That LinuxChix How-to was especially bad.

Intuition? Moi? I don't think so.

Martha
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

[Ever heard of Grace Hopper, one of the great pioneers in computer science?]

Yes we've heard of Grace Hopper who invented the compiler, and of Ada Lovelace who invented loops.
The question was why the vast majority of software developers (in the US at least) are male. Look at the authors' names in the computer section of the bookstore. And read the acknowledgements sections of the books -- thanks to Joe, Bill, Jeff, Mike .... 20 more men's names ... oh and thanks to Betsy for helping with the proofreading.
Software is such an important part of our civilization now. If I didn't understand anything about software it would bother me -- that's the real reason I started to learn programming. The lack of curiosity about computers among women is kind of striking.

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

I think the aversion to technology starts as early as high school, and is not based on their perceptions of the professional environment of software development.

Look at the male/female ratio of just about any "Institute of Technology" school (Georgia Tech, MIT, etc.), and they are overwhelmingly male, even though women now make up over 50% of the university population nationwide.  Less than 1/3 of Computer Science graduates each year are women, even though women form over 55% of college graduates.

At my college women made up less than 20% of the CS graduates, and every single CS course, even the first year Intro to Pascal had a small percentage of women.  So there is something from an early stage that is steering them away from choosing computers or engineering.  Could be that high school cliquism and geekism -- the computer wizzes get labeled as nerds, girls don't want to date nerds, and since they wouldn't date one, they don't want to be one.

T. Norman
Tuesday, April 01, 2003

[software in "foreign" countries] "70% of it is consultation and selling. Lots of parties and outings.. and very very little coding"

BS. There is plenty of non packaged software being developed and maintained. I would _guess_ that more software developers do that than make the next version of Word or whatever it is. Even the idea of the US as the only place that people write commodity software is quite blatantly nonsense - think about where the software for the 150 mobile phones in Europe was developed (likely in Scandinavia, almost certainly not the USA), for example.


Wednesday, April 02, 2003

No.  The dearth of female coders is largely due to the differences between the brains of men and the brains of women.  Far from being a result of "media stereotypes" or girls being discouraged from programming, the nerd gender gap is a result of the very different design priorities that went into the brains of the two sexes. 
Our species happens to have highly bifurcated sexes with different inherent mental strengths.  Women have much better situational awareness, and are far better at multitasking than men.  Men, in turn, tend to be better at obsessive singletasking.  Both of these traits are the result of eons of prehistorical evolution with men specializing in hunting, with women specializing in child rearing.  Both tasks were difficult and utterly crucial, but required different mental talents.  Those male-female units that divided these tasks most efficiently achieved reproductive success best.   
Here is a fascinating essay on the subject of nerds which touches on sex differences in nerdishness:

http://www.isteve.com/nerds.htm

Keep in mind that, once again due to neurological differences, women are much less likely than men to *want* to be computer programmers.  In this debate there often seems to be the laughable assumption that many women are being excluded from an opportunity to slave away in the most solitary and abstract career around.  One imagines the technology-deprived sisterhood marching in the streets: "What do we want?" "ROOT!" "When do we want it?" "NOW!" 

Emmanuel Goldstein
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I am a programmer, I am female, I consider myself hard-core and I love my job. I work mostly with male developers; we have 6 female developers in an office of around 60. The guys I work with are not slobs or sloppy (their worst messiness is piles of code printouts lying around) and our offices are bright and clean.

Like any technical job, ours is filled with jargon and in-jokes. Both at university and at work, there is a lot of posturing ("My code kicks ass!", "I am the greatest programmer who ever lived"). Aside from myself, I have never heard a woman make such utterances. It's a culture you acquire. I think it puts a lot of women off, since in many cultures girls are brought up to be modest.

There is a lot of mythology around computers, including the old stereotypes about nerds, geeks and horrible working environments. These myths are ingrained at university and I think they put women off.

I think the biggest problem is perceived risk of failure. Men are encouraged in many cultures to be risk takers, while women are encouraged to be risk-averse. A good programmer, IMHO, has a "try it and see what happens" attitude that I think is missing in many women.

I think the women who do make it in this field are to be congratulated :) But I must admit that the work environment is what keeps me in my job. The thrill, the challenge, the massive ego's, are all part of what makes it great.

Astarte
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

"I am female, I consider myself hard-core"
<mode=beavis&butthead>Heh! Heh!</mode>


Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I've just realised that there are five women and three men (including myself) in my little corner of the work world.

John Topley
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

[Women have much better situational awareness, and are far better at multitasking than men.  Men, in turn, tend to be better at obsessive singletasking.]

So the managers should all be women. And all the political leaders as well.

The Real PC
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Can we please get rid of this idea that woman and men's brains are wired differently.

In a significant population sample of men you will find a greater number of men who have the personality/intelligence type associated with mathematical and scientific activities than you will women, but the difference between the two groups is less than the difference between any two individuals in either group. And even if it were you would still have no basis to make a judgement regarding any particular individual.

Also can we please have no more of the "too young for culture to be the cause" answers. Gender discrimination in the way adults treat children of different sexes has been observed with children as young as one year.

And how many boys got Barbie dolls for their birthday, and how many girls got Mecano sets?

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Sorry but I don't believe in that theory evolution.

KenB
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I don't know about why there aren't as many girls studying computers, but the answer to why there aren't as many female book writers should be obvious.

I'm a female senior in Computer Engineering, and most females (myself included) have some sort of life-plan that goes something like this:

1.  Get kick-ass job
2.  Marry great guy
3.  Eventually procreate

The procreation generally has to be done before age 35.  That means that MOST females are planning to work part-time if possible starting around then.  Now doctors or lawyers wouldn't have so much of a problem with this as their services are obviously needed by society.  But computer engineers?  EVERYBODY knows that these people work nights and weekends, for little additional benefit, and that you can arrange to get paid part-time but you'll still be expected to work full-time.  The only alternative is to do something like consulting, but that seems very risky with kids to support.

Really advanced knowledge requires years to obtain.  The reason that most women don't get there isn't because their brains are wired differently but because most of them get set back when they have kids.  That's the truth behind all those studies that are supposed to show that women earn less on the dollar compared to men.

Erin
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Another way of talking about multitasking is to say, if we're going to make generalisations, that men are better able to concentrate on tasks and complete difficult tasks.

Multitasking is the secretary who can answer the phone and read a magazine at the same time. Anyone can multitask if they don't have a high processing load.

Situational awareness, also, is being misrepresented. Soldiers and pilots - generally men - exhibit superb situational awareness. Trained women too, but the generalisation that women are better is silly.

My explanation for the predominance of men in programming jobs is simply that it requires long sustained work. More men than women have the opportunity and orientation for this. All kudos to the women that do it.


Wednesday, April 02, 2003

'The Real PC' suggests - sarcastically - that if what I say about innate differences in brain wiring were true, all managers and politicians ought to be women.  RealPC is on to something there.   
Programming would seem to be the ideal career for a working woman who wants kids (which Erin brings up), as it is more amenable to telecommuting than any other.  Also, unlike management, a programming career doesn't depend on 'momentum' i.e. you can take years out of the middle of your programming career and then jump back in (with a skill refresher) and no one looks askance at your chronological resume with a big hole in the middle.  Try that in a climb to the executive leadership of a big company.  And even so, there are far more women in management than in programming.  Management simply requires a brain with a more feminine design.
Fascinatingly, increased testosterone levels cause the opposite of what you might expect.  High T levels makes for more 'feminine' style thinking in men - multitasking and situational awareness - at the expense of concentration.  So the most 'manly' men invariably eschew abstract, obsessive concentration jobs for those that require quick thinking and situational awareness.  If the job also rewards a dominating personality, it's bound to be packed with high testosterone men, e.g. sales, trial lawyer.  And, of course, who else is succeeding in those jobs?  Women. 
Note that there are some career paths for lawyers that don't need quick thinking but instead obsessive singletasking.  In a back room of every big law firm invariably there is  ‘law wizard’ nerd lawyer who has an awe-inspiring obsessive knowledge of the details of law and precedent.  This wizard is invariably male, and BTW invariably doesn’t make nearly as much money as the glib, quick thinking, female and high testosterone male partners. 

I speak here of averages.  We all know a few (all too few, sigh) female engineers. 

Please read the essay I linked to previously – it is highly illuminating, and sort of a nerd-pride manifesto.

Emmanuel Goldstein
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

KenB -

Evolution may technically be a theory but it's one that has been subjected to, and survived, a great deal of scientific scrutiny which is not true of creationism.

Anonymous Aetheist
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Jesus, Darwin, and Hitler were all Nerds. And Males. And none of them were computer programmers. Think about that. Is the thread over now?

choppy
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I guess we agree to disagree. One scientific statistic to show that life by chance without a Creator is impossible:

The proteins needed for life have very complex molecules. What is the chance of even a simple protein molecule forming at random in an organic soup? Evolutionists acknowledge it to be only one in 10^113 (1 followed by 113 zeros). But any event that has one chance in just 10^50 is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening. An idea of the odds, or probability, involved is seen in the fact that the number 10^113 is larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe!

KenB
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Dear Ken B,
                  The origin of life has long been expelled from the fields of scientific enquiry, on the grounds that it is basically speculation.

                    If you do want to delve into the present state of the art you will find that the organic soup theory has lost favour, partly because of the statistics you quote, and the "smart money" at the moment is on crystals in mud flats, whcih would get rid of the randomness for a start.

                      Evolution is not affected by this anyway. First of all it doesn't purport to explain how organic life was first created, but what happened afterwards, and that it does admirably. Secondly the fact that something is a statistical exception is irrelevant if it happened anyway. The odds against dying from being struck by lightning are incredibly small but that is no consolation to the poor sod who gets fried. And of course, postulating a creator, is simply a form of cosmological buck-passing.

                        Now, I am not saying that the article Emmanuel links to is correct. From his description of it I rather suspect it the kind of populist garbage that gives evolution a bad name. Anyway, I'll look at it now and post back if this comment is unjustified.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

KenB where can I find that scientific article?

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Evolution results from a combination of chance, natural selection, and the natural tendency of open systems to increase in complexity. (We don't have to argue about the definition of complexity, because this has nothing to do with the original subject, sex differences, anyway.)
Stephen, you will go to any lengths to convince yourself of the ridiculous idea that evolution results entirely from chance and selection.

The Real PC
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

And besides, just try defining "chance."

The Real PC
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Choppy - Jesus, Darwin and Hitler were nerds?  You go too far.  Hitler, with his charasma, intense desire to lead, and strong soldiering skills was clearly *not* a nerd.  Jesus, also with a call to leadership and tremendous apparent charisma and, well, messianiac character was also unnerdish.  Darwin - maybe.  I don't know enough about the man to say.   
BTW, don't take my description of Jesus as a 'Jewish' opinion, I am not Jewish, E.G. isn't my real name.

Emmanuel Goldstein
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Jesus and Hitler were not nerds; both were charismatic.
Darwin was a nerd. His ideas might never have caught on if he didn't have some non-nerd friends.
Einstein was probably a nerd, but he didn't have to sell his ideas because they were proven by experiments.
Freud was great at selling his ideas, most of which were idiotic.
If you are a nerd and have a great idea, you need either charismatic friends, or scientific proof, or obvious practical usefulness of the idea.
A charismatic person, I have noticed, can sell even the stupidest ideas. Especially if the ideas are simple and blame all the world's problems on something. They probably need at least one idea that makes sense, and the rest of the ideas get a free ride on the good idea. Sounding mysterious can also be helpful. But speaking with complete confidence is the real key.

The Real PC
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Wow! This thread just took quite a turn! Smooth move, choppy. you the man.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Choppy my man, that was a move worthy of the glass bead game. Wow.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

"organic soup theory has lost favour, partly because of the statistics you quote, and the "smart money" at the moment is on crystals in mud flats, whcih would get rid of the randomness for a start."

Since it's, as you say, an established scientific fact, shouldn't there be a theory baked by evidence and repeatible experiments, and not just speculations that radically change every few years without ever touching the earth?

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, April 02, 2003

KenB -
Who created the Creator? If you can accept that the Creator just came into existence, then why can't you accept that the universe just came into existence, thus requiring no Creator?

I recommend that you read some Richard Dawkins books.

Anonymous Aetheist
Thursday, April 03, 2003

'only try to know that there is no Creator...'

rexguo
Thursday, April 03, 2003

What is that supposed to mean?!

Anonymous Aetheist
Thursday, April 03, 2003

The Origin of Life, by John D. Bernal, 1967, p. 144.

Evolution From Space, by Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, 1981, p. 8, p. 24.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
God doesn't have a beginning or an end - PS 90:2

Is this unreasonable to believe? No

1) Time. No one can point to a certain moment as the beginning of time. Even though our lives end, time does not. We do not reject the idea of time because there are aspects of it that we do not fully comprehend.

2) Space. Astronomers find no beginning or end to space. They do not reject what the evidence shows; many refer to space as being infinite.

These same principle apply to the existence of God

KenB
Thursday, April 03, 2003

Anonymous Aetheist,

Taken from The Matrix 'Only try to know that there is no spoon'.

KenB,

I am no astronomer or scientist of any sort but I do read scientific news. There seems substantial evidence and agreement that the Universe is ~15 billion years old. The first breakthru came from Hubble Space Telescope's 'Deep Field' image in 1996:

http://www.stsci.edu/ftp/science/hdf/hdf.html
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/1996/01/

To claim the measurability of '15 billion years' one must first agree time and space had a beginning, which leads us to the Big Bang theory:

http://ssscott.tripod.com/BigBang.html

Now that 'theory' has supporting evidence known as the Cosmic Microwave Background:

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap001029.html
http://www.astro.ubc.ca/people/scott/cmb_intro.html
http://www.astro.ubc.ca/people/scott/faq_basic.html

I do not know enough to debate space and time with you, but just trying to show you what's been happening since 1981, which is the date of the article you quoted from.

.rex

rexguo
Thursday, April 03, 2003

Even Emmanuel Goldstein isn't Emmanuel Goldstein, he's Eric Corley.


1984? I'm not all up on book learnin and such.

trollbooth
Thursday, April 03, 2003

Hello?  Anybody remember what this thread was supposed to be about?

T. Norman
Thursday, April 03, 2003

rexguo -

I've not seen The Matrix.

KenB -

There is no evidence to support the existence of God. As you said, I think we'll have to agree to disagree.

Anonymous Aetheist
Friday, April 04, 2003

Atheist,
The things we perceive with our five senses are not all that exists. That is known for certain -- if you don't believe it just turn on the TV. Where do the sound and pictures come from? Wavelengths completely unknown to our senses.
Therefore, you know for a fact that things exist which your senses have no awareness of.
Beings that are not usually perceivable by our senses are nevertheless often seen and heard by human beings (angels, spirits, etc.). You can say these are hallucinations or imagination, but that's just an easy way of dismissing any possible evidence which conflicts with your pre-conceptions.
Every civilization and culture ever studied by anthropologists has been aware of non-physical beings of some kind.
So how is "god" different from any other type of non-physical being? Before deciding if there is a god, we would have to define the word.
By my definition, gods are non-physical beings like spirits, angels, demons, etc. They may exist on many levels (beyond our 3 spatial and 1 temporal dimension, of course) and there may be one that is above and includes all the rest. Of course as human beings none of us is in a position to know much about it.
But there are windows into the super-levels, seen through often by people everywhere, in many ways. To dismiss all that and refuse to consider it is to be stubbornly ignorant.
Physicists are pretty sure our level of existence is not all there is, and dimensions beyond our own are thought to exist. This has been known for people in all cultures and at all times.
It must take great effort for atheists like you to deny the obvious truth that much more exists that what we percieve in our everyday life.

The Real PC
Friday, April 04, 2003

"It must take great effort for atheists like you to deny the obvious truth that much more exists that what we percieve in our everyday life."

When have a denied that?! I certainly don't deny that. Whole branches of science are based around not observing direct causes and effect.

Atheists like me? You don't know me so don't you dare try to classify me. I just find it bizarre that otherwise (presumably) rational and logical people like programmers choose to hold irrational beliefs.

My response was in answer to the post about evolution being a theory. As I said then, I suggest that people read Richard Dawkins because evolution provides sufficient answers to the questions of how life and the universe came about to preclude the necessity of believing in God. If you don't understand evolution then you don't know anything about who you are or where you came from.

Anonymous Aetheist
Friday, April 04, 2003

"But there are windows into the super-levels"

And its for exactly those type of security holes that Microsoft quite rightly gets caned.


Friday, April 04, 2003

"I just find it bizarre that otherwise (presumably) rational and logical people like programmers choose to hold irrational beliefs."

Sir Fred Hoyle commented: "Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act."

British physicist Lord Kelvin, declared: "I believe the more thoroughly science is studied the further does it take us from anything compared to atheism."

Nobel prize winner Arthur Holly Compton said: "An orderly unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered-'In the beginning God.'"

Brain surgeon Robert White: "I am left with no choice but to acknowledge the existence of a Superior Intellect, responsible for the design and development of the incredible brain-mind relationship-something far beyond man's capacity to understand." (The Reader's Digest, September 1978, p. 99

Steven Weinberg, Nobel laureate for his work on fundamental forces. He added:

"It seems to me that if the word 'God' is to be of any use, it should be taken to mean an interested God, a creator and lawgiver who has established not only the laws of nature and the universe but also standards of good and evil, some personality that is concerned with our actions, something in short that is appropriate for us to worship. . . . This is the God that has mattered to men and women throughout history."-Dreams of a Final Theory.

Space scientist Dr. Wernher von Braun, in awe of the laws governing the universe, had this to say: "Manned space flight . . . has opened for us thus far only a tiny door for viewing the awesome reaches of space. Our outlook through this peephole at the vast mysteries of the universe only confirms our belief in its creator."

Famous physicist P.A.M. Dirac, who was a professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge, concurred: "One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe."

KenB
Friday, April 04, 2003

Let me re-phrase then:

"I just find it bizarre that otherwise (presumably) rational and logical people like programmers, mathematicians, physicists, Nobel prize winners, brain surgeons, Nobel laureates, authors and ex-Nazis choose to hold irrational beliefs."

I don't think this exchange is going anywhere so I think we should end it now.

Anonymous Aetheist
Friday, April 04, 2003

Sorry, by no means am I implying that ex-Nazis are logicial or rational and worthy of being grouped with the others. Werner von Braun did a lot of subsequent good work for the US space programme.

Anonymous Aetheist
Friday, April 04, 2003

We agree to disagree. :-)

No hard feelings. I respect you, I hope that you respect me - simply a difference in opinion. Nothing more.

KenB
Friday, April 04, 2003

I do respect you, yes. Have a good weekend!

Anonymous Aetheist
Friday, April 04, 2003

AA, you gave up because you have no evidence or logic to back up your claim. If you don't understand something you call it an irrational belief.

The Real PC
Friday, April 04, 2003

Whatever.

Anonymous Aetheist
Friday, April 04, 2003

Technically, Real PC, YOU are the one without evidence to back up your claim.

Of course, if you HAVE phyiscal evidence for the existence of God, I am deeply interested in hearing it.

I am reminded of the story of the Babel Fish from the Hitchhiker's Guide. :)

P.S. Believing in God does not make you irrational, as faith is a supra-rational action

Steven C.
Friday, April 04, 2003

As a said before, you have to define "god" before deciding if there is one, or some. There is plenty of evidence for "supernatural" beings -- if what you mean by "god" is some kind of supernatural being, then god(s) exist, probably. Unless the majority of human beings are hallucinating. and all the parapsychologists are liars or crazy or stupid.

The Real PC
Friday, April 04, 2003

I asked for evidence -- and eye witness testimony (in my book) doesn't cut it.

Regardless, I happen to believe that most (if not all) parapsychologists are "liars or stupid or crazy", so there you go! *grins*

Steven C.
Friday, April 04, 2003

If evidence from eye witnesses and from scientists doesn't count, then your mind is permanently made up.

The Real PC
Friday, April 04, 2003

One of my friends gave me the link to this site. First Maths and CS is badly taught the world over (took it when I was younger and completely took the fun out of learning!), second as a female, I can safely say we prefer to have jobs that require more face-to-face interaction, finally you don't see many female programmers because only male programmers like to get into convoluted discussions like this that don't go anywhere!

Jacq
Saturday, April 05, 2003

There are two aspects to this discussion:

1) Why are there so few women employed in the computer industry?

2) Are girls, by their very natures, less inclined towards computing technology than boys?

All the issues relating to aspect 1 have been well addressed in this discussion. This is a historical phenomena and cannot be explained by some simple formula, but must be described as a sequence of events arising from a complex web of cultural phenomena. There are no answers to this question, only explanations.

Aspect 2 is more interesting. I've known a great many men who were interested in computers as young children. I got my first computer when I was ten and I started programming it right away, coding games in BASIC (ah, the memories). This is a fairly typical anecdote amongst male "hacker" types. I've known a few women programmers and I've never heard a similar story from them, although there are always exceptions.

This is not high school experience, it has nothing to do with peer pressure. These are young boys with almost no understanding of the world around them suddenly discovering a wonderful machine and becoming obsessed with it. Why do so many boys and so few girls become engaged with computers at a young age?

Now it should be obvious that this sort of childhood experience is not a pre-requisite for a career in the computer industry. There are plenty of excellent programmers - male and female - who had perfectly normal childhoods free of computer-mania. But just suppose there is something in the natures of the males of our species (making no assumptions about the origins of those natures) that causes them to be attracted to the sort of intricate challenge that computer technology represents?

Could this tie into the common anti-social behaviour of male computer nerds? Perhaps girls are more inclinded to favour social behaviour over technical behaviour?

Please note all the question marks, I have no desire to make firm statements about a subject on which I am not an expert. There is so much we don't understand about ourselves, and we should not pretend we know all the answers.

Angus Glashier
Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I don't think the asocial aspect of programming explains the difference. Not all females need a lot of social interaction. But I imagine solitary little girls as spending their time reading and writing, maybe novels or poetry, not programming computers or playing computer games.
I know one female who had the same reaction to computers that you described, and which I had also, and she isn't really asocial. This was as an adult because there weren't a lot of personal computers when she was a child.
Computers are really amazing. The name "computers" makes them sound boring, like adding machines. I would think that anyone who notices that computers are machines who can actually be taught to do something like logical reasoning would become fascinated by them.
The mystery is why this escapes more females than males.

The Real PC
Tuesday, April 08, 2003

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