September 29, 2013 2:28 PM   Subscribe

she++ is probably not the worst pun I've seen on c++

There's an organization, too

About them

There's a con

You can see screenings of it, if you want to see it with other people

There's a mentoring program

Panels and stuff

They've got press
posted by curuinor (14 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is this about a lady with class?
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:36 PM on September 29, 2013 [19 favorites]

The company I work for offers a 10K scholarship to women studying technical fields. We are also located next door to Stanford, and Stanford is the largest source of new hires for us.

I'd say that about 15% of our technical staff are women, although I haven't made a head count.

First of all, yes, it's possible that our male software engineers are harder on female candidates during interviews. We do a lot of interviews and hire a small percentage of the candidates. The breakdown of candidate success versus the gender of the interviewer is probably available, but it's not something I have access to. I've definitely shadowed female interviewers as they flunked female candidates.

But as importantly, consider the Silicon Valley lifestyle. We are notorious for living at work. We are notorious for doing whatever it takes to get the product out. We are notorious for our clannish, isolated office culture. We are Facebook people and Google people and Amazon people. We wear our company's attire, eat our company's food, share apartments with coworkers, and often date within the company.

This is a difficult lifestyle to present in a positive light to a population that has doubts about their place in computer science. Silicon Valley jobs have evolved so that they only appeal to mostly single, mostly men who can bang out code at two in the morning, surrounded by piles of empty cans of Red Bull.
posted by Nomyte at 3:10 PM on September 29, 2013

While I don't doubt that there are women out there too smart to take on jobs with such poor work-life balance, my anecdotal experience of silicon valley tech jobs is that there is discrimination against women and out and out sexual harassment. Which factors weigh more heavily is not something I'm going to argue.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

There are also, however, thousands of job openings available for programmers that are not in Silicon Valley, do not feature an extreme startup-y lifestyle, and feature 40-hour work weeks with good pay/benefits that could be easily filled balanced individuals of either gender.
posted by tmacdonald at 3:43 PM on September 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

A positive test would involve a situation where universities graduate lots of female CS students, but those graduates either can't find work or can only find lower-paid work. As things stand, our anecdotes are pretty inconclusive.

FWIW, the women in the video that is the subject of this FPP mostly talk about CS classes being intimidating. It sounds in part like a chicken and egg scenario: there are few women in CS classrooms, and so some women are intimidated by CS classrooms.

Incidentally, there are lots and lots of women in psychology classrooms, and I've heard my share of conference horror stories about abusive creeps in psychology grad programs.

When I was taking math classes, we also often had 2-3 female students in a room of 20-30 undergrads. And that certainly had very little to do with the reality of CS jobs.
posted by Nomyte at 3:49 PM on September 29, 2013

probably not the worst pun I've seen on c++

There's a 'treating women as objects' joke in there somewhere.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:55 PM on September 29, 2013 [10 favorites]

Does it matter that they're considered first-class objects?
posted by kaibutsu at 4:15 PM on September 29, 2013

Nomyte, is that just a random anecdote about your company? I'm not sure where it was supposed to go.
posted by jacalata at 4:30 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I"ve seen top Silicon Valley companies go to great lengths to hire and retain women engineers. Google has special diversity recruiters for example.
posted by w0mbat at 4:38 PM on September 29, 2013

Nomyte, is that just a random anecdote about your company?

Thank you for your question. To make my point clearer, companies are making institutional efforts to help women succeed in fields like software engineering. My company hands out a substantial scholarship to women. Other companies have diversity recruitment programs for women. I'm not sure if this is making any kind of impact on gender ratios in CS classrooms.

There are many female students in bio and chem, and those majors aren't easy. So there's something in CS in particular that's not appealing to women. You could make a claim that CS is exceptionally sexist even among other STEM departments. I don't know how to investigate such a claim.

The other possibilities that come to mind is that CS is not a pre-med major. Software jobs are, in a sense, not professional jobs, but can be just as demanding as doctoring or lawyering. People in software jobs may not be perceived as delivering an important service, like doctors or nurses. Software jobs can, conceivably, be outsourced.

I'm sure a lot of this interacts with the common cultural belief that women are better suited to "caring" professions, like teaching or medicine.
posted by Nomyte at 6:26 PM on September 29, 2013

Does it matter that they're considered first-class objects?

Largely irrelevant until they're included in the standard template library.
posted by flabdablet at 11:56 PM on September 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some companies are making institutional efforts to encourage women in software, which is great. The problem is that there's a deeper cultural issue, where egregious levels of misogyny are normalized and destigmatized if not outright encouraged. I think it's great that young women are getting together and finding ways to encourage each other.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:07 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Perhaps related: Why Your Startup Can't Find Developers
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:39 AM on September 30, 2013

Sorry I'm a bit late to the party, but I just had a bit to add (disclaimer I haven't checked out the full documentary yet- but I am a lady in tech- though hardware, not software) Nomyte, it's interesting you tie in Google, Amazon, and Facebook into the start-up scene, cause in my experience (my boyfriend works at Google) the crazy hours and overall work crazy lifestyle isn't really a thing. He works 40 hours a week and has never had to come in early/stay late for work purposes. Most of his coworkers have kids and also work normal hours. But he's not in Mountain View so that might be different, although he does eat breakfast and lunch there and currently has amassed two shirts, a hat, and a camelbag in two months. Google's cool and all, but at the end of the day it seems super corporate. As for ladies, he had around 5 women in his orientation group out of 30 and they were all in sales.

In my experience I know a lot really smart women in software who despite doing CS undergrad didn't wind up working in software positions because of concerns about sexism.

I think that organizations like this do a good job of overcoming the sort of cyclical problem of women aren't in CS because there aren't many women in CS so they're aren't many women in CS.
posted by KernalM at 4:50 PM on September 30, 2013

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