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Dave Winer rewrites "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus"
August 26, 2001 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Dave Winer rewrites "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" - In which he muses in an undergraduate manner about why IT is so male-dominated, offering up such gems as "Men are the artists of our species, women are the infrastructure". As you'd expect, this hasn't gone down with some. The gas is on, let's flick the zippo...
posted by GrahamVM (63 comments total)

"... there may be a reason why men's minds are better suited to creating complex and dark caves"

dave winer == caveman :)
posted by sawks at 8:13 AM on August 26, 2001

Pure genius
posted by ordinaryworld at 8:34 AM on August 26, 2001

Dave's spouting some sexist drivel on his site today, which I'd point you to but he's removed most of it.

Meg says he's whacked the naughty bits; anybody have a copy of the original? (Not because I care so much, but just to judge how deep is the hole The Whiney One has dug for himself...)
posted by m.polo at 8:40 AM on August 26, 2001

< about the editing >

I'm highly irritated when Dave writes something and then deletes it, or edits the piece so much that it has no relationship at all with the initial text.

I mean, Dave, why do you write it? Are you on drugs when you write a post for the first time, and then you wake up and say 'Gosh, this should go down. What was I thinking!?'

(I remember once seeing a post at mentioning something buzzworthy about Scoble, MS, employers, etc. [back when Scoble had taken his blog down and everyone was wondering why]. When I revisited the page a few hours later, the post was gone.)

LESSON : Next time you visit, take screenshots.

</ about the editing >
posted by kchristidis at 9:18 AM on August 26, 2001

Meg says he's whacked the naughty bits; anybody have a copy of the original?

I think he reinstated the original after Meg wrote about its removal on her site.
posted by rcade at 9:23 AM on August 26, 2001

Don't those naughty bits get in the way of your golf swing?
posted by machaus at 9:31 AM on August 26, 2001

"Men Have No Bras; Women Have No Penis."

Thank you and good night.
posted by holgate at 9:39 AM on August 26, 2001

It's back up. I'm writing some more about it on my site right now to respond to some of the stuff.

I think Dave and I have the same goals and wants, I just object to the sexist assumptions he makes when he states them. For example, Dave writes today:

"On the decentralization mail list I asked if the P in XML-RPC is People. The discussion up till now has been very male-oriented, about the finer points of plumbing. Only a man could find this interesting (disclaimer: I am a man)"

Only a man could find this interesting

posted by megnut at 9:40 AM on August 26, 2001

Seems like Winer is describing that certain kind of relationship where one partner (usually male) gets to explore their creativity, while the other partner (usually female) manages the day to day challenge of running the household where both of them live. The example that comes to mind is the relationship between R. Buckminster Fuller and his wife Anne Fuller.

Bucky created a lot of good stuff (the geodesic dome, the word "synergy", a non-euclidean geometry based on vector equilibrium) But as far as I know, there were years when he had a hard time holding down a steady gig, and during those times it was Anne who kept them both alive.

from Bucky's presentation Everything I Know:
"The male is free, the male is an island and he operates that way.
And he goes hunting, and he brings back for the tribe,
or we find the human man, then, going off to a large hunting area and
bringing things back in for the women to
decide what she should do with it.
Whether she's going to cook it or skin it, or breed it, or what she may do. "
posted by otherchaz at 9:55 AM on August 26, 2001

Wow, so many ludicrous points to pick from. I'll just pick one thing.

Perhaps we have yet to create an application for computers that handles the multi-tasking and organizational abilities that are special to women (my emphasis)

No, perhaps we need to encourage young girls that they can use a computer as much as boys do, that they don't need to restrict themselves to "girly" things, and that if they want to play with computers, parents and society will encourage them instead of trying to deter them from computers. When those girls grow up, they may rewrite applications, interfaces, or operating systems to better suit themselves, as they see fit, instead of some 40-something year old guy trying to think like a woman.

Every time Dave touches the subject, he just keeps digging himself in deeper. The last two days of look like a lesson in how to stick one's foot into one's mouth farther, and farther, and farther.
posted by mathowie at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2001

FWIW, I posted my response on my site.
posted by megnut at 10:32 AM on August 26, 2001

could be worse. dave might be drunk when he posts something next time. (or is that... better?)
posted by moz at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2001

No, perhaps we need to encourage young girls that they can use a computer as much as boys do

Already more and more females are on computers. Perhaps, instead, we need to encourage them to do more than be 'cam girls'. Many are obviously talented. They just need to expand their horizons.
posted by justgary at 10:50 AM on August 26, 2001

Winer's comments are way outta left field, granted. But the larger question is "the problem of women in tech".

On one hand, you have the child level. From my experience, girls haven't been interested in technology, and the ones that are - not in the same manner as boys (chat, online journals vs. quake/hacking). Companies like Purple Moon that made "empowering, positive" games for girls fell to the Barbie juggernaut. Some say that this is because of the computer world's prejudice against girls - where boys are encouraged and girls aren't. I'm sure this is true to some level, but on a larger level - maybe they're just not interested?

I remember in high school we had Computer Club and SECME (Southeastern Consortium for Minorities In Engineering) we announced the meeting on the morning announcements and we only had 2 or 3 girls show up compared to 10-15 boys. On the other hand clubs like drama had no problem attracting girls (strangely, so did ROTC).
posted by owillis at 10:52 AM on August 26, 2001

Dave Winer is like a warm martini. NOT VERY GOOD.
posted by ordinaryworld at 11:01 AM on August 26, 2001

2 things I've observed:

1) my partner's computer buddy (they get together & talk s*** about computers, hang out in the garage & build stuff, etc.) has 2 kids. one's a boy, about a year old, so probably not (yet) relevant to this discussion, but also a girl, about 6 or so.

I came over a couple of weeks back to build a little box from the extras bin. hardware usually doesn't interest me - more a graphics/coding geek myself. but I can groove on building things.

{buddy's} wife & little girl were out at the movies when we came over. when they got home, {girl} had some new toy. she immediately came over to me (trying to fuss w/IDE cables) and wanted me to come play. not dad, not my partner (male), but me. (she didn't remember who I was, either.) no interest in hanging out in the garage...when I said maybe later, she went off with mom.

I don't know what all was at work with that one. (other probs, I think, in that family) but I definitely got the feeling that computers were a boy thing - more specifically, a dad thing, and that playing and dolls were a girl thing. :(

2) I taught a web design class at the community college where I work, as part of a summer camp for 8-12 yr olds. 10 kids: 7 boys, 3 girls.

I was teaching them the "old fashioned" way - in notepad. (we don't need no stinking frontpage!) I wanted the girls to be into it, I tried to encourage them. but to little avail. 2 girls sat way in the back, and unless it involved little hearts & flowers, didn't give a good god-damn.

now, most of the boys just wanted to post dragonball z pictures. (they seemed a little surprised that I knew what dragonball z was.) but most of them, eventually, picked up the concepts, and more importantly, shared them among each other. I got to the point where if I was explaining something to one, then they'd go back & explain it to each other. or they'd all crowd around me to ask questions all at once. (yes, it was exhausting, but sort of fun.)

the 2 girls in the back rarely asked "how to" questions...only, "can I go play at cartoon network."

exception: the other girl. she was very quiet, didn't crowd like the boys, but asked smart questions, and worked really hard on her site. unfortunately, she missed several days out of the 2 week class. I would've liked to have a chance to encourage her more. (she reminded me of me.)

I guess I could keep spouting off, but I think I've rambled a little long as it is.

and I'm not sure what it means anyway. in college, I would've gone off about something I heard/read in a women's studies class, but then again, I wasn't into computers at all then either.

now I just know that it troubles me. I'd say it was the games, except for the example of the girls in my web design class. some of it must be the example of geeky parents. (does linus treat his little girls the way his grandfather treats him? I just finished Just For Fun.) are there differences in the way men & women approach computers? (although I don't think those have any bearing on what we get interested in, just how we get there. I started using computers because it was faster/easier than a typewriting for writing stories.)

yep, I said I was gonna stop. but this is one of those things that I think about myself. (another example: the IT department at my job: all the top folks are men, and even 90% of the tech schmoes.)
posted by epersonae at 11:06 AM on August 26, 2001

Does anyone really expect Dave Winer to say anything enlightening about the position of women in society? This would be just "dog bites man" except that it involves sexual politics and this is Metafilter. And I guess I'm not really doing much for the information level either. Oh well.

Anyways, I'd prefer a warm martini - you could add an ice cube. We don't have any vermouth. Or gin. I'd kill for a G&T right now. ordinaryworld, you are driving me to drink.

One other thing - the way I feel about my job at the moment, I wouldn't mind if I was a woman and had got to do something more interesting. Isn't this a bit like women in the army? Tech jobs are getting more and more tedious and while I can sympathise with the whole society pointing you in weird directions stuff, this might be one time when it's better to just keep your head down...
posted by andrew cooke at 11:15 AM on August 26, 2001

No. There is no difference between men and women. Not in how they use computers, not in how they think, not even in their reaction to people who claim that there is a difference between men and women. Both genders perform the exact same functions in our society, and are both equally good at everything. It is ridiculous (and merits one scorn) to claim otherwise.
posted by Hildago at 11:19 AM on August 26, 2001

I disagree with your statement entirely, Hildago. There are plenty of differences in men and women, ESPECIALLY in how they think. There has been plenty of good literature written on this subject. Men and women have different horomones and therefore different chemical makeups. Why is it so hard to believe that this changes the way our minds operate?
posted by fusinski at 11:44 AM on August 26, 2001

congratulations, hildago: you're incredibly ignorant.
posted by moz at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2001

The fish are biting today, I see...
posted by kindall at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2001

fusin: hildago is just baiting with hyperbole.
posted by moz at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2001

Well... imagine that. Baiting? Here? Doh...
posted by fusinski at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2001

Does anyone really expect Dave Winer to say anything enlightening about the position of women in society?

Stole the words from my mouth; nor do I expect Camille Paglia to add anything to the debate on distributed online applications technology.
posted by holgate at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2001

Hildago: That's how it SHOULD BE
posted by azazello at 12:10 PM on August 26, 2001

Less archly: the disparity's being challenged simply by the ubiquity both of PCs and (more significantly, I think) net connectivity. I hate dealing in generalisations, but Nick Hornby had a point when he said in Fever Pitch that "women have interests; men have obsessions." And the Net turns owning a computer into something that's less obsessive, and more "interesting": a shift away from the thing-in-itself towards its uses. In addition, judging from the way that my three-year-old niece bashes away at my "com-pootah", she's going to regard it with the same familiarity as my generation did the video recorder.
posted by holgate at 12:18 PM on August 26, 2001

Well... imagine that. Baiting? Here?

fusinski: Don't say stuff like that! All of those new members we've been picking up will read your post and think that it's acceptable to bait... then they'll go and do it badly. Obviously, hildago's comment was perfectly appropriate, but others might not be nearly so appropriate. No sense encouraging the jerks among us.
posted by gd779 at 12:24 PM on August 26, 2001

Ohh, I want my own girly perl. Once we finish that, why don't we create ghetto C, so that we can fix the even larger dearth of non-asian and non-white programmers. Affirmative action compiling - woo - let's have the compilers check for race, gender and sexual orientation before proceeding. =That= would make for an interesting day.

I wonder why noone has written an informative essay on why it's mostly white and asian people who produce software; yes, let's hear it for the power of blacks and hispanics. Let's have a hiphop conference next to our IT conferences so that we can get a diversity of opinion...

posted by meep at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2001

If you look around at the roles of males and females of other species it is clear that they each have roles. Why is it hard to believe that the same is true of humans? The thing is that we don't have to stick to the roles, it's not rigid. That should be good enough.

Telling kids to 'do what ever you want' is better than 'do what ever you's a computer, use it!'
posted by Mick at 1:10 PM on August 26, 2001

What drives me nuts about this sort of positing, beside the obvious flaws in the historical basis (War and Conquering brought about civilization, not a bunch of women - and women hunted, too - a lot of that shite about men hunting and women sitting at home comes from John Grey, who bought a $150 PhD from an 'unaccredited university" and likes to make his stuff up) is that now, instead of women doing stuff, and making stuff, and just being another tech oriented person in a sea of tech oriented people, they get shuffled off into the 'exception' category.

I cringe every time I see that 'exception' category - it denegrates what women do, and divides them off as lesser than. You will never see an article about "Matthew Haughey, Male creator of Metafilter," but you sure see the gender modifiers out for the women. Matt can be a geek, but if he were a woman, she becomes a modified geek - the female geek . Write an article about a hacker, and the gender modification comes back into play - there are hackers (men) and female hackers (women) - not just a bunch of people who, regardless of gender, are all considered hackers.

I am tired of men who have to pigeonhole half of the planet in order to feel good about themselves.
posted by kristin at 1:46 PM on August 26, 2001


that happens a lot for minorities as well. i remember a study, i believe, in psychology on this: if you ask a white man who he saw on the train, and if he saw a white male, odds are he would say that he saw a man. but if he saw a black male, he would note that the man was not just a man, but a black man.
posted by moz at 1:50 PM on August 26, 2001

So we can generalize about white men, saying:
'they all generalize about women & minorities'?
posted by Bearman at 1:54 PM on August 26, 2001

The debate about why IT is so male-dominated suffers a lot from people assuming that key gender differences are biologically based (the "hormones" argument). Perhaps they were relevant millions of years ago, but I would argue that a lot of - I would dare say MOST - gender differences are socialized and the process starts at a very young age. Little girls are taught that success means being a good wife and mother. People buy their daughters Barbie dolls and Fisher Price kitchen sets. Little boys, on the other hand, are taught that success means being in leadership positions. This was especially true in my family, as my mother is a fundamentalist Christian and believes that women should be "submissive" to their husbands, etc. Unfortunately, for her, her little girl was a tomboy that enjoyed her brother's GI Joes infinitely more than the baby dolls that laid untouched in the toy box. I don't buy the notion that women are really at base any different than men, and when men make the assumption that dave alluded to, that women are naturally better at organizing and multi-tasking, I can't even fathom the logic that would drive them to such a conclusion. Yes, we see a lot of women are in administrative positions where they use those skills. Are they in those positions because they're naturally better at doing those things than men? I don't think so.

There's a great book by Debra Kerr called "Smart Girls" that illustrates the whole socialization phenomenon by tracking the graduates of a gifted and talented program for 20 years. The boys that participated in the program grew up to be much more successful than the girls. Kerr explores some possible explanations. Very interesting read.
posted by lizs at 2:05 PM on August 26, 2001

I don't agree with sexist stuff, but when something seems to be fact, it's fine. Women and men are better and worse at different things.. that's a non-sexist fact!

Women make excellent managers. Infact, I think women generally make better managers than men. I'd also agree with Winer's comment.. "Men are the artists of our species, women are the infrastructure." I fail to see why that's sexist.

Dave is right when he says "We're all fighting to be recognized. Me me me! We are a bunch of individuals, fighting for our own causes, not seeing the big picture, the benefits of working together. Of course it's this way, because we are men."

It'd be a much better industry if women ran it, and men did the programming. I agree with him. Women are good managers and men are good creators. Of course, this is not to say that some women are not good creators, or that some men are not good managers.
posted by wackybrit at 2:31 PM on August 26, 2001

In the early Web there were domains that were almost exclusively female, such as librarians, as discussed above.       ---Dave Winer

Depsite the assumption of female "energy" to use Winer's bizarre wording, which I take to mean innate biological predisposition towards cooking, the above is quite true.

Wackbrit (slipped) asserts that women make better managers. On what basis? Work styles and communication styles may or may not exist, but it does answer the bigger question of how to value the contributions of different groups who occupy different positions within professional hierarchies.

It is invalid for many reasons, as others have noted, to say that since most women became librarians, it is feminine to file and sort things. However, many women excelled in the areas that were left open to them. (Other excelled in areas thought to be closed, and that deserves recognition too.) Is it right to ignore women's contributions in areas where contributions have historically been made, or should we ignore them and say "Everyone's equal now, so women aren't allowed to have special credit for ghetto professions." I think we do a great disservice to history of computing and information if we ignore that women made contributions of in (socially-constructed) female domains.

So, in conclusion, Hourihan should speak at many conferences, and no one should be forced to do certain kinds of gender-identified work. In fact, men should become librarians and search-engine inventors, too! But no one should forget that being a librarian is not just getting the scraps of information processing. Don't throw the social baby out with the biological bathwater.
posted by rschram at 2:38 PM on August 26, 2001

Bill at had a good post about why the biology argument is flawed.
posted by mathowie at 2:41 PM on August 26, 2001

re: gender/race identification

Wouldn't you usually use this if the person you saw was not normally a member of the group? As in if you were in Okoboji, Iowa saying "that guy" would infer "white guy" whereas because of the unlikely instance of meeting a black person in Okoboji you would say "black guy"?

btw, women pigeonhole too...
posted by owillis at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2001

if I'm remembering correctly, "library science" used to be primarily a male domain, as were teaching & secretarial work. (darned if I can find a link, tho.)

again, if I remember it right, they became more female-dominated as they lost social status. (or was it vice versa? they lost status as they became female?)
posted by epersonae at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2001

moz's point reminds me of something: I was getting on a subway train one night this week, late-ish---well after rush hour anyway, and there were not many people on board. I sat down near the back, facing front, and realized almost right away that all the other passengers I could see (about eight) were men. It took a longer while to realize not only were they all men, but they were all black, as well.

what's the point? none at all, really---but I noticed that I was noticing, and spent the rest of the ride pondering what it meant.

I do think that people *notice* things that are Different more so than they notice things that they take for granted in their every day lives---like the color of their skin---how could they not?

I'd be curious to know how a black man would describe the man he saw on the train---I imagine he's less likely to take his own skin color for granted, so I doubt the response would be a straight reversal of the white man's description.

and I'd definitely be curious to know if my order of perception of people of a different sex and a different race is the norm or the exception. perhaps one conclusion that can be drawn from my perceptions of my fellow Metro riders is that I instinctively feel that I am more different from men than I am from people of color? ... perhaps another is that I'm very aware of my gender making me an exception in my everyday life; I'm the only woman in my department (IT), and this has been the case in quite a few of the jobs I've had over the last eight years, so maybe I notice gender first because it fits into a pattern of perception I developed years ago.

---can't believe I'm even posting this, as even the most neutral questions race and gender seem to invite all manner of nasty flaming---oh well.
posted by Sapphireblue at 4:01 PM on August 26, 2001

Yeah, well, I'm just going to put it down as Dave's way of saying "I don't understand girls. They're ... different!"
posted by GrahamVM at 7:24 PM on August 26, 2001

I'd also agree with Winer's comment.. "Men are the artists of our species, women are the infrastructure." I fail to see why that's sexist.

Maybe you'd see it differently if you were the one being described as infrastructure.

So much of this discussion comes from men putting the cart before the horse. The absence of women in technical jobs/discussions/clubs does not prove that women aren't interested in technology. It illustrates the problem.
posted by rcade at 8:51 PM on August 26, 2001

Dave's stream-of-unconsciousness ramblings go sooo wrong sooo often that there really isn't much sport in analysing their many drawbacks.

He's a half-trick-pony. I just can't believe that people are still giving him the attention that he so desperately craves.

I guess it's like Make Money Fast or Cash Waiting For You In Nigeria or Craig Shergold. Somewhere, there's always someone willing to listen and believe.
posted by websavvy at 9:35 PM on August 26, 2001

Somewhere along the way we got mixed up and began to confuse gender uniformity with gender equality. There's the rub!
posted by Hildago at 10:48 PM on August 26, 2001

Has anyone noticed that Dave still hasn't made an appearance in this thread?
posted by kchristidis at 2:13 AM on August 27, 2001

When my ex-boyfriend's mother was in college, she wanted to major in chemistry (she is a damn smart woman.) She was told by her advisor that she could become either a nurse or a teacher, so she should major in Home Ec or something more general.

I'm sure a lot of women of that generation faced the exact same thing.

It's a historical legacy we're having trouble getting over.

By the way, when you all are looking at gender-neutral user names here, do you assume that the user is -



I know I do, even though I am neither white nor male.. And I am always pleasantly surprised when a user drops something personal that indicates s/he's not. But isn't it kind of a sad comment, that the default "person" is a white male?
posted by mjane at 2:17 AM on August 27, 2001

But isn't it kind of a sad comment, that the default "person" is a white male?

It's likely, however, that stats might bear this out as being more often true than any other default person you might care to choose...
posted by juv3nal at 2:41 AM on August 27, 2001

Actually, I assume every poster is a 14-yr-old, though I've been thinking of dropping the age a little.

Still, I wonder why people think a dearth of females is a problem. When I got asked my opinion as to how to get more females in the Math & Science Olympiads (I had been in the Physics Olympiad), I told them I thought that their little competitions weren't terribly relevant to real math or science. If one checks out the Westinghouse/Intel Science Talent Search, one will note that females are much better represented there in a competition that actually has something to do with what real science is about.

In any case, women not being in IT would only be a problem if they wanted to be there and were being shut out. This may possibly be the case. What do I know? I'm in academia. But trying to push more females into something if they're not interested in is just a waste. I learned long ago not to do things simply so that there will be a female presence there. I tried pressuring other girls to join me in certain things, and I realize now I was wrong to do that.
posted by meep at 3:28 AM on August 27, 2001

Out of curiosity, what about the ideas relating to computers+women of someone like Sadie Plant? Not having any useful thoughts about her, myself.
posted by Grangousier at 3:54 AM on August 27, 2001

In any case, women not being in IT would only be a problem if they wanted to be there and were being shut out. This may possibly be the case.

Research indicates that it starts much earlier. Meg mentioned (crap) computer games designed for girls as an example. Young girls also need to see adult women IT role models. The GenTech project over at Simon Fraser Univ., BC:

Evidence from research on gender and access to, and uses of, new information technologies (NIT's) indicates that in public schools, female staff and students (in comparison to male students) are: (a) disenfranchised with respect to access and kind of usage, (b) less likely to acquire technological competence, and (c) likely to be discouraged from assuming a leadership role in this domain.

AAUW's Tech Savvy, the result of two years of study and research, found that "although the Foundation convened the commission, in large part, because girls are alarmingly underrepresented in computer science and technology fields, we also recognized that there are much broader issues with regard to gender and technology."
posted by spandex at 4:20 AM on August 27, 2001

I won't argue with that -- we have similar problems with getting females and non-asians or non-whites for Mathcamp, and much of that starts much earlier than we get the kids (high school age). I was lucky in that my Dad let me watch him work on the computer, gave me books when I said I was interested, and got me my own computer (though I would have been happier had it been something more than a VIC-20). Still, the only computer stuff in the school at the time were the dinky Apples we used for grammar and arithmetic drills (oh, whee). As for good "girl's" games, I've heard some remarks about games like Myst being a gender equalizer, as opposed to the testosterone-driven first-person shooter games. Still, it wasn't games that got me into computers, it was the POW-AH!
posted by meep at 5:49 AM on August 27, 2001

I have yet to see anyone explain why, exactly, it's so desperately important that women get involved in computers - aside from vague liberalisms like "diversity is good" and "white male domination is bad". Yawn-o-rama. I say this as a woman who works in the god forsaken internet industry - there is no moral imperative for women to work with computers. Women should do what they want. If we raise generation after generation of girls who are digging Barbie and traditional gender roles over hacking and listening to Ester Dyson ramble for $1500 a head at some conference - rock on. That's diversity, kids.

I resent the call that women need to permeate male dominated professions in order to bring sensitivity and other pseudo-mystic 'feminine' properties. Men can fuck right off - women weren't put on this planet to teach you yobs anything.
posted by gsh at 7:43 AM on August 27, 2001

As far as computer games go, The Sims seems pretty gender neutral. And AFAIK, it wasn't designed from the outset to condenscend to girls. (Though I get amused by people who play The Sims as if it's a war game.)

BTW, we're all forgetting Augusta Ada Byron Lovelace.
posted by GrahamVM at 8:12 AM on August 27, 2001

So here's the deal: take a population of people. All things being equal, all sections of the population will engage in all things the population does in equal proportion (in a reasonable amount of time). Consistent evidence to the contrary indicates that something is pressuring sections of the population towards or away from certain things.

This is to say, it's great to let women (or whomever else) do whatever they want to do -- except that their 'wants' (and men's wants, by the way) are shaped by some powers that we probably don't quite understand yet. They may be natural, they may be artificial -- but are they Just?

Probably not. They probably squelch the freedom of individuals at some level. And in a country founded on the freedom of individuals the idea that whole sections of populations are pressured into particular paths is pretty disturbing.

Scratch a bit deeper and it gets very complicated, but I think that's pretty close to the basis of the 'everybody should do everything' arguments.
posted by daver at 8:13 AM on August 27, 2001

I have yet to see anyone explain why, exactly, it's so desperately important that women get involved in computers - aside from vague liberalisms like "diversity is good" and "white male domination is bad".

I don't want more women in technology because they're nice to have around. I want it for daughters, nieces, and cousins. If they have an interest in computing, engineering, or another male-dominated field, I don't want anyone steering them in another direction because of the idiotic belief that women aren't wired to like technology.
posted by rcade at 8:27 AM on August 27, 2001

They may be natural, they may be artificial -- but are they Just? Probably not. They probably squelch the freedom of individuals at some level.

Every individual in society makes choices for his or her own good; these choices eventually result in segmentation of roles, gender or otherwise. Absent any clear injustice, this decentralized, laissez faire decision making structure is probably best. So if you have time, "scratch a little deeper", just for my own edification. Exactly how do we squelch the freedom of individuals by allowing them to make choices as they see fit?

Second point: freedom is the right to choose, it is not the right to choose without pressure. To attempt to remove all negative pressure from the world seems to me to be idealistic at best; it ignores the reality that we see around us. But that's just my opinion.
posted by gd779 at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2001

My God. Why is this an issue? Who is Dave Winer and why does anyone pay the blindest bit of attention to anything he says? The man cannot write. To wit:

People overlook the creativity that comes from war, it's painful at a species level, but it's there and really good art is as destructive as war, creating space for new stuff as we reinvent ourselves, at a rapidly accelerating pace.

Mmmm. You don't say. What was that again about the new stuff? And how it's painful at a species level? Never mind, I'm too busy reinventing myself at a rapidly accelerating pace, and I need the space.

Really. Can anyone possibly tell me what that sentence means?
posted by Skot at 9:01 AM on August 27, 2001

Skot: it means this -- "I've decided men are creative, and men start alot of wars, so I have to figure out a way that war is creative as opposed to the more obvious antithetical quality: destructive."

Anyway, perhaps this Mr. Winer could be drafted (ah, sometimes it's =nice= being a woman) and sent to the Balkans, and then he might relearn that lesson men have learned time and again: war is hell. Last time I checked, Satan and his realm were set up particularly against the creative impulse.

Or something of that nature.

Ugh, what crap I just wrote. Anyway, any excuse for more ideological banter at mefi. Perhaps brownie points should be awarded to this thread for furthering the intergender dialogue.

posted by meep at 9:57 AM on August 27, 2001

gd -- I'm not saying it's right, it's just the underlying sentiment. However:

Scratching deeper involves several serious problems in sociology, you might see if you can find something on the macro/micro issue or false consciousness. Examples make it much easier:

Let's say you are a young, poor, urban African American male. Based on your life experience, and those of your peers, you see your life options as: going to jail, joining a gang and getting killed or injured, working a menial job or going on welfare.

Even though you're getting good grades in math, and have good aptitude with computers, you choose to steer away from finding out more about those and instead choose to try and survive highschool by becoming involved in a gang that takes up quite a bit of your curricular and extra curricular time.

Ok -- Gross generalization, I know. And I apologize for the stereo typing. But I'm using it to show the point: individuals make choices based on the information they have at hand. Not all individuals have the same information at hand in our society.

While you may say that encouraging young, black men into computers is flouting their free will, (or young women and girls for that matter), what is not mentioned is that they are not evaluating their choices in a neutral position -- society is already slanted in a variety of ways.
posted by daver at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2001

I'm going to come in with gsh on this one; no matter how we view professional diversity, it's ridiculous to make the whole thing into some kind of crusade. A societal imperative to affect the personal interests any members of a group in order to accomplish a larger wish for homogenization is repellent to individuality.

Nature, nurture, or genetics - it makes no difference. I don't care why I don't like math, for example. I just don't; and that's good enough for me. And I would not care to better myself at it - nor like it any more - if the Right Thinking People decided it was spinach for my soul.

Actually, I don't see the concept as sexist - it's elitist.

The argument from Winer says, at worst, 'we are number one, and most of us are men; ergo, we're better.' Obviously a sadsack argument, and not worth even discussing in merit.

At best, it's a desperate missionary call to educate the poor savages who don't know any better. Whether they want it or not.

posted by Perigee at 10:57 AM on August 27, 2001

Young girls also need to see adult women IT role models.

Yeah, because, you know, the reason guys get involved in computers was because they want to be just like the big nerds. (rolling eyes)
posted by kindall at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2001

sure, it's not the reason a young person gets involved. but it can help encourage them, someone to look up to, someone to prove that it is possible.
posted by raedyn at 12:41 PM on August 27, 2001

I wonder how current the "Rule of Daves" is now, as it seems we have many more women in IT. The "Rule of Daves" (I think that's the name anyway), was that the number of women in a particular group (department, or whatever) of techies was approximately equal to the number of guys named Dave.

Where I'm working now it's a small IT staff, but there's:
1 woman
0 Daves

Down from
2 women
0 Daves

Not too long ago.

I'd be interested to see stats from some larger groups. Anyone want to give some up?
posted by ODiV at 2:27 PM on August 27, 2001

See the Doris Lessing interview in the Guardian. Women have more freedom now than ever before, but it won't work if they have to behave like men to be leaders

Who says we have to behave like men to be leaders? And will our freedom, that the Dave Winers of the world have so benevolently and generously provided women with be taken away if we DO exert some kind of control?

The best response to Lessing is that we need change in both genders to accomodate changes in technology (mostly birth control, I suspect).

Is this guy SERIOUS? I don't think I've encountered this amount of misogyny on one page in a loooooong time. But then again, maybe I should turn off my machine and file my nails so that my feminine sensibilities won't be damaged.

Or not.
posted by soynuts at 2:45 PM on August 27, 2001

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