Code secrets: The real reasons why girls need to become computer geeks

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  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Dec. 10, 2013 3:18 p.m.

    When the Feminist movement emerged so did mentors and programs to help girls excel. Today there is a huge imbalance between men and women going to college, graduating and going to grad school, and it ain't in favor of the guys.

    There are almost zero programs designed to help the boys these days.

    If the numbers were reversed this article would be about how well girls were doing in the computing fields.

    It is nice to see that there is something that guys are still excelling at.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    I wonder if one of the reasons why we fail to attract women to programming is because of articles like this.

    1. It communicates that you'll face unreasonable amounts of prejudice.
    2. Promises high salaries.
    3. Promises a stable career.
    4. It sells computer science on the idea that it's fun.
    5. It gives the mistaken idea that girls are naturally gifted at it, if only the "man" would get out of the way.
    6. It suggests there are no female programmer role-models.
    7. It blames the lack of females on male domination, as though it were a deliberate conspiracy against women.

    None of the above are true. CS is often difficult, boring, sedentary, and full of long frustrating hours staring at a computer screen. When the lies we tell girls become evident, is it a surprise they bail, thinking there are plenty of other career fish in the sea? It's not that girls can't do it, it's that they elect not to...

    We tell our daughters they can be ANYTHING... The sad fact is we dont treat male programmers better with outsourcing... and job skills becoming obsolete about the time you learn them.


  • raybies Layton, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 7:21 a.m.

    chumley: I'm a dude in a programming job that is more than flexible enough. We employ many capable female programmers too.

    IF you're interested in climbing the corporate ladder, then youre probably right, you won't go far if you put your family first... but that's always been the case, regardless of gender. Men just accept they can't have both.

    Most bosses dont care about telecommuting if they are productive, but programming is MORE communication, than coding genius, and the whole field is TERRIBLE at judging who is and is not contributing to a project. There are so many non-code-related activities involved in a team programming atmosphere that appear immeasurable. Management that distrusts employees inspires stupid workplace policies like you describe.

    Honestly, though, I think most girls go into other field because it looks boring (and often can be). We tell our girls they can do ANYTHING. So they don't have an expectation on them to be the primary bread-winner. That lack of pressure almost certainly makes other fields that appear more fun also more attractive.

    Who says "I want to sit in front of a computer most of my life!" ??? Whoopee.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Dec. 10, 2013 7:06 a.m.

    This article is full of stupid notions. No one will ever tell a girl she can't be a programmer. Men faun over girls who have coder skillz. This article misses the point. Some of the first and most revolutionary programmers were women.

    I really wish successful women seeking to "inspire" girls would stop casting themselves as victims of male domination... IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. I've four daughters. I practically push them to computers, and so far nothing really stuck.

    Men don't go into computers because it isn't boring. That comes with the territory. The angry young female bent on changing the world is doing nothing to help, either. Computer concepts require a dedication that young men are willing to commit to... more often than not because they want to make their favorite videogame.

    The gaming industry has bent over backwards to try to attract girls to gaming, yet they continue to fail, and clearly girls are not motivated in the same ways boys are, because even if they have a game they like, they aren't flocking to programming because of it.

    This article misses the real point of what's going on...

  • brian of ohio Kent, OH
    Dec. 9, 2013 6:57 p.m.

    I agree with cjb of bountiful. Girls and Boys are just innately different. You might turn this article around and ask why, I would guess with no exact number, that 90% or so of secretary jobs are held by girls, most teachers are girls, most nurses are girls... and so on. Is there some injustice on those fields? Are there lack of male role models, why don't men go into those?... Just shows how naive this article is. A famous black physicist said a few things (Neil Degrasse TYson): First as a black he said it is often that blacks look at not getting a job and say it is because they are black. He said we can find injustices when we shouldn't, but should be looking at ourselves. Second he said if you put jobs into a scale from very social to very mental(ie working with people vs working with math/numbers) women have much higher percentages than man in social jobs, men higher percentages in mental jobs, and the middle is about middle.

    Shows there is just a difference between us that people just don't want to admit.

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    Dec. 8, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    I would remind people of the career of Admiral Grace Hopper, one of the pioneers of computer programming, and offer her as a good role model for girls and women who would like to enter this field. Her skills were so great that the Navy allowed her to remain on active duty until she was 79 years old. She made it clear that there is nothing inherently "male" or "female" about computers and computer programming.

  • jbejar West Jordan, UT
    Nov. 30, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    I always wondered why there were no or few girls in my CS classes at BYU. I feel like Harvey Mudd College has a good program with female role models where they were able to close the gender gap.

  • chumley Orem, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 11:34 p.m.

    I am a female computer scientist.

    I must disagree with with the comments about women lacking aptitude. I have as least as much as any man I've met. I am not trying to brag and perhaps on average these ideas are true, but please don't use such a large brush to say that women are incapable. I am not a passionate feminist nor against traditional gender roles.

    $80-100k starting salary. NO.

    My biggest barrier to having a career as a computer scientist as a female is that most jobs are not family friendly. Especially with the current economic climate, employers and those offering contracts just want results as fast as possible and don't have patience for part-timers, or even full-timers at only 40 hours per week. Much less do they allow for days off for sick kids, leaving early when school is out (even if made up for my arriving early or working at home in the evening), or in general having a priority in life other than dedication to shipping a product as close to on time as possible. The idea that a programmer mom can flexibly telecommute is largely unattainable. Out of words.

  • Laura Arroyo Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    To DO:

    Isolate a function that occupies most of an Office Specialist’s time and automate it.

    Give away program for free.


  • jimmy5804 Draper, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 2:20 p.m.

    I've been a software developer, manager, and executive for 25 years. Yes, men's and women's brains are slightly different, but based on my experience, women have every bit the aptitude that men do in this discipline. Imagine if Marissa Mayer had parents that told her she should stay away from computers because her brain is "different". 95% of what keeps women out of the discipline is cultural and this article is much appreciated.

    Also, the salary and career info depends on where you live, what kind of software you do, and what company you work for. Good software companies do not require engineers to become managers to succeed. At my company our top engineers make >$200k and we have dozens that make mid-six figures (most start around $60k). Even the LDS Church, which isn't known for sky high salaries, pays its top software engineers $120k+. It totally depends on the kind of software you do, where you live & who you work for, and (most importantly) how good you are.

  • 2-of-38 Sandy, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 1:31 p.m.

    This is not a popular opinion... especially in this "everyone gets a trophy" environment, and DesNews has already struck down one of my earlier comments on this subject. But I take issue with this article ignoring some cold hard statistics and these are based on physiology and brain structure... not my opinion. This is not subjective.

    There ARE some women who do as well as many men at math and the abstractions of computer programming. There really are some. That being said, in the year which I graduated from engineering and computer science at the U, there was 1 and only 1 woman in that class of about 88 males, and she now is a stay at home mom. Great and wonderful.

    I have plenty of examples in my personal life, but biologically, men and women are wired entirely different. Men have a tiny corpus callosum connecting both haves, which effectively divide our minds into a logical portion and an abstract portion. For women, the two halves connect much more directly... the women in computer I have seen (very few) are meticulous book-keepers, but not so much into the myriad approaches which could be used to solve a complex calculation.

  • NT SomewhereIn, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 1:06 p.m.

    It all begins with math.

    By the time young people start looking at college and career, if the math background isn't already established, then the opportunity to pursue many of the better paying careers is very very very difficult.

    I was not the smartest at math, but I was driven. Math was my minor at the U when I started; Pre-Business was my declared major. In H.S. believing it might be contageous or otherwise detrimental to any social life, I had an aversion to the guys who wore those HP things on their belts and talked about "reverse polish notation" and other strange things.

    However, as I looked more into what real long-term opportunities would allow me to support a family and to become self-reliant, I did take a computer science class...or 2.

    35 years later I see no end to the opportunities I've discovered as a Software Engineer (with an MBA), including programming, management, etc.

    Had I not had the math background, I would be doing something else (and perhaps less economically but more socially beneficial).

    Female programmers are few and far between. Start encouraging the young ones early to excel in math.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 12:31 p.m.

    Its extremely difficult for many people to grasp the fact that women and men do have different interests innately. One would think they never saw girls play with dolls when they were younger or boys play cowboys and Indians.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Nov. 27, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    Girls [and everyone else] who need to earn a living should educate themselves in the field they are interested in where they can earn a decent living.

    Before choosing a field, it pays to research what's out there and what that fields prospects are. It is quite possible and these days not to improbable to get a college degree to nowhere.

  • THE MTN MAN Taylorsville, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 3:45 p.m.

    Interesting article, not entirely accurate, but interesting.

    "Entry-level salaries range around $80,000-$100,000" = absolutely not true, in fact nowhere close to that high for most computer-related jobs

    "Societal messages cast computer programming as a masculine pursuit" = um, I'm not sure 'masculine' is the proper word to use for computer programing

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    We can get a better understanding of why we do not see many women in software if we examine a parallel with running. I am a software engineer and a competitive runner, and see a very strong resemblance in the patterns of male-female performance ratio in both areas. Let's draw the line at sub-3:00 marathon time to be equivalent to an entry level software engineer. There are a lot of women meeting the standard. Some, like Paula Radcliffe at her best, are as fast as 2:15 beating a lot of men. But there exists a politically incorrect disproportion in the number of men vs women meeting the standard, and if the gender division were removed from the Olympics you would never see a woman on a competitively-chosen US marathon team.

    Yet this does not discourage women from running competitively. We openly recognize they are racing with a handicap and do not require them to race men. In computer science we hide our head in the sand of political correctness, throw women into the brawl, and then wonder why so few survive. To see more women in CS we should acknowledge the reality of gender difference and adjust accordingly.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 1:52 p.m.

    I've been in the software engineering biz for more than 30 years and throughout that time have tried to encourage many women, including relatives, to enter the field, mostly without success.

    Some of them started but after only a few courses decided they simply didn't enjoy it. Usually because of the necessity of interacting primarily with computers rather than people.

    Ironically, that was the very reason I went into software engineering. I enjoyed interacting with something that was completely upfront in its stupidity and required instructions about **everything** to do even the most simple of tasks. Even more importantly, it allowed me to scratch a strong creative itch.

    Now, to be honest, I must admit I've come to share the distaste for the whole software engineering thing because of its lack of human interaction. That, and the fact that so many of the people one does interact with (men and women) are woefully lacking in some basic abilities to interact with people. No surprise there.

    Nevertheless, I still encourage women I think might have both an affinity and possible attraction for software engineering to pursue it. After all, it is still a relatively good source of work.

  • Johnny Triumph American Fork, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    Be careful citing salary figures, they are VERY dependent on the market and the specific skill. Also there will be little salary growth from those high starting numbers unless a programmer moves into management.

  • Bob Wiley North Salt Lake, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    I work as a software developer and I do think it's a shame there are so few American women in the field. I've worked with plenty of Indian and Chinese women developers, but almost never American women.

    I feel like part of the reason women avoid computer science is the perception that developers sit alone and pound out code all day long. There are days like that, but there is also a lot of collaboration with other developers, testers, business users, customers, etc. depending on the situation you are in. It is a field women can do well in and enjoy as well. There is also a creative aspect to programming that I don't think people realize. You're given a problem that could be solved any number of ways and you have to figure out how you want to do it. The challenge makes it fun. You literally build something out of nothing.

  • Ronnie W. Layton, UT
    Nov. 26, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    Good article.

    My best CS professor was a woman. The major is terrible in terms of diversity.