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Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation

by mugwumpjism (Hermit)
on Aug 17, 2001 at 18:52 UTC ( #105687=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

I was reading Female Programmers-WOT, and saw someone saying that the reason there were less women in computing was to do with the difference between the male and female mind, with the taken assumption that the female mind is clearly inferior. I believe that female minds and male minds work the same way, because they are the same thing. I think the problem is something far closer to home, and here's why.

I believe in rebirth* and the brain being a product of the conciousness rather than the conciousness being a product of the brain. Past life regression studies seem to conclude that a person's personality and interests are carried over from one life to the next, and that people can be reborn into either gender; ie, the soul is asexual. Whilst there is evidence that the soul gets to choose their next life - in particular, Dr. Joel L. Whitton's book, Life Between Life - I'd bet that most people end up spending a roughly equal amount of time in each gender. That is the method I personally use to reasonably eliminate the "male and female minds are different" argument, so let's not dwell on that and just take as given for a few paragraphs.

It's fairly reasonable, I think, to assume that the physical differences between male and female do not affect entry into IT, so I conclude that the lack of female programmers in this world is a purely social issue.

In fact, I'd say that today a large part of it could be the way programmers are very often highly undersexed, and for a woman to enter the field she has to deal with being treated as a sex object by undersexed programmers. That must be unpleasant. You could try and get people to stop treating women like objects, but I think that you'll never achieve it across the entire of the IT community, especially in University. I think a better question to address is why are programmers undersexed? I think it's because most of them are missing balance in their lives in some major way. They're often unfit and sometimes socially inept to non-programmers, often due to the amount of their life spent hacking. Look at the stereotypical programming "guru" - fat and usually unmarried.

I think that as programmers who are going to be used as role models by younger programmers, we should all individually try to ensure that our own lives are as balanced as possible; ie set a good example. This will hopefully make changes at the bottom end. Drawing the collorary the way to get more women into computing is to become fitter and more social.

Are you unfit? Why do you make the decision to stay unfit? You can keep fit with 20 minutes of a non-impact excercise like Chi Gung or swimming each day. Do you eat unhealthy foods, or simply too much food? Is that because you think that a healthy diet implies missing out on pleasurable foods, or the pleasure of a complete meal? It doesn't have to. Moderation is the key here, as is learning to focus your attention enough to be able to appreciate the pleasure of a meal from just one taste. Oh, and of course eating hempseed.

I recommend that if you decide to give up being unfit, don't go to the gym!; repetitive self-flagellation is no way to get fit. Be sensible and take up a martial art like a good monk. I recommend getting into Tai Chi, for some pretty good reasons that I won't go into now**. I'd go so far as to say that martial styles like Tai Chi, along with others that emphasise developing Ch'i, are proper martial arts, and styles that focus on doing nice kicks and punches like Judo, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, etc are cheap imitations. However, there's nothing wrong with trying out some other styles first, especially if you actually like pain. Some people get good mileage out of things like yoga, ballet, or dropping a couple of ackies and losing the plot on the dancefloor, but Tai Chi works for me.

I won't comment on how to become more social, that'd really be asking for it :-)

* - If you don't believe in rebirth, I suggest you look at some of the available evidence, studies and books written on the subject by many prominent scientists and doctors of our time, as well as the historical prominence of the idea in people's belief systems around the world. If you're only ever going to read one book in your life on hollistic matters currently deemed by the orthodox scientific community as unfashionable, make it ||this one].
** - This book is an excellent source of information on Tai Chi and gives many good reasons, written by a physics professor.

/me dons flamesuit and presses submit

Comment on Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by drfrog (Deacon) on Aug 17, 2001 at 19:36 UTC
    Hello:

    interesting

    one thing of note is that the physical makeup
    of the male and female brain is different

    i have read that the female brain has more
    connections between the left and right hemispheres
    what does this mean?

    supposedly it means that men have better cognitive abilities
    {on average}
    and women are better at spacial memory

    also i have to say tai chi and chi kung are great exercise

    i can say ive slipped in the summer
    but it greatly improves your
    state of mind and health

    toodles

    back in the day we didnt have no old school
      i have read that the female brain has more connections between the left and right hemispheres what does this mean?
      supposedly it means that men have better cognitive abilities {on average}

      How on earth can they say that with little to no real understanding of how the brain actually performs cognitive functions?

      One interesting phenomenon detailed by the Holographic Universe was the effect of conciousness on scientific studies, and how generally accepted beliefs manifest themselves in the world. For instance, neutrinos may or may not have mass, depending on the beliefs of the physicist involved. In the US it's massless, in Russia not. The books suggest that it's not an experimental error, but the physicist is actually changing the way that the particles behave. Very bizarre, and kind of makes a mockery of science. Hence the refusal by the Orthodox scientific community to accept the model.

        yes!

        brain does not nessicarily mean mind!

        caveat: even though i read something
        doesnt mean im not skeptical!

        i remeber having this great discussion
        with a friend of mine who just got
        her masters in psychology

        i asked her how one could go about making an
        closed environment for experimentation
        after all everything is in
        a symbiotic harmony right?

        i also asked her if it was possible to
        quantify the emotional content of an experiment

        of course she had no answers
        and she wondered why this has been so avoided

        im not sure either and of course i have my theories

        another thing of interest ,
        that you point towards is the
        ability to define an experiment
        and what you think the outcome should be

        what this meant is that one
        scientist could think this should happen and it would
        while another would try to prove another angle and get that too
        the mind has a powerful influence on the outcome of things
        mostly i think this is because
        as stated earlier we do not live in a closed system

        btw
        if your into tai chi and chi kung id suggest
        reading anything by mantak chia

        back in the day we didnt have no old school
No (Re: WPSTCR)
by footpad (Monsignor) on Aug 17, 2001 at 21:06 UTC

    I'm sorry. You had me until your fourth paragraph, which--if implemented--is a good way to get fired in the U.S. You see, we have this little law forbidding sexual discrimination in any form. And, yes, that means you can be fired for having a pin-up calendar, telling one off-color joke, or even patting someone on the shoulder. If this seems extreme to you, then I suggest you begin researching the reasons for this law and others that forbid discrimination in any form.

    I believe that the best way to encourage anyone to enter a field is to respect their potential, to encourage them to excel, to allow them to have fun, and to allow mistakes without recrimination.1 I have worked for many companies over the years and have seen many good people, male and female. Those that I've found the most interesting and that I've most enjoyed working with are the ones that feel free to achieve, to have ambitions, and to succeed.

      Sure, it might be illegal to discriminate in the work force, but I think you'll find it's not forbidden for boys to make lewd comments in school between themselves about girls.

      Update: Apparently, in the States this is illegal. I stand corrected, though anyone who tries to say that this sort of legislation achieves anything but more jobs for lawyers doesn't understand children. Are the lawmakers over there that detacted from reality?

Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by Cybercosis (Monk) on Aug 17, 2001 at 22:25 UTC
    Okay, I'll step forward, since it was my comment that sparked this.

    Yes, I said that the female mind (and brain) is structured differently. At no point did I use the word "inferior". To do so would have been a fallacy and a gross overgeneralization in one, and I make a point of not committing either. The differences between the actual physical brain structures and the functioning of the mind between the two sexes are easily observable. The two work something like matter and space: matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move. Likewise, the brain provides a space in which the mind can work, and the mind can change the chemical properties of the brain. The fact that these two complex and wonderfully intertwined systems happen to (generally) branch at a gender difference is evident, but not completely understood. (most) Women are better at multitasking, (most) men are better at superfocusing. (most) Women nagvigate by corridors, (most) men navigate by intersections. (most) Women can, under the proper circumstances, produce milk, (most) men can only do it in an emergency (somebody correct me if I'm wrong. This is another citation from a half-remembered source). The differences among these three are superficial, and certainly do not mark either gender as "inferior".

    I ask that you read what I write, rather than reading into it.

    ~Cybercosis

    nemo accipere quod non merere

      Yes, I said that the female mind (and brain) is structured differently. At no point did I use the word "inferior".

      I wasn't attacking your particular argument at all, in fact it was actually this post that really got me on this train of thought. I do think it's a fairly common opinion held by a lot of men, though.

      Likewise, the brain provides a space in which the mind can work, and the mind can change the chemical properties of the brain.

      There is some evidence to say that the brain is not actually required for the mind to operate. People have reported having NDEs (Near Death Experience) even when their EEG was flat line.

      I think any study concluding that measured statistical differences between men and women's cognitive ability implies that the minds work differently is hardly scientific. It could still very easily be explained by conditioning of the tested subjects.

Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by Cubes (Pilgrim) on Aug 18, 2001 at 03:06 UTC
    While I'm all for monks keeping themselves healthy, I doubt it will do much to attract more women to technical fields. OK, it can't hurt, but being ogled by pale, unwashed geeks is the least of the discouraging factors I've encountered in the past 15+ years.

    If you want more women in computing -- or any traditionally male-dominated field -- you'll need to work on changing the men who don't want us here -- the ones who make subtle and not-so-subtle sexist comments (I've had these go as far as threats of physical violence if I didn't quit a particular job -- a "man's" job), the ones who assume we're the receptionist when they spot us in the office lobby, and even the ones who rush to help us lift a heavy monitor onto a desk (I know they meant well, but it was rather embarassing to have complete strangers "rescue" me -- in public -- from tasks that were part of my regular job duties). You'll have to change the bosses and teachers who single us out and place extra demands on us in the classroom or office because they don't think we belong here in the first place so by god we'll have to prove we've got what it takes, and the subordinates who challenge our authority at every turn because who wants to take orders from a girl? You'll have to change our boyfriends and husbands, whose egos rebel when confronted with a partner whose career is more successful than their own.

    Then you can go to work on the women -- our mothers, our sisters, our peers -- who laugh behind our backs because we're involved in such an un-ladylike profession, or who frown and wonder why we can't just find ourselves a nice husband, settle down, and raise kids like they did.

    Things are improving -- it's gotten a lot better since I started out. If I follow the trend back before my time, I can't imagine how any women at all got into technical fields. And I have a lot of respect for those who did. But we're still getting over those attitudes. Young women still have mothers who wish they'd be proper ladies, and old chauvinists are still in positions of power. The blatant sexism is mostly gone, but the subtle pressure from society in general will take another generation or three to fade away.

      I'm sure it's been said before, but I think you might find that a lot of the discriminatory behaviour is a direct result of conditioning that occurs throughout our lives. You know, the blue/pink baby clothes, the toys we get, the little two yr old girl pushing a miniture pram along side her mom (who is pushing a big pram)...

      Because we're conditioned like this from a very young age (and we tend to pass these attitudes on), I don't see those people changing overnight or even for the next few generations. After all, you can't easily dictate to a parent how (s)he is going to teach their child.

        Sorry for this off-topic post here, but I've always been curious, what is a pram? I hope I'm not the only american that doesn't know what one is.

        Thanks,
        --xPhase

Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by ralphie (Friar) on Aug 18, 2001 at 03:14 UTC
    the sole comment i wish to make about many "discrimination" rulings is that they have less to do with discrimination than they have to do with lawyers and their desire to dictate whatever reality they wish. if you think deeply about cultures and what they are you fairly quickly realize that much of this could be turned whichever way one desires, depending on the power equation. it is very frequently in action the direct opposite of its characterization, and the only interests it serves are suburban and banal.
Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by cacharbe (Curate) on Aug 18, 2001 at 06:34 UTC
    Sweet Jesus.

    The supposition that how clean you keep your self, and what shape you're in, will have any impact on how many women are in our industry (or any technical industry for that matter) is one of the most chauvanistic, narcissitic things I've ever heard. How demeaning to women that we would think that they would want to "Join Our Club" based on how good we look.

    What keeps women out of our industry is the belief by men that they aren't good enough, and it gets pushed down the line, my friend.

    If you want to see more women in our industry, start teaching young women and little girls that It's okay to:

    • be intelligent, ask questions, have an opinion
    • To experiemnet
    • To have a positive Body image
    • To stand up for themselves

    And, you also have to teach young men and little boys that it's okay for women to:

    • be intelligent, ask questions, have an opinion
    • To experiemnet
    • To have a positive Body image
    • To stand up for themselves

    And that it's not okay to:
    • Mock, discriminate
    • persecute
    • belittle
    • abuse

    women in anyway. And until that happens, there will continue to be gender casting of our children, both male and female, there will continue to be children that are abused mentally and physically and thus taught that they aren't good enough to fulfill their dreams, or have aspirations.

    Yes, we are responsible for who makes up our ranks, but it is much more than our appearance, it is our mind set, it is our continued demeaning of gender, and it is sad that so few of us see it.

    That just pissed me off.

    C-.

      Hmm. Perhaps I didn't make it clear in my original post that this consideration applies mostly in school (I was told once in school that I shouldn't take a class because I might be the only boy in the class!), and in University. Basically, any educational institution that involves computers and young males.

      I wasn't saying that women conciously make the decision to join some exclusive club. But I saw what happened to women that dared venture into the computer rooms in school and university. Basically all the women were hit on, especially if they showed any talent. In uni it wasn't so bad, the geeks were more subtle by then with their urges. But if you knew any body language you'd spot them doing it a mile off.

        And that, right there, is my point.

        That is discrimination. You being told not to go to a class, the women being hit on because the coders are desperate sad sacks.

        I know how it is.. I was there. I lived this every day in school, and a still do in the business world. I was in all AP classes in Highschool, and was CS in college. I went to Michigan Technological University starting in 1991, my friend. I experienced the 3 guys to 1 girl ratio every day at the school level. Dwell on this... There were THREE women in my class (Class of '94) in CS at the time THREE. Funny enough, I was friends with all of them, and I associate that to the fact that I never tried to take advantage of them, treated them as people first, and women next. It's not that hard.

        They had to deal with morons hitting on them all day, but that wasn't a big issue for them. The issue they had was that many of the men thought that they couldn't do it on their own, and were trying to show off how smart they were by asking the women if they wanted to work on assignments together by saying "I could give you a hand with that."

        The issue they had was that the advisors singled them out, the teachers as well.

        obTeachers: I did have one female CS instructor. Mean old broad, and she was the worst offender. She worked one of my friends so hard (Didn't have time for her during office hours, would tell her to go and figure stuff out on her own) that she left the deaprtment for a semester. I suppose she was trying to build their character, toughening the women if she couldn't break the chain.

        It isn't an excuse to say that it only happens at school or that you are only talking about an educational environment, it doesn't and that environment is merely a microcsom of the real world, and it belittles how hard women in any technical industry (in life, for that matter) have to work just to prove that they can be equal, let alone accel.

        C-.

Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by Moonie (Friar) on Aug 19, 2001 at 21:55 UTC
    the way to get more women into computing is to become fitter and more social.

    This is one of the most ridiculous things I've read here. You think women base their acceptence of a job due to how "fit" and "outgoing" their co-workers are? You've got to be kidding! Are women so shallow as to judge their work environment on the base of their co-workers looks and personalities? NO! I don't think this occurs with either sex. Sure, there are exceptions - but you seem to be speaking in general terms - so this reply is reacting to that frame of mind. It's great to be in shape, but do it for yourself - not for some other edification. What if a woman programmer likes the sterotyped "programmer guru?" Hmmm? I know I did not start programming or being interested in computers due to the "fitness" of my fellow students nor how "social" they were. It was based on how much I enjoyed the work, the environment (I should say - management style that many IT/Tech departments have...), and my co-workers - fat or thin, quiet or outgoing - they are all respected based on their merits, not physical and social standards (which are subjective). They know/knew their job well and did it well. That's what counts, right? I think so.

    Granted, your post may have meant well mugwumpjism - I just didn't particularly appreciate a bit of the aspects of it.

    Update: I agree tadman - although I haven't run into that quite yet. Again.. historically this whole mediation may be very accurate. My experiences have been different - it's possible I've run into exceptions.

      I'm not talking about a grown woman entering a job. I'm talking about a young woman being turned off comp sci labs by imbalanced geeks drooling over her. These bad experiences alter the way that you think about going further with a career prospect both conciously and subconciously. And don't say that it shouldn't happen, whilst you'd be right the reality of the situation is it does happen.

        It may happen and I'm sure it does happen. I'm sure it happens to men as well when entering a workforce that is historically held by women. But, I didn't find that in college. I found a comradiry (sp?) - I found people who enjoyed coding who had fun. Guys drool, Girls drool - if there is someone attractive. But, I don't think that we base our career choices on that. I've had bad experiences in life in all walks - it doesn't mean I'll base everything off of them. But, to each their own. I'll grant that you do make a point. Being a young gal - I did have fun coding and still do.
        I agree with your point but I think you are addressing the wrong audience here.

        Yes - young male programmers and computer labs can be pretty sleazy sex-starved places. It's called adolesence. Yes it turns off women, yes young geeks can be pretty bad examples. Is it a problem for the monks here? I don't think so.

        Your advice is sound but you're addressing one possible reason out of many why there's a gender imbalance. IMO you're putting an inappropriate focus on this issue but I don't have a solution for improving the ratio either.

        My advice would be - encourage where you can but don't over do it. The balance will improve over time, but I don't see any quick band aid fixes.

        "The future will be better tomorrow." ... from the collected wisdom of George W Bush.

      I'm at a loss as to why this is "ridiculous". If anyone, male or female, is entering a profession which is dominated by a certain demographic, and is not welcomed, they are less likely to continue to pursue that as a result. This pressure is sometimes deliberate, but often subconcious and not especially mean-spirited. If you don't make the effort to "fit in", whatever that entails, then the status-quo is not going to change to include you.

      You must admit, the attraction of working at a company, or in an industry, where you are constantly agitated by your peers, would have less of an attraction than an alternative which would accept you more readily.

      Consider how difficult it was for women to enter any traditionally male-dominated profession, such as medicine, law, or politics. Times are changing, but 100 years ago, there would have been very serious backlash. It was deliberate, to preserve the status-quo.

      Whatever the circumstances today, I'm not especially concerned about the gender balance in technology today. If people do their part, such as keeping the environment more professional and less like a "boys locker room", then we all benefit. The pseudo-impersonal nature of the Internet may actually be a factor, since gender is less "visible" as well as being less of an issue.
        This node was taken out by the NodeReaper on Sun May 23 11:29:16 2004 (EST)
        Reason: diotalevi Empty node, reap.

        For more information on this node visit: this

Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by thabenksta (Pilgrim) on Aug 20, 2001 at 21:51 UTC

    Hey Buddy, I don't know about you, but I wouldn't say I'm "undersexed". I know nobody wants to hear the details, so I'll spare you, but I have a fiance that can look past the taped glasses, pocket protector and suspendors.

    Maybe instead of conforming to a Superficial, Discriminatory society, we should work on a work environment that people don't have to worry so much about how they look, as if they can actually do their job.

    But Hell, why would that matter, I'd rather have a nice perty lady to look at instead of somebody competent enough to get the job done.

    -thabenksta
    my $name = 'Ben Kittrell'; $name=~s/^(.+)\s(.).+$/\L$1$2/g; my $nick = 'tha' . $name . 'sta';
    Give Me a Dollar!
Re (tilly) 1: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by tilly (Archbishop) on Aug 21, 2001 at 00:04 UTC
    I had meant to avoid this thread, but the thesis seems so far off base that I do have something I want to say.

    Your thesis is that if we all become physically fit then we will "get enough" and not drive away females from our profession with our pathetic, panting attempts to get laid.

    But, admittedly without any data other than anecdotal evidence, I have to say that I don't think it is clear what the correlation is between being physically fit and random drooling. Certainly lots of out of shape men become tongue-tied in the presence of women. Certainly lots of athletic men think they are God's gift to women and attempt to seduce everything that passes. I have known enough from both groups to doubt that there is a strong correlation between how fit you are and how much of a PITA you will be to females in your environment.

    As for the "undersexed" part, well suffice it to say that plenty of programmers seem to have no problem with that aspect of life. Conversely I have known highly competent men in many professions who have trouble with women. Sure, there is a stereotypical geek, and there are enough of them around that the stereotypes are not wholly undeserved. However as a data point, the most "undersexed" geeks I have personally known happened to be in excellent physical shape. I think that looking up to someone other than "Spock" as a role-model would have done them (a pair of brothers) more good than learning a martial art.

    As a random data point I should note that of the Saints in our Book whose personal lives I know anything about, a majority have no apparent problems in their relationships with the opposite sex.

    And finally, your theory does nothing to explain why there should be such a huge difference between the ratios of men/women visible in the Perl community as opposed to programming in general...

Re: Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
by chromatic (Archbishop) on Aug 21, 2001 at 00:49 UTC
    They're often unfit and sometimes socially inept to non-programmers, often due to the amount of their life spent hacking. Look at the stereotypical programming "guru" - fat and usually unmarried.

    I met several Perl gurus at TPC 5. Of those, very few fit any stereotype. There is great diversity in age, habits, experience, hobbies, body types, and marital status.

    Questions as to why there are so few female programmers (especially in the Perl world!) are worth entertaining. So also are suggestions on how regular exercise, healthy diet, and an improved sleep schedule improve memory, mental clarity, and the ability to perform work.

    As for the rest, the debate of Nature versus Nurture will not be solved here. It's worth discussing ways in which the Perl and general programming communities do (or do not) encourage people (not just women) to join. I find the implicit assumption a little insulting. "If you want women, you lazy slobs will have to shape up and stop drooling over them."

    I, for one, want programmers who write programs that don't suck. There are men and women fully capable of doing that right now, and there are many more who can reach that point. I fail to see how skipping my workout today will change that.

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