January 31, 2011

The Technology Gender Gap
— Monty

This article caught my attention -- it states that only about 15% of the articles on Wikipedia are written by women. And it probably says something about me that my first thought was, "That many?"

Computer and software technology is a heavily male-dominated area, and always has been. There have been many arguments over the years as to why that is so, but the fact is unassailable. Every so often, feminists or journalists or sociologists will drag the dead horse out and beat it some more: Why aren't more girls into video games? Why don't women go into computer-programming in greater numbers? Why do girls seem to find the fact and detail oriented world of technology so much less interesting than males?

This sort of thing usually degenerates into stupid arguments as to whether men are "smarter" than women, which I think completely misses the basic point: I think that women can be as good at technology as men in general; I think they choose not to. In other words -- what we are seeing is a basic, cross-cultural gender difference. I think that men are simply more willing to devote the deep focus and single-minded intensity to master a given topic (which may not have any immediate practical application) than women are. And I think that there is a degree of natural selection at work here: men are high-achievers because they want to impress women.

I think that this is pretty much the same reason that men dominate the hard sciences and upper echelons of the arts. Women seem far less willing than men (not less able) to devote years and years of study and practice to the mastery of a given field. Women also seem to be more communal and less competitve than men in general, which may lead them to "give way" in the face of more competitive males.

I guess my point is that I don't think there's anything to be done about the "technology gap" because it's a facet of a deeper gender difference. Women can master technology when it's to their benefit to do so (they led the charge in the cellphone revolution, and are the main impetus behind social-networking sites like Facebook), but they seem to prioritize high-achievement less than men do. This isn't necessarily a bad thing to be "fixed". In fact, I think it would do lots of men good to be less focused on their jobs and careers and more involved in their family lives. (Some men become practically autistic in terms of narrow focus on a technology or gaming subculture. I have done this myself and know whereof I speak.)

Posted by: Monty at 04:58 AM | Comments (101)
Post contains 449 words, total size 3 kb.

1 I dunno about less competitive... I've seen a group of women working with each other and they back stab and scheme worse than any group of men I've ever seen. My evidence is purely anecdotal but I know I'm not the only one who's noticed. The rest I'd say is spot on.

Posted by: Solo4357 at January 31, 2011 05:03 AM (FY+nO)

2 Some men become practically autistic in terms of narrow focus on a technology or gaming subculture. I have done this myself and know whereof I speak.

We promise not to make fun of your Warhammer 40k tabletop figurine collection.

Posted by: EC at January 31, 2011 05:04 AM (mAhn3)

3 Wow, men and women are different. 

Posted by: SouthTexas at January 31, 2011 05:06 AM (Rmz5I)

4 Wait, the first comment wasn't "Sexist!"?  Missed opportunity.

Posted by: Viridian at January 31, 2011 05:08 AM (D+vTb)

5

My dad was an computer operator (old school IBM...no, Dad, don't IPL your PC...)

I had a career in IT, starting with Help Desk and training people, working my way up the ladder, doing project management and eventually managing an IT department.

I did plenty on the technical side, don't get me wrong. But there was always work on the more people oriented side that I was better at and willing to do.

Posted by: Mama AJ at January 31, 2011 05:09 AM (XdlcF)

6 I have seen published studies that say that women actually think differently than men which causes this difference in science.

Women thing more in terms of graphics while men think more in terms of data. The studies said that this leads women into fields of science such as biology while men went into fields of physics.

Our problems today is that there are a shortage of men and women going into any science related fields.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2011 05:11 AM (M9Ie6)

7

Monty: Women also seem to be more communal and less competitve than men in general, which may lead them to "give way" in the face of more competitive males.

Solo4357: I've seen a group of women working with each other and they back stab and scheme worse than any group of men I've ever seen.

I think many women don't know how to be competitive in the same way men do. The whole "fight hard then go out for a drink with no hard feelings" is foreign. So some aren't, or hide their competitiveness, and others let it out in ways that aren't so hot.

Posted by: Mama AJ at January 31, 2011 05:12 AM (XdlcF)

8 What percentage of internet traffic features women? See, gap closed (or open - if you have a dirty, dirty mind, and you do since your here and not over at HotAir).

Posted by: Jean at January 31, 2011 05:14 AM (G5WHn)

9 I dunno about less competitive... I've seen a group of women working with each other and they back stab and scheme worse than any group of men I've ever seen.

I had a group of women tell me one time that they had taken a transfer to our department when it was initially set up because they wanted to get out of a group that had a female supervisor. They said they always preferred a male supervisor.

Posted by: Vic at January 31, 2011 05:14 AM (M9Ie6)

10

But... but... its unfair! Therefore, even if untrained or with less knowledge, Teck departments must hire until they reach at least 50% female personel.

Because thats the way we roll....

Posted by: Quota Systems at January 31, 2011 05:14 AM (AdK6a)

11 3 Wow, men and women are different.

They are?  Wow, what an Earth-shattering revelation! 

We need decades of NIH-funded studies to test this hypothesis! 

Posted by: Kratos (Ghost of Sparta) at January 31, 2011 05:15 AM (9hSKh)

12 Women like hi-tech vibrating gadgets

Posted by: Cherry π at January 31, 2011 05:18 AM (+sBB4)

13

This probably surprises no one but the termagants in the NOW.  Women like to have and use technological things, but generally do not like to work on or create those things.   By the same token I'm sure there are plenty of jobs that men self-select out of to a large degree.  Child-care related work is probably one of those. 

It is unfortunate that we feel the need to observe and judge these phenomena.  It tends to lead to our attempting to adjust them, to create outcomes contrary to what people would naturally do.  It's a waste of time and resources.

I do think there's a lot of truth in the assertion that women don't like to commit the time and focus needed to really specialize.  I've often heard it observed that when a profession becomes female dominated that profession tends to suffer.

Posted by: Reactionary at January 31, 2011 05:18 AM (xUM1Q)

14 I should add that I've noticed the same dynamic at work in music -- plenty of women work in music, but relatively few are virtuoso soloists (except opera singers or vocalists). In my own little area of the music world, the guitar, I'd say that male players outnumber female players by 6 or 7 to 1 -- and male players are almost always the more virtuosic. Women players also buy one guitar and play it in most situations, whereas men will buy four guitars, three different amps, fifteen stompboxes, a computerized effects-processor, a home digital recording studio, software like GarageBand.... And so on.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 05:19 AM (4Pleu)

15 You'd never catch me writing an article. Oh, wait...

Posted by: Barry 'Sorta' Soetero at January 31, 2011 05:20 AM (FcR7P)

16 I've noticed this difference myself. Anything my husband takes an interest in he inevitably becomes quite the expert at. He is very single-minded most of the time and usually won't let a topic or application go until he's learned everything there is to know about it. I'm more of a dabbler myself and am never as interested in the smaller details of things as I am in being able to see and understand the bigger picture. And even though I'm not bvery social- as far as women go anyway- I am always in charge of our family's social calendar. Which is a good thing because if I left that up to my husband we'd never make it to anything.

Posted by: Mandy P. at January 31, 2011 05:20 AM (vGmv/)

17 We promise not to make fun of your Warhammer 40k tabletop figurine collection. Well, I should hope not. Because it's awesome. Oh, wait. That was sarcasm, wasn't it?

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 05:20 AM (4Pleu)

18 Have you ever heard of women losers? Thirty-year-olds living in the basement at Mom's house? Find the reason behind that gender gap and you'll have the answer.

Posted by: t-bird at January 31, 2011 05:26 AM (FcR7P)

19 The differences in competitiveness between men and women probably also explain most of the female disinterest in video games. I remember reading a study that girls almost never play video games by themselves, and when they do, they do so to please a boyfriend or husband. (WoW is an outlier; for men and women both, that game is pure digital crackrock, apparently. Though I suspect that for women, WoW is far more a social enterprise than a "game", per se.)

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 05:27 AM (4Pleu)

20 Don't forget the serial killer gender gap.

Posted by: Cherry π at January 31, 2011 05:27 AM (+sBB4)

21 Or maybe women have better things to do than spending lots of time updating the unreliable Wikipedia and playing computer games.


Posted by: shibumi at January 31, 2011 05:28 AM (OKZrE)

22 God is a man, so there's that...

Posted by: Cherry π at January 31, 2011 05:31 AM (+sBB4)

23 A few years ago there were some feminist scientists (it never occurred to them that "feminist" and "scientist" can't go together) who wanted to prove that gender roles are determined by society not by nature - so they gave Baboons gender specific toys. Much to their amazement the little girl Baboons liked to play with dolls and the little male baboons preferred to play with the trucks and blocks.

This result was attacked by other feminist scientists on the grounds that the baboons were caged rather than wild and were thus some how influenced by the human cages or something. Rerunning the tests with wild Baboons gave the same result.

I have never met a man who thinks that Male brains and Female brains are the same - as far as I can tell it is only women who believe that to be true; it is obvious to us males that there are big differences  in the way males and females are wired.


Posted by: An Observation at January 31, 2011 05:31 AM (ylhEn)

24 Two recent headlines here state that women can't cook or use technology. That leaves making babies and getting me another beer.

Posted by: Crusty at January 31, 2011 05:32 AM (GvSpB)

25 A somewhat-related article about this from Maclean's magazine.

The related part:

Set aside that this statistic is going to launch thousands of theses looking at gender bias in Wikipedia, and think of how it undercuts the idea that everything men do is about power. I doubt any man has ever picked up a woman with the line, “hey baby, you seen the entry about Darwin’s theory of evolution? I wrote the first two lines”; instead, thousands of men spend a great deal of their free time beavering away anonymously, for no reward or recognition save the private satisfaction of contributing to a great project.

What we are seeing with Wikipedia—and any number of similar online enterprises—is a sort of natural experiment in the male brain operating in its preferred environment. It is a project that requires a great deal of focus, persistence, and attention to detail, what the psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen (first cousin of Sacha, of Borat and Ali G fame) calls “systematizing ability.” Men, not exclusively but almost certainly more than women, like to spend a great deal of their time perfecting minuscule tasks, regardless of their immediate practical value.

These same cognitive traits are wildly overrepresented in mathematicians, engineers, and IT professionals, and, when combined with very low levels of empathy and social skills, in people with Asperger’s syndrome and autism. Baron-Cohen actually refers to autism as the expression of the “extreme male brain,” which would explain why there are so many more autistic males than females. It also explains why so much of our built environment is the man-built environment.


Posted by: Waterhouse at January 31, 2011 05:32 AM (3YYhR)

26 Fucking formatting.

Posted by: Waterhouse at January 31, 2011 05:33 AM (3YYhR)

27 I'm always suspicious of these gender-based arguments.  Of course I believe that men and women are different, and that those differences lead to some self-selection in terms of career paths.   But I don't think this is really due to the nature of science itself, because the essence of science is inquisitiveness and critical thinking.  No gender has a monopoly on that.  The real problem is the way modern science is practiced.  To go into science as a vocation, one must:
1. Get a B.S. in a science field - 4 years min.
2. Get a M.S.  (sometimes optional) - another 2 yrs.
3. Get a Ph.D. - anywhere from 3-5 yrs.
4. Do one or more postdocs - each one can last from 1-2 yrs.

So from the time someone finishes highschool to the time someone has the correct credentials for a high-powered science job, it can be as much as 15 years!  Did you want to wait until age 33 or 34 before you got your first real job?  Not many people do, and that's a big reason why most people, men and women included, will say "screw it, I'm not going to waste all those years of my life for the merest chance of getting a good science gig, I'm going to monetize my already existing education in some other way."  Women just have an added biological incentive to avoid science as a career.

Posted by: chemjeff at January 31, 2011 05:34 AM (pqsMB)

28 Everything after "The related part:" is a quote.

Posted by: Waterhouse at January 31, 2011 05:34 AM (3YYhR)

29

The differences in competitiveness between men and women probably also explain most of the female disinterest in video games.

I play 'em, just not the strategy ones my son and husband do. I play the "casual games" aka "time management games" like Diner Dash and such.

But I'm also having a blast with racing games on the Wii.

I guess I just like to hurry...

Posted by: Mama AJ at January 31, 2011 05:36 AM (XdlcF)

30

Men and women are different from each other, and yet somehow, in some strange way, those differences compliment each other....wow, I never would have ever guessed that.

Ok, the paid researchers still haven't quite grasped that last part...about those differences being complimentary and natural...and they're light years away from the light bulb going off about how some individuals buck the norms for their respective genders while still being quite normal.  Perhaps they just need some more grants and another decade of research to figure those two things out.

Posted by: unknown jane at January 31, 2011 05:37 AM (5/yRG)

31 About the focus: my mom took several classes in old school computer languages (COBOL, etc.) back in the seventies; she loved it and had the brain power and single-mindedness for hours and hours of homework.  Problem: she had a husband and three children, one being a teenager (me). My dad--who regrets it now--told her that it was school or us. Yes, they are still married.

Posted by: baldilocks at January 31, 2011 05:38 AM (T2/zQ)

32 I have worked on several development teams where the single (as in the only) female in the group was the one that nurtured the newbie, got them on board, told them where the coffee pot was AND showed them where the system specs were (because 9 times out of 10 she had written them down). In almost all cases, the female programmer was quietly competent and task oriented. And don't get me started on testing. I'll just say that the best testers I have ever worked with are all female. I will admit that after the project was shipped I didn't want to talk to them for several weeks after :-). This is based on being in the software development field for over 30 years and still cranking out data driven web applications. I am now working with my daughter, who is one of the better developers I have worked with over the years. She is also an excellent marketer and salesperson, two really important requirements in a business environment where everyone these days seems to be a "web developer".


Posted by: emrys at January 31, 2011 05:42 AM (msqTW)

33 Vic @ 6 - Men are visually oriented, women are verbally oriented.  Hence their preference for romance novels and ours for pr0n.

Posted by: butch at January 31, 2011 05:47 AM (0APJ3)

34 [joncelli spends two hours trash talking on AoS, then looks up to see spouse] Hi hon. [joncelli spends another two hours on AoS] Oh, she went to bed. So, yes. Autistic.

Posted by: joncelli at January 31, 2011 05:54 AM (RD7QR)

35

Women also seem to be more communal and less competitve than men in general, which may lead them to "give way" in the face of more competitive males.

From the female perspective, I can tell you that this particular argument isn't true.  Women are VERY competitive, but we tend to be more competetive with other women than we are with men.  Part of that is hard wired gender roles.  The traditional caricature of the demure female means that we are less likely to compete with men because that (traditionally) would put us at a disadvantage for finding and securing a husband.  Is that true?  Maybe, maybe not.  But that's what I mean when I say "hard wired." 

But within groups of females, HOLY SHIT, look out. Anyone who has had the misfortune of being near a group of teenage girls who are fighting over a boy, or a prom dress, or a spot on the cheerleading team, or the lead role in the school play knows what I mean.  That competitive streak doesn't disappear when we grow up, it just morphs into new avenues of expression.  The fight over the prom dress turns into the evening gown showdown.  "Oh my God.  Didn't Mary wear that gown to the last company function?"  The cheerleading argument turns into, "I'm the one who's qualified for the Program Manager position, not Elizabeth.  That woman doesn't know the first thing about water filtration systems!  It's all office politics!"  Everything turns into a battle of backbiting, nagging, and veiled insults.  And yes, a lot of the time it involves wanting to impress one or more men.  It can be very uncomfortable for anyone not directly involved in the competition, and it it's usually impossible to avoid getting sucked into it in one way or another.

I'd say that the big difference between men and women in the tech industry is that, while men are involved in a lot of the development of systems and software, women are the dominant consumers of those things.  EVERYTHING is marketed to the teen girl demographic, from iPods to cellphones.  Do guys really care if their iPod Nano is hot pink or lime green or buttercup yellow?  Do guys REALLY feel the need to decorate their laptops with trendy flower stickers and Hello Kitty skins (not the actual skin OF Hello Kitty, but you know what I mean)?  Women have long been the holders of the family checkbook and scrapbook, so software like Quickbooks and Photoshop are ideal for the stay-at-home or working mother.  In the office, secretarial and administrative assistant positions are dominated by women, and these are by far the positions most likely to interact with basic technology on a daily basis, from PCs to photocopiers to printers to teleconferencing equipment.  I have worked in secretarial and Admin Assistant positions a LOT, and I can tell you that every single one of my superiors (male and female, but especially male) have been completely clueless about how to set up an LCD projector, how to work a conference phone, or even how to operate an Excel spreadsheet. 

Really, rather than being an adversarial relationship ("Why aren't there more women in STEM fields!"), I think it's symbiotic.  The male-dominated STEM fields create the products and systems that the female-dominated service sector use on a daily basis.  The stink that the feminist left raises is all due to the fact that the STEM fields (science, techonology, engineering and math) are the perceived "smart" fields, whereas the service fields (office work, nursing, social work, teaching, etc) are considered "soft" fields.  That's absolute bullshit, of course.  I'd like to see your average computer programmer who spends twelve hours a day sequestered in a tiny room building code try to work a day in a busy hospital ward, and vice versa. 

Are there very smart people in the STEM industries?  AbsoLUTEly.  But there are also a lot of smart people in every industry.  The difference is, the openings for programmers and engineers aren't as numerous as the need for competent nurses, teachers, and secretaries; that's why nursing and teaching are always in the top ten list of critical personnel needs.  So the smart techies get snapped up and fill the relatively few empty openings for STEM fields in a very short time, while the service industries soak up anything that moves and breathes -- smart, standard, or dumb -- just to try to maintain a critical mass in the workforce. 

That's also why the quality and quantity of nurses and teachers have gone downhill in recent years.  When everyone is lusting after teachers, you'd be stupid not to get a degree in teaching.  You're practically guaranteed a job.  But GOOD teachers are good because they have a genuine love of learning and a desire to help children succeed.  It's not just a job, it's a career and a passion.  Likewise for good nurses; they want to help people and ease their pain.  When either of these fields is treated like just another job, the quality of work and job satisfaction in those fields is diluted.  And as far as nursing is concerned, when you're also dealing with the messy business of sick people and the tangible elements of their various ailments, you're not going to last very long if you don't GENUINELY want to be a quality caregiver.  That leads to high turnover, long hours for remaining nursing staff, and the overall quality of nursing care declines as an inevitable result.

So, in conclusion... I love Katamari Damacy.

(I have no idea how else to close off this unexpectedly long essay/rant, so I figure a non sequitur works well enough.  ^_^)

Posted by: MWR at January 31, 2011 05:56 AM (4df7R)

36 30 "Men and women are different from each other, and yet somehow, in some strange way, those differences compliment each other....wow, I never would have ever guessed that. Ok, the paid researchers still haven't quite grasped that last part...about those differences being complimentary and natural...and they're light years away from the light bulb going off about how some individuals buck the norms for their respective genders while still being quite normal. Perhaps they just need some more grants and another decade of research to figure those two things out. Posted by: unknown jane at January 31, 2011 10:37 AM (5/yRG)" Exactly.

Posted by: AngelEm at January 31, 2011 05:58 AM (18RR9)

37

<i>Or maybe women have better things to do than spending lots of time updating the unreliable Wikipedia and playing computer games.</i>

Yeah, is it really a bad thing that women don't waste hours of time updating article on wikapedia for free?  Maybe they'd rather read a book.  Who cares.

Posted by: Lea at January 31, 2011 06:04 AM (lIU4e)

38

I'll just say that the best testers I have ever worked with are all female. I will admit that after the project was shipped I didn't want to talk to them for several weeks after :-).

Oh, man, does that sound familiar. Brings back memories of programmers running away from me. Good times, good times.

Sigh. I wish I could find a little tech writing and/or testing work to do from home.

Posted by: Mama AJ at January 31, 2011 06:05 AM (XdlcF)

39 Gender determining Career research

Institutions of higher education have more females than males enrolled. Regardless of gender, students have the choice of which discipline they choose to study. 

Whatever "gender gap" exists is by the students' choice. Special interests, i.e. hacks for their own personal "empowerment" at the expense of others, are attempting to "correct" a student's CHOICE despite the student's preferential will and talent, in order to enforce an authoritarian version of equality equation superimposed upon society and business at the expense of tax payers.

Posted by: Plateau Plato at January 31, 2011 06:06 AM (H+LJc)

40

I have no idea how else to close off this unexpectedly long essay/rant, so I figure a non sequitur works well enough.  ^_^

<Sniff> I'm totally better at non-sequiturs...

Posted by: Some random female at January 31, 2011 06:08 AM (XdlcF)

41 The percentage of INTJ and INTP personalities in the populace, while quite low overall,  is for whatever reason biased towards males.  Its not 50/50.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 31, 2011 06:12 AM (6iP/C)

42 When embedded processors get engineered into dildos, you'll see the female species get interested. Until then, solid state dildos rule.

Posted by: Pecos Bill at January 31, 2011 06:13 AM (j84s0)

43

32, 33, 36 True, true, and true.

While there does seem to be something to the differences between male and female thought patterns and task proliclivities, I think there are a lot of women (and men) who do buck the stereotype.  I think there are some standard norms, but a lot of variation that lies within the range of normal -- not a lot of thought is being given to the sizeable number of people who don't fit that stereotypical norm and yet are normal.

These studies seem to do more to encourage very black/white interpretations of individual's behavior and facilitating a more adversarial context than what is seemly.

Posted by: unknown jane at January 31, 2011 06:13 AM (5/yRG)

44 Oh Bullshit. Women can do anything that men can do. The differences arise when women give birth or even seek to give birth. They then become mommies which is a completely different species than they were before. Most of their brain, if they are not assholes, is taken up with thinking about the welfare of their child. Women without children and men can't grasp the difference. I think that even women college students look toward how they are going to balance any future motherhood and career.

Posted by: dagny at January 31, 2011 06:18 AM (0Hp4r)

45 Oh Bullshit. Women can do anything that men can do.
Posted by: dagny at January 31, 2011 11:18 AM (0Hp4r)

Who is saying they can't?

Posted by: KG at January 31, 2011 06:20 AM (2k/Dg)

46 Men, not exclusively but almost certainly more than women, like to spend a great deal of their time perfecting minuscule tasks, regardless of their immediate practical value.  Posted by: Waterhouse

That is such a good observation.  Guys do do this.  How many young men spent hours becoming foosball masters or pinball wizards?  Or yo-yo experts.  Not to mention working to throw a good slider or knuckleball. 

Posted by: toby928 at January 31, 2011 06:22 AM (GTbGH)

47 Oddly related to the next thread up, do young guys get so obsessed with intense minutia and competitive stuff because they aren't getting any?

Posted by: toby928 at January 31, 2011 06:27 AM (GTbGH)

48

I am female and I edit Wikipedia rather extensively on Mexico related topics as I live here. Kind of my travel log. I write about stuff I see and experience. (last article extensively edited is the Costa Grande of Guerrero).

As for why a gender gap in WP, I can offer two possibilities: the interface is not terribly intuitive. Lots of trial and error to figure stuff out, or wading through really tedious instruction pages (assuming you can find them). The second is there is a lot of "edit warring," especially on articles of well known content. For this reason, I tend to avoid those articles. I get no thrill over a fight.  Take away, those two aspects and you can then focus on writing... language skills women are good at. Im involved in forming a Wikipedia group, and one of our goals is to offer classes in how to edit in WP, since most, and not just women, need more guidance then hard-to-find instruction pages. I know this because I have had my students write in WP as part of their English classes, and this is the biggest drawback.

I do think that women are not as strongly drawn to science and technology, and I like it more than the average female, but I still need a tech guy when something goes wrong.

As for careers in general... I never felt "discriminated against" until I had a child. Since women are still the primary caregivers, (for whatever reason) we cannot compete against men who can work 12 hour days. I dont know what the answer is to this, but I know its not "all men's fault."

Posted by: LeighT at January 31, 2011 06:30 AM (V3aNv)

49

 

46 Oh Bullshit. Women can do anything that men can do.
Posted by: dagny at January 31, 2011 11:18 AM (0Hp4r)

Who is saying they can't?

Posted by: KG at January 31, 2011 11:20 AM (2k/Dg)

Re: I think that men are simply more willing to devote the deep focus and single-minded intensity to master a given topic (which may not have any immediate practical application) than women are.

I'm try, perhaps badly, to say that women aren't unwilling to "devote the deep focus and single-minded intensity to master a given topic" it's that biology gets in the way. It's not a matter of will as much as it is a matter of brain chemistry.

I'm going to the second round of interviews today for a job that would be perfectly suitable for me, easy to get to, and the right salary. What's my overriding concern? How flexible they are about my being available to my children when they're sick or snow days. That is absolutely my first priority and if I get the sense they are going to be a problem, I'll make them clarify their policies and will decide whether or not to take the job on that basis. It's just a completely different way of thinking and I don't feel the LEAST bit bad about it.

Posted by: dagny at January 31, 2011 06:30 AM (0Hp4r)

50 While there does seem to be something to the differences between male and female thought patterns and task proliclivities, I think there are a lot of women (and men) who do buck the stereotype. Well, sure. We're obviously speaking in statistical terms here, of cohorts and genders, not about individuals. There's nothing stopping any particular women from going into a STEM field; it's just that by making that choice, she's accepting the fact that she's going into a field that's pretty much guaranteed to be 90% male. (The same is true in reverse of a male who goes into nursing or teaching.) There has been a lot of angst in the popular culture over the rise of the "man child" in recent decades: a man who refuses to grow up, who reads comics and plays video games and basically remains in an adolescent state far into adulthood (even old age). But this is the female side of the argument more often than not -- that the male is somehow refusing to "grow up" by staying in a technological comfort zone. (It never seems to occur to women that men do these things because they are fun, and that we get fulfillment out of those things; otherwise we would not do them. And we fail to see how playing a video game is any more a "waste of time" than blowing an afternoon at the mall or yammering on the phone with our mother for two hours.) (And by "we", I mean "I".) (And perhaps I protesteth too much, and should just move on.) The basic point is that women can achieve in STEM fields, but often choose not to. And this seems to be independent of cultural or social factors, indicating some deeper behavioral or cognitive difference between the sexes.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 06:30 AM (4Pleu)

51

Oddly related to the next thread up, do young guys get so obsessed with intense minutia and competitive stuff because they aren't getting any?

I'd argue that it's an evolutionary mechanism to ensure that they get some.  Specialization within the tribe ensures that you're not constantly jockying for position against everyone else, because you can focus on being good at one thing.  You fit into the social structure, ensuring that any mate and children have access to the resources of the group.

Posted by: Alex at January 31, 2011 06:31 AM (J2ejK)

52 Racist.

Wait. What?

Posted by: Victims Group Overload at January 31, 2011 06:35 AM (a0Jhx)

53 do young guys get so obsessed with intense minutia and competitive stuff because they aren't getting any? Why? Do you know somebody? Is she pretty? Did you tell her about me? Tell her I've got this totally sweet HTC setup at home with a 4TB drive with all of my DVD's on it, and that I can stream to either my PS3 or my XBox, complete with DTS or Dolby 5.1 surround (of course if she wants to watch downstairs it's only straight stereo because I don't have the wireless speakers set up yet down there -- plus the TV down there is on a 42-inch LED, not a 60 OLED like upstairs). Plus I've got all my music ripped to MP3 or FLAC, so if she's looking for a higher bitrate feed for the stereo, all she has to do is reroute the default feed to the FLAC folder on the default HTC server and then configure the streaming software to serve up FLAC by default. Oh, and tell her that her iPod won't take FLAC, so she'll need to transcode to AAC or MP3 if she wants to load it up on her iPod, or just re-set back to the MP3 folder. Does she like cheese danish? ... What?

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 06:36 AM (4Pleu)

54

A young girl that I know who's in her early 20s is looking to get out of the coffee making business and go to college. I suggested computers (she's a gamer) or nursing or business, you know, something that will get her a paying job. She countered with cosmetology school or social work! and she said it as though we didn't have enough hairdressers or social workers in our society.

There you have it.

Posted by: Max Entropy at January 31, 2011 06:39 AM (lH6z9)

55 Baron-Cohen actually refers to autism as the expression of the “extreme male brain,” which would explain why there are so many more autistic males than females.

Autistics are socially retarded, a developmental disorder.

This sort of thing usually degenerates into stupid arguments as to whether men are "smarter" than women,

It's not surprising that society's traditional view of "intelligence" almost exclusively looks at the male version of it.

Posted by: 1+1=2 at January 31, 2011 06:41 AM (xs5wK)

56 I'm probably a significant outlier in the distribution: female, PhD Physics, always been interested in tech and science.  When I was 15 I pestered my parents to take a computer class *during the summer* because I thought it was interesting (TRS-80's and line BASIC, good times ...) Then again, I was a weird child that didn't get along much with my age-mates and preferred to talk to adults.  Peer pressure wasn't an issue since I was pre-rejected by them and had no interest in being accepted by kids I had a low opinion of ;-)

Maybe things get different for boys and girls at that age because girls quickly figure out they get lots of positive attention just by wearing a tight t-shirt and breathing.  Lots of payoff, little effort.  When you add in to that parental role modeling, not too surprising they don't go for tech and science if their parents don't.  My mother, rare for her era, desperately wanted to be a technical writer and my father was a happily geeky engineer who would spend hours talking about stress analysis, moment arms, and torque.  He gave me drafting equipment and woodworking tools as a treat!  I thought it was normal.  Kids need positive feedback from *someone* to pursue any activity.

Yeah, men and women are different BUT I think there is a significant area of overlap AND things change.  Watching my silver-haired mother first learn about computers (she's quite good now!) and then teach her friends was a delight.  She's now considered, at 70, the computer expert among them and gets the same kind of tech support calls I used to get from her.  (My father, on the other hand, barely mastered email and never really understood how modern computers worked.)

Posted by: bad cat robot at January 31, 2011 06:41 AM (65lpa)

57 Peer pressure wasn't an issue since I was pre-rejected by them and had no interest in being accepted by kids I had a low opinion of I am intrigued by your philosophy and would like to receive your newsletter.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 06:50 AM (4Pleu)

58 It's a big gamble to spend your time going deep into some technology or possible future technology. If you're looking for payoff, it's not really a rational gamble except *maybe* for the extremely talented and even then it's questionable. For every Gavin King writing the next big framework like Hibernate, there are literally thousands of poor souls who labored in vain, the also-rans that toiled through nights to no avail other than to satisfy their deep interest in the subject matter. There are some really good women authoring tech related books though, e.g. Patricia Wamsleys's XQuery is really good.

Posted by: steve h at January 31, 2011 06:53 AM (XHOAD)

59

I suggested computers (she's a gamer) or nursing or business, you know, something that will get her a paying job. She countered with cosmetology school or social work! and she said it as though we didn't have enough hairdressers or social workers in our society.

Skip business.  It's become almost as bad as psycology.  Nursing is probably the best bet: computer related jobs can be outsourced, but nurses are still very much in demand, and it's a job skill that is very portable. 

Posted by: Alex at January 31, 2011 06:54 AM (J2ejK)

60 So, basically what you're saying is that men are smarter than women.

Posted by: Hamilton Burger at January 31, 2011 06:57 AM (tZksj)

61 Most women don't find programming and IT that interesting. That is not to say that some don't do very well when they do enter the field.  There is no discrimination.  Technology is not some chauvinistic world, entry is open to all that are qualified. 

The eggheads and beta males who run it would love to hire more women if they were available.  I am a software engineer who is also one of those neanderthal Christian conservatives, that is kinda rare too.  I went back to college recently and the programming class had 2 women out of a class of 30.  Even they didn't seem they were pursuing it as a career.

Posted by: Ken Royall at January 31, 2011 06:57 AM (tgM/l)

62 43 Until then, solid state dildos rule.
_________

You know, I think I can quite honestly state that some applications of those silky smooth Soviet tubes never occurred to me.

Posted by: Anachronda at January 31, 2011 06:59 AM (NmR1a)

63 Isn't it women who hold title to the oldest "profession"?

Posted by: Soona at January 31, 2011 07:02 AM (1sRTx)

64 54 ... with a 4TB drive with all of my DVD's on it ...
_________

One drive with all your DVDs? Piker!

Posted by: Anachronda at January 31, 2011 07:03 AM (NmR1a)

65 Being in IT, I have seen this come up more times than I can count. What I have never seen, are people like this talking about "gender gaps" and "diversity" when looking at a field like social work, which is dominated by women. Women know they can study whatever they want in school. They know they can pursue whatever career they want. Why don't these wannabe gender "experts" just sit back and let women be whatever the hell they want to be?

Posted by: ScottBern at January 31, 2011 07:10 AM (JF/H+)

66

If I had studied harder in college, I'd consider going to PA school.  The classes can be nearly 90% women, depending on the school.

Posted by: Alex at January 31, 2011 07:16 AM (J2ejK)

67 One drive with all your DVDs? Piker! Well, actually, it's *two* 2TB drives in a NAS, set up in a RAID-0 configuration, backed up to external E-SATA drives via rsync. The big problem at first was getting over the latency inherent in the DLNA protocol -- in a RAID-0 environment, both drives have to be exactly the same (same rotational speed, cache, etc.) to avoid lag. So I settled on 10,000RPM SATA drives with big 2GB caches on each one, and then implemented a powerline Ethernet solution throughout my house (wired is better than wireless when bandwidth is an issue). But once I had the disk latency and network latency issues resolved, I had to figure out how to properly encode (or transcode, rather) my DVDs into the proper format: a high enough bitrate to preserve the full 24fps (or 30fps) framerate of the original, plus the full 5.1/DTS soundtrack, while at the same time allowing for the most efficient streaming and disk-space usage. I settled on a H.264 video codec at ~1500bps for video, and AAC at ~256kbps for audio. (All of my non-portable audio streams in FLAC at ~800kbps, more or less.) .... What?

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 07:17 AM (4Pleu)

68 You're no better than that POS Larry Summers!  Dammit, I'm getting the vapors just reading this thread!

Posted by: steve at January 31, 2011 07:21 AM (9TS9J)

69 68 But once I had the disk latency and network latency issues resolved, I had to figure out how to properly encode (or transcode, rather) my DVDs into the proper format: a high enough bitrate to preserve the full 24fps (or 30fps) framerate of the original, plus the full 5.1/DTS soundtrack, while at the same time allowing for the most efficient streaming and disk-space usage.
___________

Meh. I just hit the "iPod/iPhone" preset on Handbrake so that I can plunk a few of them on the iPod when Mission Control drags me off to visit the in-laws. Guess I'm just lazy...

Posted by: Anachronda at January 31, 2011 07:22 AM (IrbU4)

70

What I think is funny, is that this all stemmed from contributions to wikipedia.  I am a successful female engineer, who's interests and knowledge range both within the STEM fields and beyond.  I have never contributed to wikipedia, (though I use it all the time,) not because I don't understand the technology, I am regularly approached as the go to for solving computer related problems, and lets be honest, it's not like it even takes tech skills to contribute to wikipedia.

I have never contributed for two main reasons.

1) I am too lazy.

2) I have better things to do with my time. (Like be lazy.) 

To women not being in the tech fields, I agree, it's a choice, not an ability issues.  Although, sometimes girls spend so much time putting on makeup and blinking coyly in an attempt to attract boys and one up the girl next to them, that they loose the ability to actually think...granted men who aren't AoS morons do it bulking up on stupid looking muscles.

Posted by: Anomalous at January 31, 2011 07:22 AM (BaQuW)

71 #21, exactly. Women will not stay up late editing Wiki articles because they actually have lives and aren't basement-dwelling aspie wargamers.

Posted by: SGT Dan at January 31, 2011 07:29 AM (HBTr7)

72 More proof Wikipedia articles are written by men: Sometimes the articles are accurate, sometimes they're inaccurate, but very few articles go on for eighteen paragraphs without really saying anything.

Posted by: EnochF at January 31, 2011 07:29 AM (ZbtIh)

73 bulking up on stupid looking muscles As a fairly typical example of the geek herd (pasty, middle-aged, tending to paunch, a vast knowledge of useless technical arcana, etc.), let me say this: chicks love the muscles. Especially bronzed muscles. Show them a dazzling proof of Fermat's last theorem and they'll be unmoved; beat up some dude in a biker bar and they just about wet themselves. Evolution, thou art cruel.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 07:33 AM (4Pleu)

74 And I think that there is a degree of natural selection at work here: men are high-achievers because they want to impress women.
------
Good news lads!  Our intimate knowledge of AD&D rules from the 1st through 4th editions shall finally bring us fair maidens.  St. Cuthbert be praised!  Mother, I must now take my leave of my lodging in the quarters above the garage.

Now let's go LARP in celebration!

Posted by: where're my ping pong balls? at January 31, 2011 07:38 AM (YxaXw)

75 only about 15% of the articles on Wikipedia are written by women.


Most women have better things to do with their lives than work for free.

Posted by: HeatherRadish at January 31, 2011 07:52 AM (4ucxv)

76 Well Monty, I think you can now rule out your coveted Harvard presidency. But there may be room at Treasury.

Posted by: Larry Summers at January 31, 2011 08:00 AM (qwK3S)

77 51: There's nothing stopping any particular women from going into a STEM field; it's just that by making that choice, she's accepting the fact that she's going into a field that's pretty much guaranteed to be 90% male.

Which is not necessarily bad. For one thing, at conventions and meetings, there were always lots of people who wanted to buy me a drink.


Posted by: mb at January 31, 2011 08:02 AM (WX/Z1)

78 Most women have better things to do with their lives than work for free. Like buy shoes? Or yammer with their friends for three hours about shit they just did that morning? Or nag you into seeing some movie that isn't even in english where some greasy foreign dude sits around his apartment all day smoking and feeling angst? Or wonder why we can't feel the same excitement they do when some yowling nobody survives another round on American Idol, or what went on on Glee last night? I kid, I kid...but sort of not. I am given to understand that many women feel a Zen-like satori when they buy a pair of Manolo Blahniks for half-off, or get a Coach bag in just the color and style they wanted and for what they could afford to pay. Many men feel this same emotion when finishing Dead Space on "hardcore" mode.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 08:12 AM (4Pleu)

79 Gee, thanks Monty, for damning me with a caricature painted by gay men.

Posted by: HeatherRadish at January 31, 2011 08:22 AM (4ucxv)

80 (It really is totally pointless around here to point out that not all women are brainless twats, isn't it?  Assholes.)

Posted by: HeatherRadish at January 31, 2011 08:23 AM (4ucxv)

81 Women also seem to be more communal and less competitve than men in general, which may lead them to "give way" in the face of more competitive males.

-----------

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Women are FAR more competitive than males, and far nastier about it.

Males will compete for dominance of the tribe, and when there's a winner, the rest of the tribe will follow him and obey as long as he does well (see: quarterback). The competition redounds tor the benefit of the tribe, who then co-operate in the hierarchy. That's why men form teams and bands.

Female "communalism" involves cutting down any woman who tries to rise above the others. It's savage egalitarianism.

Posted by: schizuki at January 31, 2011 08:24 AM (M+lbD)

82 79 Or nag you into seeing some movie that isn't even in english where some greasy foreign dude sits around his apartment all day smoking and feeling angst?
_________

Oddly enough, I just watched Downfall last night. Which is a movie not even in English about some greasy foreign dude that sits around his apartment all day smoking and feeling angst.

But I'm not female...

Posted by: Anachronda at January 31, 2011 08:29 AM (xGZ+b)

83 As long as we're on the subject of men and women:

Years ago I was at a wedding reception that had a 50/50 drawing. A young guy won, and his buddy loudly and laughingly said to him, "You fucking asshole, I don't believe that shit! You suck!"

My buddy's wife said to me, "Jeez, what a nice friend."

I explained, "That's how guys talk. If you had subtitles under it, it would read, 'Congratulations, my friend, on your good fortune!" Now, if those were two women, the girlfriend would say, 'Oh, my gosh, you are so lucky! Awesome! Yay!' And the subtitle would read, 'Bitch."

My buddy's wife laughed and said, "You know what? You're absolutely right."


Posted by: schizuki at January 31, 2011 08:32 AM (M+lbD)

84 Gee, thanks Monty, for damning me with a caricature painted by gay men. Actually, I was describing my ex-wife. And several girlfriends. And many female friends (non-romantic). I don't get why women are so defensive about this kind of thing -- certainly the behavior is not universal, but it is so common as to be beyond serious dispute. I don't mean to "damn" women for anything -- merely to point out that your own caricature was no more valid than the one I presented. The implication that doing "something better with their lives" did not involve non-remunerative writing of computer code, or playing games, or whatever. My point is that "life" is what happens to you while you're alive, and if you take pleasure in these things, it's just as valid a task as anything else. It goes back to the "child man" argument I brought up earlier in the thread -- the same basic arguments can be applied to females, using slightly different scenarios, yet somehow the conversation only ever turns on men and not women. I think that's a fallacy.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 08:32 AM (4Pleu)

85 Now, if those were two women, the girlfriend would say, 'Oh, my gosh, you are so lucky! Awesome! Yay!' And the subtitle would read, 'Bitch." That gave me a good laugh. I used to date a woman who often called people 'sweetie' and 'darling' and 'honey'. I thought this was cute until I found out that the more upset she was, the more likely she was to use the cutesy-pie endearments. ("Honey, I think you shorted me five bucks on my change," she'd say to a waitress, an assassin's gleam in her eye. "Darling, you just shut my finger in the car-door. Sugar-bear, you ruined my best blouse in the washer.") When she called me 'Monty', I knew I had clear skies and plain sailing. It was when I became 'sweetie' that the shit was about to hit the fan.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 08:49 AM (4Pleu)

86

Only one solution to the technology gender gap.

 

Yep, you got it. We gotta bring back the draft.

Posted by: Jay Guevara at January 31, 2011 09:10 AM (mUbKD)

87 Wikipedia? I've sworn off.

Perhaps women already have sufficient outlets for any desire they might have to spend enormous amounts of time on something that brings in no remumeration at all.

Posted by: Joy McCann/Miss Attila at January 31, 2011 09:20 AM (saBHO)

88 Occasionally I get into a Zen-like fixation on whatever I'm working on (usually music, programming, or electronics) that I'm superhumanly able to ignore minutes of conversation directed at me and have zero recollection of them after.

Thomas Sowell convincingly argued that most income disparity between the sexes is due in very large part to gender differences, one being the child-rearing aspect of motherhood.

Another person (can't remember who) said the only reason anyone ever learns to play the guitar is to get women, and that any guitarist who says otherwise is lying.

I'm fairly convinced anyone who blames it all on sexism is determined to believe only that. The sexism argument is the gift that keeps on giving, because one can blame centuries-old sexism for ingraining itself in all cultures, therefore it is never invalid.

Posted by: fb at January 31, 2011 09:24 AM (G60Nl)

89

When someone makes the computer version of a turkey baster, then you'll see some changes, you sexist pigs.

SOME FEMINAZI

Posted by: Kelly at January 31, 2011 09:28 AM (FLFli)

90 Another person (can't remember who) said the only reason anyone ever learns to play the guitar is to get women, and that any guitarist who says otherwise is lying. And the sad thing? It doesn't really work. It turns out that groupies are really into the money (and the drugs), not the guitar per se. Perhaps women already have sufficient outlets for any desire they might have to spend enormous amounts of time on something that brings in no remumeration at all. I think the problem is in the term "remuneration". I think here of the herculean effort that many programmers have put into open-source software over the years -- most of the "pay" is in the respect and admiration of fellow geeks, or in the satisfaction of solving a difficult problem. There are thousands of computer nerds the world over who have labored for hundreds or thousands (or, hell, tens of thousands) of hours on computer code that maybe three other people on the planet will ever read or understand, and for which they were "paid" only in a "thanks, bub". Yet, somehow, it's enough to keep the fire lit.

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 09:35 AM (4Pleu)

91  Anomalous, so you're a female engineer, that's great! So do you have red hair and nice bazookas?

Posted by: Kelly at January 31, 2011 09:38 AM (FLFli)

92 42 The percentage of INTJ and INTP personalities in the populace, while quite low overall,  is for whatever reason biased towards males.  Its not 50/50.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 31, 2011 11:12 AM (6iP/C)




No doubt.  I've scored both and am told, good or bad, that I'm "unusual" in my thinking.

Posted by: baldilocks at January 31, 2011 09:40 AM (T2/zQ)

93 Another person (can't remember who) said the only reason anyone ever learns to play the guitar is to get women, and that any guitarist who says otherwise is lying.

And the sad thing? It doesn't really work. It turns out that groupies are really into the money (and the drugs), not the guitar per se.

Ahem. It wasn't Hubby's computer science degree that first got my attention when I saw him playing guitar.

Posted by: 1+1=2 at January 31, 2011 09:47 AM (xs5wK)

94 Ahem. It wasn't Hubby's computer science degree that first got my attention when I saw him playing guitar. Huh. Maybe they meant "play the guitar well".

Posted by: Monty at January 31, 2011 09:52 AM (4Pleu)

95 This article caught my attention -- it states that only about 15% of the articles on Wikipedia are written by women. And it probably says something about me that my first thought was, "That many?"

My first thought was, "So what?"

With the developments in Egypt, it can't be a slow news day.

Posted by: Blacque Jacques Shellacque at January 31, 2011 10:39 AM (nD3Pg)

96 The reason why I would never update Wikipedia is the same reason I almost never comment to blogs with long threads: someone else already said what I was going to, I can't imagine anyone giving a shit what I have to say after 97 other posts on the topic, or I know if I say something inflammatory I probably don't have the time or patience to fight a troll.  It was a conscious act of will to post this.

Posted by: Some Chick at January 31, 2011 11:46 AM (M7GO/)

97 Watched that YouTube video of that woman falling into the fountain while texting, now that's focused on technology.

Posted by: Live Free Or Die at January 31, 2011 01:04 PM (t1Wx5)

98 I think they choose not to. Dude. You do realize that this is the fundamental premise of liberal thinking, don't you? Women and men are basically interchangeable. It's only society that imposes these sorts of choices on people. Which means that if you simply change the external (and unnecessary) conditions, then equality will result. Anyone with the least familiarity with children will know that that simply isn't true. Oh, check that. Anyone who observes children without the blinkers imposed by PC thought will know that isn't true. No one should think that women inherently can't do things like get a PhD in the hard sciences or contribute to wikipedia. But the statistical reality is that men are far more likely to do such things, and any interpretation that expects equality of outcome is destined to disappointment. With the only logic result being either the abandonment of the premise of absolute equality (which the leftard is incapable of) or the imposition of external constraints that will either hold back men or artificially promote women (or both). Don't be a leftard! It's bad for the brain.

Posted by: Larry Summers at January 31, 2011 05:00 PM (Qgqx+)

99 Anything men dominate means it is sexist or homophobic. If white men dominate add racist as well.

Anything where women or minorities dominate is the natural order of things so we must not question or complain.

Posted by: bobbymike at January 31, 2011 07:15 PM (TpGmG)

100 "the fact is unassailable."

Bah.  All facts are assailable.  It's only indisputable.

Posted by: Kevin at February 01, 2011 06:21 AM (1Rjug)

Posted by: kuyu at February 05, 2011 12:38 AM (45SgX)

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