in reply to
Women Programmers, Sex, Tai Chi and Reincarnation
While I'm all for monks keeping themselves healthy, I
doubt it will do much to attract more women to technical
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
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
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.