|No such thing as a small change|
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].
/me dons flamesuit and presses submit