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At the same time it is interesting to see this statistic and it is evidence that women will enter an industry despite cultural barriers in that industry. There are subtle anti-woman biases in medicine which are far more pervasive than anything I have seen in the software industry.

For example, if you look at gender in diagrams in medical textbooks, male figures are more likely to represent healthy, normal body functioning while female figures are more likely to be used where the figure represents disease.[1] Self-degrading Real Men(tm) jokes[2] aside I don't see anything similar to that in the software industry.

The big difference is that medicine is a relatively stable industry and you don't have the huge pushes to release a product that you do in the tech industry. Physicians often are better able to set their own hours and decide how much to work than can software engineers working for Marissa Mayer. So for a woman wanting to have a stable, secure career which is friendly towards starting a family will find medicine very appealing and high tech startups rather threatening. On the other hand if Google was having trouble recruiting women now, I would suggest they have a problem.

[1] See "Birth as an American Rite of Passage" by Robbie Davis-Floyd. This is also a wonderful critique of systemic sexism in modern obstetrics of a sort that does not go away with more women entering the field.

[2] such as Linus Torvald's "Real men don't use backups. They upload their work on FTP and let the rest of the world mirror them." Or things like "Real men use cat to write their source files." Obviously this is not suggesting these are normal models of operation.




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