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  1. #1
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    Where are all the women in the development world?

    Why are there no women in my computer science classes at college?

    Why, when I worked at Microsoft and DuPont, were there plenty of female managers but nearly no female developers around?

    Why are they not choosing a major where more people are retiring from the workforce than graduating, meaning not only are there jobs, but employers are willing to fight for you to work for *them* instead of someone else?

    There were plenty of females in my organic chemistry classes. And I'm finishing a math minor... there are more females in the most advanced math classes at the university than in the entry level programming classes. Math isn't easier than computer science, they're essentially the same in many ways. The jobs you can get with a degree in mathematics... analysts, statisticians... are they more interesting than being a software developer or engineer?

    Things seem to be getting worse. What's causing this gender gap?

  2. #2
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Lots of artificial/perceived barriers to entry, computer culture skews heavily young/male/white, not as rewarding a job for those who don't get much satisfaction from solving business problems, etc.

    There are lots of reasons women (and to a lesser extent minority groups) aren't in the field in as large numbers as white males.

  3. #3
    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    I'm here.

    (But I hear you Dan. I have always been the only female in my department.)

  4. #4
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    I don't mean to be cheeky, but computer science classes would be so much cooler with more women

  5. #5
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    In my comp sci program the men definitely outnumbered the women 5:1 and you're right, the math isn't any harder than the programming and in most programs a math minor is a requirement for a computer science degree.

    TBH, I think a lot of it has to do with how we are raised. I was raised with a commodore 64 and then 128 and used to get those programming magazines and my dad and I could copy the code and make our own little video games. If you aren't exposed to computers growing up, it's doubtful you will have much interest in them as you enter the workforce, unless someone else exposes you to it.
    Sara

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    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    Yeah, perhaps you're right Sara. I was raised with a ZX81 which I used to write games for. Boy did that suck! Hours of searching for syntax errors!

    Having said that, I didn't study computer science, I just kind of fell into this job and learned as I went along.

  7. #7
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    OK, so I definitely need to invent an easily programmable computer that's somehow attractive to young girls, and get investment from all the multibillion dollar tech companies that can't find enough programmers to hire. That's a good business idea!

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    I remember being a student at UC Irvine and hearing the same question from friends in the IS school. It was regular for them to have one or two girls in a 400 person lecture and in a really diverse class there might be 10. On the flip side, studying in the social sciences it was quite regular to attend a class where men were out numbered by women 2-to-1.

    This has carried over to the business world although less so. At some of my previous places of employment IT was almost a third female, at others slightly less, but definitely better than what you see in the educational system. I imagine as time goes on this will continue to shift as more and more women enter the technology side of business. There's certainly nothing stopping them -- some of the best managers, directors, programmers and CTOs I've worked with have been female and with so many careers in the field it's a shame more women can't be found in your classes.
    - Ted S

  9. #9
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    Smile

    That really depends, but I see more women attending programming classes or computer science classes at a community college in Fremont, CA that I used to work at and attend some classes.

    I guess these are professionals who have taken degrees overseas and related certificates, and then brush up to find employment.

    It's cool to see women attending these classes and it isn't too boring-- because it gives diversity and a pleasing environment to learn among students.

    But more women are inclined to take Business, Psychology or any course that interest them, and then take few classes in computer science, programming, graphics design or multimedia as a supplement.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    I've heard from a person who does international recruiting that in many places (Bangalore was an example) it's an even mix. Some places it is 90% women.

    Just in case it wasn't obvious that it's cultural.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard Mike Borozdin's Avatar
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    There are some girls in my university group that are taking a computer science degree. Although some teachers tend to mak jokes at them: "Wow, girls and computers", "Beware girls, now I'm going to show you some code ".

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy Kailash Badu's Avatar
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    It has frequently been a source of hot and acrimonious controversies. Harvard president Lawrence Summer came under deluge of fierce criticism (mostly from feminists) in 2005 when he suggested women are naturally less capable than men when it comes to maths due to some innate differences. The event partly contributed to his resignation later in 2006. He suggested women are more likely to do well in social sciences than maths. I doubt there are any comprehensive research to back this up, though.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard rozner's Avatar
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    wow, I had to laugh when I read the title of this post, I mean no offense by it, in fact I wish there were more women in the field. I did a computer science degree and it's pretty much all guys. In a class of 200 there were maybe 5 women. Maybe 10 if we were lucky. Most of the girls I met in University were just not interested in technical things. I have a lot of friends who did engineering degrees too, and same thing, the majority of engineering students are men, by a landslide. I've worked several tech jobs as a developer and right now there's only one woman on the team. My last job was all men, but our manager was a woman. So this is not news to me, I'd love to see more women in the field.

  14. #14
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I know a couple of different women that do work on main frames, but I don't personally a single PHP developer.

  15. #15
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    In my school, there were less "hot" girls in the computer science class but there were more in the multimedia arts class (which is also a computer class but not in to programming, mostly computer arts).

  16. #16
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    I have a half-baked controversial theory. I would elaborate on it if I had time, but the short version is:



    Therefore, women (who obviously have a predominantly 'female' brain) are statistically less inclined to working with computers. Add subtle discrimination to the mix and you have a pseudo-scientific explanation for the 20:1 disparity you see in our field.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot cdndesignz's Avatar
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    Dunno - I know there are lots of women into math, but not me! And that seems to translate over to coding for me to some extent - I am very graphically creative, sense of color etc, but find going through lines and lines of code very frustrating and painful - my head wants to explode eventually! Even though I can do (and have done) some PHP customizing etc and hang things together, it's really NOT my favourite thing to do. But I can do purely graphical work for hours on end, like newspaper ads. So I have no desire to become a true "developer" or programmer because of that.

  18. #18
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    I'm a female developer (who has been around longer than I like to admit). I remember going to meetings and conferences in the 80s and being the only female in a group of 100 to 200 males. It seems a little better now but not much. I really thought that by now, 2007, there would be more females in this field.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Member driedsoap's Avatar
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    You could ask the question why is the ratio 1:19 for male nurses? There are a lot of factors that are either societal based or purely environmental i.e. in the home, schools attended and so on.

    I wouldn't consider this something to be of concern. So long as there's equal opportunity for both sexes to work the numbers just show personal preference.

  20. #20
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    My last job there was a female .NET developer and a female SQL database admin in a team of eight. The .NET was an athlete and quite attractive too. At my current job it's just me, some contractors, and a marketing team of six women.

    I personally think there aren't a lot of women in programming because of the stigma involved with the category. I just think they are never exposed to it at an early stage and later on, when they are part of more complex projects involving some sort of programming, it's just to overwhelming to learn.

  21. #21
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    I only entered the IT industry a couple of years ago but love the programming side of things, which is funny because I thought that I would be good at designing pretty web pages.

    My design skills turned out to be pretty crap actually but I got hooked on the whole PHP/mySQL thing.

    One of the major attractions for this business for me was the flexibility of being able to work from home, so it is surprising that more women aren't attracted to programming for that reason alone.

    Mind you, as you can tell by my moniker lots of my friends think I should have been born a man so perhaps ruby-lang's theorys aren't that wild after all! Bring me another beer.

  22. #22
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby-lang View Post
    I have a half-baked controversial theory. I would elaborate on it if I had time, but the short version is:

    Great, now I think I'm autistic.

  23. #23
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    only a LITTLE autistic Dan.

  24. #24
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    You don't know me offline.

  25. #25
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    true, true...


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