Another issue is that young girls just don't generally like to spend a lot of time alone, and technology is overall an isolating pursuit, at least while you hone your skills. It's pretty easy for me to sit down with my young nephews and hang out on the computer together, but my nieces get bored of staring at the screen and prefer to make things, so I get their attention more when we play with sensors and robots.
I expect at some point technology will break out of the two dimensional confines, and young girls will pick up computing as much as they can excel at knitting and sewing, which I use primarily as an example of complex pursuits requiring attention to detail and logic but with a physical result.
Give it time. Bring your girls up to love technology as much as your boys and they'll be participating equally but in different ways. Accept, and enjoy, that girls and boys approach technology with different goals.
Everybody makes a million assumptions about other people every day -- you can't get around it, there are simply too damn many people that you come across to consider every one as if he/she were the first you'd ever seen.
Sexism - and condescension - would imply they were saying things, or acting, in a way that said they didn't believe women were capable.
That's not offensive. That's just statistics.
I can't tell you how often I see women crying "sexism" and making themselves feel like victims, instead of just accepting that _people make assumptions with no ill intent whatsoever_.
And I've overheard women speakers at conferences complaining about how sexist the board is, because their talks were rejected, when I was the one rejecting them because their talk proposals were off-topic, uninteresting and poorly put together...
Real sexism is vicious. Normal, well-meaning human foibles are not. Conflate the two, and you impair your own ability to function in life.
I wonder If programming syntax as it is designed might have some influence. There is some evidence that men and women use language differently, is it possible that common computing syntax designed mostly by men to actualize their thought process is biased towards the gender?
Programming books, classes, etc., are led by people who "just get it" - and therefore taught badly - and therefore can only be understood by people who "just get it". And those people tend to look down on people who can't "just get it."
I, on the other hand, am a girl, and an extremely visual/verbal girl at that... an excellent designer and accomplished writer. I was doing all of that basically from a young age. I also learned BASIC.
When it came time to learn more complex programming, though, I got stuck, and nobody could explain it to me in a way that helped. I ended up teaching myself to draw loop diagrams, and procedural diagrams, and object diagrams, to visually THINK OUT the code, what it was doing. For a long time, I had to do this every time, or I was completely incapable of getting any traction on the coding problem at hand.
The thing about programming is that you have to actually BUILD AN INTERPRETER in your head. Some people seem to be born with the ability to do this. They are almost all - but not entirely - male.
I, on the other hand, am now an excellent developer. I know many developers who can write much tighter individual lines of code than me - but most of them can't analyze and break down a problem, and architect as well as I do. And my lines of code are still very good.
So, I started out with a "disability" but now I'm really great.
That's because I read programming books, and went to programming classes, and instead of thinking "ZOMG I'll never get this" I thought to myself, "I'm really smart - this class is shit!" And proceeded to nag everyone to answer my questions about my visual diagrams, until I got it.
That's why I write and teach code in a visual way.
And amazingly, I have a much higher percentage of women readers and women course attendees than the general coding population... and also many, many grateful men who come from non-traditional backgrounds, like history majors, artists, designers, musicians and linguists.
Comp Sci problems aren't men vs women, they're super-crazy-almost-too-left-brain vs normal-or-right-brain.
Amen. I start everything with a pen, and draw pictures of boxes, cogs, and conveyor belts with little boxes on them.
When I get a traceback, I know exactly how a message has flowed through my app and where it stopped. I can also explain my program to non technical audiences and they get it.
When I was learning OOo, all the horrible jargon discouraged me so much until I realized that the basic concept is just things with actions.
The more I learn about something, the simpler it gets, and the more I realize how badly written most computer books are. A happy exception is the 'Head First' books by Kathy Sierra.
I think your idea of "real world" / physical things is a really interesting thread. Check out my comment below about the teaching of programming and see how our ideas cross!
By the way... young people, all young people, get condescending remarks from older people. The more successful you are, the more remarks you're going to get, because successful young people are equally loved and loathed. That's the way of the world. Don't assume that just because it appears to you that it appears in a certain form that it actually has anything to do with you being a woman.
All of those remarks come from fear. They show that the person saying them is weak and afraid. Or simply a regular old foolish human being with no bad intentions who operates his/her mouth on autopilot, just like everything else in his/her life.
My long standing theory on the tech front has been that the hook in the 80s and early 90s for kids getting into technology was computer games, which were largely marketed to boys.
My little sister, however, was born in 1988, and by the time she was using a computer the primary hook was the internet, which (as I recall) young girls spend more time on than young boys.
Like I had, she learned to program at a young age, knew HTML when she was 11, Java when she was 14, and so on. However, also like me, she had a lot of aptitude for music.
I was fiercely discouraged from music. My parents saw it as a waste of time. Becoming a software engineer was respectable. Heck, I started college in 1997 when it seemed like about the best thing in the universe that a kid could go into.
Now, my sister was encouraged in music. My mom moved 90 miles away so that she could go to a magnet high school for performing arts, my parents bought her a $3000 flute and drove her around the country to top conservatories for auditions when the time came. But even up to her senior year in high school she was considering a double major in physics and music, but the interest in physics was largely downplayed by my parents.
Now, what happened there? Two kids, both good at mathematical stuff and music, same parents, wildly different parenting approaches. I don't think my parents in the meantime considered music any more useful – it was simply acceptable that she do something useless, while I had to do something useful. I think you see where this is going.
In college I noticed this again – the computer science department was about 95% male, while the math department was only 50% male. The difference obviously wasn't in analytical abilities – I think anybody that could get through a math degree could get through a CS degree. No, the difference was that almost all of the girls were minoring in education and intending to become math teachers.
I don't think that everything in the gap is nurture; there's probably some truth to chest-beating nature of starting a company, but the scales certainly are tipped heavily in the direction of boys by our upbringing.
I was fiercely discouraged from music.
Your own upbringing sounds pretty atypical.
The contrast was that while I was buying new instruments with money I made from mowing lawns and working at a burger joint, my parents still complained about me wasting the money on them. When my sister began taking music seriously they bought her nice instruments and never pushed her to get a job so that she could focus on music.
Ironically, by the end of college, while studying computer science, I was paying my bills with music.
And as a straight male, I'm OK with this.
Kids seek approval from adults, adults approved of my interest in engineering, not my interest in fashion. Is it a surprise that I majored in CS?
Perhaps we should be saying that girls who want to make stuff on computers should be encouraged to pursue that, just like boys who want to make clothes. No quotas, no 50% expectation, just encouragement for the kids who need it.
2. Anyone who wears clothes (from streetwear brands like All Saints that do jeans and t shirts to D&G to bridalwear to millinery to anything in between).
What you think of as fashion is designing or observing women's high fashion and not something like traditional tailoring, watchmaking or other more male oriented fashion. There are straight men even in women's high fashion, but generally in higher positions. You also have straight men in all parts of outdoor clothing or sportswear, which is more utilitarian but most of the time still has a higher price point than fast fashion. Why men's high fashion is more conservative than women's is another story.
That being said. While women's gender role are stricter, men's gender role is much less questioned. Probably because of the disadvantages being less measurable.
If by you meant me specifically, that's clearly not true. See the post you replied to.
Anyway, the whole issue for me isn't personal like I get impression of in the article. It's about the freedom to do whatever you want without being forced to fit in a predetermined mold, both for men and women.
Like I said there's much to be said on the subject and maybe there are some cultural differences. Also I have somewhat of a hard time expressing my thoughts on the subject as most of my reasoning on the subject has been in my native language. This probably isn't the most enthusiastic audience when it comes to this anyways.
 Sweden is the home of H&M and also supposedly one of the more gender equal countries in the world.
 Acne, WeSC, Odd Molly, J.Lindeberg, Cheap Monday/Weekday, Our Legacy, Peak Performance, Whyred etc.
Children as young as 3 can pick up gender cues from the environment and base their behavior on that. I know that I did. I just knew that I couldn't play with dolls. I knew I couldn't talk about babies and things like that. I knew I was expected to pick fights with other kids. I knew what my parents expected from me, and in order to seek their approval I did precisely that.
There are so many subtle societal cues which govern behavior. You tend to only notice them when you are carefully paying attention constantly. They are undertones in conversations. It is how people look at you. It is what they first talk about. It is in their facial expressions, and somehow unconsciously we internalize them all.
What is even more interesting is what happens when a child is gender variant. Societies response to such a child happens to be quite telling, and unfortunately for a child, at least, such things matter. It mattered to me and it matters for any child. At that age approval is everything.
So is it surprising that more women don't go into tech?
In the coming years when this generation grows up in an environment of different expectations and viewpoints. I think that there will be more women in tech, and they will wonder why women earlier didn't choose it as a career.
The point is that kids must be respected and loved not confined as beings who have to grow into pre-defined roles. Only then can such things change.
I don't think it's getting much better soon. My daughter's on a First LEGO League team (4 boys, 2 girls) and we see lots of teams without a single girl on them. Our local Girl Scout council got a grant to fund several First LEGO League teams. We've tried to work with them to mentor any new teams but no success. (Now, maybe an all-Girl Scout team is unrealistic, but it has been done.)
That's an extremely informative, citation dense conversation which took place in the aftermath of the Summers/Barres imbroglio a few years ago.
Compare that percentage to a course I just finished teaching, 12 weeks on bootstrapping - how to make your first profitable product, on the side.
I had triple the percentage of female students - 4 women out of 50 participants. They were all 30 or older. I am reaching women that no seed fund will reach, and they are going to be successful.
I expect that percentage to grow.
It isn't ridiculous, it's the whole basis of the program. I did the program last winter, convinced that I could do it just as well from home. I'm now convinced of the opposite: doing a successful startup (excepting side-project type startups, which are valid but different) requires being in the valley.
It may be ridiculous in the sense that it is a hardship, and if you think men will go through this hardship more than women, then I think we know why the numbers are so skewed.
... yes, it's a hardship. It's a hardship that is, in a sense, one way to ingrain into you certain beliefs, by taking away your familiar surroundings and making you part of the lifestyle / surrounded by people doing the same thing.
Just like the military. And religious orders. And cults.
The idea that I proposed to pg at startup school could have been a real business, that earned real money. I didn't have to be in the valley. I looked at my life and realized that it would be asinine to pick up and move on the argument of somebody who if I moved, I could succeed.
And, lo and behold, look at where lots of successful web-based businesses come from: Georgia, Brooklyn, Chicago...
Yes, if you want to climb the suicidal face of the mountain, if you want to grow big and get bought, maybe you need connections more than great ideas, great understanding of people, or great chops.
But then again, maybe you don't.
And yet again, if you want to create a business that charges real money, it doesn't matter where you are - and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.
Math is fun because it's challenging and part of my motivation comes from my peers', parents', and teachers' expectations that I excel.
I think the problem rises from a combination of:
"Math is hard... let's go shopping!"
"Physics is hard... let's go to English class!"
It's certainly a problem in this generation though. I was just at the Minneapolis Hacker News meetup, and it was 100% male.
Of course, there is a dearth of women in tech, but I think it has to be exacerbated by this kind of subconscious preference.