chicks & computers [was: [BATN] Bay Area gas at record high; experts cite ethanol]

James Rogers jamesr@best.com
Sun, 16 Mar 2003 16:14:01 -0800


On 3/16/03 2:42 PM, "Joseph S Barrera III" <joe@barrera.org> wrote:
> For the record. I spent 7 years in grad school at Carnegie Mellon,
> another 7 at Microsoft, and about 4 since then in various startups,
> and thoughout I've worked with excellent women systems researchers
> and engineers. Hell, when I was at the Microsoft San Francisco
> Research lab, there were only 7 people there, only one female, yet
> she was was of the very best systems people I know.


Your standards are still too low.

I can accept anecdotal evidence, but this isn't even good anecdotal
evidence.  What was so great about these female systems engineers?  Would I
know who they are?  If they are great, give me evidence of their superior
engineering skills.

More to the point, name all the advances in the field of systems and
software engineering that were the product of the fertile imagination of a
female engineer or theoretician.  I'm not talking about re-hashing old
concepts or really nice implementations, but something that requires solving
an engineering problem that hasn't been solved to date.  I know many men who
at one point or another did brilliant theoretical design work but no women,
at least none that I know personally.


If you want to talk "average", we can find anecdotes of all kinds all day.
When I filter the population for engineers that actually drive the
state-of-the-art in the field, the number of women I can think of dwindles
rapidly.

This isn't a slight against one gender or another, so lets forget the
personal anecdotes.  Let's just build a list of all the engineers and theory
people in the field that any of us can verify pushed the design envelope
because this fact is well-documented on Google or similar.  I know what the
outcome of such an exercise would be, and so do most people.

 
> So I can only conclude that you, along with Adam, simply repel
> qualified women away from you before you're even aware of them.


That is a ridiculously shallow conclusion; I could easily play along by
concluding that you've never worked with people doing *real* engineering.
Pretty pointless.

I actually hire lots of women for IT jobs.  It just depends on what we are
hiring people for that determines what the final gender balance typically
is.  My current position requires hiring lots of technical IT people but
doesn't require particularly strong engineering skills.  I think we may
actually end up with more women than men in our IT department because
off-hand I know many more women who are both very qualified and want to work
with us than men for the types of positions we need to fill.  My previous
position (in the same company), required deep engineering savvy and
technical competence because we were developing new theoretical models to
allow us to significantly push some technical envelopes, and that
engineering organization was entirely male, but not because we didn't
interview plenty of women.


It isn't that I don't know any female engineers, it is more a case that if I
was assembling a crack engineering team for some cutting edge design work,
for every female engineer that I know there is a male engineer that I know
who is better at the exact same design space.  I don't give a damn about the
gender, I just want to hire the best engineers I can because the project
depends on their ability to perform.

Generally speaking, I've never had a problem attracting really brilliant
women, but for engineering I can almost always find a man who is more
brilliant.  There are plenty of other fields where I would state the
opposite.


Cheers,

-James Rogers
 jamesr@best.com