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Could a Grace Hopper Get Hired In Today's Silicon Valley? 608

Posted by samzenpus
from the we're-all-full dept.
theodp writes "There has been lots of heated discussion on the topic of where-the-girls-aren't, both in the tech and larger business world. Dave Winer broached the subject of 'Why are there so few women programmers?', prompting a mix of flame, venom and insight. Over at Valleywag, Nitasha Tiku pegs 'Culture Fit' as an insidious excuse used to marginalize women in tech. Completing the trilogy is an HBR article, 'Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?', in which Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic concludes the problem is that manifestations of hubris, which occur much more frequently in men than women, are commonly mistaken for leadership potential. So, with a gender and age strike against her, would a Grace Hopper in her prime even land an interview in today's Silicon Valley?"
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Could a Grace Hopper Get Hired In Today's Silicon Valley?

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  • Female programmers (Score:5, Informative)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:12AM (#44676757)
    I only had one girl in my computer science classes in college, but she was an exceptional programmer. Now in the work field, again I encounter very few female programmers but am always impressed with their skill levels and dedication.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:24AM (#44676851)

      There weren't very many female CS students at college with me, and they ranged between worthless (few) to okayish (most) to exeptional (very few). In other words, pretty much followed the same patterns as the male students, albeit being far fewer in numbers.

      That said, I gradumicated thirteen years ago. So YMMV.

      • by Carewolf (581105) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:41AM (#44677055) Homepage

        I would say the same, and I don't understand what is being said about leaders. The women have their fair share of incompetent leaders as well. Well not completely fair, since the women to men ratio is still low, but I would guess the ratio of incompetence female leaders to competent ones is the same as for men.

        I can only think of a handfull of male leaders in IT that are more incompetent than Carly Fioni.

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:37PM (#44677591)

        The low numbers, is the fact why it is hard to find exceptional. The population isn't a normal distribution, but shifted a bit.
        There is always a bit more worthless then exceptional. However if you increase the population up you find more, but if you reduce the population down then you wil find very few.

        The worthless developers tend not to last long, if they do, they kinda just suck your sole as you need to make up for them.
        The Okayish you tend to work with fine, and they don't bother you. The exceptional you may not even realize they are exceptional, they do their job and get done. Also women tend not to brag as much as guys do, so there is less self promotion.

    • by notanalien_justgreen (2596219) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:27AM (#44676885)

      This is exactly the problem. The pipeline is bled dry waaaay before actual companies try and hire women programmers. There is quite possibly some sexism involved in hiring practices, but the bigger issue is why are there so few women in a position to be hired in the first place? Why aren't many women choosing to study these subjects. Are they being discouraged from studying computer science? Are they graded more harshly? Is it social pressure?

      I've been wondering recently if it isn't more to do with expectations. Men are judged very harshly on their career. A man with a crappy job is often unfairly seen as a crappy man. Women are given much more space and encouragement to "find themselves" I find (anecdotal I know....) and can work "lowly" jobs without judgement. This is likely due to the fact that they encounter more obstacles than your average man, so people generally cut them more slack (reasonably). But I can't help but wonder if the lowered expectations isn't also preventing some women from finding their true potential. A more insidious form of sexism since it's based on good intentions.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:32AM (#44676957)

        why are there so few women in a position to be hired in the first place? Why aren't many women choosing to study these subjects. Are they being discouraged from studying computer science? Are they graded more harshly? Is it social pressure?

        Maybe they damn well don't want to.

        • by nahpets77 (866127) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:45PM (#44678285)
          Wish I had mod points. I have a female friend who works as an elementary school teacher and she told me that 100% of the teaching staff at her school are *women*. So what? Who cares? I think women are drawn to other fields, simple as that.
          • Wish I had mod points. I have a female friend who works as an elementary school teacher and she told me that 100% of the teaching staff at her school are *women*. So what? Who cares? I think women are drawn to other fields, simple as that.

            There are those that will say your statement is sexist...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:55AM (#44677191)

        I had a 1st grade teacher who was "very concerned" with my math skills. She told my single, working mother, who was also earning a degree in civil engineering, "You know, there are even some girls doing better in math than him."

        I remember the way she taught math was explaining a problem, then assigning a few pages of problems in our workbook, and offering candy (Smarties) for pages turned in. Math was right after recess, and the school wasn't air conditioned so she kept the lights off most of the day. Turns out, that at 6 years old I was just more interested in sleeping in a warm dark room after running around than earning candy by doing a bunch of adding and subtracting. Meanwhile, the girls who were talking during workbook time were given a pass, but boys who talked "were unfocused."

        That would have been '85 or '86.

      • Career Paths (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Livius (318358) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:12PM (#44677381)

        A hundred years ago, with very rare exceptions, a woman's career was her marriage. The man was expected to participate in the money economy, and provide for her retirement, while the woman engaged in arguably harder and more important work (raising children) that happened to not be part of the money economy.

        That, however, was a hundred years ago. Both sexes have to adapt to contemporary realities. It's both a systemic issue of opportunities (which both men and women are responsible for) and initiative on the part of the women to pursue certain careers.

        • Re:Career Paths (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cusco (717999) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Monday August 26, 2013 @02:06PM (#44678565)
          You need to go back and research some history. The post-WWII period was really the first time in the last several centuries that women were expected to not have to bring income into the household. You probably don't realize that because most of the literature was written by the upper class, but women of the lower classes had to work for the family to get by. Weaving, knitting, needlepoint, painting ceramics, cheese making, butter making, washing clothes, and the like were all sources of income that could be done out of the home, as were raising chickens and rabbits, collecting eggs, and salting fish.

          Women often worked outside the home, and not only in the stereotypical one-room schoolhouse of the movies. My grandmothers and great-grandmothers all worked in resorts and restaurants, a shoe factory, a comforter factory, canneries, basket factories and a fishing lure factory. They were not uncommon in that regard. The storied life of 'Little House on the Prairie' was just that, a story. In reality the mother would probably have spent a couple days a week at the local meat packing plant or the flour mill.
      • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Monday August 26, 2013 @01:23PM (#44678067)

        I don't believe for a moment that it's any kind of negative force, such as sexism or bigotry, that's keeping women out of the field. It's just not interesting to most of them. I know it's hard to talk about in today's politically correct world, but men and women ARE wired differently. Exceptions certainly exist, but they are still just exceptions.

        We could go on and on about why there aren't more male nurses, and the conversation would be silly if we tried to ignore the fact that guys just tend not to be interested in nursing because they're guys.

        As for females in this industry, I've seen all kinds. Some are good, some are inexperienced, some just plain suck, and others are incredibly talented. Just like their male counterparts.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:37AM (#44676991) Journal

      Here is what I don't get and why these "why are there not enough women in X" articles piss me off....why do we have to treat women like a man with an inverted penis, instead of what they are, a completely different creature that SOMETIMES have interests that overlap ours, sometimes not?

      Does a woman's brain look the same as ours on a CAT scan? Nope, different areas are used more and different areas used less, in fact any scan tech worth his salt can spot a female vs male scan in seconds. There are plenty of fields where a woman will just slaughter a man, for example a female pilot will whup the dog shit out of a male pilot because she can take more Gs and in a fight the one that can push the plane the hardest without having a black or red out wins. Women are better at language, women are better at diffusing tense situations which is why they make better cops and hostage negotiators...the list goes on and on.

      So why in the hell do we have to treat little Sally like she is just Jimmy without a penis? Why? ALL we should do is make sure that if little Sally WANTS to try out for a job she can without discrimination that is it, THAT IS ALL we should do. Instead we try to set quotas and if there isn't "X" number of this or that gender (this only seems to apply to women and certain minorities, nobody complains there is not enough white people playing basketball or males becoming nurses) everyone acts shocked! Shocked I tell you! That little Sally doesn't want to do the same shit little Jimmy does...did you ever stop to think maybe little Sally finds computers boring as hell? Did you think about that? Because I fix the computers that women use every day and I have found the VAST majority, I'd say at least a good 7 if not 8 out of 10 just want to do their job and get as far from the PC as they can when the work day is done. You see many females actually LIKE face to face interaction, I know, its weird, and they find just staring at a screen for hours dull and repetitive. Ironic considering the one time they like spending hours on the thing is FB and those damned FB games, or as I call them "hamster pushes the button and gets a treat" but hey I'm not a woman and if it makes 'em happy? More power to 'em.

      So as long as we make sure little Sally can do the job if she wants, which with the rise of startups and appstores frankly I don't see as much of a problem since anybody can start their own software house now, then we should just stay the hell out of it. I think if we did so you'd find that certain jobs women are drawn to, certain jobs men are drawn to because surprise! They truly are different creatures with different wants, needs, and goals.

      • by somersault (912633) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:55AM (#44677199) Homepage Journal

        Common sense! Good for you.

        See people, all it takes is actually using your brain and not succumbing to "politically correct" bullshit.

        I believe any futher comments in this thread to be redundant (though no doubt someone will nit-pick all the same).

      • by harperska (1376103) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:24PM (#44677505)

        This is so true, and if I had mod points, you'd be getting them.

        What we should be doing, and what gender (or classification of your choice) blind really means is that women should be treated the same as men at the interview and at the annual review. It is true that in many fields there is still a wage disparity between women and men doing the same job with the same skills and qualifications. That is a genuine wrong that must be fixed. What <classification> blind doesn't mean is that job hiring or school admissions should be quota based, as quotas always seem to cause more trouble than they are worth. True equality is on a case by case basis, rather than a statistical measure across populations.

        • by cusco (717999) <brian,bixby&gmail,com> on Monday August 26, 2013 @02:49PM (#44678999)
          quotas always seem to cause more trouble than they are worth

          You weren't around during the 'separate but equal' decades of the US educational system, I take it. There were perfectly valid reasons why quotas really WERE necessary. Most places have done away with them now as it's no longer a shock to see a black child in a mostly-white school any more, but the only reason why that is the case today is because it was FORCED down the throats of unwilling school boards across the nation. Quotas have their place, it just depends on the situation.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        There are plenty of fields where a woman will just slaughter a man, for example a female pilot will whup the dog shit out of a male pilot because she can take more Gs and in a fight the one that can push the plane the hardest without having a black or red out wins. Women are better at language, women are better at diffusing tense situations which is why they make better cops and hostage negotiators...the list goes on and on.

        It's like feminism never happened.

        The whole point is that while men and women are different these kinds of generalizations are bad. When a person walks into a job interview and the person sat behind the desk has preconceptions like those they are not getting a fair chance. The manager who thinks "we need a good communicator to round out our team" and shows bias towards female candidates is part of the problem.

        Your suggestion that females have less interest in computing is clearly bogus as well. Computing us

      • by Sique (173459)

        There are plenty of fields where a woman will just slaughter a man, for example a female pilot will whup the dog shit out of a male pilot because she can take more Gs and in a fight the one that can push the plane the hardest without having a black or red out wins.

        Then why do we have so few female fighting pilots?

        Women are better at language, women are better at diffusing tense situations which is why they make better cops and hostage negotiators...the list goes on and on.

        Then why do we have so few female chief negotiators?

        I think, you get it reverse on many things. You see the builder and notice his hard hands and well developed muscles and conclude, that children with soft hands and weak muscles should not aspire to become builders. You don't see the possibility that the hard hands and well developed muscles are a result of a development and not its cause.

        Same with the male and the female brain: You see the different br

    • by niftydude (1745144) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:37AM (#44676997)
      Yeah, my CS class started with 6 females and 200 males.

      There are plenty of "women in science and engineering" type programs to try and attract more females- but the girls aren't interested.

      Even if classes become 50-50 from now on ( and I'm not seeing any evidence of this) , it would take decades for the numbers in industry to equalise.
      • I volunteer with my local engineering association, and gender diversity is something we've been working towards. It's a tough slog, and there's a laundry list of items as long as your arm as to why there aren't more women in engineering. There's no easy answer.

        Do you know what the most equal of the engineering disciplines is?

        It's Civil, where women make up a lofty 17% (seventeen percent).

    • I had a few in mine with a similar experience to you. I always felt that if you took the average of the girls and the guys separately the girls would have a higher average yet the girls always had a lower opinion of themselves.

      It is probably at least in part due to fewer women do get involved in computer science. Therefore the ones that do are probably self-selected to be above average. They actually enjoy computer science and/or excel at it. Whereas a lot of guys just get into it because they like vid

    • by Chris Walker (135667) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:54AM (#44677183)

      Up until I the last few years, I would have agreed that women programmers are rare (and they are at most companies). However, I now work for a company with a large number of Indian engineers, and about half of them are women. My conclusion is that the lack of women must be largely cultural (in the US) and nothing whatsoever to do with gender differences in ability.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MaWeiTao (908546)

        I'd argue that it's related to quality of life. First of all, I generally find Asians in general to be a lot more pragmatic than Americans. Men and women alike in America are more about following their hearts; about a vague sense of fulfillment. This is reinforced by popular culture which teaches Americans that most work represents boredom and defeatism. We're only leading fulfilling lives when we're engaged in hedonistic activities like climbing mountains, seeing the world and partying every weekend. Think

    • Well there are two reasons why I can't understand why you don't see a large number of women in IT:

      1) Women love being referred to as girls
      2) There is absolutely no difference between men and women [wikipedia.org] other than the fact that they have protruding breasts and many of us don't.
    • by cardpuncher (713057) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:05PM (#44677297)
      Not exactly Silicon Valley, but if you have access to BBC iPlayer, check out The I.T. Girls [bbc.co.uk], a documentary about early women programmers or search for more information on Dame Steve Shirley [wikipedia.org] - the reason she called herself "Steve" for business purposes rather than "Stephanie" is all too clear.

      In the UK, and I would guess in most of the rest of the world, women were "allowed" into IT early on because it wasn't seen as being a career. As soon as money could be made from it, the women were squeezed out. Grace Hopper likely would not have been hired in the 1960s, never mind now.

      Britain did have significant numbers of women programmers - ICL used to have an army of "pregnant programmers" who did a lot of its software support while on maternity leave (back in the days of 300 baud modems) and Steve Shirley's company "Freelance Programmers" employed women based at home. And there, I think you have it: until the IT industry is prepared to employ people who want to go home occasionally and have a life outside work, it's going to be more hostile on average to women than men.

    • I've worked with a bunch 10 or so, more than half of them hired by me or on my recommendation. They have all been, to a single woman, kind of average at problem solving, system design, bug fixing, optimisation and other key aspects that a virtuoso programmer requires.

      However, I still hire most female applicants that come in, whereas only maybe 1/4 men for one reason, dependability. Men screw up the simple tasks because they think they are easy, women will generally give their 100% and get it right every tim

  • Unlikely (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:13AM (#44676767)

    She'd probably miss the job interview on account of being dead for 20 years.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:14AM (#44676779)

    You never see women hanging off the back of a garbage truck. Is this a problem? Why is it a problem that women don't want to be programmers but not a problem that women don't want to be "garbage persons?"

    • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:36AM (#44676983)

      There are a few women working the packer trucks (rear load garbage trucks) in the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY). I have seen them.

    • by madro (221107)

      For cognitively demanding jobs and careers, we need to attract the best and brightest regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. So if a career path is not pulling from the full population, it is a fair question to examine why. We are faced with a long-term shortage in the supply of nurses. Why don't more men pursue that career?

      To compare with a slightly different field: my spouse works in a manufacturing environment, and she's the best engineer there (IMHO). They would like to continue improving

  • Admiral Grace Hopper (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mknewman (557587) * on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:16AM (#44676781)
    Having met http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grace_hopper [wikipedia.org] briefly while I was at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Texas_at_Austin [wikipedia.org] back in the '70s I can say without a doubt she would be highly regarded in the current environment. She is known for COBOL but her accomplishments are many, including very early compilers and standards for FORTRAN. She was very influential to me. If she was 40 today I would easily imagine her leading a Silicon Valley company, as her tenure in the Navy was very similar, requiring leadership and technical capabilities, but she chose military service for her career, making what I consider very significant advances in computer science. She really was quite an imposing figure for a 90 lb grandmotherly woman. I wish I could have known her better. During many of her lectures, she illustrated a nanosecond using salvaged obsolete Bell System 25 pair telephone cable, cut it to 11.8 inch (30 cm) lengths, the distance that light travels in one nanosecond, and handed out the individual wires to her listeners. One of her great quips: "The most important thing I've accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, "Do you think we can do this?" I say, "Try it." And I back 'em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir 'em up at intervals so they don't forget to take chances."
    • by jabberw0k (62554) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:27AM (#44676889) Homepage Journal
      I heard her speak at a Heathkit Users Group conference in Washington DC, 1986. What an inspiration! Three quotes stand out: "I do not accept 'because we've always done it that way' as an excuse." "It is always easier to ask forgiveness than permission." And: "Computers are getting better at answering questions, but will a computer ever ask an interesting question?" The Admiral is a life-long inspiration. (I still have a nanosecond.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:16AM (#44676787)

    " manifestations of hubris ... are commonly mistaken for leadership potential "

    Not limited to tech jobs in the valley.

    • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:59AM (#44677235)

      " manifestations of hubris ... are commonly mistaken for leadership potential "

      Not limited to tech jobs in the valley.

      Is there any field where this doesn't come into play?

      E.g. A big part of a hiring decision is based on how well a candidate presents himself -- I'm deliberately using the masculine pronoun here -- in a resume, interview, and general self-promotion. Someone better at promoting himself will therefore (usually) appear more desirable. Unfortunately, there are only a few jobs where the ability to be interviewed is the primary skill required in the position. So you hire people based on how good they are at doing something else -- not the job at hand. Reminds me of soccer games that end in a shootout: "let's just settle this stalemate by playing a different game to see who wins". Why don't they use jacks, or rock, paper scissors?

  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:17AM (#44676795)
    Of course, anyone with credentials like this: "She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar in 1928 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and physics and earned her Master's degree at Yale University in 1930." would get an interview at a tech company, or even become the CEO [wikipedia.org].
  • No chance! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jerry_gitomer (217716) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:17AM (#44676797)

    Because she didn't have a degree in computer science her resume would never be approved by HR. The hiring manager wouldn't even know she applied.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:19AM (#44676807)
    Yes, easy to blame evil men for everything - keeping Grace Hopper from getting a job in Tech in 2013 (Assuming she wasn't dead).

    In the 80's, women made up most of CS programs around the country. When I went in 2000 - they made up a handful of the entire class. But, engineering was the same (for all engineering majors).

    There isn't some evil conspiracy to prevent women from entering tech (some of the best innovators in tech I know are women). They simply, for whatever reason, aren't interested in it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nobody is suggesting a conspiracy. They are, however, suggesting certain biases may be responsible -- possibly unconscious, possibly promoted as much by other women as by men.

      The idea that men are "naturally" more interested in programming is something that's possible but should be treated with appropriate skepticism. It's not like there were programming contests a million years ago that were evolved into us, and it's not like obvious different circumstances like pregnancy go particularly well with a lot

    • by Koreantoast (527520) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:44AM (#44677083)
      Shouldn't that raise concern though? Given that there was greater parity up into the 1980s, why have the numbers of women programmers dropped so dramatically over the last couple of decades? This is on contrast to other STEM fields where the numbers of women have been steadily growing. Unless you're saying 50% of the population suddenly lost interest in what is considered one of the more lucrative fields in the global economy right now.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:50AM (#44677137) Homepage

      Even if you are correct that women are not interested, isn't that in itself a problem?

      Girls tend to do better than boys at school, but at some point get turned off STEM subjects. Is it an innate female disposition? The fact that they are good at those subjects suggests not.

      What is your theory? Do you have any evidence to back it up?

    • by shbazjinkens (776313) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:56AM (#44677205)

      In the 80's, women made up most of CS programs around the country. When I went in 2000 - they made up a handful of the entire class. But, engineering was the same (for all engineering majors). There isn't some evil conspiracy to prevent women from entering tech (some of the best innovators in tech I know are women). They simply, for whatever reason, aren't interested in it.

      My stepmother was a programmer in the 80's. She quit and decided to be a homemaker because of rampant sexism in the workplace. Among the things she's told me about that, the one that stands out is that the office would throw incentive parties at strip clubs in order to exclude her from being rewarded for her work. She's a smart lady.. but they would give her the most menial of tasks (mainly testing other programmer's code, and having to very thoroughly document problems or else they would be dismissed as her error).

      One would hope that the same things aren't going on today, but from reading /. my guess is that lots of things going on in the workplace make it a male-dominated workforce, least of which would be the capability and interest of smart women in doing the work. Instead, you'll find them in the more gender-neutral fields of medicine, chemistry and biological sciences.

      I was shocked and thrilled that in my first industry job our staff programmer is a woman in her late fifties. That gives me hope that maybe it wasn't this bad everywhere. She's brilliant at her work and has a very strong work ethic. I truly didn't expect to see any women in my workplace after my experience in college.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:20AM (#44676813) Homepage Journal

    But they are all Russian COBOL programmers.
    But trust me when I say the financial industry has more than you realize -- they just ain't in Silicon Valley, they are in Wall Street.

  • Flamebait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby@@@comcast...net> on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:20AM (#44676819)

    This article, as well as the source articles are all nothing but professional trolls written for the express purpose of generating page views. What's next, links to articles on Jezebel asking if the average man beats his wife before or after raping her?

  • Especially at google [marieclaire.com], We will see more Marissa Meyers, Yahoo CEO from google, as long as the three men block the top at google.
  • by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:24AM (#44676849)

    Women don't often choose tech as a career. But those that do get paid more and find jobs easier then comparably qualified men.

    Every company that does any business with government is always looking to hire females/minorities. They are required to. Don't pretend that doesn't have an effect.

  • We're talking about the person who popularized the term "debugging." She was accustomed to making systems do what others said couldn't be done and getting people to fix the flaws in their broken systems. She would probably write a paper on the bugs in the company's hiring system (does not hire programmer if gender is F), hang out at the Starbucks across the street and use social engineering to get someone to deliver the paper to a decision maker who would invite her in for an interview and hire her.
  • by BigHungryJoe (737554) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:29AM (#44676911) Homepage

    Ten years ago the comments to this story would have been riddled with crude, misogynistic jokes. In fact, I wonder if the story was meant to elicit such a response from Slashdot. Congrats on rising above, everyone.

  • Isn't that one of the defining characteristics of truly great programmers, along with laziness, and being impatient.
    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      In a way. I think there is a clear difference between hubris and self-confidence. Both enable you to take on challenges that you're not quite sure how you can complete. The difference is what happens when you realize things are going sour, and you need to admit failure and/or ask for help; this also takes certain self-confidence.

  • by quietwalker (969769) <pdughi@gmail.com> on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:40AM (#44677031)

    There have been lots of studies about this, and one of the most telling related self-employed/small business owners based on gender lines, where men and women had relatively equal qualifications. As self-employed individuals, this avoids the potential bias of a glass ceiling or other unfair discrimination. As you'd expect in today's environment, men outperformed women on average.

    However, that's not all. The study included a metric to determine the goals of the individuals; money, etc and if you split it up your comparisons based on their goal focus, you found something interesting; men tended to focus on making money, and would sacrifice vacation, schedule, family, etc to do it, while women placed higher priority on a short commute, flexible schedules, family (including child-rearing), and so on. This is all expected stereotype, not at all interesting.

    What was interesting is when matched to those women who made money their motivation, men were beaten handily. In fact, once paired with same-motivation/goal, women out performed men almost across the board, achieving a higher success rate, and in general, a higher level of subjective happiness across those metrics. The averages are just skewed because more men choose money than women, and we tend to use money as an objective measure of success.

    The salient point to take from this is: Men and women have different goals and motivations, and that can affect both their career choice and their apparent success in a given field to an uninvolved observer. Trying to artificially adjust this rate will probably end badly, unless you change the definition of success. However, few businesses willing to hold an employee up as 'very successful' when their primary goals include child rearing and vacation time.

    As an aside, this is also why there are so few female CEOs, especially of larger, higher dollar businesses. Many of those CEO's have unbroken strings of management reaching 30-40 or more years. On the other hand, many female managers have taken time off for children, family, etc. They're not being penalized, but simply put, one individual shows a greater dedication towards advancing the business than the other. ... I'd like to link to the article, but it was in a business magazine, and I couldn't find a reference to it online

  • by PPH (736903)

    Its the idea that your status in an intellectual setting should be based on how far you can throw furniture. Or how far you could throw a football back in high school. These sorts of attributes may have some validity in some blue collar jobs, like ditch digging or bricklaying. But they have no value in a high tech company.

  • I'm not aware of any serious study that attempts to explain why women aren't better represented as programmers. There are lots of studies that establish that it is so.

    So, we really don't know why. Until someone really can nail this down with a decently reliable study, everyone is just speculating.

    Personally, I think looking at programming is too narrow. If you look at the broader aspects of a development project -- application design, programming, human/computer interfaces, information organization, testing, documenting, requirements gathering, customer management, deployment, training, troubleshooting, customer support, etc. -- I think you'd find that the gender distribution is a lot closer to the working population. It truly does take a village to develop software. It's pretty narrow-minded to focus on just one aspect of the problem, and pretend like that's all there is.

  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Monday August 26, 2013 @11:50AM (#44677135)

    Would someone with decades of experience developing DoD computer systems and networks at the highest levels find a job in Silicon Valley?

    Yeah, I think so.

    I have a feeling such people (whether elderly, female or from Mars) are in great demand right now at otherwise youthful homogenized companies.

    A better question is: would Navy junior lieutenant Grace Hopper be assigned to a high profile research project at Harvard? There are all sorts of reasons that wouldn't happen.

  • by jd.schmidt (919212) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:02PM (#44677269)

    One great irony is the issue itself is framed in a paradoxically sexist manner. In a real way, the issue is not just why are women underrepresented in various technical/scientific fields, but also why are they over represented in others. More women are going to college after all.

    Really, one way to get more women into technical fields is to get more men to go into non-technical ones, the story really should be why do men and women keep taking the degrees in different areas. If a girl needs to be able to dream of being a scientist I suppose a boy needs to be able to dream of being any number of female dominated educated professions. This is two sides of the same coin and each directly affect the other. Plus it may have the benefit of getting more men into college, something we need to do, by opening up more and different opportunities for them.

    I know technical jobs often pay very well, but to an extent focusing on traditional male jobs as being the "good" jobs if anything justifies them having the better salary. So in a way the argument is framed undermines itself!

    After all, you can not really argue that, women are just a good at everything as men, but at the same time believe, but they are better at the following things.

    • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:18PM (#44677461) Homepage

      In a real way, the issue is not just why are women underrepresented in various technical/scientific fields, but also why are they over represented in others. More women are going to college after all.

      The real issue is why does it matter so much? Do we really have to get an exact 50/50 gender split in every discipline before people will stop banging on about it? We should strive to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity regardless of gender (or race, or whatever else) but that is as far as our collective responsibility needs to go. After that you leave it to the individuals, and if fewer women show an interest in a particular area, so be it. Study that, if you find it interesting, but don't assume something must be amiss (or amister).

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday August 26, 2013 @12:33PM (#44677555)
    She doesn't have 45 years of Java experience. She might be willing to work for $20,000 until people clue her in on the cost of living these days.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday August 26, 2013 @02:05PM (#44678559)
    In fact before 1948, the word "computer" meant a human clerk who used paper and a mechanical adding machine to perfomr long calculations. These included log tables, missle hyperbolic trajectories, celestial orbits, and the occasional discrete differential equation. Feyman has a chapter on this in his "Surely you arent joking" book. In the late 40s the word computer was subsumed into the analog and digital machines that did eleaborate calculations. The early "programmers" were often some of these female computers from the war years. They wired the computer, if it was wired programming, or figured out punch cards. The males did the hardware and math. The transpfrmation to males happened in the 19650s - 1960s for unclear reasons to me.

    I suspect that "taint" of being a femine discpline delayed the recogniztion of computer programming as a bonafid college degree at schools like MIT and Stanford. At MIT where I matriculated, it was not recognized as a full major until 1980. Before that is was a submajor of EE, math or business. (There were other taints too including its appearance as trade school skill rather than academic discipline/)

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