Re: 'Geek' image scares women away from tech industry ? The Register
Culture plays a vital role in determining what one's options are, incuding
career options. When I was in high schoool I was good at maths and science.
After completing my O'levels, there was a general assumptions that I wold
take up Commercial/business subjects and when I opted for the science
subjects the genral notion was that i wouldn't do well. Now 8 after my
undergrad. I find that the workplace can really be hostile and uncivil to
women in the technical field, that is, if you are lucky to get an
opportunity. I have found that at times male colleagues look at you as an
intruder and you are expected to behave like a wife in the boardroom, very
subservient and always looking up and aying the man.
Getting ahead is very difficult and the best way to do so is to move jobs.
I have three kids and two of them are girls. If they want to enter the
technical field, I will definitely sit down and have an honest ho holds
barred talk with them to prepare them for the disappointments they may
face. However if it was my decision, I would discourage them even tough I
am in the technical field, enjoy my job and wouldn't want to change careers.
The workplace is supposed to have evolved, to include women, but the
workplace really isn't inclusive.
What I have outllined is my perception of things and could very well be
true for other professions, which I find to be very similar to that of
other women techies. The reason for the perception above are varied and
addressing each of them is essential for women to have an interest in
engineering. There really won't be a need to push unless being geeky can be
pereived as being attractive. What makes geek attractive? That should be
the question we need to answer. How do we make geek attractive?
On 2 May 2012 22:06, Mary Barnes
Note that mentor net that I mentioned in another email is also focused on
increasing minorities in engineering: http://www.mentornet.net/
They are always looking for new mentors:
If your child doesn't seem to have the aptitude for engineering, then
certainly you shouldn't push them in that direction. But, I do have to
wonder if you wouldn't have treated a son differently. As you likely
figured out, you really do need to allow your child to find their own
interests and make their own career decisions,while making sure they have
exposure to a broad range of areas. Unfortunately, a lot of public
schools don't give kids that exposure these days - they often cut the
arts/music and there is almost always an extremely high demand for science
and math teachers.
As far as my kids, my oldest son is a Freshman studying mechanical
engineering (entirely his decision, but he did get awards for the top math
and science student, so it does seem a sensible choice). My younger son is
the artsy one although he does quite well in math and science. I can't see
either or them ever getting involved in IETF - they've gone with me to
meetings (and have more t-shirts than many regular attendees) and they were
turned off by the overall geekiness (so it's not just women ;) and told me
that I actually seem normal relative to everyone else ;)
On Tue, May 1, 2012 at 12:20 PM, Hector Santos
Fred Baker wrote:
On Apr 30, 2012, at 5:03 PM, Ofer Inbar wrote:
This PBS interview with Harvey Mudd president Maria Klawe, on the
subject of why fewer women go into tech & engineering fields, is
This is a discussion that comes up periodically.
If you want my opinion (nobody asked, but I will presume that someone is
wondering), the corollary is "why aren't more students interested in
math/science?". I'll observe that there are relatively few teachers that I
can say "inspired" me to think their their directions; far-too-many years
later, I could probably name them. Two were English teachers, one was a
Math teacher, tenth grade geometry, one taught 7th grade Geography, and one
taught senior Calculus. And, oh, I liked some of my college profs, but in
this context my views were probably formed before I got there.
What if teachers were measured on a survey at the end of a semester or a
year that asked "does teacher <> make <> interesting to you?".
What about other minorities? Is the recruitment levels the same? Public
funded, social programs to fill certain needs? Both at the school and
A Puerto Rican from the Sough Bronx, I wanted to go to the vocational
school up the block - Alfred E. Smith. AP/College bounds programs were
presented to me. I didn't know enough to see it or even dream about it.
A HS counselor helped with showing the availability of AA/Minority
college grant programs which included girls among the selected group she
called to her office. Otherwise, while a good grades student, I wasn't
thinking about college. I selected Drexel only because a recruiter came to
the HS showing a photo with white, black, spanish and women all wearing
cool Drexel Engineering helmets! I selected Chemical Engineering because I
saw they made the most salary as a co-op student among all degrees! I had
no idea how brutal the Chemical Engineering curriculum would be.
But I had even failed a HS class called "Computers" that introduced this
thing called FORTRAN using some punch card thingy. So I was presented with
even more Pre-college Grant programs to learn about applied engineering
with computers, and it still took an act of GOD with a lightning strike
knocking out a PDP-11, forcing us to do the engineering problem translation
to BASIC on paper by hand, and only then did I finally get the AH-AH of
And even with all that, it still took AA programs it finally get a job
because it was mist of a recession that did not help many get a job and
this dude called Ted Turner speaking in our graduation getting loud boos
recommending that we go into the MILITARY!
IMO, background is very important. Unless there are active social
programs and recruitment efforts A.K.A "Marketing," I don't think there
will a natural tendency of the so called "minority segment" of (any)
society that are not often encouraged or have the family background
already, to explore or even think about the science related industry as a
Take myself. I was deep into computers and the blossoming world of
Telecomputing, micro-at-home era. The wife (Technical Sales Engineer) and I
specifically did not want our two new girls to get into the same High Tech
business as Daddy and Mommy were in. No Way! Doctors, Lawyers perhaps! No
way ENGINEER! It was too tough and I also saw how tough it was for my
women peers at Mobil and Westinghouse with an extreme competition going on,
and quite frankly faced tough family decisions at some point. In fact,
during some pending layoffs at big W, I was told I was going to stay and
found out a pregnant software programmer in the group was going to get laid
off. With my existing "Fire in my Belly" to quit and start my business
already, I took the opportunity and asked the boss to keep her and to lay
me off instead so I can get the benefits, Cobra, etc. If I had quit, I
lose all that.
I had already saw that the salaries were different too. The idea of
working for a corporation lost its appear when I saw a lost of loyalty with
people of 20, 25-30 years who had dedicated their engineering lives were
now forced to get early retirement, laid off or fired. With no more Federal
funding for Advanced Energy programs and the even Defense in AI, Robots and
Star Wars, etc, I did not want my two girls to go into these life
commitment hard sciences. I didn't push the computers at home on them at
all. I didn't teach them about the idea of "programming" etc. Perhaps only
to play games, and perhaps to use the early on-disc encyclopedias. They
were using Apple stuff at school anyway and that was good enough for us.
Today, both living in NYC, one works for Sony Music productions
department and the oldest is a successful independent artist making more
money that I can ever imagine possible. She was even a contestant on
Bravo's first season "Next Great Artist." The only thing that first
worried me was whether she would need to cut off an ear before getting
recognized in the art world! :)
We have to consider that the engineering life is not always ideal for
anyone. Its sounds nice, it does give one more respect among their family
peers, helps secure jobs (when available), better pay, etc, but its takes a
very high commitment and it is very competitive to keep up even if one
wishes to stay in one position and not interested to be move ahead. That
presents employer decisions with competitive compensation managers need to
make. Younger, lower salary recruitement can do the same job, etc, so
generally by 30, aging engineers need to make life career movements and
For women, well, life is life, it is what it is, they have it harder to
make family oriented decisions and they are in a position to be, well, let
my artist daughter, Jaclyn Santos, show you what woman are facing with her
"Super Mom, Super Executive, Super Ho!"
Finally, for the IETF - well, gotta know first what it wants. What does
recruiting more woman (or other minorities for that matter) mean to it? I
personally think its just a reflection of whats going on in the market.
Its not like the IETF is on the radar for anyone to pursue unless they are
presented with it somewhere, somehow, at work most likely with a position
where IETF work is part of the job production. I say that is a very very
narrow niche job or goal.
PS: These are my views and says nothing about life other than my own.
*Senior Systems Administrator
Ward C10, Parirenyatwa Hospital
Mazoe St, Avondale
Tel: +263772 148 889/890 x 320
|<Prev in Thread]
||[Next in Thread>|
- Re: 'Geek' image scares women away from tech industry ? The Register, (continued)