Monday, March 5, 2007

(Almost) No Women in Computer Programming

Gentle reader,

Has anyone else out there noticed there are almost no women computer programmers?

From the drab world of corporate bit-crunching to the fast-paced land of game
development, it's guys, guys and more guys. As the Pointer Sisters Weather Girls succinctly put it, "It's Raining Men!".

For those who don't believe it's all that bad - take a look at a list of the contributors to the popular UNIX utility, "curl":

Notice anything? Yeah, thought so. THESE PEOPLE ARE ALL GUYS.

Lots of Pauls. No Paulas.

Masses of Erics. Nary an Erica.

Lots of Richards. No... what is the female equivalent of Richard, anyway? Whatever it is, there AREN'T ANY.

Any female name in here (and there could be one or two, maybe some foreign ones?) are the EXCEPTION THAT PROVES THE RULE.

Doesn't it seem a bit like an elephant sitting quietly in the corner of the room?

It's there, but nobody is really talking about it.

But I would like to know.

Why is computer programming such a frigging turn-off for women?

Or, as Larry Summers once conjectured, is it simply because women have less aptitude? (gasp!).

One theory is that computer programming is not social enough for most women.

It makes sense.

I don't think there are many other occupations where you are left alone to your
own thoughts as much as in computer programming.

Scientific research comes close, particularly theoretical research. And similarly, I
do keep hearing about how few women scientists there are.

On the other hand, being a writer is another occupation that is similar in
many respects. You are left to your own thoughts for long periods of time. But
in that case, there happen to be many women practitioners.

So, it seems there is something else going on here beyond just the socialization.
Or, perhaps writing a book can be considered a social activity, because in that case
you really *are* communicating with other people (as opposed to a computer).

Anyway, not content to have only one opinion on the matter, I thought I would put
this question out there:

Why aren't there more women in computer programming?

In particular, it would be interesting to hear from women who have spent some time
as programmers.

And with that question, on to today's quote. It's another from one of my favorite
authors and a humanist to boot:

To hell with the advances in computers.
YOU are supposed to advance and become, not the computers.
Find out what’s inside you. And don’t kill anybody.
-Kurt Vonnegut

Until the next time, I remain,

your friend,

Buford Twain


Joshua said...

'Twasn't the Pointer sisters, my friend. 'Twas The Weather Girls.

Buford Twain said...

Of course, you are 110% correct on that. I stand humbly corrected!

Hi - Hi! We're your Weather Girls - Ah-huh -
And have we got news for you - You better listen!
Get ready, all you lonely girls
and leave those umbrellas at home. - Alright! -

Humidity is rising - Barometer's getting low
According to all sources, the street's the place to go
Cause tonight for the first time
Just about half-past ten
For the first time in history
It's gonna start raining men.