I think it's great to look into why your organization doesn't have more women represented across its divisions. I even think outreach in the form of awareness about this 'problem' is great. I dislike the implicit message being sent by offering money specifically to women to go into engineering/computer science. At best it says, we know you know that engineering is not a field your interested in because your a woman which is why we're focusing on the fact that you're a woman in our recruiting pitch, and so we're offering you a 'bonus' of $Xk. I was aghast when the NYT article ( dave-to-girl ratio ) linked mentioned that "Most women think, 'I'm going to be in a cubicle at Microsoft typing next to some guys who smell funny." if they go into computer science. Because clearly all women make decisions on whether to enter a field based on some absurdly gross overgeneralization of that field. And even if every engineer in the world smelled like a sewer rat, to list that as the first/most important/first mentioned reason women don't want to become engineers is disgusting in the first order.
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.
I sincerely apologise for responding to the point that you made, rather than the one you meant to make. My psi abilities are weakest around the full moon.
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.
That's absurd. I am constantly recruiting for more women in my field and talking to those in school about how programming can be exciting and challenging. Many of these girls are already in computing classes, with 1 or 2 girls to 20 or more boys. It's difficult for them to know how else it could be, and it highly discouraging for them especially at an age when socializing with their peers is extremely important.
> I dislike the implicit message being sent by offering money specifically to women to go into engineering/computer science.
[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?
I don't assume to know what anyone thinks regardless of whether they are a man or a woman. I do know that belittling people and playing 'white man's burden' on them makes them feel disadvantaged and marginalized. I see that behavior coming through here; good intentions, bad secondary consequences.
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.
I just want to understand why you feel that offering a grant is "belittling." You claim to not assume what people think, yet you are trying to judge how women make decisions to get into a particular field. Being involved in outreach, I know that intimidation and lack of relation to others plays a factor. While I certainly know many women that won't get into CS because they aren't into it, I certainly do know handfuls of women that didn't get into it particularly because of the gender gap.