Thursday, November 20, 2008

Women in computer science

I don't read the New York Times because I don't need to. I read a lot of blogs and so many bloggers read the NYT and blog about what they've read that I pretty much know what's in it without ever having to read it.

Althouse talks about a NYT article
that complains about a lack of women in computer science. This is the part I got a kick out of
One professor, we read, theorizes that in the past "young women earlier had felt comfortable pursing the major because the male subculture of action gaming had yet to appear." So there's this idea that the key to getting more women to enter the field is to entice young girls to play computer games. Indeed, there was a "girls game movement," but it's already failed.

In 1971 I was an undergraduate majoring in Quantitative Business Analysis at LSU. The Computer Science program had come along a little too late for me and although I was taking as many Computer Science courses as the Business School Dean would approve for me, I didn't change majors because it would have delayed graduation. I did have a student job grading homework assignments in the Computer Science department however.
There were four of us, and we shared an office. The other three were Computer Science majors. Twenty-five percent of us was female (thirty-three percent of the Computer Science majors). I think 1971 was before the twit professor quoted above would consider the appearance of the male subculture of action gaming.

One Wednesday afternoon the department chair stuck his head in our office and said that there was going to be a campus tour of some kind of smart high school kids LSU was recruiting on Friday. He needed some computer games he could use for a demo to impress them that Computer Science would be a cool major. We had a teletype style timesharing terminal stuck away in a corner of our office. So we spent the next day and a half pasting some games together for him. The girl helped.

Male subculture my ass.

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