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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: 2) by Grishnakh on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:56PM

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:56PM (#52706)

    IT is not "the worst industry on the planet" by a long shot. Working in a Chinese factory is much worse. So is working at McDonald's.

    However, for the education and intelligence required, there's far better opportunities in the US. Law and medicine come to mind right away. Medicine has higher educational requirements, but it also has far better job security and compensation later on. IT becomes a dead-end career after you pass 40 or so, but older doctors are highly valued for their experience.

    I absolutely agree about women being smarter for avoiding this trap. I disagree about compensation packages, though. There's no shortage of foreigners willing to jump into this field, ready to be abused. That isn't going to change until the US crumbles and loses its hegemony.

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  • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by frojack on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:16PM

    by frojack (1554) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:16PM (#52724) Journal

    That isn't going to change until the US crumbles and loses its hegemony.

    Really? That's what it will take?
    So that must mean all the women are moving into IT jobs in other countries then?

    Lets see, we can't come up with any real reasons the women avoid IT, so... Oh, lets heap hate on the US. That always works. We look hip, and informative without having to think just a little bit.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:30PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:30PM (#52732)

      So that must mean all the women are moving into IT jobs in other countries then?

      No, the problem is there's a couple billion people in China and India alone, and a tiny, tiny fraction of them will easily dwarf our IT industry.-

      Oh, lets heap hate on the US. That always works.

      Yeah, that's a great way to respond to criticism. Stick your fingers and your ears and ignore the problems.

      It's not just the US either, it's all of western society. There aren't tons of women going into IT in western Europe, Canada, or Australia either.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:48PM

        by frojack (1554) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:48PM (#52739) Journal

        It's not just the US either, it's all of western society. There aren't tons of women going into IT in western Europe, Canada, or Australia either.

        You were the one that said it was a US hegemony problem. Now you seem to want it both ways.

        There is no problem here other than someone gave women a choice, then decided that when they exercised their choice there was something wrong somewhere because they made different choices than men made.

        Why do you seem to have such a problem with women exercising control over their own lives?
        Is this some latent Islamic influence in your thinking or something?

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 1, Troll) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @08:16PM

          by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @08:16PM (#52748)

          The problem is that the equations for men and women are different. If it were as simple as "I want to do X for a living" you would see closer to a 50/50 split or something more along the lines of the gender split in the population.

          Sure, an old white guy can apply to be the president of the Young Black Woman's Society organization. Would he do it and just think "we are equal and I'm qualified"?

          • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by frojack on Saturday June 07 2014, @08:53PM

            by frojack (1554) on Saturday June 07 2014, @08:53PM (#52759) Journal

            "If it were as simple as "I want to do X for a living" you would see closer to a 50/50 split or something more along the lines of the gender split in the population.

            Even if it were "that simple", there would be a difference in the choices made by the sexes. There isn't any evidence that, if a snap of the fingers would get you any career you wanted, that each career would fill evenly between the genders. None what so ever.

            I have no idea what "the equations are different" really means.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by skullz on Saturday June 07 2014, @09:10PM

              by skullz (2532) on Saturday June 07 2014, @09:10PM (#52763)

              Your mistake is in assuming that biological gender manifests in career choice. We are dealing with large numbers here and this isn't even a close split like 55% men, 45% women, or 65 / 35. It is a huge gap.

              Equations, in the form seen in calculus. You compute the area under a curve, f(x) = ax + C, where C is a constant. If you take x out to infinity, C can be ignored so you generally do ignore it unless your professor is a dick and want's you to write " + C" after every solution. What you are saying is that "for all men and women, C is negligible and can be ignored", meaning that men and women inherently choose a career over another based on their gender. What I am saying is that C is still quite significant and that if you removed it you would see a man/woman slit more inline with the general population. We don't, so woman's equations when deciding on which career to enter are different and until you can remove C altogether (remove the social factors of gender roles) you can't say that women inherently prefer one career over another.

              • (Score: 2, Insightful) by frojack on Saturday June 07 2014, @11:40PM

                by frojack (1554) on Saturday June 07 2014, @11:40PM (#52796) Journal

                yeah, yeah, but where is your evidence?

                You keep tossing up this 50/50 nonsense like there is a shred of truth to it.
                Its simply not true, and never has been.

                The professions that are actually are populated 50/50 are anomalies, outliers, unusual. The world over.

                I'm asking for a shred of proof, and you keep propping up your 50/50 notion with a silly formula pulled out of your ass.
                You keep complaining that we haven't removed enough barriers. But no matter how many such barriers we remove you will always find another one and insist the discrepancy is due to THAT new barrier. Like the poor, who will always be with us, there will always be gender based choices, which you will always insist as a sign of something seriously wrong. Since you won't supply anything but your own assertion in support of your own assertion I see little reason to continue the discussion.

                Because for you, the mere fact that women prefer different choices IS THE PROBLEM.

                --
                No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:07AM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:07AM (#52811)

                  > The professions that are actually are populated 50/50 are anomalies, outliers, unusual. The world over.

                  Yeah, yeah, but where is your evidence? Any time your faith is questioned you demand evidence that meets an impossibly high standard but you are never able to provide the same. For your own faith the existence of the status quo is all the proof you need -- you are content with the most shallow analysis possible as long as you don't disagree with it. Its the ultimate form of intellectual dishonesty.

                • (Score: 2) by skullz on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:14AM

                  by skullz (2532) on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:14AM (#52827)

                  Note: not really fair to mod parent a troll, he raises valid points. This is a serious discussion and he is discussing!

                  Here is the US labor department numbers: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm [bls.gov]

                  Women make up roughly 50% of the workforce. In "Computer and mathematical occupations" they are only about 25% but have a good showing in analysis, statistics, web dev, and as DBAs, ranging from 35% to 50%. At the same time there few to none network admins or comp sec women in the sample and only 23% code monkeys (despite there being over 300k code monkey jobs in the US (same website)).

                  There are over 3 million in the computer and mathematical occupations and only 1 in 4 women actually have a job in it. This is where my silly ass formula comes in. With this large of a number either women, inherently by their nature, don't want to get into tech or there is another factor. I assert that it is the environment from birth to adulthood. So, if we go back to the entire point of this article which is to get more girls into coding then identifying (or even acknowledging) what element in the environment is causing this skew would be a good starting point. Its over 3 million slots.

                  My point is that there is a big difference between saying "that's just what this woman wanted" and "that's just what women want". By generalizing and saying "woman prefer" you run the risk of glossing over a problem.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday June 08 2014, @12:06PM

                by VLM (445) on Sunday June 08 2014, @12:06PM (#52923)

                I love to bring up chemistry

                Generic lab techs are darn near 50:50 ratio.

                Then you hop to Chemist and its almost 50:50 although there is a legacy etc such that there are slightly more men. Still darn near 50:50.

                Then you hop to ChemEng and its roughly 10% women.

                Then you hop to management and there are more women but its probably just a hiring quota situation.

                So you wanna do R+D or run an existing plant, women are allowed. On the other hand if you want to design or manage a plant that is a total sausagefest.

                There are obvious analogies with computers. You want to do R+D, I guess that is "math" and that is in fact darn near 50:50. Running an existing plant is analogous with "using facebook" or playing spreadsheet and powerpoint dominance games all day at work, which is also unsurprisingly roughly 50:50. Yet again, if you want to design something new or "manage" a database or server farm or whatever, its again sausagefest time with only 10% or so women.

                The point being there's nothing "special" about IT or computers. Its more a lifestyle thing. Across the professions, women don't get involved in engineering or management. And this is crucial because if you fix that, the specific IT results will take care of themselves, and if you think a pink hello kitty theme in Eclipse will solve the entire cultural wide "problem" across all professions then you're wasting everyone's time because obviously thats not going to fix chemistry or any of a zillion other non-IT/CS fields.

                • (Score: 2) by skullz on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:04PM

                  by skullz (2532) on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:04PM (#52932)

                  and if you think a pink hello kitty theme in Eclipse will solve the entire cultural wide "problem" across all professions then you're wasting everyone's time

                  You are right but the point is to raise awareness, maybe not with you or with the people who are saying that there is no solution / problem but with the few hundred other people who have read this conversation and not commented. The pink hello kitty theme is part of the "death of 10,000 cuts" that girls and women are talking about. Its easy to do and easy to stop if we are mindful and we care.

  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Sunday June 08 2014, @11:51AM

    by VLM (445) on Sunday June 08 2014, @11:51AM (#52921)

    "So is working at McDonald's."

    Not my experience. Well, I never worked at McD, although I worked very small company retail as a starving student and it was awesome. I was a single teenage boy and the hiring manager was a dirty old man with the same taste in women as myself, so about half my coworkers were amazing beautiful women my age (I dated several, which now a days is probably illegal). The work was physically way easier than going to the gym or helping out at my uncles farm or helping my parents do house maintenance. The camaraderie was excellent (with the guys, not just the women). The 50:50 male female ratio was awesome. Management was uniformly excellent; obviously this was not a "family run" small business, but a real small business.

    If I could get paid the same to stock shelves and occasionally help the cashiers, there's no way I'd be slinging code.

    Also BTW law is dead. That bubble popped a couple years ago, maybe five years ago? Not everyone has heard about it yet, but the numbers were/are pretty stunning. I never went into medicine because as a kid I could see it was likely to be "reorganized" because nothing this dumb can go on forever. Yet decades later, here we are. I would imagine when the medical bubble pops it'll sound just like the popping of the law bubble. "What do you mean, pharmacists are being replaced by vending machines?" and radiologists aren't paid any more than car brake shop repair guys.