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U. Washington Students Upset by Prof’s Article on Why More Women Don’t Code

U. Washington Students Upset by Prof’s Article on Why More Women Don’t Code

“are circulating an internal petition of concern”

If you can become distraught over something like this, are you really ready for college?

Campus Reform reports:

Students complain that prof’s op-ed made them feel bad

Students at the University of Washington are circulating an internal petition of concern after a computer science professor claimed that men and women are different.

The controversy began on June 19, when UW-Seattle Professor Stuart Reges published an article in Quillette titled “Why Women Don’t Code,” in which he argued that women tend to not be as interested as men in coding due to sex differences.

While he admits the title was hyperbolic—as he’s taught hundreds of women to code over the past two decades—Reges told Campus Reform that “one should never attribute to oppression that which is adequately explained by free choice.”

“If men and women are different, then we should expect them to make different choices,” he wrote in Quillette, before summarizing recent research discovering that women may be less likely to enter STEM fields due to their comparatively high verbal ability.

“It is not lack of ability that causes females to [favor] non-STEM careers, but rather the greater likelihood that females with high math ability also have high verbal ability and thus can consider a wider range of occupations,” he wrote, quoting a seminal 2013 study.

Further, Reges expressed concern that diversity initiatives backfire by gaslighting women into being afraid of men, especially as these initiatives often stress the “negative stories of men behaving badly in tech” at the expense of positive anecdotes.

“Women will find themselves wondering if they should resent men,” he worried, adding that diversity efforts might alternatively make male geeks “find themselves feeling even more awkward around women than they would be otherwise.”


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I have worked with several female programmers in my 45 years as a programmer/database designer/database analyst. There just are not many of them. It is not that women cannot write code, they can code as well as any man. They just don’t seem to enjoy it, so they choose to do something else. And you cannot fault them for that, everybody deserves a job that they enjoy.

    daniel_ream in reply to MJHolcomb. | July 2, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    It may be de rigueur to say “well, all the {minority} programmers I know are just great”, but my experience in both conventional engineering and software engineering has been the exact opposite. All the female programmers and engineers I have ever worked with, bar one, have been underqualified given their years of experience and positions.

Back in the early 1970’s one IBM 360 Mainframe computer was shared by Duke, UNC and NCSU… Three University Computer Center (TUCC). Several times the system crashed and it was found to be caused by a single program written by a coed for a regular class. Nothing special but her style of coding unmasked a fault in the computer that could not be found. They gave a “A” in the course and told her to not code anymore.

Those were the days of punch cards and sliderules.

Men and women are indeed different.
I can’t understand that need to deny the obvious.

Everyone is afforded an equal opportunity so why is that not enough? Why must so many demand equal outcome and not allow the people involved to decide what they want to do with their own lives?

There was a time when we assumed there would be two types of people working on software: software architects who would help specify the system and design the algorithms used by the system, and software coders who would take these specifications and craft the specific instructions the system would use.

And it was assumed that while most of the architects would be men (because back in the 60’s and 70’s it was assumed men were more creative), women would make better coders (because women were more detail oriented–notice the number of women who take up needle point and other detail-oriented hobbies).

Since then the way we write software changed; instead we have nothing but developers–the more experienced being senior software developers. There is less structure when it comes to development, reflected in most methodologies: “Agile,” for example, is an attempt to embrace the lack of structure amongst developers while imposing time constraints on what is to be developed.

And I’ve seen it argued that very few people in general can thrive in such an unstructured, high stress environment. (Source: I’ve been a software developer for 30 years.) One could argue that the reason why we don’t see more women in software development is as much a symptom of the dysfunction at most modern software development shops–shops that often and routinely break overtime laws, age discrimination laws and other labor laws that are designed to prevent the sort of abusive environments you see at many software shops.

But so long as we are not willing to address the idea that there are indeed differences between men and women–differences which may be cultural rather than innate–we will never take an effective look at the software development houses which are eating the world and giving us terrible UI experiences by groups of people who look at their customers as “lusers.”