'You should know that by now'



  • This article answered a question I had been vaguely wondering for years:

    TL;DR: There used to be more female computer scientists, but the number dropped because boys got a head start from a computer marketed as a boys' toy. As a result, boys learned about computers and girls didn't.

    The most eye-catching quote in the article was a lecturer who, having been asked a question, responded with "You should know that by now.". Savage as it may sound, it would probably have been better for the human race if he had reported to a suicide booth.

    Prior to my current job I only knew one female developer. I never really got a chance to see her skills develop because she left for another country after our boss turned out to be a twat. I don't think it was misogyny-related, but then that area could well be relatively subtle to a privileged white male such as myself.

    Tangents aside, I was interested to hear other peoples' accounts bearing paraphraseology of "You should know that by now".



  • It's a classic put down that is hard to respond to whilst maintaining civility. It includes a superficial back-handed complement that is probably insincere. Similar lines are "You should know better than that", "I expected better of you". Most often committed by adults talking to children. It is usually just a plain insult but also quite a lazy comment from someone who either can't be bothered to explain or can't explain and hopes to conceal that or has tried and failed to explain and wants to put the blame for that on the recipient. From a lecturer, it is probably an indictment of his/her professional abilities.



  • "I'm not mad at your code, I'm just disappointed."



  • @Shoreline said:

    You should know that by now

    When I was at University I had a lecturer that always ended each topic with "Are you clear?" which was taken up by no-one.
    One day I couldn't wrap my head around a (advanced) concept so I asked him to elaborate. He paused and then said "If you don't know now you never will" and continued on to the next topic.

    He was the same chap that after my graduation told me "I hope you're continuing on for your doctorate, I already see you as a colleague". I was very glad at that point I had no such plans!



  • Those who can...



  • "Nice, very nice. But oh so wrong"



  • Am I the only one that thinks the main factor to high men-to-women factor in CS is simply because most women seek for different jobs?


  • sockdevs

    @Gaska said:

    Am I the only one that thinks the main factor to high men-to-women factor in CS is simply because most women seek for different jobs?

    And not, say, a thoroughly misogynist and toxic culture?



  • @Arantor said:

    And not, say, a thoroughly misogynist and toxic culture?

    lol gl amirite?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Arantor said:

    And not, say, a thoroughly misogynist and toxic culture?
    We have 8 women on the team.
    5 are engineers. 2 of them are competent. There are ~45 male engineers, of which 7 are competent. So total 10% women, but women are on average better at it.
    1 is the admin assistant. We only have one of those, so lets say there isn't enough for even fakey bakey statistics like this.
    1 is frontline support angling for an embedded BA slot. There are 3 other frontline support slots. 25% ratio.
    1 is an "embedded project manager". There is 1 male analogue. 50% ratio.

    Almost our entire non-embedded Tech PM/BA team is made up of women. Call it 80%
    Every business PM/BA I have ever encountered in this company has been a woman.

    Overall, when you consider all the people necessary to actually pull off a successful project, the sexes are pretty evenly split. I think this reflects more on the differences in the way we think than on a cultural problem (unless you consider 'the differences in the way we think' to be a problem. Which it may be - I'm no sociologist, and I'm not a woman).

    I only have anecdotal evidence as to the pressures on women entering the field - I know in college we had 3 in our freshman class (of 30). We washed one of them out by being too forward.* The other 2 survived just fine, though (of course, one of those was basically married already).

    That said, the only women I've ever encountered in the Tech-IT establishment have been in Governance/Policy. Whatever the cultural defect is, The server rebooters, cable pluggers and knob turners are worse than we developers are.

    *Or so it seemed at the time. She later returned to tech once she came out. She herself accounts for her washing out as being primarily because of related internal conflicts and issues, rather than external cultural issues. Allocate this point to Brogrammer Culture v. LGBT instead of Brogrammer Culture v. Women.

    Tldr: I don't know if this is actually a problem or not. If it is, I feel shitty about it but I'm not sure what I can do about it.



  • IMHO, there's too much misandry in IT.



  • @chubertdev said:

    IMHO, there's too much misandry in IT.

    Is there? Because I honestly don't see it.

    Yes, there are far less women than men in IT, because that's how it's been for years now. Just like there aren't too many male nurses, or au pairs. Should we really try to shove women into the industry? And if so, why? Is it because there's actual need for women in IT, is it because something's stopping them from joining? Or is it just so that another aspect of society can be equalized with a hammer, to benefit of no one?

    I wouldn't say "misandry". There's a huge line between "it's bit of a sauagefest over here" and "everybody hates women and would rip their lungs out if they came close". We don't hate women, we just don't really try to accommodate them, and most of them don't care, since they have no interest in IT in the first place. And those who do need to blend in to the majority, like in every other group.

    In short - as far as my experience goes, the few women who actually want to get into IT can do so as well as the men. It's just that most of them don't want to.



  • @Maciejasjmj said:

    Is there? Because I honestly don't see it.

    Whoosh...



  • @Gaska said:

    Am I the only one that thinks the main factor to high men-to-women factor in CS is simply because most women seek for different jobs?

    Am I the only one that thinks the sky being blue is simply due to the blueness of the sky?

    Obviously women are going into different fields, that's just re-stating the problem. The interesting bit is: why are they going into different fields? And that's what the OP is about.



  • Because they are smarter and don't want to keep up with the crap of software development. Also, IMHO women, in general, are more social than your avg code monkey and spending 8 hours a day with the only human interaction of an Skype chat has to be frustrating for most of them.



  • Some years ago, I read an article whose explanation was the status of the job itself. In the 1940s through about the ’60s–’70s, computer programming was either seen as a scientific occupation, or as the equivalent of basic labor. In countries/places/companies/etc. where the first view prevailed, most computer programmers at the time were men; in the latter, most were women. In some countries, computer programmers tended to initially be women, and when it became a desirable job for whatever reason, the majority were displaced by men in short order.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Am I the only one that thinks the sky being blue is simply due to the blueness of the sky?

    Sky is rational, people are not. Sky color does have a very concrete cause, human choices may not.

    @Gurth said:

    In some countries, computer programmers tended to initially be women, and when it became a desirable job for whatever reason, the majority were displaced by men in short order.

    I think you might be implying that programming was overtaken by men because they couldn't stand that such a profitable job is dominated by women, so they shooed them away. I call bullshit until you show me any source that the industry indeed at some point actively fought against women in the industry, and it wasn't just lack of interest of high school graduates in computers due to other jobs being more appealing, e.g. marketing, PR, cosmetology, chemistry, education, biology, medicine, etc.

    And yes, it is totally plausible that a whole generation of girls suddenly decided to fuck computers and become doctors. There's not even a drop of irony in this statement.



  • @Weng said:

    We have 8 women on the team.5 are engineers. 2 of them are competent. There are ~45 male engineers, of which 7 are competent. So total 10% women, but women are on average better at it.

    It's an uphill battle for women. Those who make it are more special than men, in general.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    Obviously women are going into different fields, that's just re-stating the problem.

    Is it a problem? If so, for whom is it a problem and why? Why is this a problem but not the fact that garbage collectors are also overwhelmingly male?

    @Gaska said:

    I think you might be implying that programming was overtaken by men because they couldn't stand that such a profitable job is dominated by women, so they shooed them away. I call bullshit until you show me any source that the industry indeed at some point actively fought against women in the industry, and it wasn't just lack of interest of high school graduates in computers due to other jobs being more appealing, e.g. marketing, PR, cosmetology, chemistry, education, biology, medicine, etc.

    To some people, inequality of outcome is prima facie evidence of discrimination.1

    1With some exceptions. No one assumes sexism is the reason why cosmetics counters at department stores in most cases have women standing behind them.



  • @Gaska said:

    you might be implying that programming was overtaken by men because they couldn't stand that such a profitable job is dominated by women

    No, I wasn’t implying that. It’s been several years since I read it, and I don’t even remember where (yeah, I know, this makes what I say less credible — whatever), but as I recall, the article was about the status of the occupation. This is frequently related to the pay, in that the higher the perceived status, the higher the pay, but isn’t at all the same. What the article said is that in some locales, computer programming was perceived to be a job along the same lines as, say, bookkeeping: a skilled job which needs certain training, but not one that people really look up to — basically, the attitude being that a computer was an appliance that just needed someone to look after it. In these locales, typically a lot of computer programmers were women. In other locales, the article claimed, computer programming was seen as a branch of mathematics or some other scientific discipline, and that means it had a lot higher perceived status than in places where it was seen as equivalent to something like bookkeeping. In these places, programmers tended to be men. Finally, in some (many?) of the former locales, when the perceived status of being involved with computers went up, because of computers becoming more important to society — and people beginning to realize this — these shifted from the former to the latter. That usually meant goodbye to the women who used to operate the computers. It most likely wasn’t a conscious decision of, “This job has high status, let’s hire men for it”, or men thinking, “What are women doing in such a profitable job?” because it wouldn’t have been until men started doing it. Basically, it’s a much deeper, more fundamental issue than you’re making it out to be.

    @Gaska said:

    it is totally plausible that a whole generation of girls suddenly decided to fuck computers

    It could be argued that a whole generation of girls is fucking computers.



  • @antiquarian said:

    To some people, inequality of outcome is prima facie evidence of discrimination

    Those people also think that all wealth should be distributed equally. With some exceptions (e.g. pigs).



  • Are you saying the misogyny is caused by Rayleigh scattering?



  • That is totally opposite from the way I see it. If you look in a country like India, you will see an on average even gender distribution among programmers. It's a well-paying, well-respected job: you have to study engineering for it.



  • Based on what I've seen, it's because they label anyone who says "I like computers" over there as a programmer.



  • You seem to be talking about the situation today. I was talking about the historical situation, of about the 1950s through to maybe the ’70s.



  • I forget her name, but my University taught one of the first women programmers back in the ENIAC days. They even have a small museum dedicated to her, except it's in the basement of the library where no one can get to it (except staff) and no one knows it exists.

    Found her, Jean Bartik.



  • There was a survey of articles trying to explain this stuff on (gasp) slashdot yesterday:

    TFS (minus links, of which there were several including one to the Smithsonian):

    After an NPR podcast fingered the marketing of computers to boys as the culprit behind the declining percentages of women in undergraduate CS curricula since 1984 (a theory seconded by Smithsonian mag), some are concluding that NPR got the wrong guy. Calling 'When Women Stopped Coding' quite engaging, but long on Political Correctness and short on real evidence, UC Davis CS Prof Norm Matloff concedes a sexist element, but largely ascribes the gender lopsidedness to economics. "That women are more practical than men, and that the well-publicized drastic swings in the CS labor market are offputting to women more than men," writes Matloff, and "was confirmed by a 2008 survey in the Communications of the ACM" (related charts of U.S. unemployment rates and Federal R&D spending in the '80s). Looking at the raw numbers of female CS grads instead of percentages, suggests there wasn't a sudden and unexpected disappearance of a generation of women coders, but rather a dilution in their percentages as women's growth in undergrad CS ranks was far outpaced by men, including a boom around the time of the dot-com boom/bust.



  • Yeah, I listened to that Planet Money podcast, it's in my normal queue. It was........interesting.



  • But it's more fun to come up with a theory that sounds good than to look at the details. Related: How come this prof still has a job but Larry Summers can't work at Harvard any more?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a CS professor would buttume the CS labor market is made up entirely of CS graduates. The article in the OP seems to have made the same buttumption.



  • @Shoreline said:

    There used to be more female computer scientists, but the number dropped because boys got a head start from a computer marketed as a boys' toy. As a result, boys learned about computers and girls didn't.

    This sounds reasonable, but also really gods damn reductive.

    @Weng said:

    5 are engineers. 2 of them are competent. There are ~45 male engineers, of which 7 are competent. So total 10% women, but women are on average better at it.

    Based on my experiences with female vs. male developers the difference in percentages could make sense with the non-welcoming culture theory. Those with a real drive in software development tend to be competent vs. those that are just here for a paycheck. If you are just in it for the paycheck then a non-welcoming culture would be a larger hurdle (at least it seems like it would be) which could be why you get a higher percentage of competence (by skewing the mix of drive v paycheck you skew the other closely correlated thing).

    Many argue the non-welcoming thing and not having it aimed at me makes it harder to argue if it does or not. However based on what I've heard from mother and sister (mom was a programmer and sis took some CS before being chased off) there didn't use to be a (large) skew one way or another in regards to sex, but there seems to be a noticeable one now.

    But this is all wild guesses based on personal experience (and family stories).



  • @antiquarian said:

    .. buttume the CS labor market is made up entirely of CS graduates.

    @locallunatic said:

    This sounds reasonable, but also really gods damn reductive.

    Absolutely agree. I'd package it as a potential contributing factor more than the entire cause.


  • mod

    @Weng said:

    but women are on average better at it.

    This probably has more to do with the fact that women in technical positions feel more pressure to prove they can succeed. Men in the same positions don't feel anywhere near as much pressure. I doubt that it is any real indication that women are actually more capable, as you seem to be implying.



  • @abarker said:

    This probably has more to do with the fact that women in technical positions feel more pressure to prove they can succeed.

    I don't know. I'd rather put it on the fact that women who actually decide to go into CS/IT are actually more interested in it, since they're breaking out of their traditional "comfort zone", as opposed to guys who just hop on a bandwagon. On an average uni (and probably in an average company too), you'll find a bunch of great girls, the same amount of great guys, and a multitude of mostly males who didn't know what to do after high school, but they were pretty good with computers, so there.


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