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

Nelson Minar (
Thu, 6 Aug 1998 11:23:55 -0400

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

No, the problem is that men don't think about this stuff enough.

>If women want to participate in those settings, then let them embrace
>the culture that exists rather than seeking to change it.

MIT geek culture is amazingly aggressive. Aggressive patterns often
dictate group dynamics here. It's standard practice in meetings for
everyone to talk at once, and talk over each other, and cut each other
off. Sometimes this sort of dynamic is fun and exciting, but often
it's just rude and frustrating.

It seems that it's overwhelmingly men who dominate the conversations.
I'm not going to go into a whole dissection of gender patterns in
social dynamics (there's a lot of stuff written on this by much
smarter people than I), I'll just report that a lot of my women
friends find this sort of dynamic unpleasant and hostile. So do some
of my male friends, as do I. But disproportionately, it is women who
feel disenfranchised by this behaviour.

Sometimes I play the game and talk right over other people, and
sometimes I just decide not to bother, sit quietly and be bored. And
sometimes women step up and talk over the men. But not very often.

Geek culture is often hostile and aggressive, in a pattern that is
commonly associated with men.

I've found I've learned a lot by being aware of this pattern, shutting
my own yap and listening to the people around me. Encouraging the
quieter people I work with to speak up has been very fruitful.

>If you want to join the navy, then you need to embrace its traditions
>and customs.

Don't forget the whoring and queer-bashing.

PS - oh, btw, hi there, I'm new here. I don't often rise to flamebait,
but this particular issue has been on my mind recently. I found this
whole group through dist-obj. I've managed to meet Adam, but missed
Rohit by just a few miles or hours.