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Why the Widening Gender Gap In Computer Science?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the thomas-sowell-can-speak-to-that dept.

Education 1563

ruheling writes "From yesterday's New York Times: ' What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science?' In many US universities, over the past decade, there has been deliberate effort to integrate and encourage women and girls to get more involved in the 'hard' sciences, engineering, and math. However, instead of the proportion of women to men increasing, in Computer Science the opposite is actually true. Specifically, in 2001-2, only 28 percent of all undergraduate degrees in computer science went to women. Now many computer science departments report that women now make up less than 10 percent of the newest undergraduates. What's going on here, folks?"

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Obvious.... (5, Funny)

The Dancing Panda (1321121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802291)

You guys are being creepy. Girls don't like creepy dudes leering at them all the time.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Funny)

jjohn (2991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802571)

No doubt that the CS field is "socially challenged" at times. However, there are plenty of women in the military. These women face an almost institutionalized form of sexual harassment. This has not dimensioned the enrollment of females into the armed services.

I second your call for male nerds to dial down the stalker instinct. You aren't the first to complain of it.

While we're Blue Skying, I'd also like to call for wider adoption of deodorant in the CS field.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Insightful)

bwalling (195998) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802733)

I think nationalism is something that has a stronger appeal to people than geekdom. "American" has turned into a somewhat creepy religion.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Insightful)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802789)

The OP echoed my own thoughts (geeks scaring off the girls), but the "real" reason is because women are cool and computer science is not. ;-) They simply aren't attracted to that type of work. And there's nothing wrong with that.

You ever wander past the Health & Human Development part of your college?

It's like an engineering class in reverse - 40 women; 2 guys. (I knew I picked the wrong major.) Men and women are not that same. Men migrate towards "things" and women migrate towards "humans", each dominating their respective engineering & health majors. They don't think the same and they have different interests. Why can't people just accept that?

Re:Obvious.... (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802579)

Obvious is to tell they can't - then they will.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Insightful)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802621)

well... yes. Sexual harassment is a huge issue for female students/workers. One girl to a dozen guys, you're going to get hit on, a LOT. Even after I got married, I still got chatted up left and right (don't guys check for rings anymore?) and I really don't like it. It feels like the only reason half my co-workers talk to me is because I'm the only one with tits in the place... not because I'm smart, not because I can code with the best of them, not because I'm funny, or cheerful or anything else.

The "OMFG BOOBS! Let's go talk to them" effect creates a really hostile environment, which causes many of us to change majors/jobs... which makes women even more rare, which makes the next set of boobs even more rare... vicious cycle.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802691)

"don't guys check for rings anymore?"

Why bother? With divorce and infidelity so popular these days, who cares about a piece of metal on your finger?

BTW, I'm not the harassing type. My workplace seems mercifully free of that and reasonably well balanced (for a software house). Just my observation on modern society.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802763)

tits || gtfo

Re:Obvious.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802699)

You guys are being creepy. Girls don't like creepy dudes leering at them all the time.

Case in point : go log on to any counterstrike server and watch what happens the second a girl opens her mouth. Let's just make it simple and say not all segments of our society have the capacity to appreciate women.

I'm currently a first-semester IT student in a Canadian Post-Secondary. In my class section the ratio is no less than ten guys to one girl. And of those three girls in my class, exactly three of them don't speaka the ingalish.

I have the same classmates for 30 hours a week in small rooms. The first thing I noticed upon going to class is the general fear of personal hygiene my classmates display. I can understand why girls aren't interested. Frankly, my future colleagues are a bunch of condescending dorks.

Re:Obvious.... (5, Funny)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802853)

But there is a girl in the classroom! I'm going to show her some cool macros...

The girls are smarter (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802299)

Clearly they realize that it is a bad career choice.

Re:The girls are smarter (4, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802707)

In terms of money, that seems to be true.

I've recently read a Groklaw article that mentioned a salary dispute between two lawyers. Both claimed to usually charge $400 per hour. AFAIK even highly sought after IT consultants rarely get away with that kind of fees.

Women don't want to do CS? (5, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802307)

For some reason its hard to accept that a lot of women simply aren't interested in studying CS, engineering, or hard science.

Its a similar problem to something like Nursing, in the other direction. At my graduation, the CS group sat right behind the nursing group. There's lots of comments at how the CS group was 80% male. There were no comments at how the nursing group was 97% female.

At some point, the reality has to set in that women on average simply aren't interested, and all the incentives in the world won't change that.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802359)

Because white males aren't the minority. Everything is setup into making the minorities 'equal' to us, even if they swing past. How many white guys did you see in the 100 meter dash at the Olympics? What is the demographic of white NFL/NBA players?

What about teaching, home ec, 'stay at home dads', etc.

Women aren't a "minority", either.... (5, Insightful)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802471)

Last I checked, they comprised about 51% of the population....

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (2, Interesting)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802505)

"white males aren't the minority"

Actually, in much of the world (US included) males are a minority [wikipedia.org] . Meaning white females most likely make up the largest group in the US and much of the western world.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (2, Insightful)

nycguy (892403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802539)

Women are not a minority in the US--i.e., there are more women in the US than men. If by "minority" you mean "underprivileged class", then maybe women still qualify.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (5, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802697)

A few years ago, I was approached by someone canvassing for support as a candidate for the post of Women's Officer in my student union (there is no Men's Officer). She said 'Women make up 52% of the population, don't you think we should protect this minority?' Needless to say, she didn't get my vote.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (4, Insightful)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802433)

Women and men are different, feminism seems to think "Equal"="same". This is simply incorrect, the sexes are different and so are attracted to differing professions. Maybe men have a higher aptitude for the hard sciences because the simply find them more interesting and so pay more attention? Nursing requires an ability to deal with blood, urine, and shit of other people, I find women aree more able to deal with this kind of thing. Why is it important for more women to do "hard sceine /mathematics" jobs anyway? Let women do what they like/are good at, and men can do the same, k.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (5, Informative)

jjohn (2991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802623)

Unfortunately, the article mentions that in the 80s, female enrollment in CS was closer to parity with males. Something has changed since then and I doubt it's biological.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (2, Insightful)

Greg_D (138979) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802663)

That's not entirely accurate.

There were more women in my higher level mathematics classes than there were men. They had no problem understanding the concepts and theory. If anything, I'd guess that women have a higher natural aptitude for analytical thought, they just haven't been encouraged to pursue scientific careers.

We raise girls to be nurturers and boys to be tinkerers. Small children are all given little dolls, which act as security blankets. But when little girls get their next toy, it's another doll. A little boy will get a toy truck, or car. The girl gets the Barbie dream house. The boy gets the lego set. We define gender roles for children from the time they are small, then are amazed when they don't break out of those roles.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (5, Insightful)

Yahma (1004476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802729)

Women and men are different, feminism seems to think "Equal"="same". This is simply incorrect, the sexes are different and so are attracted to differing professions.

Well said! While there is nothing preventing a woman from pursing a CS degree, why do so many people fail to see the obvious.. Women are generally not interested in CS and/or engineering. I have several female friends (non slashdot reading females) who have absolutely no interest in CS. When I talk to them about computers they look at me like I'm a freak. They are more interested in jobs that are more "social". This could be why men prefer action/horror movies, and women prefer drama/romance movies such as "Sex & the City".

Rather than forcing women into CS, I say let them choose what they want to do. Women tend to be more in touch with their emotions than men are, and hence tend to prefer jobs that allow emotional freedom and creativity. Many men would be find in a non-emotionally stimulating environment.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (1)

tehBoris (1120961) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802893)

And you actually know why are the different sexes attracted to different professions? PROTIP: elementary school biology doesn't cut it.

We don't know to what extent this is a product of culture or a product of biology.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802449)

So you're saying that women prefer the stench of death over the stench of geeks?

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802525)

Thats a dumb question, dead guys don't stare at their breast...

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802451)

Or you could actually look at why women aren't interested. It's not because we aren't able.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802523)

I take it you're a woman. Why do you think they aren't interested?

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (1)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802467)

There were several girls majoring in CS with me in school (probably more than average, but being a small school ...), but of those there were a few that told me that they didn't really like programming very much and went into related fields and others loved CS and programming.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (1)

Yahma (1004476) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802755)

I know of at least three girls who were in CS who switched to other majors because they said they did not like programming, or thought it to be too tedious.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802503)

Exactly. Whatever the social factors are that determine one's interests as one grows up, the fact is that those factors don't seem to predispose many women to be interested in computing or science and technology.

I'd guess that unless you plan on changing the toys kids play with, the tv shows they watch etc, from an early age, you aren't going to change this much.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (2, Interesting)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802605)

I don't believe that the reason that women don't go into technical fields is because of lack of interest. Actually for hard science you find more women scientists than men. From my experience women are better at discerning unhealthy lifestyles and have better time management. One thing CS isn't is healthy, it's the type of career at an office where even when you're not working you're mind is always constantly going. For a lot of men, this is acceptable, for women, not so much. As for your example of nursing, nurses can leave work at work and go home and relax. Sure I can agree that maybe men and women have different interests but I think the main reason is that it's a lifestyle choice.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (5, Funny)

Cormacus (976625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802735)

You should talk to a few RN's before you make the assertion that a nursing graduate has a more healthy lifestyle than a CS graduate. One of the nurses at the flu clinic recently had just come off of three straight "twelves." I was glad that it was the other lady who was giving me my shot . . .

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (4, Interesting)

courtarro (786894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802607)

So that's obviously the case, but the point of studying the topic is: "why?". It's also important to determine if this is by their own choice or if women are subtly coerced into their disinterest.

I helped out with FIRST LEGO League at Georgia Tech a few years back. FIRST LEGO is a robotics competition for middle-school students using LEGO automation parts to perform various tasks. There were tons of girls participating at all levels, and it was pretty noticeable how different the demographics were between the middle school competitors and the typical college-age engineering students at Gatech. Thus, it's worth asking whether girls seem to lose interest in engineering as they get older, and if so, why?

If it's purely biological (the parts of the brain that determine interests are gender-specific), then so be it. If, however, it's due to upbringing and society's pressures, then it's a topic worth discussing. Indeed, it is probably desirable to change it. Why limit the pool of intellect in a field to men? You're potentially losing 50% of the problem solving skills, assuming men and women are equally capable.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (2, Interesting)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802873)

How many times must this be said? Biology plays a role, yes, but mostly it's money. Computing, post-graduate science, and engineering just don't compensate people well for the lifestyle sacrifices (long working hours, little exercise) required. Women prefer good pay and healthy lifestyles more where men prefer interesting work more. Thus...

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (5, Insightful)

spicate (667270) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802689)

For some reason its hard to accept that a lot of women simply aren't interested in studying CS, engineering, or hard science.

Now for fifty comments about how "men and women are different" without any recognition that historically, "male" and "female" professions can and do change.

Medicine, for example, used to be almost entirely dominated by men. Now many medical schools have 50 percent or more women in their entering classes.

The real issue, I believe, is that most people need to feel comfortable in their chosen career, and for many women the culture of computer science doesn't seem to have a place for them.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802713)

Key paragraph from TFA:

What's particularly puzzling is that the explanations for under-representation of women that were assembled back in 1991 applied to all technical fields. Yet women have achieved broad parity with men in almost every other technical pursuit. When all science and engineering fields are considered, the percentage of bachelor's degree recipients who are women has improved to 51 percent in 2004-5 from 39 percent in 1984-85, according to National Science Foundation surveys.

"Women aren't interested in X" has historically been applied to X = medicine, business, politics ... and it's always been wrong. There's something specific about CS here, and I don't think it's the field.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (1)

Satanicolas (1374761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802809)

There's something specific about CS here, and I don't think it's the field.

It is us.

--Captain Obvious

But WHY aren't they interested? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802825)

The reason is obvious...men are better at logical thinking and problem solving than women. The regions of the brain responsible for this sort of thing tend to be more developed in men than in women (whereas other brain regions tend to be more well developed in women).

It is culturally unpopular to suggest that the male brain is in any way different than the female brain. The hard cold neurological fact, however, is that the onslaught of testosterone that males experience when in the womb kills some brain cells and stimulates some others, resulting in a different brain with different strengths and weaknesses.

Everyone is different...and every generalization has exceptions. Some women are great at it, and such women might major in it and build a career on it. Some men suck at it and are better off doing something else. But most of the time the kinds of things one does when developing software are a specialty of the male.

Re:Women don't want to do CS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802859)

There's lots of comments at how the CS group was 80% male. There were no comments at how the nursing group was 97% female.

Well, you are browsing a computer news website. It makes sense that you'd see more articles about women in CS than men in nursing.

Widening gap in first posts (5, Insightful)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802319)

Why do they pick and choose industries to focus on. No-one raises a stink about shortage of female garbage collectors.

And I haven't heard a big push to increase males in areas dominated my women, e.g. elementary education.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (4, Informative)

amccaf1 (813772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802375)

And I haven't heard a big push to increase males in areas dominated my women, e.g. elementary education.

Actually, from today's Boston Globe: Hunt is on for more men to lead classrooms [boston.com] .

Re:Widening gap in first posts (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802399)

Actually that does hit the news every so often, usually in relation to the daemonisation of men seeking to work with kids.

Males are in decline, leaving the traditional female sectors even more to women for fear of being branded "too interested" in working with children etc. Some folks are decrying it because kids won't have any male role models left. I think it's just what you get when society consumes itself with frivolous fears and scares itself with a new pretend evil each week.

Comes of people being comfortable and having nothing to really be afraid of, they have to invent or inflate stuff.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802529)

daemonisation of men

I got fired from my last job, so I'm staying home with the kids. I suppose that means I got Terminated, and I Stay Resident instead.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802861)

Men shouldn't work with kids. Most men are sexual predators. I wouldn't want a male middle school teacher working with my kids. What kind of pervert male would get into that kind of position other than to molest children!?

Re:Widening gap in first posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802405)

And I haven't heard a big push to increase males in areas dominated my women, e.g. elementary education.

Probably because male elementary school teachers might touch little kids, but a school administration doesn't have to worry about that with women teachers.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (2, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802475)

Women can't be pedaiophiddlers? I think someone is mistaken.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802551)

Women can't be pedaiophiddlers? I think someone is mistaken.

Well, that is the policy of British Airways. All men are guilty pedophiles, and all women are innocent responsible law-abiding citizens.

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/article-414550/Revealed-How-BA-bans-men-sitting-children-dont-know.html [mailonsunday.co.uk]

Re:Widening gap in first posts (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802601)

Women can't be pedaiophiddlers? I think someone is mistaken.

I think most people fear that less from women some reason. Even if it happens, it conjures up less fears and less creepy images. It would be interesting to see a study on this.
       

Re:Widening gap in first posts (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802535)

That's right. Little Johnny can press his face into Miss Blackwell's breasts and all is well. But if Mr. Jones gives Little Janet a hug to console her after falling in the schoolyard you better call the police. As a male, I would NEVER teach in the elementary grades no matter how much money they tossed at me. Come to think of it I probably would not want to teach girls at any grade level. Opps! I must be a homosexual pedophile... See the accusations and potential accusations are too great a risk for most men.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (1)

Remloc (1165839) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802881)

I [desmoinesregister.com] sure [detnews.com] hope [news.com.au] you're [omaha.com] being [baltimoresun.com] ironic. [dumbassdaily.com]

Re:Widening gap in first posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802457)

Why do they pick and choose industries to focus on. No-one raises a stink about shortage of female garbage collectors.

And I haven't heard a big push to increase males in areas dominated my women, e.g. elementary education.

I for one have complained for years about a lack of female garbage collectors. A bikini clad trash person would make getting woke up at 5am by the sounds of trash being emptied worthwhile.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802481)

Look up Jon Scieszka (children's book author) -- he thinks the lack of male elementary school teachers is a big problem, because women don't understand what boys are into and therefore fail to get them interested in reading.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802717)

No-one raises a stink about shortage of female garbage collectors.

-1 bad pun

Re:Widening gap in first posts (1)

JessGras (953965) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802843)

2 bad puns. Don't know which you saw - the one on stink or the one on female CS students female garbage collectors. Get it? Ouch.

Re:Widening gap in first posts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802837)

Why do they pick and choose industries to focus on. No-one raises a stink about shortage of female garbage collectors.

Because a large volume of garbage collectors are not vital to the nation's future. There is no denying how important computers are to the economy and betterment of all mankind, and women are just as capable as men of making important contributions to computing. If we are missing out on these contributions because of some artificial barrier keeping women out, this is a major problem.

Mars needs women! Earth need programmers! (1)

swm (171547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802847)

Programming ability seems to be distributed thinly, but uniformly, throughout the population. The fact that there are fewer women than men programming suggests that there are women out there who could be writing code but aren't.

This is bad. We need the code.

Lets See (2, Funny)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802325)

Cant wait to see what all the female /.'s have to say about this.

Wait, What? No female /.'s??

One sentence summary of the article (1)

Onaga (1369777) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802337)

Girls don't enter Computer Science for the same reasons boys don't enter into the exciting and rewarding field of Nursing. Peer pressure and societal expectations.

(Okay, so three sentences including this one.)

Re:One sentence summary of the article (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802421)

Ever thought that maybe they just didn't want to?

Re:One sentence summary of the article (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802659)

Ever thought that maybe they just didn't want to?

That's basically what he said, but with the extra note that the not wanting to comes mostly from external influences rather than innate predispositions. Which fits with what I vaguely recall hearing about how gender ratios tend to be very different in different countries.

Much like how I have no desire to run around wearing only underpants, but probably wouldn't mind (and might even prefer it) if I'd grown up somewhere more tropical and less bible-belt-ish.

Re:One sentence summary of the article (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802509)

that, and if you look at "traditional" female jobs, they are extremely under-payed, long hours/shift work, and often (if not always) subordinate to a traditional male job.

Re:One sentence summary of the article (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802557)

This is mostly (Nurses not included here) because they don't require and specialist knowledge, experience or skills.

Re:One sentence summary of the article (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802773)

chicken and the egg.... are they traditional female roles because they don't require any specialist knowledge, experience or skills... or are they traditional female roles because they have crappy pay/social stature and thus less attractive to men who can get better jobs and better pay?

given that high school drop-outs are about 50/50 male and female... why are SO many of the minimum wage jobs staffed by women, and the male drop outs move up the ladder to better paying jobs (or start out in better paying jobs right off the bat).

This Is the Part ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802345)

... where everyone jumps on me, the young white male programmer in a low level position. For everything I've done, for all the women I've sexually harassed out of computer science, for all the minorities I've laughed and jeered at through entire classes, for all the old men I've found in my field and killed A-Clockwork-Orange style, for all the alienating I've done by creating an "aura" or "mood" set against women.

Has anyone ever once argued that maybe--just maybe--I really really like computers?

What's the ratio in nursing? 20 females:1 male? So here's your solution: take all the entry level students from these two professions and even them out regardless of what the individual wants to do. See how happy you make everybody.

Or better yet, unfairly weight the minority sex in each of those classes, that's fair because I definitely was given a detailed account of the outside world while I was in my mother's womb and then filled out a scantron card for what I wanted to be--a white male in the United States with no heritage whatsoever.

Re:This Is the Part ... (-1, Flamebait)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802791)

Oh shut up. Anyone with sense knows that the real reason for the lack of women in Comp Sci is that it just doesn't pay very well for the hours you have to work.

Re:This Is the Part ... (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802801)

This is the part where you say something you know lots of people will agree with, but preface your statement by telling us how bold and daring and anti-PC you are. GMAFB, AC.

Re:This Is the Part ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802827)

What's the ratio in nursing? 20 females:1 male?

And that one male is gay.

My wife is a nurse and she said the male nurses were usually gay. Things are changing now because nursing is becoming a more popular - it's one of the few well (not great considering everything) paying growth areas for jobs left in the States.

It pays less than it used to. (3, Insightful)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802361)

It pays less than it used to and they weren't all that interested to begin with. I think it's a safe bet that the 10% percent that dropped were doing it for the money.

I"P" law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802371)

Women are less likely to be passionate about computing? While copyright and patent law exists, the lawyers waving bits of paper are the masters and the tech geeks are the slaves (one lawyer with a patent decides what millions of people can and cannot build). In a free market for tech services (i.e. no copyrights or patents), the people capable of _doing_ the stuff would be on top. However, you have to really like computing for its own sake to work in the current environment. Women tend to be realists, and if they have the analytic/verbal intelligence required to do compsci, will go for law instead.

Listen to Barbie (3, Funny)

First Person (51018) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802381)

Simple, because "Math is Hard". That and they're tired of their male colleagues saying, "Byte me", "Mind if I nibble for a bit", and similar worn out expressions as pickup lines.

Re:Listen to Barbie (1)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802747)

It has nothing to do with "Math is Hard". Math majors are about 50-50 men and women at my university.

But the latter comment could be true.

Stability! (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802459)

Because of the family obligations that women often end up with (or perhaps value more than men), stability in a career is often a big factor for women. However, globalization has made it a more volatile field. Further, during downturns, new software development tends to slow or halt, further hitting one during recessions.

Re:Stability! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802725)

Because of the family obligations that women often end up with (or perhaps value more than men), stability in a career is often a big factor for women.

That's a very interesting point, and leads me to think further along those lines. It seems to me that most women also place a higher value on predictable work hours (for the same reasons). I know of more people in tech that work ridiculous hours than in any other field, save finance. It's very hard for someone focused on family to work those kinds of hours, regardless of gender... and as you point out, it's likely that women place more value on family than men do. It's been shown time and again that women are more likely than men (even "modern" family men) to take on the brunt of the child-rearing responsibilities, such as picking the kids up from daycare.

So in addition to your point about stability, I'd add working hours/conditions to the mix.

Brain size (5, Funny)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802465)

With props to Will Ferrell, the funniest man alive:

A woman's brain is one-third the size of ours. It's science.

Re:Brain size (1)

Taulin (569009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802911)

I would agree except Will Ferrell probably didn't write that.

Gender gap and "dumbing down"... (2, Insightful)

Vexler (127353) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802495)

Think of the various attempts to encourage women into computer science by watering down the content. Not too long ago /. had an article that talked about how a consortium of schools (including Carnegie Mellon) wanted to eliminate programming altogether as a way to encourage the students to move into CS.

The problem is that students are usually astute enough to sense that the school is presenting "mickey mouse" version of the material. They want the meat, not milk bonez, and watering down the content says, in effect, (a) "you are not smart enough to understand the REAL computer science so here is the for-dummy version", and (b) that there is no point for students who are truly motivated to do the work, since an A can be had for a song.

The brainy girls are going to med school (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802501)

The smart girls are going to med school or veterinary medicine. They see the creepy geek guys leering at them like they've never seen a live female before and figure if they're going to need to deal with some horse's butt, they might as well go to vet school.

Re:The brainy girls are going to med school (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802907)

I disagree. There is no shortage of smart girls in computer science. If you look at the top of any year group you will find quite a lot of women. What you won't find is a lot of women in the middle of the group.

The Politically Incorrect Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802507)

Human beings are generally agents of rational self-interest. We seek the easiest path to our version of "success". In modern society, this measure is almost always money.

It's much easier to use the power of one's vagina to obtain financial resources and security than to put effort into developing the skills needed to be successful in "hard" fields such as computer science.

Marrying a computer scientist is significantly easier than becoming one.

Re:The Politically Incorrect Response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802641)

*blink*

Something tells me that women aren't beating a path to your door in search of a marriage proposal.

Yikes.

(Something else tells me that you probably aren't a computer scientist either... just some hack who thinks that cut-n-pasting together some PHP samples from the web makes you a scientist. But that's just a guess.)

No mystery here. (1)

Normal_Deviate (807129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802543)

Since we know a priori that men and women have equal innate interests and skills, it must logically be the case that a difference in employment statistics reflects white male oppression. Happily, this justifies forcible extraction of wealth from the oppressors.

Dot... (3, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802549)

> However, instead of the proportion of women to men increasing, in Computer Science the
> opposite is actually true. Specifically, in 2001-2, only 28 percent of all undergraduate
> degrees in computer science went to women. Now many computer science departments report
> that women now make up less than 10 percent of the newest undergraduates. What's going
> on here, folks?

A hint: what happened in March 2000?

Re:Dot... (4, Funny)

ldierk (1270930) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802787)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_2000 [wikipedia.org] Woman study computer science because Finland rewrites its constitution?

Re:Dot... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802895)

You've got it! And think of all the other things that explains!

But... where does the "dot" come in?

Re:Dot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802875)

I'm not sure anyone knows what you're referring to here....I sure don't.

Undergrad vs PosGrad vs Real World (2, Interesting)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802555)

In my CS undergrad, about 30% of my class were women. They were CS majors too, not CIS or MIS, so there used to be a decent amount of interest in a very technical, traditionally male, field. After my first job out of school, I still saw plenty of women, although mainly in IT opts. Plenty of server admins were women. Then they all seemed to disappear! I went back for a Masters in Software Engineering and I had 1 (ONE) woman in all the classes I took. In my new job though, about 30% or the programmers are women, but NONE are native born int he US - almost all the women are from India. All the native born women in my company are either BSAs, PMs, some IT Opts, or managers (My VP is a woman). So, at least for native born US woman, they seem to be leaving the more "hard core" tech jobs into affiliated jobs, but still in the industry, according to what I have seen.

smaller reward/effort ratio (1)

youngdev (1238812) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802567)

I'd Like to point out that Computer science increasingly pays less every year and the market is saturated with talented IT professionals. It takes a lot a work to be good in this field and the reward dwindles every day. Women have a much easier time getting work that is less difficult and pays better.

Let's speculate more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802573)

We'll eventually figure out why using logical deduction, instead of actually asking people with vaginas

Simple: Girls can't do Maths (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802581)

You got to have a head on your shoulders, and girls don't. They are made for making babies, not software.

Why is gender 'equality' so important? (5, Insightful)

fructose (948996) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802609)

Seriously, why does every career or activity have to have an exact 50-50 mix of males and females? Last time I checked, the hormonal balance in men and women were quite a bit different and each sex has a general preference to what interests them. The examples of teachers, nurses, and garbage collectors are excellent examples. The two sexes are different. Why do so many people have a hard time accepting that?

Re:Why is gender 'equality' so important? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802835)

Why do so many people have a hard time accepting that?

Because they're morons. In general, people with half a brain understand that people are individuals, and do their own thing.

im going to get voted down for this but... (1)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802627)

its one of two things,
1. they dont like gimpy looking, spotty nerds letching over them in the class, or
2. they are at home, making the dinner

Here's my view (3, Interesting)

farker haiku (883529) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802639)

I've taken two classes at a major university so that I can get my degree finally. In the most recent class, the teacher has been downright sexist. Crude jokes that come out badly because of his broken-ass english and a horrible sense of what's proper and what's not. I've only gone to class 4 times this semester... the first two classes, and the two subsequent tests. During each of the first two classes I saw a woman get up and leave the classroom after a horribly sexist joke. It may be that I recognize this because I've been in the workforce for several years and have gone through "sexual harassment training" or whatever, but I doubt it. This guy is creepy, and he's outright lewd.

So yeah, I can imagine that women don't want any part of the field if the people training the next generation of workers are this bad.

Perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802687)

...they are just playing hard to get. ;-)

Same as "Ladies Night" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802715)

Guys hear about Ladies Night at a bar and they go en masse to it. They hear all these efforts to get women into the field, so they all go into the field to hope to meet them.

It's all about work (1)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802749)

I carry a pager, and with escalation am potentially oncall 24/7/365. Our servers were down recently and we called someone who was on his honeymoon to be on the conference call. This weekend I spent hours by myself sitting in front of a screen designing a portion of a CPU's ALU for the Computer Science class I take at night. Where I work, even the project managers are all male in my group, a job traditionally which more woman are in. People are on power trips much more than they really need to be in terms of how things are designed, or who is the person putting in the effort and who knows their stuff and all of that. This is all in a second level position - first line tech support has to deal with more crap. It's ultimately an alienating experience, and a 24/7 one. I think there are aspects of computer science women are interested in, but relations of production such as they are now have them wanting out. The work creates a state of mind on off-hours that is socially unacceptable for women, a standard that men aren't held up to as much.

Of course, if you get a Phd in CS from a good college, your work experience is even better, and even more so if you're able to work for yourself in a decent capacity. But people with an advanced degree, or enough skills and capital to work for themselves can do well in many fields.

Two reasons (1)

VeeCee (693453) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802761)

1) It's not seen as a very lucrative career anymore. 2) A lot of the guys who make up the CS major at a given university are creepy, wierd, and annoying.

Why the expectation of equal ratios? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25802781)

What is the reasoning to expect that there be less of a gap? Maybe women, on average, just aren't drawn to comp sci.

I don't see us trying to close the 'gender gap' in the construction trade. And I don't see any women's rights groups advocating that there should be equality there.

"boys play with trucks" mentality (2, Interesting)

zubikov (1172699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802869)

Ask a 7 year old kid what a computer person does, and they will describe someone working with machines, boxes, TVs and gadgets. From an early age, we are lead to think that boys work with machines, aka play with trucks. When kids are in high school and start making initial career choices, this mentality stays with them and therefore only small fraction of women end up doing what they were raised to believe to be a man's profession. This has nothing to do with sexism, glass ceilings or modernization. From day one the whole concept of working with computers just seems like something a boy would do. With that being said, companies are DYING to hire female workers in IT. Hopefully this will help.

Computer Science is Useless (3, Insightful)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 5 years ago | (#25802903)

I didn't get into computer science to be a SCIENTIST, I got into it so I could write applications and games and make useful things for people.

You don't need a computer science degree for that. You can buy all the books you want from Amazon, you can find the answers to all your questions online, and you can write any app you want in Python or Ruby or Objective C or the language of your choice. There's no need to deal with dry courses about operating systems and so on.

And if you really want some insight into NP completeness or whatever, there are plenty of free articles to read...or buy another book.

Women want to program and do useful things with computers, but maybe they're not as interested in what amounts to computer science for its own sake?

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