Re: [Scientific American] Gender Gap in Computer Science continues.

John M. Klassa (
Thu, 06 Aug 1998 10:35:20 -0400

>>>>> On Thu, 6 Aug 1998, "IFK" == I Find Karma wrote:

IFK> computer science degrees (Klassa, remember Tracy Camp?), online

Yup... Remember her. Saw her CACM article (but didn't read it).

You've struck a nerve. :-)

My opinion? People think about this stuff too much. If people want to
be computer scientists, cool. If not, cool too.

The insinuation is that things like computer games, long hours and the
"antisocial image of the hacker" have tended to steer women to other
areas. So be it... The computer culture that exists today is what it
is; to change it in order to bring other people into the ranks is silly.

It's like deciding that all-male schools should be required to admit
females. It's like females deciding that they need to serve in
traditionally male roles in combat, on ships, wherever. If women want
to participate in those settings, then let them embrace the culture that
exists rather than seeking to change it.

I saw a piece on television about this ritual that the navy has... When
you cross the equator for the first time, you go through this hazing
ceremony where you're made to dress in embarrassing clothes, you get
smacked in the butt with pieces of hose and you're made to do things you
ordinarily wouldn't. The emphasis in the story was on several women who
took part and then felt themselves to be humiliated and offended.

To me, in the situation I just relayed, it comes down to this... If
you want to join the navy, then you need to embrace its traditions and
customs. The hazing ceremony that goes with crossing the equator is
many years old. It's what's done. It's traditional. If you don't like
it, don't join the navy -- and don't try to change the navy to suit you.

Same thing with computer work... Either you like it (the way it is),
or you don't. If you do, fine... Do it. If you don't, don't try to
change it.

Wouldn't it be silly if short people decided that the NBA is acting in a
discriminatory fashion, since only "tall" people get hired. Suddenly,
there's a short-person's lobby that's calling for the net to be lowered
to 5'5", in order to accommodate those who feel threatened by the higher
net. It's ludicrous.

My $0.02.


John Klassa / Alcatel Telecom / Raleigh, NC, USA <><