Here's an idea. Why don't we do real research into what cultural factors influence men and women into going into different fields, and then decide to act on those cultural factors. Rather than say, I don't know, do what we do now, which is tantamount to, here lets fix this symptom of a much wider societal problem, and trample on the 'self-worth' and 'competency' of the very minority we're trying to 'save' in the process.
There is at least some research suggesting this is the case.
Archived article: http://web.archive.org/web/20100106021904/http://scicom.ucsc...
HN Discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=969646
Some people do run their careers like this, some don't. But to suggest that this is the case for all women and furthermore that the claim is backed up by research, is more than a little bit foolish.
You'll note that in the quote guimarin responded to, the word "all" was not used.
reconsidering your two new points that you have made there,
(a) many women make decisions on whether to enter a field based on some absurdly gross overgeneralization of that field
(b) women more so than men make decisions on whether to enter a field based on some absurdly gross overgeneralization of that field
Well, I think that (a) is probably true, but is also true for men. And that if (b) has any measurable truth to it I would strongly doubt it to have any statistical significance.
However if you pick any way to divide a large group into two (size of ears, for instance) and then measure something unconnected to that division, you will almost always find a small, measurable, but insignificant difference.
By the way, would you like a shovel?
[Disclaimer: I'm attending the current batch of Hacker School and was mad impressed at Etsy's facilities in a recent visit.]
I don't think Etsy is offering women money to attract them into the field, if that's what you mean. As I understand it, the proximate purpose of the money is to enable those women that are otherwise interested in the Hacker School proposition. Supporting oneself in an expensive city like NY for three months is a nontrivial handicap.
The gesture delivers the message that women are appreciated, at least in this particular environment. This may be the right kind of nudge.
In more prosaic terms, because of the newsworthiness of this initiative more women will learn of this opportunity.
It doesn't make sense to me to think of that as a 'bonus'. Who wants to hire anyone that would base their career choice on a $5K bribe?
All the women I've asked about whether they'd get a CS degree ( if they weren't already ) said that there were much better opportunities available to them, and that they chose not to pursue CS because the barrier to entry was higher for them than other more lucrative careers in finance, medicine and law ( this was almost always not an extrinsic barrier but intrinsic, 'why would I want to sit by myself and code all day for someone else, when I can trade stocks/bonds for myself?'; and other such comments about the inherent abstraction of CS ). My friends did not look at CS as liberating in what they could do, but limiting in how they could do it. And of course the women I asked who were already in CS were there for intrinsic reasons as well. I also don't see how my limited interactions are a good metric to apply to all women, but nevertheless.