|Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister|
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.
I am not convinced by scientific evidence that suggests certain people are predisposed to certain forms of excellence. Instead, I am convinced by those that break those trends, those that succeed in spite of the "rules," and those that overcome the obstacles that society, culture, and others place before them. I believe that anyone has the potential to achieve anything--if they're willing to work and sacrifice enough for it.
In my experience, the best way to improve your social life is to stop obsessing over it. Yes, you need to get a life, through exercise, cultivating outside interests, and so forth, but stop trying to "get" a relationship. My experience has been that as soon as I stopped worrying about not having a relationship, I found myself in one. In fact, many appeared very shortly after I decided I didn't want one.
To illustrate: Six years ago, I was a basket-case. I'd been laid off from a job I loved, had moved across country to a place where I knew no one, was having personality problems with my boss, was trying to get over the messy end of a long relationship, and so on. In short, I was driving myself and everyone around me nuts because I was obsessing over all the bad things that had happened.
Finally, I got so exasperated with myself that I just said, "Enough!" For reasons I won't detail, I was to speak at a conference hosted by my former employer and knew that my ex would be there. I couldn't figure out how to handle it so I decided I'd just give up on the whole thing and simply be myself. Take things as they happened and go from there. Regardless, I was definitely not going to pursue any romantic entanglements until I'd gotten my head together.
The night before the conference, there was a mixer for the people from the company in question, the speakers, and the attendees. I was chatting with someone when I saw a friend of mine who began moving in my direction. He said, "I'd like you to meet another of my favorite people."
I turned around, extended my hand, and looked into her eyes. *BAM* We fell instantly in love. Yeah, as trite as that sounds, that's exactly what happened. We both knew that we were meant to be together. I saw the same realization in her eyes. It was one of the weirdest (and most wonderful) experiences I've ever had.
Of course, this kicked off a sub-process in my brain that started screaming "No! You weren't going to go there." And it took me about six months to get that process fully killed. She put up with a lot during that time, but I eventually let go of my fears. When I did, my dreams came true.
We've been married now for 5-1/2 years. I'm completely devoted to her and our family. Yes, it's an extreme and rare case, but it does happen.
My point being, of course, that as soon as I stopped obsessing about it, it happened. I'd had similar experiences earlier; I won't detail them, because a) my wife2 is my world (OK, my daughter is a huge part, too--as is my cat) and b) that's the most significant one.
We see the same thing in programming. You run into a tough problem that you can't solve. You worry about it, you obsess, you try different things, and nothing seems to work. As soon as you let it go for a time and get involved in something else, though, the solution hits you in a flash of insight.
To summarize this long ramble:
Now, having said all that, can we get back to the real work of the site?
1 This is also the basis for my parental philosophy; ask me how it works in about twenty years.