Nothing to do with Steven Pinker!
In the midst of all that I am drowning in (which spells work work work), I read this article about how “Instead of trying to change the women who do not relate to the stereotype, our research suggests that changing the image of computer science so that more women feel they fit in the field will go a long way to recruiting them into computer science” and I felt like throwing up! I can’t believe that there are so many jobless people out there trying to figure out why some sex/race/creed is not interested in a particular job! As long as there is no legal and bureaucratic constraint, I think the reason why people don’t get into a job is because they are not equipped for it or are not interested. Pretty simple. Why don’t most men become cooks (though actually most chefs are men)? Because they are not interested or can’t be creative enough! Someone who truly loves food will go and do it. Similarly, someone who truly loves fashioning clothes will go ahead and do it. If women don’t like computer science they simply don’t. This is also true about Math as a subject. Why should people who love computer science change their ways for those who don’t in order to “change the image of computer science”?
I have been in the software industry for over 7 years and I have found only a handful of women truly interested in their jobs. We don’t have coke cans or science fiction memorabilia in our cubicles. Most women are here to supplement the income of their house or make some money for themselves. They don’t care about software or computer science. So be it with a lot of men, too, but when I assemble all those who love computer science and love hacking and coding and designing and coming up with new ideas, women are a minority (if present). Not because of coke cans and Star Trek. I am part of the invention evaluation team at my organisation. How many inventions come in from women!? You can count them on a pair of hands. Why? Not because of Star Trek and coke cans. Sheesh!! I can’t believe this is a university professor (and no guesses, she is a woman). I would love to see women in software industries. It can lend perspective to design (esp. UI). But if they don’t like it, I will let them be. It is like forcing the women in your house to fall in love with a Man U game by watching it on a pink TV or having the players occasionally enact a scene from “Kyunki saas bhi kabhi bahu thi”. The content is the same, for Pete’s sake!!
These sort of lame studies ruin the technical edge and vitality of organisations and departments. How? Let me give you a personal example. Last year two papers of mine got selected at two very prestigious conferences. I was excited and applied for travel permit. My “illustrious” organisation refused citing curbs on expenses. Sounded fair to me so I kept quiet. Then I got to know that a female manager was being sent to CA, US to attend a “Women in Technology” conference (which was internal to the company and not even a worldwide conference) for which she was just an attendee and contributing nothing beyond her weighty presence! Here is a technology company that prefers this gimmick to actual technical vitality and participation in IEEE and ACM conferences. All in order to claim a tag of a “women-friendly” company or some such crap.
If the women were mature enough, they would go visit software companies and computer science labs to see what reality is and form their own impression rather than live off stereotypes. Frankly, it is often difficult working with some women who play the sob story and try to get away with actual hard work. Not all of them are like that (and I know of one who can put any guy to shame) but a lot of them will capitalise on their being a woman with “so many roles to play” and sob their way out of real work. Frankly, we need people who can work and with brains and who are self-motivated: sex/age/race no bar. I can do without people who want me to grow a beard in order to feel more welcome or prefer floral wallpaper in the office. Most east coast (US) companies have the worst interior decor in all their worldwide offices. Try convincing them to invest dollars in better decor!
And what then happens to a guy who likes to have the coke cans and pizza crumbs on his desk to feel more at home and in the peak of his form? He has to clean up so that some women can join his office? Coming to think of it, he might just agree (till they join)! Guys!
I would like Ms. Sapna Cheryan to try this recommendation on the annual Harley Davidson gathering. I am sure we will have an article that says:
“When people think of
computer scienceriding bikes the image that immediately pops into many of their minds is of the computer geekbearded man in black leather surrounded by such things as computer games, science fiction memorabilia and junk foodboots, babes and beer,” said Sapna Cheryan, a University of Washington assistant professor of psychology and the study’s lead author. “That stereotype doesn’t appeal to many women who don’t like the portrait of masculinity that it evokes. We need to have pink bikes with wider seats and a place to keep pet poodles.”
Given that Harley Davidson lovers frowned on the introduction of the V-Rod 7, I can only imagine their response to this!!
Rule of Thumb: If you don’t like it, find something you like to do and do it. Don’t ask the world to change for you.