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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders 786

gollum123 writes: Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields. NPR's Planet Money sought to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy." This, combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as well as movies like War Games and Weird Science, conspired to instill the perception that computers were primarily for men.
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NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

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  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:06PM (#48197899) Homepage Journal

    As I recall, it was more that, in movies and TV, women found romance working in business, and rarely in computing.

    Computing meant anti-social. Business meant meeting attractive men in business suits with lots of money and power.

    Geeks only had time travel in bad looking vans.

    • Boy toy (Score:5, Funny)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:21PM (#48198045)

      Madonna wore a Boy Toy tee shirt. Does this explain the lack of female pop singers today?

      • Does this explain the lack of female pop singers today?

        You're noticing a lack? If anything, the market seems oversupplied to me. Or maybe it just seems that way because the quality is so spotty.

      • your missing the point.

        the media sold the computer scene as a bunch of anti-social men who didn't know what to do with a woman. So women avoided the tech scene.

        In mainstream pop culture, woman are sex objects who are more or less sold by advertisers to the "winners" or men who are able to afford the most amount of their products.

        Rampant sexism comes from mainstream culture.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          I suspect the reality was that as wages in the sector grew the women were squeezed out.
          As late as 1987 I was in a CS class with just over 50% women. Today I see more women in mining and heavy industry jobs, literally at the coalface instead of just in the office, than in IT. Pretty weird isn't it for something that was dismissed as "women's work" to the extent where I couldn't even do a class in typing at high school because that was strictly girls only.
    • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:44PM (#48198309)

      Computing IS anti social!

      You get good at programming by staring at a screen and figuring things out. For thousands, and thousands, and thousands of hours. There is no getting around that fact.

      The more complicated it gets, the more "anti social" it is. What does that mean anyway? Do we all need to sit around and code by committee?

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:13PM (#48198641)

        Computing IS anti social!

        Not before the 1980s.

        You get good at programming by staring at a screen and figuring things out.

        In the 1970s, you got good at programming in a big noisy room full of other coders, reading over each others printouts, and then modifying your card deck, before submitting it to the operator at the window to the machine room. Then you sit around and socialize while you wait for your job to run. It was a very social activity.

        Then personal computers came along, and all that changed. Coding became an isolated activity that you did in a cubicle, or in a bedroom at 2am. Computer screens were harder for collaboration than paper printouts. Fast compilers left no time for socializing.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:14PM (#48198647) Journal

        Computing IS anti social!

        You have no idea how much I wish that were true. For me, it would be a perk.

        Instead, I spend plenty of time in meetings, coordinating with fellow programmers, working through issues like their code sucks (and for some reason I can't figure out, they think my code sucks), strange emotional attachments they feel towards Visual Studio (even though it costs over $10000 for the full version). And that's only fellow programmers......figuring out what customers, management, vendors all want is another issue (and it's important).

        I just want to sit down, get my job done. Let me program. Instead I end up talking to a bunch of people.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I think that all programmers think all other code sucks. Seems to be inherent to the field.

          Maybe because it's such an intractably complex activity and there's so many ways to skin the proverbial cat?

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          That likely relates to your own psychological profile and your perceptions of time, rather than the actual flow of time. The times when you are coding and are in the 'zone' when the flow of tasty brain chemicals is just right, well, that time just flows on by without you even really noticing it all that much. Of course when you are out of your zone when that flow of tasty brain chemicals dries up and just like any other drug addict you go into withdrawals, well, that time drags on by, your perception of it

      • by rioki ( 1328185 )

        Accounting IS anti social!

        You get good at accounting by staring at a screen and figuring things out. For thousands, and thousands, and thousands of hours. There is no getting around that fact.

        The more complicated it gets, the more "anti social" it is. What does that mean anyway? Do we all need to sit around and do accounting by committee?

    • by LesFerg ( 452838 )

      And yet at the same time the majority if cowboys depicted in movies etc. were male, but girls still wanted a pony.

    • by internerdj ( 1319281 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:36PM (#48198883)
      For all the talk about the differences in socialization, I know just as many introverted women as I do men. So the question for me is the problem with associating computing careers with being non-social or is the problem telling women they are broken if they aren't social.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by durrr ( 1316311 )

      Women are the reason there's no women coders. I'm getting really tired of females being allowed to externalize all their problems while males are not.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Mods, how can this unsubstantiated and extraordinary claim be "insightful"? It doesn't even mention what women are doing to cause this, let along provide any evidence or data to support it.

  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:07PM (#48197907)

    The only thing responsible for a "lack of women coders" is that fewer women than men are interested in software development as a career path. So what? I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why this is a problem, why this is something to be concerned about, or why millions of dollars are being thrown around in an attempt to change the situation.

    • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:16PM (#48197985) Homepage Journal

      It's a problem because it's clearly fucking systemic, and caused by social factors.

      It's not just "fewer women that men" enter the career.

      It's that "fewer women than used to, where every other intensely technical field has had the opposite trend"(this article)
      It's that People are more likely to pick men for mathematical tests that both genders are proven to do equally well on, even when in the test cases where the specific women are known to outperform the specific men [pnas.org]
      It's that sexism is actually cited by women leaving the field [oxfordjournals.org]
      It's that gender based social norms enforced on children clearly influence their likliehood to enter a sex-typical field [oxfordjournals.org]

      These aren't just whatever, "it's just people making choices". It's clearly social and political influence.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by i kan reed ( 749298 )

        And I'm reminded about someone who objected to this line of reasoning saying "who cares if its social and political, let people make their choice".

        And while I let that vacuous line of reasoning slide before, I'm going to nip in the bud here and point out that if you don't care about that, you also shouldn't care about us people trying to effect social and political changes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:24PM (#48198077)

        Egalitarianism [wikipedia.org]

        Wage gap myth:

        http://www.consad.com/content/reports/Gender%20Wage%20Gap%20Final%20Report.pdf [consad.com]

        Majors by Gender: Is It Bias or the Major that Determines Future Pay? [payscale.com]

        There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap [wsj.com]

        The Gender Pay Gap is a Complete Myth [cbsnews.com]

        Gender pay gap is not what activists claim [examiner.com]

        Equal pay statistics are bogus because they don’t compare like with like [telegraph.co.uk]

        Fair Pay Isn’t Always Equal Pay [nytimes.com]

        Wage Gap Myth Exposed -- By Feminists [huffingtonpost.com]

        5 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die [time.com]

        The Wage Gap Myth [americanthinker.com]

        Don’t Blame Discrimination for Gender Wage Gap [bloomberg.com]

        The pay inequality myth: Women are more equal than you think [youtube.com]

        Women Now a Majority in American Workplaces [nytimes.com]

        Labor force participation rate for men has never been lower. [zerohedge.com]

        Share of Men in Labor Force at All-Time Low [nytimes.com]

        Women In Tech Make More Money And Land Better Jobs Than Men [businessinsider.com]

        Female U.S. corporate directors out-earn men: study [reuters.com]

        Female CEOs outearned men in 2009. [go.com]

        Women between ages 21 and 30 working full-time made 117% of men’s wages. [nytimes.com]

        According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single women between 22 and 30 years old earn an average of $27,000 a year. That’s 8% more than comparable men. [ksee24.com]

        Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top [time.com]

        Young Women’s Pay Exceeds Male Peers [wsj.com]

        The 15 Jobs Where Women Earn More Than Men [forbes.com]

        Women aged between 22 and 29 earn over £10 per hour on average, compared to men their same age who earn just under this amount. [womenintechnology.co.uk]

        Young women now earn more than men in UK [womensviewsonnews.org]

        • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:45PM (#48198321)
          There is no excuse for this being modded down Troll, especially sinec i kan reed's three-link reference post is Informative. Agenda execution detected.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Okay, we can all use Google, and clearly no-one is going to refute every link you posted. I'll just point out some bullshit in one of them though, so you can understand why simply reposting links you found on Bing isn't "research" and doesn't refute the GP.

          WSJ article [wsj.com]

          This article mentions that unemployment rates are 1% higher for men, and then states that labour force participation for women is 12.1% lower. In other words, fewer women are out of work because they tend to simply drop out of the labour market

      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:35PM (#48198201) Journal
        These aren't just whatever, "it's just people making choices". It's clearly social and political influence.

        We "clearly socially and politically influence" people to hold down a job, not smoke, refrain from promiscuous sexual behavior, and a wide variety of other behaviors.

        And yet - We all still have the right to live under a bridge, smoke, fuck anything that moves, yadda yadda yadda.

        When women want to go into tech and can't, we have a problem. When women don't want to go into tech... Hey, start your own marketing campaign like Google has done, but lose the guilt-tripping SJW faux indignation BS.

        Thanks.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Fwipp ( 1473271 )

          Every time a company *does* start an initiative to get more women in tech, Slashdot has the exact same outrage that they do here. Seriously, go click on any of the articles, and you'll see people complaining:

          "No it's just the ~natural~ way of things"
          "women are stupid and bad at coding! "
          "but now men are being discriminated against :("

      • by bmajik ( 96670 ) <matt@mattevans.org> on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:52PM (#48198409) Homepage Journal

        In your view, is it a problem that men are nearly 10x as likely as women to die on the job?

        What systemic factors should we address so that the number of women dying in mine cave-ins rises to equal the number of men?

        Oh, this isn't a priority for you? Why not?

      • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:56PM (#48198441)

        It's that "fewer women than used to, where every other intensely technical field has had the opposite trend"

        By lumping all physical sciences together the graph hides a lot of information. Here [aps.org] is a much more detailed graph. Notice that bachelors for females has declined in almost all fields.

        It's that People are more likely to pick men for mathematical tests that both genders are proven to do equally well on, even when in the test cases where the specific women are known to outperform the specific men

        The bias is attributed to the fact that men brag more. Maybe bragging is seen as a measure of confidence.

        It's that sexism is actually cited by women leaving the field

        You didn't read the study you quoted. Here is a quote from the abstract;

        The evidence points to the existence of a “scar effect” of previous work in the female field, which hinders women's opportunities in the male sector and ends up increasing the likelihood of exit.

        The study is about "scars" from work in a female dominated job effecting the next, male dominated, job. It has nothing to do with sexism in the male dominated job.

        It's that gender based social norms enforced on children clearly influence their likliehood to enter a sex-typical field

        Yet another misinterpretation.

        Motivation and self-esteem help girls aim higher in the occupational ladder, which automatically reduces their levels of sex-typicality. For boys, however, self-esteem reduces sex-typicality at all levels of the aspired occupational distribution.

        Why do girls need to be motivated but not boys.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:49PM (#48199035)

          >Why do girls need to be motivated but not boys.

          In STEM? Maybe because society (in the US, anyway) spends a lot of time, directly and indirectly, telling women they aren't cut out for this kind of work and should focus on being "hot" and be quiet? Remember the furor a few years ago when Mattel released a talking Barbie which said, "Math is hard!"?

          Women get pushed around a lot in our culture, overtly and covertly, and many people (mostly men) are only comfortable when women are in very limited pigeonholes. Things are better since the entrance of feminism (really, it's humanism: the idea that women should be treated as people) into our culture since the 1960/70s, but it's still a problem. If you don't see that, and don't see how that is a big part of lack of women in CS specifically and STEM generally, then either you are a) stupid b) intentionally obtuse or c) blinded by your neurosis about women.

          I got raised by smart, educated, strong-willed women (mom, aunts, great aunts, godmother) who had professional lives in the 50s and 60s when that was rare. I see what women can do, and I also see how much women today STILL have to fight just to get listened to in a meeting, let alone how they have to be able to put up with a myriad of small indignities.

      • by ray-auch ( 454705 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:08PM (#48198577)

        It is because women are smarter than men, and are making more informed career choices.

        Back in the days of punched cards and computers the size of a whole data centre now, and memory that didn't got away when the power went off (yeah, I know, that one's come around again now), programming was a 9-5 family friendly (as much as any job was) day job. Programmers and operators were often women (my mother was one), if not mostly women - seriously, just do a google images search for "mainframe operator 1960s" (just for one example), those images reflect the number of women working with computers that you'll see in printed material from that era too.

        Somewhere around the 80's - 90's with the personal computer revolution, and gaming, and continuing with the dotcom boom, programming turned into an aggressive deadline-driven first-to-market ship-it-yesterday career, with a long-hours work-till-it's-done culture that spread from startups out to entire parts of the industry (see gaming...). And the women stopped coming.

        To pick a couple of other industries / careers I have some (UK based) knowledge of: in roughly the same time scale, in medical and veterinary, professionals went from being on-call all-hours (junior doctors infamously worked a standard 120hr week) to having out-of-hours contracted out and on-call hours counted into the limits under EU working time directive. Every programming job I've had has required me to opt out of the working time directive, but doctors don't. Now take a guess on two professional careers in the UK which are (or soon will be) majority female... medical (doctors) and veterinary. That is where all the smart women went, and if you want to know why just look at the culture changes in those professions and in programming.

      • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:15PM (#48198655)

        These aren't just whatever, "it's just people making choices". It's clearly social and political influence.

        Perhaps, but just about every choice we make is affected by social and political influence.

        What am I having for dinner tonight? That's affected by externalities that affect my income (via career choice and and food prices), tastes (what was affordable when I was a kid), and who's doing the cooking (is my wife running errands when dinner needs to be made?).

        What clothes did I put on today? That's affected by my personal tastes, but also by the tastes of the buyers at Target a few years ago, and on the economics of trans-oceanic clothes production, and the governmental policies of the U.S., China, Vietnam, and Thailand.

        Why am I a programmer? Well, my Dad did electrical engineering, so we spent more time talking about computers than perhaps a lot of families did in the 70's and 80's. It also meant we could afford a Commodore 64 for me to start playing around with. And I was a little socially awkward as well as introverted, so programming in my basement had more appeal compared to socializing in some cases.

        If the goal here is some kind of self-realization of every individual, without the influence of external factors, I just don't see how that's going to happen. I don't see any viable way to actually eliminate "unacceptable" influences, especially indirect ones.

      • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:16PM (#48198667)

        It's a problem because it's clearly fucking systemic, and caused by social factors.

        Can you now spout off some more righteous anger about that fact that male veterinarians are rapidly becoming extinct? I'll wait for your answer. Are young men being kept away from the field by social pressure and estrogen fueled sexual harassing female vets? Or is that just the way it needs to be because women are better than men?

        Equate the two situations, is your challenge.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          If that's true then yeah, it's a problem. Even bigger is the lack of male teachers in schools, particularly primary level. Young children need male role models, but very few men want to each the 4-7 year old range. Many more used to, but over the last couple of decades endless paedophile witch hunts have put them off.

          There's probably some gender stereotyping going on too. Men really need to get liberated like women did in the 60s.

    • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:22PM (#48198059)

      Coders (well, STEM jobs in general) will build the future. The more coders that we have the faster we will reach a bright future.

      We are discouraging large chunks of people who have the intelligence to train as coders, thus our future is dimmer.

      While I have not read the article, I suspect the article is being too simplistic. Culture is pushing away girls (As Barbie says, "Math is hard!") to woman. Most women pick careers that are "family friendly" or offers a good life / work balance.

      • The more coders that we have the faster we will reach a bright future.

        No, the more coders we have, the faster the average wage for a coder drops.

        • by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:49PM (#48199039)

          Let's extend your argument and look at doctors. What if we cut the number of admissions to medical colleges by 1/2? By reducing the number of doctors we could boost the wages of all doctors! Wouldn’t' that be great? Would that not make our future brighter?

          Probably not.

          You are talking the same position as the old guild members, fighting to keep their privileged position as more productive factories raise productivity and living standards for everybody. I mean it is great that you beat everybody else in the great land rush, but I don't think you should close the gate behind you. I am not even sure you can as I look at India, China, etc. Give them 25 years. Don't focus on short term gain but on long term greed. You will benefit more from vibrant economy than a stagnant one.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:25PM (#48198085)

      We have a great reason, in fact I read it the other day and said "Wow, this is brilliant!". What is this reason? People are making too much money as developers so people are trying to drive the market price down. The same issues we talk about for women programmers are used for getting kids interested in programming, and the same reasons we are seeing all this hype to increase the H1B numbers for developers.

      I know, I know.. it's really hard to believe that big businesses would collude for nefarious purposes because all of these businesses are purely altruistic and have never harmed society. It's probably harder to believe that the Government would be in on this collusion, because our Government has never harmed it's own people either. (if the sarcasm is not obvious I can't help you)

    • by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:26PM (#48198105)
      As a person who hires coders, having so few women in the field limits the pool of good candidates. As a parent, I don't want my daughter steered away from a career that might be a rewarding one for her.
  • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:08PM (#48197917)
    Men started to outpace women at an accelerated rate when the highly personal learning style of "having a pc to play on" became an option. Given that we see more and more of an imbalance in favor of women in group learning environments (college and even moreso in graduate programs), maybe this is just something very obvious, and a good thing for men, as men can excel in solitary study which they can tailor to their own interests and pace. As my wife, a school psychologist said, girls tend to learn better in groups, and don't typically like to work in competitive/solo situations given the choice, whereas boys often do. I'll take the advantage on this one, gladly.
    • by greywire ( 78262 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:25PM (#48198091) Homepage

      If we're looking for a reason, I think this is the best one I've heard so far.

      The thing about the media being the cause I think is wrong, that was just an effect.

      The cause I think is spot on, that males are competitive and in general more solitary (damn that testosterone), and females are more apt to be concerned with social aspects. In the late 70's and 80s computers became much more accessible to those competitive loners (nerd stereotyping here).

      Which is to say, its not that females can't do it, or that males are better at it (insert whatever you want for it), its just that they are quite possibly just not interested as much. Before the advent of Personal Computers, computing was mostly prevalent in an academic setting, which is more social..

      • by digsbo ( 1292334 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @05:55PM (#48199589)

        The cause I think is spot on, that males are competitive and in general more solitary (damn that testosterone)

        As soon as I read this I thought of the under-recognized phenomenon of dominance within a cloister. Obviously I wasn't going to be dominant in stickball, BMX biking, or gym class; few of the other computer nerds were. To a large extent our need for dominance resulted in conquering territories we were successful in. So for me, being a guy who was cracking copy protection on video games in 1987 made me like the varsity quarterback of the computing circle.

        It only makes sense that in a world where available areas to express dominance are already taken, a new subtype forged into the territory available because of the advent of the PC. Women, wired differently, would not value dominance in the new arena in the same way.

  • Toys vs tools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:09PM (#48197925)
    When computers were viewed as toys, it was acceptable for girls to have them. Once they became tools, however, they were only for boys.
    • When computers were viewed as toys, it was acceptable for girls to have them. Once they became tools, however, they were only for boys.

      Then explain why a high percentage of programmers were women back when the only computers that existed filled rooms, cost millions of dollars and were clearly anything but toys, but once microcomputers were widely available in homes and used for playing games as much as anything, the percentage of women began to decline.

      I think you may have the right concept, but with the genders reversed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:10PM (#48197931)

    FFS, enough with the concern trolling. We get it, there isn't a 50/50 ratio of men and women in tech.

    I fail to see why we have to try and forcibly "fix" that and can't just accept that women, for whatever reason, don't want to go into tech.

    You don't see anyone complaining about the lack of men in nursing or as elementary school teachers or the lack of women garbage collectors. Stop whining about the same thing in tech.

    • Do remember that 'women in tech' has some very vocal friends among employers of techs.

      This is not to say that nobody involved is genuinely concerned; but it should be remembered that complaints about the labor market can come from either side, with the supply side generally having the numbers and the demand side generally having the influence. (And, at times, they even shift remarkably quickly: just remember how fast getting women into heavy industry became a national cause during WWII, and how fast enco
  • not the same (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kkloe ( 2751395 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:10PM (#48197933)
    the thing is that computer science was transformed to during the 80's and not the same thing it was before

    previous discussion about this
    http://slashdot.org/comments.p... [slashdot.org]
  • What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelgerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:11PM (#48197951)

    I am by no means a feminist; but this sounds like patronizing, paternalistic bullshit. News flash: woman have brains and they do what they want. They don't want to code. Deal with it.

    • They don't want to code. Deal with it.

      Apparently they do, but find a massive sausagefest offputting!

      http://www.pcgamer.com/how-gam... [pcgamer.com]

      So tell me, is an incredibly skilled female coder getting put off by a massive gender imbalance[*] "patronizing, paternalistic bullshit" or in fact evidence that being the odd one out is massiely unappealing to humans and hence putting women off programming?

      [*]She only joined the project after it turned out it wasn't all men on board.

      News flash: woman have brains and they do w

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:18PM (#48198015)

    Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science....

    I'd really like to seen some substantiation for this assertion, as it is so important for the validity of the other assertion that there has been a change since then.

  • Oh bullshit (Score:5, Funny)

    by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:19PM (#48198027)

    If 80's pop culture had that much lasting influence, every college student would still be majoring in kicking commie ass and breakdancing.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:30PM (#48198137) Homepage Journal

    the computer establishment was shown as Big Brother and all the tech workers were depicted as mindless slaves. All shown in dull black and white footage.

    Then comes running a feisty young woman in colorful athletic clothes. She hurls a hammer and destroys the system. Lesson: girls hate computers and break them!

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:30PM (#48198139)

    I'm now the parent of both a young boy and a young girl, and already I'm starting to see the social cues kick in. My wife, who's incredibly smart and finance-minded rather than IT minded also confirms that the separation of roles starts very early and parents really have to work against it if they want to avoid pigeonholing. Even now, in the 2010s, the idea of girls being swept away by handsome princes is still drilled into girls' heads right from the start. Same thing goes for girls being conditioned to think of nothing but their wedding day for the next 20+ years. Boys don't have this same relentless pressure for whatever reason...they're still steered towards harder subjects in school, and conditioned that they will be the breadwinner someday. It's been a while since women would go to college solely to find a husband, but the messaging is still there.

    But...one of the things that isn't mentioned is the fact that I think women self-select out of the profession as well. Regardless of gender, you have to put up with a lot of crap in an IT or development job. Being a woman makes it worse because of the potential for sexual harassment, the perception of women not being able to contribute as much due to their childbearing responsibilities, etc. If I were a woman, I sure wouldn't want to work around some of my colleagues, whose behavior and attitudes toward women sometimes make me uncomfortable. (And I can deal with a lot -- I'm far from some PC feminist.) I work for some pretty conservative companies too, I can't imagine the environment at a Web 2.0 startup where most of the management are the founders' hand-picked fraternity brothers.

    • Ha, my wife tried to fight it too. The boys ended up making guns out of the dolls she gave them. Just bend old Barbie over, grab her torso as the stock, and BAM, you've got yourself a Barbie Dream Pistol!

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Boys still have the relentless pressure. There's just less of a social trend to try to change it, so people don't even see it. Act a little weak? Get ready to be tossed in the trash can. Interested in books instead of football? LOL!. God forbid your favorite color be pink. And it also starts very, very early.

      It comes from everywhere. Advertisement, TV shows, friends, school... you can't avoid it. And then there's probably SOME biological factor...at the end of the day we're just very complex chemical reacti

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:37PM (#48198219) Journal

    ...so today are women ndividuals who can do anything men can do and are perfectly capable of functioning in modern society to wit, choosing the career path that they want to follow out of interest, talent, and education?

    Or are they intimidatable, wilting violets incapable of exercising free will, intimidated by the faintest approbation, and unable to choose a career because some shitty 1980s movies didn't ACTUALLY show "girls doing data entry"?

    I'm just trying to keep track here. I need to know if I should treat them like plain old people, or tread delicately around their fragile sensibilities?

  • Or (Score:4, Informative)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:49PM (#48198385)

    Or, it could be, that this is complete nonsense:
    http://www.computerworld.com/a... [computerworld.com]

    The entire field had the same bump. It wasn't just women. The percentage of women in the field has never risen above about 35%
    I'd argue that's when the field was new and exciting. Then it tapered off and remained stable until the internet bubble... and tapered off again.

    I think that, if anything, this shows women are savvy. They saw a new tech, took advantage of it. After the industry became less flashy, and the best jobs were harder to get they moved on. Then when the realities of the industry started to sink in and the industry collapsed they again left.

  • by sootman ( 158191 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @03:52PM (#48198407) Homepage Journal

    Good work! I *knew* this wasn't a complex problem with multiple related causes spanning decades. Now we know The Truth: One cause, from a small span of years. IN YOUR FACE, everyone else!

  • 80s movies? Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @04:36PM (#48198887)

    So it's also the 80s movies to blame that women are not interested in careers like soldier, spy, pilot, policeman (apology, -woman), archaeologist, exorcist, karate fighter,...

    Has anyone ever looked closer at the 80s? The 80s were not a geek decade. The only movie I can remember where geeks were not just the comic foil (ok, even in that one they were) was "Revenge of the nerds". The whole "engineering geeks" were no role model in 80s movies, and even less so in TV series. Whenever they were in some prominent role, they were the little sidekick of the actual hero. Be it Automan's creator Walter, who was mostly a comic sidekick (ok, the show wasn't that memorable, but the special effects were great for its time) or Street Hawk's Norman who was some timid, beancounter-ish scaredy-cat. The geek roles were at best meant to make the hero shine some more.

    Actually, the only engineer role I can remember that was allowed to be superior in areas to the hero and be more than a nuisance to him was that of Bonnie in Knight Rider.

    A woman.

  • by devphaeton ( 695736 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2014 @09:18PM (#48200719)

    In the 1980s, the boys that were into math and science and (especially) computers were also getting their asses kicked on a regular basis by the popular kids Perhaps the girls were smart enough to not want any part of that.

    Or at least they'd rather follow other interests than be associated with something or a group of people who were at the bottom of the social scale.

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