chicks & computers

Elias Sinderson FoRK <fork@xent.com>
Mon, 17 Mar 2003 15:18:14 -0800


James Rogers wrote:

>My contention isn't that these women are out there, but that for
>every one of these women in circulation there are probably a dozen men in
>circulation that are every bit as competent from a design engineering
>standpoint. [...]
>
This is an issue that I'm deeply concerned with. It seems there is an 
incredible amount of wasted potential in that many women do not pursue 
careers in informatics. There are a number of programs around the 
country which aim to address this problem, and both the ACM and IEEE 
have groups [1, 2] trying to turn this trend around. I'm personally 
involved in a program [3] which pairs up mentors from national labs, 
university research centers, etc. with undergraduate female engineering 
proteges from around the country. The initial results have been very 
promising, reinforcing the results seen in similar programs such as 
Lilith [4]. At any rate, it is clear that this is a matter of concern 
for a great number of people as evidenced by the growing number of 
organizations [5] devoted to focusing on this issue and the related 
issues surrounding it.

What are the primary factors for so many women not choosing to pursue 
careers in science and technology related fields and how can these be 
mitigated? What aspects of the working environments in these fields can 
be changed such that they are more attractive to women without having 
any measurably negative impact? How can educational systems at the 
university level evolve to meet the needs of women in their science and 
technology oriented programs? What changes need to be made in K-12 
education to provide young girls the environment they need to succeed in 
these areas? Until we can begin to answer some of these basic questions 
there will continue to be a dearth of female representation in these 
fields. I reject outright the notion that there are fundamental 
differences that make men better at science and/or engineering.

I have plenty more to say on this, but should probably tie up some loose 
ends before going on vacation [6].


Elias

[1] IEEE Women in Engineering 
<http://www.ieee.org/organizations/committee/women/about.html>
[2] ACM Committee on Women in Computing <http://www.acm.org/women/>
[3] MentorNet <http://www.mentornet.net/> and analysis of results 
<http://mentornet.net/Documents/About/Results/>
[4] Lilith home page 
<http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/lilithclub/lilith.html> and news articles 
at <http://axle.doit.wisc.edu/~sss/affiliations/lilindx.htm>
[5] List of related resources 
<http://www.sdsc.edu/Hopper/GHC_INFO/resources.html>
[6] <http://miamimasterlist.com/> and yes, I'll be FoRKing some trip 
reports!