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ry0ohki 647 days ago | link | parent

"The reason more women aren't in software is staring us right in the face but we're too busy being dismissively sexist to see it."

This is the primary argument I disagree with. As someone who's worked with ad agencies, I can say sexism is so much worse there, yet there are tons of women in advertising. I agree with the poster that this type of thing shouldn't be tolerated in a professional context, but I don't think this is the reason women are not interested in computer science as a major and job choice (it may be the reason they have a high attrition rate once there though)



mediacrisis 647 days ago | link

Just because its arguably worse somewhere else doesn't make it less of an issue in other fields.

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peteretep 647 days ago | link

That would be true if other fields were also having trouble attracting recruits.

Sexism, intentional or as a result of boorishness is unacceptable and bad. Needs change, and that needs to be a priority. Got it, agree. Also think that diversity for the sake of diversity is a good thing, as controversial as some people find that.

But the point is: more chauvinistic and sexist industries (eg: finance, advertising, previously medicine) appear to be having little trouble attracting women. So why is it that software puts its gender imbalance down almost exclusively to chauvinism?

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mediacrisis 647 days ago | link

Without having worked in finance or national level advertising, I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you other than how I perceive those industries, but that is neither here nor there.

As a datapoint, I cannot for the life of me understand why a woman wouldn't work in software other than the environment. I enjoy my work thoroughly. It pays well, its engaging, and I find it rewarding. Do I speak for my entire gender? Of course not, but neither does any other woman.

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peteretep 647 days ago | link

> I cannot for the life of me understand why a woman wouldn't work in software other than the environment

I have spent the last few years automating warehouses. In aggregate, it seems men prefer processes that involve them going and finding and moving things, where women prefer processes that involve them standing still and doing repetitive tasks, provided they're within talking distance of other people. At a supervisor, men and women are equally interested in roles, but anecdotally appear to solve certain warehouse conditions in different ways.

It may be that this is some massive warehouse related conspiracy. Maybe we have been raised to expect men and women to have different gender roles, and society imposes their views on warehouse related problem solving. Maybe it's a sign of sexism? Perhaps fetching items and collating orders naturally leads to sexism and misogyny, where standing within social distance of other people blah blah, lorem ipsum pop science etc.

Or maybe, just maybe, there is a genuine in-aggregate difference in men and women that makes some tasks more fun for some genders than other, in aggregate. I keep stressing "in aggregate" because it certainly doesn't apply to everyone.

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wololo 647 days ago | link

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_and_psychology#Spatial_abil...

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king_jester 647 days ago | link

I agree with you that it is a mistake to declare that the lack of women in tech and software professions is solely due to sexism. As you rightly point out, women deal with sexism in many industries and spheres of life.

However, sexism is a part of the western social fabric. Women that do or do not want to pursue work will invariably find themselves in sexist encounters and situations. Also, industries like finance and advertising have a problem with women being represented in management, esp. at the highest levels due to institutional sexism and discrimination. We already see women leave fields due to those kinds of pressures and treatment, so to paint a picture of those industries being full of well treated women is disingenuous.

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peteretep 647 days ago | link

Yes. Sexism is wrong and bad, and part of the social fabric. I made all of those points in the original post.

Using it to explain lack of women in software where it can't be used to explain lack of women in other fields where it appears more prevalent seems disingenuous.

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king_jester 647 days ago | link

Agreed, I just wanted to point out that sexism is much more complicated, and that women may choose to work in fields in the face of sexism problems, both on a personal and systemic level.

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mcguire 647 days ago | link

"more chauvinistic and sexist industries (eg: finance, advertising, previously medicine) appear to be having little trouble attracting women"

I can't speak to advertising, but finance and medicine are some of the few employment traditionally open to women: tellers and nurses. Of course, they aren't traditionally represented in the higher levels of those industries. That seems to be changing, but I suspect the "traditional field" aspect is the key-in-the-door there.

Software, and similar science, technology, and engineering industries, don't have those kinds of traditional positions, making the imbalance more obvious and less, well, fixable.

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iy56 647 days ago | link

That's just factually wrong. Software does have those. Computer programmers used to be almost exclusively women.

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mcguire 646 days ago | link

"Software does have those."

Could you tell me which part of the software industry currently has a majority of women? (We agree that "does" is present tense, right?) I seem to be missing it.

"Computer programmers used to be almost exclusively women."

True. But that was before I was born. And I'm 45.[1]

[1] http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2011/researcher-reveals-how-...

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iy56 645 days ago | link

Oh, what I meant was that software does also have a history of such roles. Today, developers are mostly men, but QA and documentation seem to be female-dominated.

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peteretep 647 days ago | link

There was an actual joke in The Office with Michael Scott also confusing "working in finance" with being a teller at a bank.

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theorique 647 days ago | link

Right, but it may act as a counterexample as to why more women aren't in CS/CE/programming.

Advertising and finance (my field) are both known to be sexist and yet there are plenty of women in these fields.

CS/CE/programming is known to be sexist and there are not so many women in this field.

Sexism is a factor, but it's not the only factor.

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