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Why Girls Don't Compute

By DemiGodez in News
Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:19:20 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Why Girls Don't Compute is the actual title of an article on Wired News. This article is about a study from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation that claims "...the current generation of girls lack technical skills and are being shut out from opportunities to enter high-paying, technology-related jobs because the educational system is keeping them from achieving equality."

As 24 year old female programmer, I personally find this article very upsetting. The idea that technology isn't interesting to women and that colleges need to find ways to make technology more interesting to women is insulting. I find technology very interesting and probably wouldn't if the technology aimed at me was more "female-friendly".

Many women do find technology interesting but simply choose other careers that better fit their desires or lifestyles. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course, there are women who don't find technology interesting. My answer is simply that they just shouldn't go into technology.

What do you think? Do you believe that there is some social imperative to make technology more interesting to women? Is it okay for technology to remain male dominated given that there are also female dominated professions?


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Why Girls Don't Compute | 52 comments (52 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Good questions. There are some pro... (2.00 / 1) (#1)
by ramses0 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:55:18 PM EST

ramses0 voted 1 on this story.

Good questions. There are some professions which seem to be gender-dominated, but just so long as there aren't any actual barriers to entry, I have no problem at all with people doing what they want to do.

Some difficulty might arise in cases of discrimination: If a construction yard refuses to hire a female worker just because she's female, that's bad.

But then you must consider some of the discrimination which ?used to? (still does?) happen in the military: As I understand, the army didn't want female soldiers because it opened up a whole host of problems which they didn't want to deal with.

Personally, I don't see working with computers as any different than being a flower-arranger... if you want to do it, and you're good at it, it doesn't matter whether you're male or female.

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

Re: Good questions. There are some pro... (none / 0) (#13)
by friedo on Mon May 01, 2000 at 06:22:32 PM EST

I agree - and seeing this type of article annoys me. IMHO, there is nothing in the current educational system "preventing" women from entering technical fields. It's a societal problem, i.e., many women don't do it because they feel it isn't their place. I just get annoyed with seeing public institutions getting blamed for a problem that is rooted in an obsolete value system. Here endeth the rant.

- friedo
[ Parent ]

Re: Good questions. There are some pro... (none / 0) (#49)
by flixchick on Tue May 02, 2000 at 04:56:07 PM EST

Public institutions often get blamed for problems rooted in obsolete value systems because those public institutions are run by people whose conceptions of the roles men and women should play are rooted in obsolete value systems, sometimes rooted so deeply they don't know they're there. It's not that women "don't feel it's their place" to work with technology. I don't know ANY women in this day and age who think that you shouldn't do something just because you're a certain gender. And speaking as a woman who was given every opportunity as a child (we've had anywhere from two to five computers at my house ever since 1980) to develop into a master hacker and chose to become a writer/editor, not all women are going to be interested in technology, no matter what parents, teachers, etc. try.

That said, I think there are things that subtly discourage girls from getting interested in technology. One of those is the disparities in how teachers treat boys and girls in class. There have been studies (don't have time to find them online at the moment, please believe me that they do exist!) over the years that show that often, boys are called on more by teachers—even female teachers-in many subjects, which can definitely undermine girls' self-esteem, especially in subject areas that are already male-dominated, like math and science. Then there's the whole puberty issue, and wanting to be like everybody else, or at least not wanting to be constantly picked on by everybody else. Kudos to those people apparently genetically gifted with such a strong sense of self-confidence that the taunts, whispers and other harassments by classmates never made any difference to how they lived their daily life. Most people are not so lucky, and girls are under enormous pressures as adolescents to find a boyfriend and look pretty (not that this gets any less with age). Girls learn through a variety of ways that these are the important things in life and that being smart, especially smarter than boys, and doing well in classes, especially ones that boys do well in, is not going to win them the boyfriend or the popularity contest.

These are just some of the things I can think of that impede women's progress in the technology field. There are probably lots of others that I don't have time to think of right now. I mentioned these specifically because it is within the educational system that they're most apparent. Yes, they are societal problems, but you can't separate the educational system from our society. It's formed by society and in turn helps to form society. I think this article was important because it helps point out that first of all, there is a distinct difference in the amount of men and women involved in the technology fields, which I have rarely seen mentioned in major news media, and second of all, tries to pinpoint some of the origins of this discrepancy. Recognizing this is the first step toward trying to rectify it, if indeed it is a societal problem and not a genetic/biological/whatever difference. But how will we know which it is unless we try to level the playing field in all other areas?

Here endeth my rant.

[ Parent ]

My Kid Sister (none / 0) (#19)
by Skyshadow on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:40:14 PM EST

Actually, computer geeks can be as bad as construction workers when it comes to women.

My university has maybe a 15:1 male to female ratio in the CS department. My kid sister is a sophmore in the department, and she used to get all kinds of crap from a couple of the guys -- stuff from offhand remarks about "Gee, I can't believe you passed that course" to outright harrassment. Of course, I had no idea this was going on until I was walking by when it happened.

Not every grrl in CS has an older brother to adjust these things.

[ Parent ]

Oh my God! It's a new topic! Sort o... (3.00 / 2) (#2)
by xah on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:56:31 PM EST

xah voted 1 on this story.

Oh my God! It's a new topic! Sort of. Close enough.

I think more women will be in this ... (2.00 / 1) (#3)
by scorpion on Mon May 01, 2000 at 03:57:05 PM EST

scorpion voted 1 on this story.

I think more women will be in this field as time goes on. I'm sure they can handle it if men can!

I would really want to know what ot... (1.00 / 2) (#8)
by Mantis on Mon May 01, 2000 at 04:20:31 PM EST

Mantis voted 1 on this story.

I would really want to know what other woman think of this. (I am not a woman) Mantis

Re: I would really want to know what ot... (none / 0) (#45)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 02, 2000 at 10:58:22 AM EST

I whole-heartedly agree with the original poster. FYI, I am a female
programmer. If person x is interested is interested in technology and is
unwilling to go into because of peer pressure, I think that is very sad. I also
dislike the idea of people getting into field x just because it's "trendy". 

It's all an individual thing.

However, if there's one thing that needs to be fixed, it's the attitude of a
number of guys. I have in the past submitted a number of bug fixes to various
things in open source; however, a few individuals just completely ignore it.
There are guys out there who do not believe women are capable and this attitude
makes it frustrating and discouraging.

[ Parent ]
I know this is an old comment but... (none / 0) (#53)
by kraant on Sat Jun 22, 2002 at 12:30:58 AM EST

The thing with open source / free software projects is that a lot of the time they realy do just ignore you because they can't be arsed or your patch sucks not because of your gender. I know most of the patches I've sent off get ignored.
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
Good point. If colleges need to mak... (3.00 / 1) (#4)
by End on Mon May 01, 2000 at 04:33:15 PM EST

End voted 1 on this story.

Good point. If colleges need to make programming more female-friendly than they also need to make fashion design more male-friendly.


Re: Good point. If colleges need to mak... (none / 0) (#24)
by xah on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:58:22 PM EST

Many fashion designers are men. Gay men. For example, Versace. Of course, you also have Donna Karan.

[ Parent ]
Re: Good point. If colleges need to mak... (none / 0) (#36)
by End on Mon May 01, 2000 at 11:44:21 PM EST

That is the point. I said that if they need to make computing female-friendly, then they also need to make fashion design male-friendly. I should perhaps have added "...and I'm the King of Poland." The implication was that they do not need to make computing female-friendly, because we obviously do not need to make fashion-design more male-friendly for any men to get interested in it at all. I hope that made sense :-)

[ Parent ]

IMHO, women are shunted away from t... (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by deimos on Mon May 01, 2000 at 04:39:11 PM EST

deimos voted 1 on this story.

IMHO, women are shunted away from technology from the beginning. It is more than just schools and secondary education institutions. We can study and research this trend for years, but I don't think much will change until society itself changes.
irc.kuro5hin.org: Good Monkeys, Great Typewriters.

Re: IMHO, women are shunted away from t... (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by DemiGodez on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:24:22 PM EST

I obviously can't speak for all women, but I was *never* pushed away from science and technology in school. I went to private school for grade school and public school for high school, so I've hit both there. I went to a state college.

In fact, I have never felt discriminated against by any men I have studied or worked with. I do however get a lot of discrimination by (are you ready for this?) other women. It's like women don't understand why I would want to do what I do or resent that I work with their husbands. In my experience, women are the biggest deterant to women in technology.

[ Parent ]

Re: IMHO, women are shunted away from t... (none / 0) (#16)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:16:14 PM EST

I'm glad to see that second paragraph. As a white male I'm sick and tired of being blamed for everthing wrong with the world, including preventing women (and minority ethnic groups) from entering the IT field.

(Sorry to generalize your statement by covering minority ethnic groups with it, I'm a bitter, alienated individual).

[ Parent ]

Re: IMHO, women are shunted away from t... (none / 0) (#34)
by your_desired_username on Mon May 01, 2000 at 10:05:40 PM EST

I do however get a lot of discrimination by (are you ready for this?) other women. It's like women don't understand why I would want to do what I do or resent that I work with their husbands.

I have a female friend who works at Cisco, in highly techinical position. She also claims she gets a lot more discrimination from other women than from men.

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence ...

[ Parent ]
There is nothing inherent in the ru... (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by warpeightbot on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:02:24 PM EST

warpeightbot voted 1 on this story.

There is nothing inherent in the rules of The System preventing women from getting into high-tech areas. Matter of fact, Georgia Tech (among others) has a program specifically aimed at getting high school girls to take their math and science so they can get into the engineering and computer areas.

What the guidance counselors and teachers down in the grade schools do is probably another thing entirely....

I'm not sure we should push high-tech at the girls, particularly if it is at the expense of the guys.... but we should certainly be encouraging all those with potential to make the best of themselves, male or female, doctor, lawyer, nurse, secretary, or geek.

Insofar as "male dominated" goes.... I've been noticing more and more older women in the profession, and some are beginning to bubble their way to the top. Look at Carly Fionetta over at HP. Debby Hopkins, the former Boeing CFO, now in the same post at Lucent. and the remark my own mother-in-law made when I made the mistake of saying something about something "your grandma could use".... Look around and take notice of who runs the DP operations of most companies big enough to have a DP operation..... Grandma. Older women who have grown up in the business. Grandma is the one who knows the computer backwards and forwards and knows what works and what doesn't. She's not necessarily alpha geek....but she does know how things need to be done.

Re: There is nothing inherent in the ru... (none / 0) (#25)
by Skyshadow on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:05:25 PM EST

Like I mentioned in a previous thread, males can be awfully discouraging to women trying to enter the field. This is probably true in a lot of professions dominated by men -- they feel (subconciously, I'm sure) threatened by women -- whom some geeks tend to have low opinions of anyhow -- entering the field.

For those of you who missed my other post: My younger sister is a sophmore at the same university that I attend. I discovered, accidently, that a couple of the upperclassmen were giving her a hard time; from "Gee, I can't believe you're still in the major" to real harassment. This went on for a long time before I overheard one of them doing it and took steps to correct the behavior.

For the record, my sis is a pretty sharp cookie -- she manages really well in the same classes that I had a tough time with. It's not like she's some kind of affirmative action case.

I'm not really sure how you can correct these sorts of problems (short of assigning every college student a big brother) without resorting to assinine "sexual harrassment" rules and the like. I agree that people should be able to take care of themselves, but I also don't buy that people should have to deal with crap targeted their way for no particular reason other than their sex/race/whatever, especially when they're also trying to pass CS coursework.

[ Parent ]

My wife has little interest in tech... (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by bladerunner on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:11:06 PM EST

bladerunner voted 1 on this story.

My wife has little interest in technology. She knows how to click on the desktop icon to dial the internet and open the web browser. She knows how to enter a URL. That's all she wants to know. If there is a letter to be typed or an email to be read, I type it and print the email out so she can read it. She uses a computer at the dental office she works at, but her knowledge only goes as far as the use of the program. She is perfectly happy with the scenario. Her involvement in building our new computer involved picking out the case, keyboard and mouse.
-Ex-slashdotter. I love cats, but hate Katz.

Re: My wife has little interest in tech... (none / 0) (#10)
by DemiGodez on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:27:04 PM EST

In my experience, that's pretty typical of how the women I interact with are. But you know, I know an awful lot of guys who don't venture into the kitchen except to get some cereal. :) That's okay too.

As long as the doors aren't shut, there is no reason to force anyone through. As long as women can be in technology (and men can be good in the kitchen) there is nothing wrong with it.

[ Parent ]

Re: My wife has little interest in tech... (none / 0) (#43)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue May 02, 2000 at 09:52:33 AM EST

I agree. I won't force any technology on my wife, but if she shows an interest, I'll be more than happy to show her how it works, or whatever. I can cook a mean dinner, too. I was single before I got married (well, duh), and since I couldnt impress the chicks (at least the ones I went after) with my technological prowess, I learned from my italian mother how to wow em in the kitchen. :)

[ Parent ]
In my own experience... (4.00 / 1) (#11)
by slycer on Mon May 01, 2000 at 05:44:10 PM EST

I work in a technical area (a REAL helpdesk :-) ), that requires lots of techie
skills, including TCP/IP understanding, some scripting, general PC knowledge as
well as phone network stuff..

I actually work with more women than men! This does not seem like an issue to
me. Mind you, there are only a couple of us here that would classify as
"geeks", and we are both male :-) I know that some of the women that I work
with are more educated than myself, one at least has some C programming skills.

I also deal with a lot of our companies "IT" area, and again notice no
difference between the amount of men vs women that I speak with. This includes
programming areas, server administration etc, the only place I can think of
that is all men (7 of them) is our network managers group.

So to me, there isn't a problem..

barf (4.30 / 3) (#12)
by evro on Mon May 01, 2000 at 06:14:40 PM EST

This sounds like affirmative action to me, and, well, I hate affirmative action. Why can the idea that females simply do not like technology/computers as much as males not be sufficient for anybody? Not to say that this is or is not the case, but why is nobody willing to even consider it? Why is it so important that we have more female programmers? I've heard from the TAs at my school that they were told by their boss (a prof in the CS dept) that any time there is a woman in a lab to actively help them, and that they need more women CS majors. That, apparently, is the overriding goal of our CS department, to get more women. I find that appalling and stupid.

There are so many physical, chemical, and emotional differences between men and women, why can't it be that we just have inherently different interests? Of course there always exceptions to any rule, and this is no different -- some women find technology and computers interesting and exciting, and some men hate it. But I really don't see any need to "bridge the gap" in this case. I'm not a woman so my viewpoint may be naïve in this case, but I have never known any woman or girl to be discouraged from math or technical pursuits just because "that's not what girls do." In my high school, most of the students in my math and science classes were girls. Now in college, most students in my CS classes are men. Could it be that when given a choice, women simply choose not to learn about computers? I find that notion far more convincing than all these invisible "barriers" keeping women from joining the ranks of the technological elite.
"Asking me who to follow -- don't ask me, I don't know!"

Re: barf (none / 0) (#14)
by DemiGodez on Mon May 01, 2000 at 06:26:07 PM EST

I totally agree. Whining about barriers make women look weak.

[ Parent ]
Re: barf [OT] (none / 0) (#18)
by ramses0 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:31:33 PM EST

Excellent use of the umlaut over the 'i' in naïve, 've never seen that done before on the internet, and just want to say kudos. (oh, and well said commentary too ;^)=

[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
[ Parent ]

Re: barf [OT] (none / 0) (#28)
by xah on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:17:09 PM EST

And yet another example. See point 1 of Chuck D's editorial. This link culled from another topic on K5.

[ Parent ]
Re: barf [OT] (none / 0) (#35)
by End on Mon May 01, 2000 at 11:40:25 PM EST

Hoo Rah! I say yea to this also. You can also use the foreign-language form, naïf. BTW, the best way to do this, if the site supports it (they usually do) is to use html entities rather than raw char codes; i.e., type "ï" in your comment. For uppercase letters, capitalize the first letter, like "Ä".

[ Parent ]

Re: barf (none / 0) (#33)
by your_desired_username on Mon May 01, 2000 at 09:49:37 PM EST

Go read the original paper that inspired the wired article

It is primarily about women not wanting to get involved in computers; it barely mentions 'barriers' and 'discrimination'.

[ Parent ]
Re: barf (none / 0) (#39)
by mattc on Tue May 02, 2000 at 01:38:13 AM EST

I don't see why any heterosexual male would have anything against encouraging more woman to join the computer field. More power to 'em!

Seriously though, there are just as many women (almost 50% I'd guess) in my college computer classes as men, so I don't think this article is correct. Maybe it was valid in the 80s and early 90s, but not now. Of course I'm at a community college, not one of those upper class universities. Maybe it is different there.

[ Parent ]

Re: barf (none / 0) (#41)
by cdegroot on Tue May 02, 2000 at 04:10:46 AM EST

Here, here!

I have two kids. The oldest one is a girl, the youngest a buy. The boy arrived in a house full of all sorts of toys - puppets, Lego, anything, and without hesitation picked out the cars and the Lego to play with. He is constantly tinkering, while the girl engages in more "social" play like role play and playing with their dolls.

We have a couple of million years behind us where men went hunting and women took care of the village. Somehow, the last century, the thought was pushed to us that a) taking care of the village is inferior work, and b) that therefore we should do something about the fact that women don't like "hunting".

I disagree with both. I have a huge respect for my wife's management of the household. Don't underestimate this, it is a mid-level management position (our mayor, a woman, once told me about a course for "re-entering" woman - like if you're away when you manage a household - and the business type giving the course simply couldn't believe the management skills his class posessed; after all, they were just "housewifes").

As long as the barriers of entry are equal, and people take care not to steer their children, they can all decide for themselves and I do see nothing wrong in going where your nature+nurture point you. If a side effect is that IT companies are full of men, so be it.

[ Parent ]

It's not the schools' problem. (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by eann on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:06:13 PM EST

...although they may be able to help fix it. It starts way earlier than that. My wife's father has been a technician for AT&T for nearly 30 years. She grew up around technology, and she was raised in an environment that encouraged tinkering and exploration. Now she's helping develop a program with the local PBS station to help girls in inner-city schools develop and/or explore an interest in information technology.

Granted, we live in an area where diversity in thought and experience is usually considered to be healthy. It's certainly not like that all over the US (or the rest of the world, for that matter). She has horror stories from working in Radio Shack and Computer City in a large southern city (she left before it got bought by CompUSA). No one in the schools there (or at least in the suburb where I grew up) would have said "no, you can't do that--you're a girl", but there was peer pressure and societal pressure. The toys for girls were made to encourage housewifery, not analytic and spatial reasoning. If you wanted friends during the "cooties" years, you had to be doing what everyone else of your gender was doing. Which was what the commercials during Saturday morning cartoons told you they were doing.

I see this as a real problem in our society, and as something that's fixable within about a generation if enough people care. That's why I posted the story about Women in Technology here a few weeks ago. Any product designed by representatives of only half the population is necessarily designed for that half, often to the exclusion of the other. That's not the way I want my future to look.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

Re: It's not the schools' problem. (none / 0) (#42)
by Gregg M on Tue May 02, 2000 at 07:46:44 AM EST

Bull**** complete bull**** Are you trying to tell me that the reason why girls like, what they like, is because we give them Barbie dolls? That is total bull**** I am a techie and fully intended to teach my niece math and science. Guess what! She is fascinated by Barbie dolls and "dress up" and Horses. We didn't do a thing to alter what she liked. But of course you must find a scapegoat to blame. You are the problem!

[ Parent ]
Re: It's not the schools' problem. (none / 0) (#51)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed May 03, 2000 at 07:30:26 AM EST

Sorry Gregg M, but you're way off the mark on this one! I think eann couldn't be closer to the truth! You really think more estrogen and less testosterone levels in a woman's body is what makes her less prone to technology!? You really think it's the XY chromosome difference between men and women that cause us to be "better" in different fields?! Uh-uh!!

Why is it that all kids born in Muslim families in Islamic countries end up being Musilm? Can you explain that one to me Gregg? Is it because because there's a "musilm gene" in Middle Eastern peoples that makes them Musilm?? EEEE!!! WRONG! You take that same kid and raise them in a Hindu or Christian family guess what's going to happen! They'll grow up to be Hindu or Christian respectively. This is the nurture principle my good man. If you're raised by a bunch of degenerate rednecks you will grow up to be one. If you're raised in a homophobic environment, you will be a homophobe! If a girl is raised in a society that insists they cook and clean and think technology is for the boys... I think you get my point.

eann and others like him a part of the SOLUTION!! Unless we understand why we are the way we are, we have no hope for "equality of the sexes" (not that I'm fanatical about the issue or anything). People that insists on maintaining old school views like Gregg M will inevitably perpetuate this condition in society.


[ Parent ]

Re: It's not the schools' problem. (none / 0) (#52)
by flixchick on Wed May 03, 2000 at 11:13:16 AM EST

Here here! I agree with you on most points. It definitely is the nurture principle coming to bear in this situation. However, I think you're presenting it a little bit too black and white. (You probably realize this and were just trying to make a point, I know, but I feel it needs to be said).

People are without doubt shaped by their environment. No question. You pretty much either go with the flow of your upbringing or against it. Going against it just takes a lot more work, courage and imagination. If everybody did exactly what they were brought up to believe they ought to do, women would still be primarily homemakers.

People like eann are part of the solution because they recognize that this doesn't have to be the case!

[ Parent ]
More "girl" software? (2.00 / 1) (#17)
by auntfloyd on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:18:23 PM EST

They really think that more female-targeted software will turn girls on to programming? I think they are sadly confusing the products (Barbie's Virtual Makeover or whatever) and the production (programming). By the same idea, shouldn't the 16 year old teenage girls getting their license experience a new urge to be a mechanic? I think they've really lost it.

Like most other people hear, I'm fairly unconcerned about this. If women don't want to work in the technology fields, for whatever reason, they shouldn't be forced.

Personally, I think they could really turn young women on to programming if Alan Cox got on the cover of "Seventeen" or "YM". Someone should look into it :)
--- auntfloyd

Re: More "girl" software? (none / 0) (#29)
by your_desired_username on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:32:37 PM EST

_Wired_ really does think that. However, the executive summary of the research wired is reporting on, carefully points out that little will be achieved if women are not involved in design.

[ Parent ]
Re: Why Girls Don't Compute (5.00 / 1) (#20)
by teach1 on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:44:18 PM EST

I agree with whoever talked about environment. I was brought up with computers in my house. They were never presented just to Rusty, we were both encouraged to learn about them and "fiddle" with them to see how they worked. I ended up teaching computer use for several years to both children and adults. The adults in my class were usually women - showing that the interest is coming naturally (none of them mentioned pink computers or Barbie programming as a main source of interest :-)) The children were equally interested in any software I provided them. My girls drove mean trucks and my boys loved the girl characters that told them stories. I say don't change the field to make it "female-friendly", just make it accessible to everyone.

Re: Why Girls Don't Compute (none / 0) (#26)
by xah on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:06:42 PM EST

Are you Rusty's sister?

[ Parent ]
Rustys sister (none / 0) (#31)
by kraant on Mon May 01, 2000 at 09:18:28 PM EST

Well there's demona the objectivist

Either teach1 is one and the same or rusty has two sisters

daniel - who sincerely HTH HAND
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#32)
by rusty on Mon May 01, 2000 at 09:43:24 PM EST

You've become confused. :-)
  1. Demona is male.
  2. teach1 *is* my sister.
Glad I could clear this up. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#37)
by Demona on Mon May 01, 2000 at 11:59:10 PM EST

Well, you assume I'm male, unless you've seen my picture on my webpage :) Hey, any publicity is good as long as they spell your name right! Now I'm off to help a friend's 12-year old daughter tear apart some old PC's and see what we can salvage. She thinks it's great fun, and hardly even realizes she's learning useful skills unless I remind her...

[ Parent ]
Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#38)
by rusty on Tue May 02, 2000 at 01:24:36 AM EST

I've seen the pics, *and* discussed this with you (albeit briefly) over email, a while ago. And they say I'm forgetful. :-) Matter of fact, until I saw your site, I assumed you were female. *shrug* go figure.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#40)
by fluffy grue on Tue May 02, 2000 at 03:18:32 AM EST

I went to your webpage, Demona, and I couldn't find anything, specifically because everything was blinking so bad I had seizures or something. Any chance you could fix your stylesheets? I think that's what's causing it, unless you have some really evil Javascript setup to hide a blink tag in the final source. When I turned off Javascript, the blinking stopped, but it still didn't reveal anything evil in your page source, so maybe Netscape's just being stupider than usual.

Ennyhoo... sorry for being presumtuous based on your pictures and writing style and the like, but it's nice to see someone else of questionable or ambiguous gender here. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#44)
by rusty on Tue May 02, 2000 at 10:37:55 AM EST

Heh. It does take some cleverness to extract any actual information from the page. I get a bunch of blinking blue lines of varying widths. But there is stuff there, if you dig some more. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Stupid stylesheet tricks (none / 0) (#46)
by Demona on Tue May 02, 2000 at 11:04:40 AM EST

(I *do* remember that email conversation, Rusty! Really!)

Since I'm a Lynx user, when I wrote the stylesheet for my front page I knew I wanted to mess with both IE and Netscape users. I know for sure that if you view it with either of those browsers under Microsoft Windows, you'll more than likely see blinking WINGDINGS font with no readable text. Both a jab at Windows users, and at Netscape for being so silly as to require Javascript being on for stylesheets to work. I should do some testing with Mozilla, but I've been too wrapped up in non-web stuff as of late.

Anyway, it looks great in Lynx. At least I think so :)

Let's hear it for questionable or ambiguous gender!

[ Parent ]

Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#47)
by kraant on Tue May 02, 2000 at 01:01:13 PM EST

You know I saw the pictures and still thought you were female... I thought I was the only person around to have that problem... :P

Heh I still have some moron on ICQ who has a desperate crush on me :P

The objectivist thing should have clicked

Other than Ayn Rand I have never heard of a femme randoid

daniel - who used to use lynx all the time until he hit kuro5hin 'cos kuro5hin renders too prettily to not see it in full technicolor glory
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]

Re: Rustys sister (none / 0) (#50)
by Demona on Tue May 02, 2000 at 07:29:01 PM EST

BWAAAAAA! I forgot that most if not all of those pictures are before I started wearing facial hair. I'll bet I look more fetching in a dress than you!

I must strenuously object to the Randroid label, tho -- I agree with large parts of her stuff, but find her far more fascinating as a person than as a philosopher (she talked the talk and often failed to walk the walk, which is an interesting contrast with the values she publicly espoused). I've met quite a few women of all ages who were [L|l]ibertarian or [O|o]bjectivist leaning, but that's partially a function of the circles we move in, I'm sure.


thinks kuro5hin looks almost as good in Lynx as graphically. Now THAT'S an accomplishment.

[ Parent ]

Re: Why Girls Don't Compute (2.67 / 3) (#21)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:46:29 PM EST

Disclaimer: I am not female, and so my viewpoint is necessarily lopsided.

Actually, at my high school, I don't see this as much of a problem. The reason? There is only one person in a school of 2,000 who knows more about computing than I. He happens to be male, but so what? For the record, I'm not a super-hacker and I don't think he is either - we both know a couple flavors of Unix, some C, a few scripting languages, and a bit of CGI and database stuff here and there. The fact that there's barely anyone at that level indicates to me that there's a fundamental failure in computer education itself - it isn't the lack of girls involved, it's the lack of students involved at all.

That said, out of 30 computer people who showed up at a meeting last week, all were male. Why? I think girls are pushed towards conformitymore than boys. I think that this effect is cultural, not some mysterious genetic trait, but I think it is a very deep part of our culture that a few short decades of women's rights marches can't eliminate. Not to say that it should be eliminated - it shouldn't be assumed that differences between genders are always negative.

Computer science and engineering are not unique as two fields that are dominated by one gender. There are far more female librarians than male, and there are far more male housepainters - while these two positions are both neither prestigious nor physically demanding, they were both assigned to opposite genders. While I can understand there being more female singers than male, I don't at all understand why educators should be predominantly female. My point is that the rigidity of gender roles is present outside of the computing field, so it's hard to say computer professionals are singlehandedly reversing years of reform.

In the end, I don't think it really matters that much; every person is an individual entity, and while some may make choices influenced by their genders, you can't take a very general trend and say it is closely related to the actions of its individual members. By pushing a girl in to a field she is not interested in, you deny her the dignity of deciding on her own. Selecting a career to narrow the gender gap seems as ridiculous to me as selecting one because of pressure to not join in it. The "problem" of gender differences doesn't need to be solved from the outside at all.

There must be women hackers out there who have dealt with these issues firsthand. Do you agree?

computing is nerdy (1.00 / 2) (#22)
by xah on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:51:19 PM EST

Why do women not get involved in computing and technical fields? I think it's because these fields are considered "nerdy" and for geeks only. Speaking as a man, I believe a large majority of women want to be associated with the cool crowd. OTOH, because there are a lot of bullies in junior high school who beat up the male "geek-wads," a large minority of males go into geeky fields because that's a way to do something useful. And when you're hiding out in the computer labs, the jocks can't bully you or make fun of you.

One thing is clear. Women are just as capable as men in computing and technical fields, given similar training, education, and experience. One's estrogen/testosterone ratio does NOT have anything to do with one's ability to program in C++, for example.

Re: Why Girls Don't Compute (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon May 01, 2000 at 07:52:24 PM EST

One thing that has really annoyed me in this debate is the argument that games marketed at boys draw them into computer studies. Not true! All the males I know who are obsessed with gaming are just that - they never take the time to learn a programming language or a new OS, and spend day and night shooting eachother. Girls should be counted *lucky* that no one has tried to sell them engaging games!

Re: Why Girls Don't Compute (4.30 / 3) (#27)
by your_desired_username on Mon May 01, 2000 at 08:06:55 PM EST

The wired article, as usual, is shallow and misleading.

If you care about women in computing, you should read the executive summary itself, and this paper on the shrinking percentage of women in computing fields

For example, the wired article left one with the impression that 'more software should be targeted at girls' when the executive summary actually says: '...girls should be treated as early as possible as designers, rather than mere end users, of software and games.'

The difference is vital; designers will always have more influence than users. Design is proactive; being a user is mostly passive. Keep in mind this basic principle of software design: A designer designing software he is unlikely to ever use will design it poorly.

The lousy wired article also completely ignores the section on 'What Is Fluency with Information Technology?', which is probably the most important part of the whole paper; it applies to everyone who needs/wants to learn some technology skills, and it explains why teaching women 'compter literacy skills' is not sufficient.

Meanwhile, back at the hardware store... (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by error 404 on Tue May 02, 2000 at 04:33:42 PM EST

A few years ago, some genius come out with a line of tools under a brand name
along the lines of "tools for her". Basic low-end apartment-dweller grade tools
in pastel colors, mostly pink and purple.

My wife saw those. 

Now, she is an excellent builder. Not what she (or I) does for a living, but
she can throw up a wall and drywall it as well as anyone I know who isn't a

She made it very clear that if any of those tools ended up in our house, they
would be used in ways other than the design requirements were based on.

I haven't seen Tools For Her on sale anywhere lately.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

Why Girls Don't Compute | 52 comments (52 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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