And that is before you get into interests vs natural talent and how that does or does not affect ones success in a field. On a fundamental level I personally prefer equality of opportunity and freedom of choice.
As to the men being jerks/toxic etc argument. Are there times when that is true? Absolutely. But, men do not have a monopoly on being jerks, creating toxic work environments or harassing people. Personally I've seen bad behavior from both sides. I've also seen exceptional talent, skill, empathy etc. come from both groups. Many corporate cultures are toxic to everybody, irregardless of your gender.
I'm sure this will be down voted, but it is what it is.
I think its a lot more complicated than this. Yes, men and women can be jerks. The bigger issues seem to be when a team is 80%+ one gender or another, and the issues aren't about "being mean" the issues are about the dominant group being blind to and then not accommodating the nondominant group's needs.
A huge problem is that we have a lot of 6 person tech teams with 5 guys and 1 women and the women naturally feel alienated and either aren't actually able to do well or are at least perceived as not doing well due to their situation. This holds back women's career development as a group and reduces the numbers of women in higher ranks in corporate life.
I do not think that is the problem of 80%+ one gender groups.
Imagine going into a store and see that 80%+ is the opposite gender. Before anyone has a chance of accommodating your need, what emotions pops up? Now compared that to going into the same store with the 80%+ being your own gender.
Going into an environment where you feel like a part of a dominating group give most people a feeling of security. They feel safe and what ever choice everyone else does is a safe choice to adapt. Entering a group where you are a minority has not just the absence of that, but can also induce a sense of insecurity.
This is one theory why countries like Sweden have a very extreme gender segregation of around 90% of men and 90% of women working in a gender segregated profession. From student to senior employee, every step is impacted in how secure the person feel in continuing with their career path, and the above effect influence how leaky the pipe get.
Why “naturally”? Is it really natural for men and women to alienate each other just by existing?
Are they? I worked in the mental health space for over 10 years and almost 80% of therapists are women -- and a vast majority of those are white women. There hasn't been any significant movement to "fix" that despite a very compelling argument that finding a therapist who is a good match to a patient is fundamental to the success of treatment -- there's actually a scientific case to be made that more diversity in mental health care is beneficial to outcomes. However, there's little evidence that "more women" designing silicon chips has any measurable benefit (or harm.) Having more women (and old people, and people from different cultural backgrounds) involved in UX design is definitely valuable -- but more women writing back-end server code or designing airplane wings has little effect either good or bad.
Women vastly outnumber men in the social sciences and in education however, "We need more men kindergarten teachers" has never been a serious initiative. Getting more women into commercial fishing, oil field work, plumbing, or over-the-road trucking has never been seriously pursued. But "computer science" -- it's a damned obsession with people of certain politics.
It's a fact that men and women are different, both biologically and socially. Women can certainly be exceptional computer workers and men could be great therapists or kindergarten teachers -- but that doesn't mean they necessarily want those things nor are they necessarily pre-disposed with the characteristics necessary for success in those fields. It's a fact, for example, that there are gender differences in spatial reasoning. That doesn't mean all men are better than all women at spatial reasoning, but it does mean that men have a statistically higher success with spatial reasoning than do women as a group. Women have their own advantages over men as well. There is nothing wrong with differences and it has gotten stupid how people insist on claiming that everyone is equal. They're not. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
This insistence that we have to "fix" the "problem" is just woke nonsense. We should absolutely, 100% end discrimination in the professions -- no question or debate there. But we should stop trying to force equality as an outcome. Let people gravitate towards the things they're good at or care about instead of trying to social engineer everything to please some imaginary ideal. If a girl wants to hack on compilers -- we should get out of her way (i.e. removing bias and discrimination) and let her do it. But we shouldn't be focused on going into third-grade classrooms and trying to convince girls that they should care about hacking on compilers. We should be focused on exposing every student to vast possibilities, but we don't need to force it down people's throats as a social imperative.
While all the other things you mentioned other than maybe oil field work are not as financially lucrative.
In short, the goal is to put people of a certain group in positions of power and influence.
In other words, you'd effectively be taking would-be male engineers and converting them into nurses and teachers. And vice versa. The number of people that consider those fields a toss up is vanishingly small. They require completely different skill sets.
While contrived, I'm convinced this is precisely the problem. If I am a woman on a team of men, am I a bit of a jerk for demanding that the rest of the team accommodates me? Perhaps they all have a communication style that suits them that is born from their upbringing as male children while I have a communication style that equally suits me, but is different from theirs. Must I adapt to their system, or should they adapt to mine?
When we talk about programming style, or preferences for tools the answer is seemingly easy. We go with the majority so that we please the most people. When we talk about gender, sexual orientation, race, etc the answer is much more complex. We can divide our groups in infinite ways and yet some categorisations are chosen to be significant while others are not.
Because of this, I feel that it is actually really important that we recognise that we will not and can not accommodate everyone. Being different, having a different opinion, having a different set of experiences is not actually enough to warrant special treatment. In many cases we choose to discriminate: no matter how good a Java programmer you are, we will not write our frontend in GWT! (Real story: I maintain a frontend written in Java and GWT, so I'm taking some liberties ;-) ).
As I said, there are some special cases where we have decided that we wish to provide special accommodation. We do this because, on balance, we believe that doing so enriches our societies. It will always be a tradeoff, though, and it's important to understand that.
Consider the word "discrimination". Without that word, we can not discriminate between "good" and "bad". We do not want to live in a world without discrimination. We should always strive to discriminate in such a way as it makes the world a better place. We wish to avoid behaviour that works against our interests and encourage behaviour that works for our interests.
To that end, we specifically discriminate in certain situations so that we accommodate minority groups in a way that we feel enhances our society. It should not be a surprise if we occasionally get this wrong and I strongly discourage people from assuming that the "right" answer is easy to determine. It is important that we think very carefully about which things we wish accommodate (minority representation of gender, sexual orientation, race) and things which we do not wish to accommodate (hate speech, violent behaviour, and GWT :-D).
P.S. I hereby apologise for my horrible characterisation of Java and GWT. I actually don't mind it that much...
I find your example of communication style to be trickier. It feels in-between to me. I would agree that some elements of communication style should not be changed to accommodate an inflexible newcomer. On the other hand, when people talk about the benefits of diversity, communication style is a really large element! You know what you enjoy about your current boys' club style -- but it might very well be better if you switched to something more professional even in the absence of onboarding someone new. You won't know until forced to by the introduction of diversity, and that's true in many different subtle areas, not all of which you're going to have any chance of spotting in advance.
The same argument could be applied to just about anything. Perhaps GWT would be a really great fit for what you're working on, but you won't know until you try it. That's far less likely than a communication style change, though, so it's probably one of the costlier and less likely things to try to accommodate.
I agree that the question of whether or not to accommodate a difference is not always answered with "yes!" It depends on the accommodation required.
Our only responsibility is that we provide welcoming environment and equality of opportunity. But I may be missing some US context on the obsession here.
Modern developed societies have solved most of the serious, basic problems making it easier for a group of people to capitalise on solving more lofty problems. I have seen someone who did a degree in communication studies or something like that going after video games for sexism and raise millions for the cause.
This trend will probably continue until we have more serious things to worry about. This is very eloquently described in "Fate of empires" by Sir John Glubbs.
please, stop telling women they are weird for wanting to work in IT or for enjoying their IT job.
I don't know what your intent was in writing this comment, but trying to frame any attribution of career choices to gender as a personal attack is a common tactic to try and shut down discussion on the topic.
80/20% isn't even very unusual gender split: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/06/chart-the-perce...
They said that men and women tend to have different broad interests. But that doesn't preclude women from having an interest in tech. He's making a statement on statistics, not making a value judgement about anybody.
We should tackle sexism where it exists, but we can't tackle it properly if we're trying to say everyone is the same...because they aren't.
If you have people telling you that you're weird for your interests, then they're likely either self-conscious or an ass. That goes for most generalizations that evaluate skill or ideas based on the attributes of the person vs. the merit of the idea itself... but that is a different discussion :)
But since the whole upheaval of women in workplaces that flowed to Europe from US, I have the feeling that this sentiment has changed.
There are far more male bosses than female bosses. Accordingly, assuming bad bosses are relatively rare, it's far more likely every female boss you've ever had is awful than every male boss you've ever had is awful. This is just probability.
Let's take an example. Suppose 10% of bosses are awful, regardless of gender. Further suppose that due historical societal reasons, only 20% of bosses are female. If you've had 3 different bosses in your career, there's a far likelier chance that every female boss you've had is awful (3.94%) than every male boss you've had is awful (1.4%). (I'll leave it as an exercise to derive these numbers).
So, even if men and women are just as likely to be awful, you're nearly 3 times as likely for all of your female bosses to be awful than all of your male bosses to be awful simply due to the fact that women are under-represented.
This probability may explain at least some of this common and sad bias against female bosses.
It doesn't matter if it's bosses or co-workers, the math works out the same.
If your average team size is 5 people, then on average, the gender breakdown in your company is 72% male/28% female. I assumed 80/20, so yeah, it's still pretty accurate.
If fact, if 10% of bosses are awful then there will be far more people who have exclusively had good female bosses than bad female bosses.
P(all your female bossses awful) = P(awful boss)^(number of female bosses)
P(all your male bossses awful) = P(awful boss)^(number of male bosses)
The lower the number of male/female bosses, the greater the probability of all of them being awful. The opposite (probability of all of them being not awful) increasing is also true.
This is generally known as a small numbers fallacy
Sure, I read some horror stories, mainly from US. But that doesn't mean that as a women you can't work pleasantly in an all male environment, as my experience clearly shows.
> 2 of them separately told me they liked working in an all men team more than working with women.
It's not comparing all-male to all-female teams, but all-male to teams with any women. As you say, There are roughly zero all-female teams in tech, but the proportion of any-female teams is much much higher.
 Yes, I know there are teams who have explicitly sought after this for ideological reasons, but theyre a rounding error.
More than one baby-boomer woman I know has said that every time she has a male boss, things are okay, and every time she has a female boss, the whole office gradually goes insane. I'm in particular thinking of my aunt, working in banks (all of her peers were women), but I've heard it elsewhere too.
But then again, it's anecdata. I try not to take it seriously (I mean, I take it seriously about the individual's experience, but not as a description of large-scale patterns). But also when people have just-so stories about how male bosses are toxic to female underlings, I have the same "maybe that was true for you, but I don't see any reason to generalize" reaction.
Also equality vs equability, etc.
I totally agree with you but I hate that you had to end with that line. It's pointless and simply shuts down any useful discussion and implies that 'you disagree/downvote with me because I'm right'.
Every woman I know with a genuine and deep interest in STEM subjects has had to deal with some level of toxic/sexist/whatever stuff in their life, and they persevered and dealt with it because they weren't going to let it get in the way of their passion.
It might sound harsh, but I don't feel terribly concerned about keeping these displaced women in STEM; if their interest isn't strong enough to overcome a bad environment, then maybe they just weren't that interested to begin with. That's not a bad thing, it just means that they misjudged the interest:difficulty ratio.
Of the cases I know of personally, most of these women ended up in a job working fairly close with STEM stuff, writing manuals, doing graphic design, etc, and are perfectly fine with those jobs.
To be clear, I'm not accounting for cases where an entire university or business or whatever is made up of toxic sexism, but that's been pretty uncommon in my experience in the US.
Women of STEM: if you've got a bad environment, do something about it! Tell your higher-ups, talk to people directly, seek a different position, endure what you can, and for God's sake stand up for yourself.
tl;dr the implication that most women in STEM can't handle a toxic work environment without giving up entirely doesn't seem that progressive at all
NB disclaimer, most people I know are computer scientists, plus a few mathematicians, so maybe engineering is different
I grew up in an era when kids interested in STEM were "nerds" and were harassed, denigrated, and had lower social status. This changed when Bill Gates made his first billion. Suddenly, people realized that STEM was a ticket to the good life.
The title of the documentary "Triumph of the Nerds" was no accident.
A Seattle local comedy show "Almost Live" regularly ran skits about Microsoft engineers being socially inept and unable to get dates. (Of course, the joke turned out to be on Almost Live, as the super wealthy Microsoft engineers transformed the city.)
I suppose my point is that men who liked STEM had persevered in spite of the negative image of it.
I recall a well-meaning teacher once publicly recognizing me as a “computer expert”, and the ensuing giggles and ridicule from my friends and peers for being a computer nerd.
While I would not say I was bullied, the “computer nerd”/“spending all your time in front of a computer” was somewhat of an expedient wildcard insult to be used whenever somebody needed to take me down a peg. In terms of group identities, I think the only labels that were lower on the social status ladder were being gay or being obese (exception if you could pull off “the funny fat guy”).
Maybe the millenials had it easier, but I think most people who are well established in their career by now came out of that environment.
Along those lines, it’s no wonder that many men in the field who emerged from that did not develop adequate social skills, and frequently demonstrate their lack of experience in interacting with women. Unfortunately, the social protocol errors are often either lumped in with sexism, or the dreaded “being a creep”, and it’s now fashionable for other (likely traumatized) people to publicly shame them, get them fired, and ensure that their infraction is part of the permanent record of the internet.
EDIT: Found a Raymond Chen blog entry confirming that the skit was indeed from Almost Live -- and it featured Bill Nye.
First aired in 1992. I miss that show.
Cops in Redmond is another classic:
Done in the same style as the WSU drinking ban...another later classic:
Or Bill Nye as a street walking lawyer on Aurora avenue:
They put everything on YouTube. No need for a dvd :)
I don't think it is sexist at all to claim that some people would not want to be in a field because of its hostile work environment. I sure wouldn't. Factually debatable? Sure. But sexist?
> It might sound harsh, but I don't feel terribly concerned about keeping these displaced women in STEM; if their interest isn't strong enough to overcome a bad environment, then maybe they just weren't that interested to begin with
I'm not a woman, but I am a person of color. And if anyone expressed those exact sentiments about people of color, I would never want to be around that person again. "I don't feel terribly concerned about keeping displaced minorities in my field. If they aren't interested enough to put up with racism, they shouldn't be here to begin with. It is their own responsibility to do something about it and fix the racist environment that they are in". Can you even imagine someone saying that? And yet, I hear the same sentiments being directed towards women constantly.
Ironically enough, you and I probably agree on most things. I don't think the STEM field is "toxic" or any worse than any other profession. At most companies I've worked, both management and other engineers made great efforts to be welcoming and friendly to women. That said, misogyny and hostile work environments do exist, and when it happens, we need to make sure we blame the culprits and not the victims.
I've been on many all-male programming teams. Played football in high school.
From my experiences, those men tend to make fun of, poke, prod, and occasionally fight their way to agreement.
Comments were very direct. Abrasive at times. But usually got straight to the point.
I don't think I ever thought of any of it as needing "fixing". Quite the contrary, I think those men loved those other men.
But I could see someone of a different disposition being shocked at the crudeness, the brashness of it all and possibly thinking "it's toxic". It could be conflicting if someone wanted to participate in the team activity, but their approach didn't align with the existing members.
I see no relativism here.
As a description of your past experiences it was ostensibly a productive, functioning environment where every single member of every single group was comfortable communicating in that style.
As a general prescription for the most productive behavior for groups it's a poor model. As you point out, adding a single member with a different disposition can quickly turn the thing into a toxic environment.
Also, that model suffers from the same issue FLOSS projects do-- namely, it's hard to get any numbers at all on how many people never join up because the communication style isn't welcoming to outsiders.
Anyhow, if you posted this on Twitter I'm sure your description would quickly become transformed into an ostensible prescription by its algorithm as it got distributed for maximum outrage. But that's a problem with anti-human digital platforms, not a sign of ambiguity in what constitutes a productive work environment.
If you literally mean 'fight', then that's just a bad work environment.
There is something liberating about finally embracing the anger, rage and resentment that you feel and just letting it all out. Unfiltered.
And strangely, as I get older, I take it less personally if I’m on the receiving end. Sometimes people are overwhelmed and tired of doing mental gymnastics to keep things “nice”. I sorta get that now.
But if two consenting adults want to physically fight in a controlled, fair environment, zero problems with that. And I could see how it could be therapeutic to release the resentment towards the other.
Maybe an office boxing league?
I did not say "put up with", I said "deal with", which includes many options other than accepting what you're given. If your workplace discriminates on the basis of race, you could report them for violation of anti-discrimination laws, lobby for stronger laws, leave the workplace for a better one, etc.
> It is their own responsibility to do something about it and fix the racist environment that they are in
Exactly what I just discussed, maybe in an ideal world such things shouldn't be your responsibility, but the only way to guarantee action is to take it. If someone pushes you into a puddle, you might be right to say that it shouldn't be your responsibility to remove yourself from that situation, as you did not put yourself into it, but I think most would agree that the right course of action is to deal with it yourself anyways.
I am not suggesting that the responsibility falls solely on women or minorities to deal with their own problems at all, but I am suggesting that they should take some agency of their own.
My niece expressed an interest in taking CS, and two of the women present immediately launched into third-hand accounts of how toxic and sexist they have heard that the industry is. It pisses me off a bit that they are convincing an otherwise neutral and open mind that they are both unwelcome and that they’re already a victim in the making. If the goal is truly to get more women in the field, I think the twitter mobs and one-sided viral medium.com posts are doing way more to scare them away than anything else.
Great idea! Perhaps following your comment, women and minority groups will start to organize to protest against unfair and illegal treatment.
Yes, it is true that if someone is really passionate about something, then they will put up with a lot of bad things and problems.
But I am confused as to why you think this is a valid argument as for why society shouldn't try to solve these problems.
There is still a lot of value in fixing problems, so that people who would be otherwise interested, will want to join.
BTW I wonder if people proposing gender quotas because of pay gap would also support gender quotas in hospitals to fight life expectance gap, and gender quotas in psychiatry to fight suicide percentage gap.
It's currently the number one post.
I'd say the bigger point against the idea that women aren't in CS purely* because of men being sexist, is that this implies that male doctors and lawyers in the 60's and 70's were less sexist than male engineers of today. Does anyone actually believe this?
* of course, it may still be a partial factor
I don't see how it implies this. The more relevant question is whether STEM has higher levels of sexism than other similarly attractive fields.
In the sense that if sexism is the major force that prevented women from going into IT, then the much higher sexism of doctors and lawyers in the 60s and 70s would have prevented women from going into those fields too. But women were far more in those fields then, than they are in IT now.
The argument is not about that.
It's that "Those very sexist 60s/70s fields still had a lot of women going in, more than women in IT today. If women could go into those very sexist fields then, it's not sexism that keeps them out of IT today".
If so, I can't see where we substantially disagree. As I've repeatedly said, I make no claims about why the gender balance shifted in law and medicine in the 60s. You appeared to suggest that this had nothing to do with levels of sexism. I'm skeptical of that claim (broader societal attitudes are important too, not just the sexism level of lawyers and doctors vs. the sexism level of scientists and engineers), but it's not as if either of us has actually researched this in detail.
The key point is that tech now is disproportionately sexist, as you appear to acknowledge.
Gender disparity fell in those professions, while in roughly the same time frame, gender disparity dramatically increased in STEM. If women could put up with the sexism in those two professions, is it really plausible that sexism is the reason they didn't similarly push into STEM?
Engineers would have had to have been a lot more sexist to explain this data.
I think in general among engineers there is a lot of awareness about sexism and diversity issues but that doesn't always extend to people on the periphery of the engineering world (I'm from non-software engineering world).
Tradespeople such a boilermakers, fitters and welders as well as suppliers, technicians etc don't always have the same attitudes. These are people you have to work closely with on engineering projects which are often in remote locations like mines, construction sites etc where management is not typically present (or visible). Attitudes are improving, for example its not common these days to see pornography in site sheds and similar out on construction sites, 10 years ago this was rife, but I still feel culture out on sites is maybe 5 to 10 years behind where it is in the office.
My sister and I are both engineers (I'm Chem/materials and she is a mech. eng) the way she gets treated and I am treated there is a noticeable difference. People visiting her office have done things like assume she is a secretary and ask her to fix them a coffee this has happened in last 5 years so I think there are still some strides to be made in the engineering world.
Absolutely, but the question being debated is whether this is worse in STEM than other professions. Every profession still has strides to make for true equality.
Relative to what? IT remains less sexist relative to doctors and lawyers, so...
That they may be less sexist now, after having achieved gender parity or something close to it, is hardly unexpected. Of course a field with roughly even numbers is usually going to be less sexist than one dominated by one gender or another.
This is the crux of the issue that you're avoiding grappling with. Saying "well I don't care about the history" is irrelevant, it's still the most important part whether you personally care or not.
It's like looking at which countries are desirable to immigrate to without grappling with patterns of development, despite the obvious fact that the biggest thing that makes countries more desirable is being rich/developed.
It's also dangerous to treat all software development the same. I'm my experience women tend to be more interested in human facing parts of software like web and ui development, but less interested in the back end parts. Is this the result of sexism? Maybe, but regardless I bet the gender stats are very different if you consider front end as different than back end development.
I hope that it's clear to most people that there isn't a single reason for the disparity though. People are complicated.
Look at the chart in the article, look at the countries on each end of the opportunity spectrum. There are many obvious economic, societal, and cultural differences between the countries on one side and the other of that spectrum.
To take this correlation and use it to forward a sexist idea (that women PREFER
different, often worse-paying, fields and that's why there's less women, and thus we don't need to change anything in our industry's culture) is the reason I would downvote this article and the OP's comment.
I know a lot of women in tech who feel uncomfortable with all the special treatment they get — entire conferences dedicated to “women in tech.” I find the idea so patronizing, just like I would a “men in daycare” conference. It is an extension of coddling the incapable and meek servile woman. Get out of here.
It was up when I posted the comment.
You’d need to try really hard to disprove different interest of men and women, as literature suggests differences from a very young age, even before those children have chances to meet their peers.
You’re just giving alternative explanations, which given the left side of the chart are much, much less likely. The economic argument also doesn’t make sense. STEM jobs may be among the highest paying ones, but certainly are not THE highest (not to mention the amount of effort compared to different high pay jobs).
We look to outcome equality to gain some kind of insight into this.
And I'm sure many men simply did not consider the possibility of a career in female dominated professions, like nursing or elementary education. I think there's certainly something to the idea that we internalize stereotypes and that can restrict our options, but I'm skeptical that it generally explains large differences in career preference today.
For example, women were once stereotyped as not being doctors or lawyers, but that didn't seem to stop them from joining those fields en masse. If internalized stereotyping didn't matter enough to stop them then, for those fields, why does it matter now for engineering?
Representation is important - MLK convinced Nichelle Nichols to stay on Star Trek because she was, at the time, the only black educated woman in a leadership position on television.
Now, yes, but what about in the 60's and 70's?
The examples are legion.
The same cannot be said for the legion "quirky female hacker" characters that exist in many TV shows.
The fields you mention made serious efforts to counter sexism. STEM hasn't, yet.
Mine, too, and I'm over 45.
Furthermore, do you care to identify what in this discussion makes it so clear why women would not go into STEM?
More than that, what "cultural changes" did they enact? From what I've read of the history, culture only shifted after women achieved rough gender parity. Cultural shifts follow demographic shifts, not vice versa.
And even now, gender disparities exist that can't be explained by sexist theories. For instance, why is surgery dominated by men and pediatrics dominated by women?
Sexist theories have a lot of holes like these gender disparities within fields and the gender equality paradox that's the subject of this article. And yet, there's a theory that explains all of the data we see:
This theory relegates sexism to a minor role, perhaps affecting single digit differences in gender disparities, not the double digits we actually see.
Law is essentially the definition of the "Old Boys Club" and as for Medicine... I used to work in the medical field for a while. Go ask any (female) surgical nurse about the supposed efforts to counter sexism in the OR.
I don't believe your claim is true.
The major difference (in my opinion) is that the Old Boys Club owns it. They know they’re not welcoming to women and for the most part they don’t care. But Silicon Valley, for whatever reason, absolutely insists that they’re welcoming and that it’s all in our heads. The Old Boys Club was frustrating but Tech is infuriating.
Did you consider other reasons than sexism for the environment that you perceive as unwelcoming? E.g., I guess the ratio of introverts vs. extroverts is pretty different between Wall Street law firms and software developers.
Hm. I guess it was all in my head.
The extent to which discrimination makes tech more welcoming is debatable. It does have the immediate effect of increasing the number of women in tech roles, but it does so at the expense of putting them in an environment where they know that their male co-workers were held to a different standard and vice versa.
Edit: your comment history shows a lot of political and ideological flamewar comments, and we've already had to warn you about not taking HN threads into gender war. If you keep this up we're going to have to ban you, so please don't.
You say this as if the fields themselves decided, but it could just as easily be that women pushed in harder.
> Fifty years ago people would no doubt have told you that women just weren't interested in becoming lawyers or doctors.
Again, what was the difference? You've suggested a relative difference in sexism at the time, but I've seen no data suggesting this. It just looks like a guess on your part.
> You don't, either.
Why would you even say this? The comment you responded to didn't have me asserting a reason why. It's like you're attacking a strawman.
I claimed that this is the case today. You are the only one of us making any assertions whatsoever about levels of sexism in the 1960s and 1970s, which are irrelevant to choices women make now.
Do you have any references on what those efforts were?
I've never attended personally, but we also host an event yearly called "Girls Who Code."
Adobe has also partnered with a local dev bootcamp to hire intern graduates-- I can't say for sure, but I'm pretty confident that there's an emphasis on female graduates.
Historically, the professions you're alluding to have been closed to women by men. So for example, the reason that women couldn't serve in the military until relatively recently is not that women used their power and influence within society to get a pass on military service. Rather, it's that men didn't want to let women serve.
Equality of opportunity to die serving a country is all very well, but until men figure out how to operate wombs without women there are practical differences when deciding who is risks probable death. The situation has probably changed now that growing populations no longer looks like an easy win but the calculus goes a bit beyond 'men just didn't like the idea'. Men didn't like the idea because it is an objectively bad idea in an era where population really mattered. The women probably agreed with that one on the whole.
This is an argument that's rarely if ever been used against allowing women to serve in the military. I think it's the argument that you'd like people to make rather than an argument that people have actually historically made.
More broadly, if you see women primarily as baby machines, then military service should be the least of your worries when it comes to fertility.
And we can't really say for certain that what everybody thought was controlling what happened. What everybody thinks and what actually happens in, eg, banking and finance are completely different. The people in control are not the people talking on the street.
> More broadly, if you see women primarily as baby machines, then military service should be the least of your worries when it comes to fertility.
Call me old fashioned but I'm ruling out the idea that men are the primary baby making engine of humanity.
On your actual point; the fact that there are other things to think about doesn't stop people thinking about this specific thing. The US lost 400,000 servicemen in WWII without really even seeing a foreign invasion; those sort of numbers absolutely should involve someone asking the question 'who can we most and least afford to lose?'. The militaries of the world are not warm and happy-go-lucky organisations. They ask quite unpleasant questions all the time.
I think you are just advancing your own arguments against allowing women to serve in the military here, not actually giving any evidence that these arguments were widely used in opposition to women's military service. That's a tangent.
Incidentally, in the broader context of this thread, this is exactly the kind of fringe content that just might give women the impression that the tech community has a sexism problem.
>Call me old fashioned but I'm ruling out the idea that men are the primary baby making engine of humanity.
I think you misread. I said "if you see women primarily as baby machines", not "if you see women as the primary baby machines".
1 - Logging workers
2 - Fishers and fishing workers
3 - Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
4 - Roofers
5 - Refuse and recyclable material collectors
6 - Structural iron and steel workers
7 - Truck drivers
8 - Farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers
But yeah, many of those jobs have a skewed gender distribution in significant part due to sexist stereotypes.
I ignored the "for men" qualifier as it seems obvious that these are the most dangerous jobs period.
The problem in STEM isn’t that the gender balance isn’t exactly 50/50. It’s that substantial numbers of women are discouraged from STEM careers by sexism.
But actually, the question is quite easy to answer for me. I am more interested in sexism per se than in the gender distribution. When women in the industry infrequently report that they are experiencing sexism, then I’ll consider that we’re well on the way to solving the problem. The current gender imbalance is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.
This is the fox guarding the henhouse. There is no incentive for women to ever stop crying "sexism!" if this is the criterion in use.
There is a good discussion to be had over why conscription has mostly been male only. Is it powerful men wanting to get rid of young expendable men in some form of evolutionary benefit to themselves? It it because of historical benefit of muscle differences? Did women use their power and influence within society to get a pass on conscription?
Men did not choose to be forced into the military. People do not generally chose to be forced to the front line and die. It is also worth mentioning that in the US, black males were proportionally drafted in higher rates than white males during the Vietnam war. Most people would agree that white men used their power and influence to get a pass on military service.
Maybe the first question to discuss is if being drafted is a benefit or disadvantage in term of power and influence.
As you point out, the people in charge were all men. It was up to them to make the rules about who could or couldn't volunteer and who would or wouldn't be conscripted.
>Most people would agree that white men used their power and influence to get a pass on military service.
This perfectly illustrates my point. That is exactly not how women got a pass on military service. Thus, it misses the point to complain that men disproportionately do certain dangerous jobs. Women have been kept out of those jobs by men, and by sexist attitudes more broadly, not by some kind of inverse sexism that favors women over men.
Most worlds armies are conscription, and even the US army had conscription during the American Revolution, the American Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It culturally defines the military.
> This perfectly illustrates my point.
No it does not. Men as a group did not keep women out of conscription so men alone could get the privilege of being conscripted. It not a privilege. A better claim is that society pick which ever demographic is most expendable and force them to pick up arms during major conflicts. Young men, especially men of color, is consistently seen as expendable. It is racism, sexism, ageism, and a bunch more isms, and part of it favor women over young men.
During world war 2 almost all nations involved used prison population for conscription purposes. It is the most obvious place to find a lot of expendable people.
Voluntary military service still carries with it that culture and non-expendable people tend to not be near the front line.
Yes, but so what? The gender requirement on front-line service has never been limited to conscription.
>It not a privilege.
This is a well-worn argument. When women wanted to vote and join the workplace, they also got told that these things were terrible burdens that they ought to be glad not to have to bear.
Clearly, there are women who do want to join the military, just as there have always been men who want to join the military.
In a modern context, in the US and Europe, the question is not about whether women should be forced to serve in the military against their will, but whether they should have the same right to volunteer for service as men, and the same range of opportunities subsequently.
Until recently, the men in charge thought that they should not.
Not men as a group. Rich old men thought that poor young men, disproportionately African Americans, should be forced into the military.
In modern context we still have remnant views that military is a punishment. Popular culture often use the trope that troublesome boys who don't behave get sent to military school so the boy can redeem themselves in the eyes of society. The concept of military service as a punishment directed at young men is still well alive. One never see the idea of sending misbehaving girls to military school.
In Europe most nation still have conscription. The question has been whether women should be forced to serve in the military against their will. To pick a few examples, both Sweden and Norway think they should, and thus we have conscription there for both genders. As the advertisements says, everyone has equal responsibility to server their nation. The word "responsibility" is used here to make the conscription sound nicer but it no less forced.
Of course it was men as a group. You only have to go back a few decades to get to a time when the majority of men, across social classes, found the idea of women serving in the military ridiculous.
I still don't see how the rest of your comment is relevant to this discussion. Again, the gender requirement was not specific to conscription.
>One never see the idea of sending misbehaving girls to military school.
Because girls couldn't join the military!
Young poor men has always been at the bottom of the social ladder.
As you must be aware, I didn't suggest that this is the case.
I simply said that men chose to exclude women from military service.
The people who got excluded from military conscription were women, rich men and men with influence.
What you're saying is correct, it's just completely irrelevant.
Poor men, having no influence or power gets conscripted against their will.
Women, being in the middle, are exempted from conscription but can't volunteer.
Rich men, being at the top of influence and power, was exempted from conscription and also had the choice to volunteer (usually for officer or other high ranking positions).
No one denies that the small percent that makes up rich men have more influence and power with more freedom to choose during conscription. Men as a group however is both the poor and the rich. If we only look at the top then we ignore an already marginalized and vulnerable part of the population. Those at the bottom.
This is just a wrong analysis. Women didn't get our of conscription as a result of their power and influence. They were exempted from military service because almost all men, across all classes, were opposed to women serving in the military.
And you are wrong that almost all men, across all classes, were opposed to women serving in the military. Armies that are created by rich men at the top looks very different to those created by lower classes, such as resistance movements in Europe during world war 2.
Absolutely had no clue what to go into and they didn't help much. Perhaps they were at a greater disadvantage because the internet revolution was about to hit.
Girls don't know that there's such a thing as programming or Computer Science degrees?
How many girls and women fall into each category?
Now that "tech" is so important and lucrative I'm sure this is changing to some extent, but this is a recent trend that's probably 5 years old at most. Tech wasn't viewed the same as it was now in 2012-2014 and felt like a much more risky and inaccessible field. Now it looks a lot more like any other high paying corporate job.
The Dot Net bubble in the 90s was arguably the biggest news story of the decade. Everyone knew there was tons of money to be had in tech, and stories of people landing jobs at startups after learning a little bit of HTML.
I don't hear this anymore from the grown-up-on-iPad generation.
I'm pretty sure most of the boys said that too.
The existence of implicit bias is contentious. All purported tests to measure its existence have failed replication.
> Equality of outcome forces people to do things that they may not have an interest in
What?! Equality of outcome, as I've encountered it, is always downstream of individual choice. That is, it's up to the hiring committee to enforce gender parity by selecting from available applicants, and not up to educators or policy-makers to force equal amounts of women to be in STEM. No one has ever, to my knowledge, made the argument the way you represented it (except, ironically, incels calling for mandated marriage).
I'd have taken you more seriously if you hadn't straw-manned the shit out of equality of outcome.
This is a red herring. If you ask women they won't say their bosses were "jerks" or "toxic" (though a lot of time they are), they'll say they made them "uncomfortable", "un-accommodating".
It reminds me of a friend who got pregnant and left the STEM field because the dudes at her office made her feel like she was SUCH a huge drag on them. None of them were jerks, just not accommodating. Its a subtle but substantial difference.
"I'm sure this will be down voted, but it is what it is."
Actually, its the top comment, the popularity of this opinion among programmers is the crux of the issue. Nobody wants to work at a company where a majority of people think you are "unnatural" or an "outlier" for being there.
Most women I know do exactly that though if you speak with them in a private setting?
I'll have to take your word for the rest of your opinion, as I don't know your friend nor her colleagues.
I'm a little surprised you expect them to be totally accommodating though. It's a professional setting after all. It's nice if you can create good friendships there, but expecting it is just asking for trouble
Proves my point even more then.
My sister was a STEM worker in India. When she moved to America, she looked around to see writers with relatively safe, high-status job and switched out immediately.
Yes, women in America are "organically" picking non-STEM jobs, but that is because the jobs suck, the environments suck and people are assholes at these jobs. My sister loved the core STEM aspects of her job, but hated the culture of the companies she was stuck working with. This is not "equality", its hostile corporate culture.
tl;dr: Ask Women.
Stop trying to make them feel like something is wrong if they don't have this inclination. Males and females have different preferences on average, some as early as birth. This is not a bad thing.
For the ones that want to program all day, obviously they should be welcomed and any company that doesn't is doing themselves a huge disservice. In fact the best programmer I've ever worked with is a woman.
My girl child likes trucks, not Frozen, and the pressure from other adults to get her to conform and play with Disney-branded dolls is non-trivial and unrelenting. Ugh.
That's true. But if you ask 1000 men and 1000 women if they want to program all day, you'll get a much higher % of men.
> My girl child likes trucks, not Frozen, and the pressure from other adults to get her to conform and play with Disney-branded dolls is non-trivial and unrelenting. Ugh.
I largely agree, Disney is overwhelming. Though no one has pressured or tried to make my daughter conform, other adults do mostly buy her girl typical things. Her cars, trains, dinosaurs, legos and the like mostly came from us (didn't buy any dolls, she got those from others). She likes trucks and Frozen. But mostly Paw Patrol. It's amazing, everything else is a distant 2nd to those pups!
Throw them out, seriously. I did when they got to be too large a portion of the toys.
He also had a daughter. Similar age. He was not doing the same for her.
Perhaps these children had such a strong idea of what they wanted at a very very early age and the father was responding to that. But I find it more likely that the father held an implicit bias about what jobs his son and daughter should have and was providing support to push his son into tech.
When these two people graduate college and the son becomes a software engineer and the daughter doesn't it will be their choice. But it is not clear to me that it wasn't sexism that produced the circumstances for that choice.
I feel like this is a “??? Profit!” argument. Accepting that girl infants prefer faces and boy infants prefer trucks—what does that have to do with programming? Even within the context of traditional stereotypes about male/female preferences, what makes programming a “male” thing? The analogy that programmers “build things” is just that—your typical programmer is certainly not cut out to be a construction worker.
Building things is not just construction though. I mean, your average clock maker is not qualified to plumb a bathroom, but that doesn't mean he's not making things.
I don't have an opinion on this, but the idea that programmers aren't building something is a bit silly.
Construction worker may do even less engineering design work than garment-makers do.
Programming jobs often involve extremely minimal face to face interactions
Deep contemplation of technical problems while staring at a screen and talking to computers for hours on end often made talking to people after work exceedingly difficult
And some of us like it that way.
Also, if programming is solitary as you suggest, why do tech companies discourage remote work and insist on culture fit, team building, collaborative work spaces, etc.? Much more so than law firms.
I've heard the argument that somehow "actual coding is a relatively small part of being a software engineer," but unless you're a manager (of which there are many more women), the thing you're being trained for, the thing you spend most of your time doing, and the basis of how people perceive the profession, is sitting in front of a computer coding. You can describe any profession as people-oriented on the basis that one needs to work with others, but the key question is whether the basic activity of the job is a social one.
Regardless of whether the people-vs-thing distinction is significant or not, it seems inaccurate in a big-picture way to describe programming as people-oriented. Like, that's not what people mean when they draw that distinction.
I don't even know if the data is ready for us to draw any conclusions, but at the very least it seems to me we should find this to be an extremely interesting pattern, and use it to motivate hypotheses.
Sure, but it seems more than a little convenient that the male-chosen professions seem to generally pay significantly more, on average, than the female-chosen ones. Haven't there been studies that showed that women moving into a profession was actually associated with pay dropping?
Programmers are paid relatively well because
1. Software is "eating the world", so a lot of software is being written leading to demand for programmers.
2. Programming scales really well. Software has zero reproduction cost and can reach a global audience almost instantaneously. So software companies can make a lot of money with relatively few employees.
What would be the mechanism for pay dropping when women enter a profession?
Some global masterminds reducing pay across multiple corporations across the board when they find out women are being hired in that industry?
Maybe it's just a matter of a sudden increase of supply of workers as women enter a field to meet the existing demand, driving wages down?
Is it because the women are being paid less, while the men are being paid the same as before?
No coordination is necessary. People will simply start to view the role as less valuable or skilled due to more women being in it.
Men hit the extremes more often and as a result occupy more of the outlier positions. They're also over represented at the bottom of the ladder. i.e., the homeless and prison populations. But I don't see anyone claiming it's a conspiracy that men over represent this end of the spectrum.
It’s not a coincidence at all. Men place a higher priority on pay to the exclusion of all else, when choosing a career, than do women. Women are much more likely to choose careers with flexible working hours, benefits, and the potential to help other people (positive externalities).
When you look at it this way, it makes more sense that you’ll find men occupying all these different high paying positions. It makes a lot less sense that every employer deliberately pays less for women-dominated positions just because there are women there.
Because, on average, men are given a lot less social pressure to "be there", they can more often take high-pressure jobs. Then the high pressure becomes a status symbol, and a gate to keep people with higher social obligations out.
As this phenomenon also causes a ton of burnout and is a cause for men's shorter lifespans, the whole thing needs to be actively taken down.
And as for high-powered careers being a status symbol, I would offer that a man's socioeconomic status is a major component in attraction for women. The reverse is true to far less of an extent. The stats on dating apps bear this out.
Isn't there a study that said women ask for pay raises at the same rate as men, but they are granted them less often?
> In four studies, Bowles and collaborators from Carnegie Mellon found that people penalized women who initiated negotiations for higher compensation more than they did men. The effect held whether they saw the negotiation on video or read about it on paper, whether they viewed it from a disinterested third-party perspective or imagined themselves as senior managers in a corporation evaluating an internal candidate. Even women penalized the women who initiated the conversation, though they also penalized the men who did so. They just didn’t seem to like seeing someone ask for more money.
The paper: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/cfawis/bowles.pdf
Some things can only really be tested in artificial environments.
What exactly do you think will be tested in that artificial environment when the environment itself (with what I'd hazard to guess quite a list of specifics, many of the "subtle and implicit, but influential" kind) is a central variable of the test?
If an observational study of this kind is deemed hard/improbable/impossible to set up - how hard do you think it is to get the artificial setup right? To account for - or even identify - all variables and preconditions? This is so easy to mess up and end up with basically meaningless data. (Yeah, I know - that doesn't mean it won't be published. Everybody raise your hands and shout "Replication Crisis"! :) )
1. More people (women in this case) enter the profession.
2. Due to increased labor supply, pay starts to drop.
3. Men, placing a relatively higher priority on high pay, begin to avoid the profession.
That last point is sort of interesting. Men are strongly associated with their careers and level of pay. This is most of their status. It has a tremendous impact in the dating market. It is a key factor in the likelihood of divorce. Men follow the money; they don't get randomly assigned careers and they don't just follow their dreams. Men strongly seek the status of a high-paid job. To marry and start a family, that job is almost required. Women have no such trouble, so they don't need to prioritize earnings. Women can pick careers they actually enjoy.
While this is plausible, the data on this isn't consistent. In fact, some professions that saw a large influx of women also saw wage increases. There are many variables at play.
They don't. Most men have to work in order to earn money and attract a partner. You think all of us love sitting in open offices, following our Scrum Master? Of course not, we just don't have the luxury, as do women, to follow our 'passions' in lower paying jobs. We can't marry a breadwinner too easily. We don't receive subsidies from the state, unlike women who are a net tax loss. We aren't able to attract a mate simply by being young, as can women, due to biological differences between genders.
In Scandinavia, where salaries are progressively taxed and women have tons of opportunity to do what they want, women still choose not to sit in front of computers all day. Why the hell would they if everyone's salary is essentially equalized, regardless of whether you're a part-time teacher, social worker or a talented computer engineer working 60/hours a week. All salaries are taxed down to a median $75K / year, with the same health insurance, subsidized parental leave, etc.
Thus, Scandinavian women follow their 'passions' which is what most Western women do, as we see from their choices in college majors, all of which are unarguably 'easier' but pay less. If society were to equalize my salary at $75K year whether I coded all day or worked for a charity or NGO or a music teacher or artist or actor, I'd dump my programming job as fast as I could.
Look at India or China where far more women are into computers - they don't have the luxury of following their passion in dance or writing, because they don't have as much PRIVILEGE in their societies as do women in the West.
Source for this? I've never heard this claim before and on the surface it makes no sense. I'm a woman and I don't get any kind of special tax exemptions for it...
The tax revenue point can be proven by the same 'wage gap' arguments which are true in the sense that men work more and are paid higher, in aggregate, so pay more income taxes.
Second idea is that most federal and state benefits that are direct subsidies go to women: TANF, WIC, SNAP, Section 8, etc. Most people (i.e. women) who receive these benefits have children.
The biggest difference, can't remember where I saw it, is as our population shifts towards a higher median age, health care (and social security and other things like government pensions) become a larger share of net pay outs. Women live longer and spend more on health care.d.
But responding to your own question, no I don't think there are any special exemptions for working women, though it is creeping into US law in many states and soon Federally. Expenses like parental leave will be paid for by all taxpayers but be distributed mostly to women.
Obviously, some of these discrepancies are due to child care being a non-paid job, but it isn't the only difference.
I think this though itself is an artefact of a male dominated profession. The fact that working with software is "programming a computer all day" reflects a male preference and value system, and many people open acknowledge that it's quite harmful and often creates quite dysfunctional teams. We need better requirements, better communication, better documentation, more human approach to the whole process. I've talked to great women working in software development who say "I don't really care about the programming itself and I would never go home and do it for fun - but I love the other aspects of the job". Perhaps the nature of the job itself needs to change a bit for the preferences to adjust.
Isn't there a place for people good at thinking deeply about difficult problems on their own and coming up with effective solutions?
Yes, everyone needs to be able to communicate well to be part of an effective team. But there is also a role for deep thinking and introspection.
By the way, introverted women exist, too.
You can't possibly think that this is what the person you are replying to is saying. But anyway, the point is that the conception of programming as a task suited to people who like to work in isolation is incorrect and harmful. One of the most common pitfalls of software development is writing software that no-one wants or needs. The solution to that problem lies in better communication. Of course, there are some kinds of programming problems that are suited to intense work in isolation. But most programmers probably need to spend more time talking to their non-programmer colleagues.
I do think that.
I think programming selects for people high in introversion and maybe even on the autistic spectrum.
I think some extroverted people find those people deficient and don't like working with them, and would like to change the working environment to be less comfortable for the introverts and more comfortable for the extroverts.
If you're employed as a programmer, you're most likely being paid to solve other people's problems by writing code. If you can't communicate with those people, you'll never be able to do that successfully.
It's no conspiracy. A socially clueless introvert who's being paid a lot of money to do nothing useful doesn't have much to offer.
There are also a lot of tasks where thinking deeply without distractions or interruptions for an extended period of time is the best way to come up with good solutions.
And even a lot of the best communication comes from taking time in quiet and deeply thinking about what you want to say and writing a good, convincing argument.
Thinking introverts have nothing productive to offer is just bigotry, and really makes you come across as a complete ass.
I don't say that they're deficient as people, or that working in isolation is bad per se. I'm just saying that people who like to work in isolation are unlikely to make good programmers (in the context of a typical programming job).
Personally, I switched to programming from academia, where I really did work in isolation on challenging problems. Now I spend most of my time talking to my colleagues to figure out exactly which not very challenging problem I should be spending my limited time on solving.
Now it makes sense.
I'm sure you're right.
Why is it that two professions that you'd naively expect to be just as sexist, if not far more sexist than STEM (Higher status, more of an "old boys club", established hierarchy that has positions like nurses for women, etc) have achieved gender parity, while STEM hasn't?
That’s the result of decades of work, which started with affirmative efforts by law schools to achieve gender parity at the beginning of the pipeline. (Those efforts proved self sustaining. Once women didn’t have to swim upstream to choose law school—facing years of being in a small minority at the outset of their careers—efforts to recruit them specifically became unnecessary.) There is a ways to go yet before we hit parity, but I feel like in STEM folks are still litigating the issue of whether numeric parity should even be the goal. That question was settled in the legal field a long time ago.
I think most tech companies would go into a full-blown panic if you imposed a quota of non-asians (who are something like 5% of the U.S. population) for technical positions.
But did they have this back in the 60's and 70's when representation started going up? What caused it back then, that didn't apply to engineering?
Be specific, because this could mean different things. Were the genders balanced because the applicant pool itself had become balanced, or because law schools started enforcing balance in admission, or a mix of both?
> In the 1970s and 1980s there was a series of lawsuits as a result of which law firms began to hire gender balanced classes of entry level lawyers
And what were the graduate pools like at the time, re: gender balance? Do you have sources that talk about these points, because it sounds interesting.
Part of the issue for tech companies is that there are fewer women with CS degrees, something they don't directly control, and have only modest at best influence over. And then at the university level, they've had issues getting more women to sign up, though I understand some schools have had more success than others.
What I said was that recent progress is the result of work that started decades ago. Harvard law graduated its first women in 1953. But back then top women law graduates were still getting offers to be secretaries. (Justice Ginsberg’s story was not at all atypical for her cohort.) That, along with the prospect of joining a 90%+ male class in and of itself dissuaded women from pursing law. Law schools fixed that by making 50-50 classes an express goal, and then achieving that goal. Then law firms made 50-50 classes of incoming associates an express goal, and achieved that goal. Gender parity was achieved not simply by accepting women to law schools, but by actively seeking to admit gender balanced classes. But once that happened, the new ratio became self-perpetuating. When being a woman lawyer no longer meant being part of a tiny minority in law school, a firm, etc., women self-selected into it when previously they had opted out.
I strongly suspect the same factors are in play in STEM: women who would be good programmers self-select out of the field because they don’t want to be the 1-2 women in a class of 20 men, or the 1-2 women programmers on a team of 20 men.
Wait, what? Is this an argument that men are inherently unsuited to be Supreme Court Justices?
My guess is this means having 9 women on the Supreme Court is to make up for all the years there were 9 men on the Supreme Court.
I find this dangerous logic. Seeking to alternate oppression of one group versus another doesn't seem like a good long term solution, in my opinion.
By the way, thanks for your analysis about the progression of gender equality in the legal profession. That's something I didn't know about.
> Wait, what? Is this an argument that men are inherently unsuited to be Supreme Court Justices?
It just means that if gender is not considered, we should see an all women's court once every 2^9 = 512 time.
If the number never goes above the mean, gender must still be a factor.
I took that to mean "just as it was unremarkable in the very recent past for the SC to be 100% male, it should be unremarkable if in the future it became 100% female (on merit)".
I do remember in my first CS class: about 70% of the men, and all but one or two women dropped the week after pointers were introduced.
There's this hypothesis that men statistically tend to pick jobs involving working with and treating patients as things, and women tend to pick jobs involving people and socializing. Medicine as a field is full of high-status jobs of both kind, so - under this hypothesis - gender parity of the overarching field is entirely unsurprising. And, as predicted, individual specializations tend to show strong gender skew.
Law is also a very large field, so I suspect the profession probably shows a similar dynamic.
Viewed through this lens, our industry is less like "medicine", and more like "radiology". And I suspect - but didn't check - that if you expand the definition of "software" to include supporting fields like design, UX and testing, the overall gender ratio will be much closer to 1:1.
Could also look at careers like "developer evangelist" and "solutions engineer", both of which are technical but much more people-oriented than being a regular software engineer.
The evangelists also have to deal with not just the environment at Microsoft, but also the partners we were helping architect solutions for. On more than one occasion I know women had problems delivering solutions to a partner because that partner had blatantly sexist stakeholders who would constantly try to question or circumvent them in ways that didn't happen for men. One of the college hires I was mentoring was the point person on a project, yet every single question was sent my way and I had to keep redirecting them to the woman who was perfectly capable of answering the question and was actually in charge of the account.
So yes, there were a lot more face to face interactions, but the women still didn't stick around for these roles. Some had much better experiences actually writing code on the product teams. Some moved into project management or research.
Data to support this hypothesis here: https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/07/contra-grant-on-exagge...
ObGyns are 85% female, Pediatrics 75%, while radiology is 72% male and anesthesiology 63%.
Even straight white men hate medicine and can't leave because of debt... so it's not a great comparison.
Googling around seems that it's contentious, and that a lot of people consider nurses, physicians etc to be STEM careers under the 'science' heading. But this doesn't seem all that core to me. (And you have to draw the line somewhere - are psychiatrists STEM? How about psychologists?)
Many people who go on to go to medical school will major in a STEM subject in undergrad (like biology or something)
This is a US-centric view - most people do in fact study medicine right out of school. It is interesting though that the definition of what constitutes a field vary quite greaty around the globe.
The M is not for Medicine
Actually, I am unsure how country specific this is and where to put medicine with respect to hard sciences, soft sciences, social sciences etc.
It is kind of hilarious how different this works in a lot of countries. For example in German, the translation of science is 'Wissenschaft'. It would literally translate to "the thing you do to make knowledge". Humanities are called 'Geistes'wissenschaft and Law is called 'Rechts'wissenschaft'. Math is generally considered to be part of the humanities, and CS is usually either part of the math-department or very closely settled to the engineering department.
There's many more differences between the german and anglo academic culture, let alone all the other ones out there.
Hm, not always. In my experience it was a B.Sc., M. Sc. and Dr. rer. nat. and in the math-nat department, but it can also be associated with philosophy and of course there is no scientific method in math.
For medicine you also have the (again country specific?) question whether a medical doctorate is comparable to a hard science one, e.g. for the purpose of grants in medical research.
Just because there are other skills needed besides science based ones doesn't mean it isn't a science field.
People differ in whether they think medicine and the other applied sciences fall under the 'science' umbrella or not. Try searching around and you'll see a lot of mixed opinions on the subject.
How can anyone get a qualifying score on the MCAT without significant exposure to science?
Disclaimer: I'm definitely coming at this from a U.S. point of view which someone mentioned in another comment effectively (not always but definitely in the overwhelming majority of cases) requires STEM undergrad degrees to get into medicine.
So people tend to disagree about where to put medicine. But overall, most major public institutions in the US don't include medicine in STEM:
* US Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics) -- No. (https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2007/spring/art04.pdf)
* US Department of Commerce (Economics and Statistics Administration) -- No. (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED522129.pdf)
* NSF -- No. "The National Science Foundation is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering."
Medicine-aligned subjects do a lot to improve the gender ratio, if one wants to improve the gender equality figures...
This would be an amazing survey. I look forward to its publishing. I wouldn't be surprised if someone is doing it as we speak. It shouldn't be too hard or cost that much.
Though, I do have to say, your sample of one is not sufficiently convincing to me.
> women in America are "organically" picking non-STEM jobs, but that is because the jobs suck, the environments suck and people are assholes at these jobs
Very general assessment without any supporting evidence.
Your sister is not sufficient evidence to make this kind of assessment. Neither is "Ask Women".
By the way, I will be very surprised to hear women in general are treated better in India than in America. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_inequality_in_India
Preferential treatment (positive discrimination) in hard science not only makes the mistake of treating women as handicapped (they're surely not), but also makes the situation worse by skewing meritocracy.
This sort of job for women is basically a continuation of the days when women were human computers, hired to do loads of calculations for mathematicians and scientists. The fact that women took these jobs has more to do with their limited opportunities elsewhere than anything else.
First of all, the peak of women's representation in computing was ~35% - not all that much different from today's 20-25%. Second, even if we accept that social changes are what prompted the change in women's representation (and I would agree) it is erroneous to assume that this was due to exclusionary culture in technology. In fact, the data suggests the opposite - reductions in sexism result in reductions in the share of women in tech.
This is likely what played out in the united states. Women were displayed into computing due to sexism in other fields. Several of the women interviewed in Clive Thompson's book Coders, explained that they chose to study computer science because law firms told them explicitly that they would not let women be trial lawyers. The reduction in the share of women in computing was due to the opening of opportunities in other fields like law and medicine, which in turn meant that women who would have been displaced into computing now have the opportunity to study the field of their choice.
I am going to take your point about a reduction in sexism in other fields at face value since it seems you are more read up on that than I am. I'm not sure if this is a rebuttal to my argument though. A reduction in sexism in other fields would in fact complement an increase in sexism in computer science. I'm not sure if it is possible to distinguish the effects of each, especially if they compound on top of each other. It might be a little ironic to choose trial lawyers as an example since I don't think they have that much better of a percentage. I would also like to point out that your conclusion of "field of their choice", in my eyes, is heavily influenced by social factors.
Yes, these figures are from degrees earned.
I searched for sources that claim that the majority of computer programmers were women prior to the 70s. The only one I found is very poorly sources. The only one I found was from this page  which links to a Guardian article , which does not actually provide any data on the workforce composition of computing industries nor how they define what is and isn't a computing job.
> One of the questions I think is important is why were cs degrees so male dominated in something that was previously a female dominated field?
The question cannot be answered because it is based on an incorrect assertion: women never were dominant in programming or computer science - at least computer science as we understand it today.
To be more specific, in order find a time period during which computing was female dominated one has to take a very broad view of what it means to work in "computing". Women dominated computing back when "computer" was a job title . Well into the 20th century, computation was mostly performed by humans and assisted with mechanical calculators  and slide rules. This is computing in a very raw sense, but it is not programming. The workers were not creating programs, they were executing programs. This changed during the 1960s and 70s as computers capable of storing and executing programs became cheaper and replaced human computers. To answer your question, women ceased to dominate computing when "computer" no longer referred to people and instead referred to machines and the work involved changed from personally performing computations to programming a computer to perform computations.
Personally, I don't think a human computer has very much to do with computer programming and I think it's a big stretch to try and put the two under the same banner.
> I am going to take your point about a reduction in sexism in other fields at face value since it seems you are more read up on that than I am. I'm not sure if this is a rebuttal to my argument though. A reduction in sexism in other fields would in fact complement an increase in sexism in computer science.
I'm not sure I follow. Why would a reduction in sexism in other fields have any effect on sexism in computer science?
> I'm not sure if it is possible to distinguish the effects of each, especially if they compound on top of each other. It might be a little ironic to choose trial lawyers as an example since I don't think they have that much better of a percentage. I would also like to point out that your conclusion of "field of their choice", in my eyes, is heavily influenced by social factors.
Women exceeded 40% representation in law schools in 1985, and have been at roughly parity since the 1990s. Representation of women in law is unambiguously higher than in computing, and it has been for decades. While the stories of women shared by Clive Thompson specifically wanted to become trial lawyers, their stories were representative of the field of law opening up to women more broadly. The point is, we observe a reduction of women in computing occurring at the time time that fields previously closed to women open up. The result is that women who would have been displaced into computing due to their field of choice being inaccessible now have the opportunity to study their field of choice. This would result in a reduction in women in computing even as computing remained as welcoming as it was before. This is consistent with the data presented by the original post, which observed a negative correlation between gender equality and women's representation in technology fields.
In absolute numbers, the number of men entering computer science just grew faster, than the number of women. Don't forget that 50 years ago, there were fewer people in CS or programming than today.
My father was a postal worker and described to me the process that the USPS used to improve their culture, and it involved new policies, procedures, and training for all employees.
She did? Where did she find these writers with safe, high status jobs? Maybe PR?
tl;dr: Ask Men and Women.