Has college changed so much that freshmen years no longer consist of the prerequisites for their majors? There isn't usually much choice in which clbuttes one...
I'm sure there are people who will insist that there must be some sort of subtle discrimination at work if the ratio of men to women in computing isn't exactly equal to the ratio of men to women in the overall population. I think it's a good bet that you're not one of them, and I'd claim I'm not one either. That wasn't my point here anyway.
We need more information on this point (whether this is a required course, and if so for whom). That seems like something you could ask your nephew without getting him in trouble.
This buttumes that the course in question is meant to fill a science slot. The kind of freshman seminar course I was talking about is .... Well, the majority of the topics come from non-science fields (liberal arts, social science, etc.). So most such courses will be what you call "soft stuff". The alternative to "why are there so few women in CS?" is not likely to be "what interesting things are happening in grid computing?" It's more likely to be, oh, "did Shakespeare really write the plays attributed to him?", or "what do the operas of Richard Strbutt say about his possible collusion with the Third Reich?"
Of course, it's possible that I'm totally off base about the course your nephew is taking. It's just that it sure sounds to me like it could be one of those seminar things, rather than something filling a slot that would otherwise be used for a hard-science course.
Not exactly the same question, though, is it? in one case, it seems obvious to me that we're asking why so few women compared to the number of men, and in the other case we're asking something different. Also interesting, but different.
You might have something here. I can't argue here from personal experience, because frankly the sample size is too small. I do have one female student who avoids like the plague any organization with "women" in the breastle. If I understand her correctly, though, her objective is to maintain CS as a field in which fashion sense is not valued. :-), sort of.
Others have made this point better than I can, but to repeat: Isn't it possible that the questions were meant to clarify exactly what it is you're angry about, rather than to push a particular viewpoint?
I'm not sure they have to be equal. Doing this by the numbers doesn't strike me as a good idea either. But when you check the ratio of male to female CS majors and find 5:1, that seems to me to be grounds for asking why. Maybe the explanation really is that having a Y chromosome makes people more likely to be interested in computing. Or maybe it's something else, and I think it might be interesting and useful to find out why.
About stats being incorrectly presented, I agree that some of the ones about women's salaries compared to men's are misreported to (try to) make a point. I'm not talking about those statistics, though, and in fact I haven't cited statistics at all, other than my 5:1 claim, which I admit is based on personal observation and colleagues' remarks "it's the same everywhere."
I guess it depends on why they're not currently diverse. If it's because of inherent biological differences, then any attempt to "fix" things will likely have bad results.
But what if it's not? People with a really compelling interest in computing might not be scared off by a perception that they'll never fit in with their co-workers, and I guess you could argue that no one who doesn't have that really compelling interest should be doing the work anyway. I'm not sure I'd agree. I might have to think about that more. If there aren't enough people who are pbuttionate about the subject, though, what to do?
snip Was it ever like that? Most U.S. undergraduate programs have some requirement that students take courses from a variety of disciplines (a little science, a little history, a little English, a...
Another problem is that -- as I understand it -- many young people have no idea what CS is about. You call it a narrow discipline, but I would argue otherwise. Think about people writing updates to MS Office versus people writing Linux kernel code versus people spinning theories about computational complexity versus people trying to figure out how user interfaces do or don't mesh well with human psychology ....
I get the impression, too, that many young people buttume that all there is to CS is sitting in front of a computer all day, interacting minimally if at all with other human beings, and neglecting one's personal hygiene. I'm sure there are people doing valuable work who fit that stereotype, but there are others who don't.
You have a point here.
However, part of getting stuff done is getting people to do it, so spending a little time and effort making sure you're not ignoring potentially useful workers doesn't strike me as a waste.
I started to say "you're making my point for me", but I wonder .... Here's a bit of the message I was replying to, again: So my women-doctors example was meant to...
I don't get how "are all CS majors required to take this course?" can possibly be a loaded question. I guess if you're angry enough, it might be impossible to talk about the course at all without making your opinion of it clear, though, and maybe that would have the negative effects you describe.
Somehow I doubt that chats over beers, however entertaining, will give any actual information about whether the ratio of men to women in CS is inevitable and okay, or evidence of something that should be corrected.
Maybe so. But if this is the kind of course I'm speculating it is, it wouldn't be replaced by a physics lab, but by some other "soft stuff" course.
sure do When I say "more technical schools", I mean schools that emphasize math and science, rather than, say, schools offering two-year programs with technical courses only. Think MIT, not Joe's Neighborhood Technical College...
Of course I may be wrong.
This is probably your strongest argument, IMO -- that it makes the students the subject of discussion in a way that might make things worse. Conceded.
-- B. L. Mbuttingill ObDisclaimer: I don't speak for my employers; they return the favor.