Women in Technology

  • Phil Factor

    SSCoach

    Points: 19957

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Women in Technology

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • Mark Chimes

    Old Hand

    Points: 317

    Phil Factor (1/5/2010)


    Some estimates describe an alarming percentage fall from 40% to 20%. Clearly something must be done to reverse the trend.</A>[/B]

    Why?

    This comment assumes that a balance of the sexes must exist in the industry for it to be properly fruitful/successful/valid. That's like saying we should have more women in the mining industry.

    Having SOME women in the industry is essential, just like it is essential to have cross-gender input in many industries, but clearly 20% is enough for the industry as a whole to achieve it's present goals. If this were not so, there would be enormous pressure and incentive from the captains of industry and politics to improve the situation.

    IMO, one of the main reasons women are not attracted to our industry is they are simply not interested. And why would they be? While women are perfectly capable of thinking logically, it is men who display this characteristic at a lower level of their thought processes.

    Now, don't misread what I just said!

    I'm not saying women can't do the job. Clearly, they can; and just as well as men! But for many women, their thinking patterns are predisposed another way. This is what brings a different perspective to any endeavor.

    I am NOT saying that women are inferior thinkers;

    Simply saying that we need more women in the industry is just not supportable by the facts; and that, I suspect, is why there is little intention other than lip service given to resolving the "problem".

    Cheers

  • Ivan Argentinski

    SSC Enthusiast

    Points: 111

    Unfortunately, in my 20+ years of experience as software developer (started at 13 years old age to work professionally - for money), I'm still waiting to see the first lady programmer. I'm not talking about seeing a lady that is working and doing the job. I'm talking about seeing a lady, that I can recognize as a true programmer. I thought once that I have met one, but it turned out that I was mistaken.

    So, why we "should clearly do something"? There seems to be no such thing as lady programmer nowadays. I don't know why and I don't think I'm a sexist. It is only an observation.

  • daggles

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 237

    Queensland University of Technology had an interesting campaign to help increase female enrolment in Information Technology entitled "Go for I.T grrl!" which, while the intentions were good, came across as condescending in my opinion.

  • jinlye

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 230

    Erm, "Lady Programmers"? Has SqlServerCentral.com ever written about "Man Programmers"?? No. So it's "Programmers" and "Lady Programmers" then. Hmmm. Maybe our terminology gives something away about our own attitudes...

  • Gail Shaw

    SSC Guru

    Points: 1004454

    Mark Chimes (1/5/2010)


    Phil Factor (1/5/2010)


    Some estimates describe an alarming percentage fall from 40% to 20%. Clearly something must be done to reverse the trend.</A>[/B]

    Why?

    If there previously were 40% and now are 20% it indicates that there's some bias at work. You can't say that women aren't interested, if that was the case, that 40% would not have occurred in the past. Maybe there's some cultural bias that's people's interests away from IT. If that's the case, we could be losing potentially top people who are interested but who avoid the profession because of some bias, and that's bad for the profession as a whole.

    While women are perfectly capable of thinking logically, it is men who display this characteristic at a lower level of their thought processes.

    Citation please, or is that your opinion?

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • Jen-574053

    SSC-Addicted

    Points: 445

    As a lady with two postgraduate degrees in computing science, who has a full-time occupation as a developer and Microsoft SQL Server certifications - I hope that I do qualify as a lady programmer. If not, please tell me why.

    I think that the reason there isn't more women in IT generally is because we get siphoned off along the way - either by being directed into softer roles by management, or by customers not wanting to work with you simply due to your biology.

    I think also that women are put off by a largely male-dominated environment since it is harder to for a lone woman to work in, particularly if there are some colleagues/customers who are, shall we say, very interested in your physical attributes and appearance. It's really difficult to listen to lewd comments day in, day out, and it is even harder if your customer are doing it. I don't have this in my present role so I'm lucky, but I have had this experience and it is very isolating. I don't dress in a way that invites attention, not that it should matter.

    I think that, since people don't expect you to have technical skills, there is sometimes no management support for women programmers. For example, in previous roles I have been directed towards a 'softer skill' job rather than a more technical one. When I have questioned this, the reason I get back is 'some customers don't want women to do programming work'. Additionally, customers don't always want to be speaking with a geek with no social skills (you're not all like that, but face it, there are some geeks you would never put in front of a customer!) so I've been put in front of the customer instead. Since you're actively not being exposed to technical project work, it can be deskilling.

    As a customer-facing consultant, I have been asked to be replaced by a male colleague because the customer's internal IT team do not want to work beside a woman. I have had experience where brand name companies have said that they don't want a girl IT technician because 'it would upset the male IT team members and the existing equilibrium of the internal IT Team'. What happens then is down to the management. I have had supportive managers who have said 'well, if you're going to be sexist, we don't want your money since your request probably isn't legal and she is our best programmer'. On other times, more often a man does go out to do the job, with support from me 'behind the scenes' because I have more experience. So, I don't get credit for my work and nothing changes.

    If I do get past the door, then sometimes my work can be actively sabotaged e.g. my work deleted, files removed and replaced with rubbish and so on. One customer I had were excellent - it was the customer who spotted that a contractor colleague was sabotaging my work, and they said that they had no room for sexism in the workplace and threatened to stop the project until my company had sorted him out. Needless to say, he was questioned- when asked why he did it, he said that (wait for this) 'that he did not like working for a senior woman'. In the end, he was taken off the project, which I then completed. This sort of thing just puts women off, and I'm very glad to have had a good reputable customer who defended me.

    To summarise, I think women don't program because there are too many social obstacles along the way. The earlier comments about women not being able to think logically are simply a sideshow, which directs attention away from the fact of how women can be treated and sidelined in the workplace. You would not get away with saying this sort of thing about people's colour, creed or religion - so why about biology and the role of the individual? As an experienced, bitten forty-year-old-ish programmer, I feel I've achieved a lot of things I'm proud of, and the fact that my programs are still running at customer sites should speak for itself... along with the fact that my blog has only ever attracted questions from guys who need help.

    We're individuals with different skill sets and experiences, and for people to dismiss you for one simple criterion alone means that they are the ones missing out on an opportunity.

  • SQL_EXPAT

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2708

    back in the days of mainframe programming, COBOL, Natural, Fortran etc, there were a lot more woman programmers. IMO this was due to the structured training programs and courses that were offered for this which allowed anyone, provided they passed the aptitude tests, to do the courses. Back then I'd say programming courses had a 50/50 male female split and graduates were then placed in suitable roles supporting large mainframe applications. It is the advent of client/server and PC based programming that has seen a shift more to male domination where learning and training has become a more teach-your-self kind of thing and where keeping up with the latest and greated gadgets and technology is what men seem to be more interested in.

    thanks

    SQL_EXPAT

  • Gail Shaw

    SSC Guru

    Points: 1004454

    Not all the women in IT initiatives are useful. There's a group in my area that I refuse to support and I will not attend their meetings. Why? Both group membership and meeting attendance are women only. Men are not invited and, at least at the TechEd events, not welcome. My personal opinion is that's harming things, not helping.

    Also, the one meeting I did attend was partially a 'pity-party'. "Woe is us", "There's no place for us in big companies", "We are discriminated against", etc, etc.

    That doesn't help. Sitting and wining, especially when it's in a women-only clique, sends the wrong messages.

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • Gail Shaw

    SSC Guru

    Points: 1004454

    Jen-574053 (1/6/2010)


    As a lady with two postgraduate degrees in computing science, who has a full-time occupation as a developer and Microsoft SQL Server certifications - I hope that I do qualify as a lady programmer. If not, please tell me why.

    Ditto. (Though here it's one postgrad degree complete, one in progress)

    However I do prefer the term "developer" rather than "programmer". Personal preference mostly.

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • jo cl

    Grasshopper

    Points: 20

    I agree -- we are all programmers - however the reality is that programming does seem to have developed an image of being the job for a 'geek' - and while your average lad does not seem to see this as an insult - most young girls do --programming provides interesting and challenging work -- the industry needs the best -- and at the moment it seems to be recruiting from only half the population.

    Those of us working in this area need to be prepared to promote this type of work to all - it is about role models and education - programming is not about working in isolation - it is about collaboration - team working - new ideas and as a career can be great fun.

    Jo

  • Phil Factor

    SSCoach

    Points: 19957

    But for many women, their thinking patterns are predisposed another way. This is what brings a different perspective to any endeavor

    Is this a cultural or innate difference? What research do you base this on? There is a vast number of studies on gender differences. It is an area of active research. Sadly, much of the effort has had to be in untangling previous prejudice, and I don't see a body of evidence that justifies discouraging women from technology.

    As far as we know, intellectual and creative talents are evenly distributed within humanity. To select IT people, especially programmers, from a small subgroup seems a waste, especially as generations of psychologists have failed to detect any measurable justification for doing so. Purely from the perspective of supply and demand, it seems illogical to discourage anyone with the required skills from contributing.

    I have to add, from my own experience, that women are just as good as men in working as programmers, or in any other area of IT.

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • SQLSimon

    SSC-Addicted

    Points: 421

    I've no idea whether there is any difference in programming ability between men and women. But I have to echo an earlier comment:

    "This comment assumes that a balance of the sexes must exist in the industry for it to be properly fruitful/successful/valid. That's like saying we should have more women in the mining industry."

    It's certainly wrong if there are unfair pressures against women in IT, but there's no justification in saying that there HAS to be an equal mix of men & women.

  • Rick-153145

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2683

    I personally couldn't care less whether the industry had Aliens as the primary workers, it really wouldn't bother me. What bothers me is whether they are up to the job or not. I would rather work with someone who knew what they were doing than someone employed because of their biology.

    I also think this article is a steaming pile of turd and should have been better thought out before being posted. Lets not bring the equality commission into the IT sector please, they've screwed up enough sectors already and IT really could do without this at the moment.

  • Phil Factor

    SSCoach

    Points: 19957

    . That's like saying we should have more women in the mining industry."

    If we accept the research published by the 'Women in Mining' organization (who would, I'm sure, disagree with you) ...

    http://www.womeninmining.net/

    .. then their recruitment level is at 25%. In parts of the west, recruitment in IT for women is down to 20%. I don't buy the 'Mining' comparison!

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

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