Thursday, April 30, 2009

Geek Love

I found this post on interesting:

The basic question is, "Why are there so few women in software development/programming?" I sent my husband the link, and we came to some very different conclusions.

Mr. Sharon: DHH is stupid
he misses the point

They ALL miss the point.

Mr. Sharon: the only sense in which gender is meaningful is that women tend to be more sensitive
alpha geeks are really hard to be around

It's still a society where women are subliminally discouraged from being interested in "male" pursuits like math and science.

Mr. Sharon
ergo, they irritate the fuck out of [other people.]

Girls are discouraged from playing with trucks and calculators and pushed toward traditional gender roles. It all comes back to the same root cause: Change the patriarchy, change the world

Mr. Sharon:
it's the same reason most social people aren't into programming. the people there are fucking retarded.

Okay, there's that, too. It's very isolating work.
But then, so is writing. So are many 'creative' and 'womanly' pursuits.

Mr. Sharon:
It's too bad, I think this article does a disservice to the subject

As you can see, there are two different conversations going on here. Since Mr. Sharon is himself an alpha programming geek, he has somewhat of an insider perspective. He has and does work with a number of women programmers, and he doesn't differentiate them from other 'alpha geeks.' Gender isn't important to him, Mad Coding Skillz are the benchmark against which all geeks are judged.

Yes, alpha geeks are totally annoying and can irritate the fuck out of others -- but both sexes are equally irritated by these infuriating alpha geeks. Women aren't going to avoid a career simply because of annoying people; I mean, if that were the case ... I wouldn't have ever held down a job. I don't even want to think about the annoying, vile, sick and downright illegal things I've put up with at various points in my working life.

Mr. Sharon says that programming is a field that attracts many loners and introverts, and that many women don't feel it's for them because women tend to be more social and sensitive. But fields like writing, dance, painting and other creative professions also have pretty high isolation factors. Speaking only for myself, as a professional freelance writer with a home office, I'm alone 90% of my day. Perhaps I wave at neighbors while walking my dog. Or maybe I chat with the teller at the bank or make conversation with the guy behind the counter at Starbucks. But the person I hang out with most isn't a person at all, she's my dog.

And I am a very social (and sensitive) person. Given his logic, I shouldn't want to be in this profession at all. Yet, I am. Take that for what it's worth.

I truly feel it comes down to how many women are raised and how they're still railroaded into traditional societal and gender roles. It can apply to the fields of science, mathematics, medicine, insert industry here. Just recently Harvard's president was crucified for making the statement that womens' brains simply weren't developed to do complex mathematics. C'mon! This is still a widely held belief in society! Sexism is alive and well.

You can't have a discussion about the lack of women in specific fields without discussing women's oppression by and exclusion from society in general! Any discussion (like the eWEEK article) that does so is omitting crucial background facts that solidly explain the issue.

It's very, very easy to say that discrimination against women doesn't happen, that women don't enter these fields because they simply don't like them. It's much more difficult (and threatening) to understand that there's an entire underlying patriarchal system that's been in place for thousands of years actively resisting any advances women have made into the workforce as a whole and these fields in particular. Duh! Shouldn't we all know this by now??


No comments:

Post a Comment