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posted by janrinok on Saturday June 07 2014, @05:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the food-for-thought dept.

A huge nationwide push is underway, funded by the nonprofit Code.org's corporate and billionaire donors, from Amazon and Google to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, to introduce American schoolchildren to coding and to redefine it as a basic skill to be learned alongside the three R's.

Code.org's curriculum has been adopted by 20,000 teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade. But if coding is the new lingua franca, literacy rates for girls are dropping: Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science [PDF]. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates down from 36 percent in 1984. The imbalance persists in the tech industry. Just this week, Google released data showing that women account for just 17 percent of its tech employees.

The problem is not only getting girls to computer class, but keeping them there.

See also girlswhocode.com.

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:49PM

    by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:49PM (#52700)

    If all things were equal I would agree with you and you could say that there was a correlation between gender and coding. But it's not.

    Thought experiment time: imagine you are going to be a safe-place / refuge for domestic valance victims and you are a straight man. You say "I will take this abused people, mostly women, into my house! I will shelter them, provide them comfort and support! Trust me, I'm a good man!" All things being equal, no problem. Your trustworthiness is based on your history and ability. But would that happen? Nope. You would be branded a manipulative creep who takes advantage of vulnerable women in their time of need just by merit of your gender.

    The environment that boys and girls (let alone women and men) grow up and operate in is not the same. Boy's and girl's brains are functionally identical so there must be another factor. The environment is the most obvious difference: blue vs pink, aggressive toys vs nurturing toys, boys good at math, girls bad. Etc. It goes on and on. There is no such thing as "boys interests" or "girls interests" except by those engineered by the social environment that the individuals are immersed in.

    For example: my wife is a tom boy who doesn't like pink. My daughter, at age 2, was able to identify pink as a "girl's color" without any prompting by us. I blame the Disney channel and the toy isle at Target. It surrounds us every day but if you are in your niche you don't notice it.

    The same thing can be applied to coding. All signs (stock photos, job postings, TV shows, conventions, after school coding groups) point to coding and tech in general as a boys club, with nerds and power suits. We know that that is absolute bull shit and the individual contributions of a person regardless of gender is the single most important thing.

    Men and women don't have different interests, people have different interests. Ability is up to the individual, not the gender. That is the point that these types of articles are trying to make, sometimes with great difficulty. Coding is genderless. Tech is genderless. Why the great discrepancy amount the genders?

    My bet is on environment. And that comes from you and I.

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  • (Score: 2) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:55PM

    by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:55PM (#52704)

    *violence
    *amount
    *whatever else I missed

    This is what happens when you drink before noon, kids. Stay in school.

    • (Score: 1, Redundant) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:58PM

      by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:58PM (#52707)

      *amongst

      F you, spell-checker.

    • (Score: 2) by Tork on Saturday June 07 2014, @11:19PM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Saturday June 07 2014, @11:19PM (#52791)
      Ah, so you registerred your nickname this afternoon, too?
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Oligonicella on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:10PM

    by Oligonicella (4169) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:10PM (#52720)

    "Boy's and girl's brains are functionally identical so there must be another factor."

    You lost your argument right there. One is not better than the other, but they are not at all functionally identical. If for no other reason than the hormonal bath is different. Males and females have slightly different brain structures and show distinct differences in testing. There is broad overlap, but they are different.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:35PM

      by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:35PM (#52734)

      The problem there is that you don't know if you are testing the upbringing or testing the brain. We are talking about girls and women in coding. The brain's ability to perform some function. Do you really think that in the context of writing some software or solving a puzzle there is a statistically significant difference in a woman's brain vs a man's?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:35AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:35AM (#52817)

      > One is not better than the other, but they are not at all functionally identical. If for no other reason than the hormonal bath is different.

      That's like saying that people who are taller have functionally different brains than people who are shorter. Probably technically true but says nothing about how that difference matters with respect to anything other than coping with their height.

      There is no conclusive evidence that differences in the "hormonal bath" have an effect that would manifest in consistently different levels of cognitive ability. Every time someone does test for that sort of thing, the result is either inconclusive or conclusively no difference. When they do find a difference, invariably it falls apart due to bad experiment design.

      • (Score: 2) by Kell on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:57AM

        by Kell (292) on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:57AM (#52823)

        Unfortunately, you are not correct. FMRI, CT and autopsies have all identified distinct (albeit minor) structural differences in the brains of each gender, and bloodtests readily differentiate the hormonal balance in which the neurons are operating. There is strong evidence that brains of different genders (and even orientations) have variability; we have no problem accepting that men are hairier, or stockier than women, so why would we expect their brains to be absolutely identical?

        --
        Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
        • (Score: 2) by skullz on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:23AM

          by skullz (2532) on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:23AM (#52830)

          Absolutely. But I'm talking about big movements like language, coding, or how kids play. While boy and girl brains may have structural or hormonal differences there is no statistical difference in how they function in daily tasks.

          • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday June 09 2014, @11:16PM

            by urza9814 (3954) on Monday June 09 2014, @11:16PM (#53455) Journal

            Absolutely. But I'm talking about big movements like language, coding, or how kids play. While boy and girl brains may have structural or hormonal differences there is no statistical difference in how they function in daily tasks.

            Actually, there is. [columbiaconsult.com] Granted, most of the actual tests were on babies and infants so they're hardly complex skills to us...but how else are you going to eliminate possible cultural differences?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:41AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:41AM (#52876)

          Brains are plastic. All of these analyses are after the fact - after the brain has been subject to the developmental pressures of social stereotyping. When that is accounted for, the differences recede to the trivial. [time.com]

      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday June 08 2014, @04:40AM

        by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Sunday June 08 2014, @04:40AM (#52859)
        "There is no conclusive evidence that differences in the "hormonal bath" have an effect that would manifest in consistently different levels of cognitive ability."

        Actually there was a study done that found that men process spatial acuity better than women do. I actually work in an industry where this could potentially make a difference. (If the number of men and women where I work was closer to 50/50 I'd share my anecdotal evidence of if that actually makes a difference.)
        --
        🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:33AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @05:33AM (#52873)

          > Actually there was a study done that found that men process spatial acuity better than women do.

          And there was also a study [economist.com] that found it had nothing to do with the "hormonal bath" and everything to do with experience. That's the way these things always turn out, naive and poorly designed experiments confirm stereotypes, more thoughtful analysis shows otherwise.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:10AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:10AM (#53127)

            In your opinion. FTFY.

  • (Score: 2) by bradley13 on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:15PM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:15PM (#52722) Homepage Journal

    Boy's and girl's brains are functionally identical... There is no such thing as "boys interests" or "girls interests"

    That's certainly the PC line. Unfortunately for you, it's not true. Both men and women have a very broad spectrum of possible development, with lots of overlap. However, on average, there are differences. Give a small boy a set of dolls - on average, he's more likely to see if their heads come off, rather than to have a tea party with them.

    Please google "brain development gender" (three words, not a single phrase), and start browsing. Boys and girls do, in fact, develop differently; the brain is part of the person and subject to the same hormonal and genetic difference as the rest of the body. It would be rather amazing if boys and girls didn't have difference in (average) brain development.

    Men and women don't have different interests, people have different interests. Ability is up to the individual, not the gender.

    Here, we can agree. If gender differences lead to different tendencies - more men in some professions, more women in others - why should this be a problem? Just treat each person as an individual, allow people to do what they like and are good at.

    Personal example: I have a son who chose a career in child care. This is hardly a traditional male profession, but it's what he likes and is good at. If a woman wants to work on an oil rig - hardly a traditional female profession - fine for her.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:30PM

      by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:30PM (#52731)

      Here is a good summary [nytimes.com]

      That men and women differ in certain respects is unassailable. Unfortunately, the continuing belief in "categorical differences" - men are aggressive, women are caring — reinforces traditional stereotypes by treating certain behaviors as immutable. And, it turns out, this belief is based on a scientifically indefensible model of human behavior.

      As the psychologist Cordelia Fine explains in her book "Delusions of Gender," the influence of one kind of categorical thinking, neurosexism — justifying differential treatment by citing differences in neural anatomy or function - spills over to educational and employment disparities, family relations and arguments about same-sex institutions.

      So of course there are differences but not enough to say "girls are good at X, boys are good at Y"

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:41AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:41AM (#52819)

      > Please google "brain development gender"

      Any time you find yourself telling the person on the other side of the argument to go research and prove your point for you, the likelihood of you simply being wrong nears 100%

      > Personal example:

      Anecdotes are not data, especially when it comes to the social sciences which are always invariably about trends.

    • (Score: 2) by BasilBrush on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:42PM

      by BasilBrush (3994) on Sunday June 08 2014, @07:42PM (#53012)

      "Boy's and girl's brains are functionally identical... There is no such thing as "boys interests" or "girls interests""
      That's certainly the PC line.

      It's not the "PC" line. It's not even the line of mainstream feminists. The line is that women they should have equal opportunities and rewards to men. Not that they are the same.

       

      --
      Hurrah! Quoting works now!
  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:34AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:34AM (#52816) Journal

    > Boy's and girl's brains are functionally identical

    WRONG!

    Have look at some high definition fiber tracking [wikipedia.org] and you will have a revelation. You most likely also get the insight that there are way more variations than boys and girls.

    Being able to do the same task does not equate to being inclined to do the same task.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:32AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @06:32AM (#52884)

      > Have look at some high definition fiber tracking and you will have a revelation.

      Ugh, yet another "go google it" defense that is really an admission of being wrong. You even made the effort to link to something, but you couldn't actually link to something that supported your point. As if typing "high definition fiber tracking" into google didn't bring up that wikipedia link as the 2nd hit.

      Furthermore your whole premise is a fallacy- that the existence of a specific difference in the brain for a specific purpose results in a significant difference in an unrelated area. It is exactly the same thinking that says having blonde hair makes people dumber.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09 2014, @04:13AM (#53129)

        Funny how you beat on the "go Google it" yet you offer no evidence or backing of your own probably-false opinions.