Feeds

back to article 'Geek' image scares women away from tech industry

Women don't consider IT careers because “the popular media’s ‘geek’ image of the technology field” along with other factors including a lack of female role models and support at home and work “tend to dissuade talented girls from pursuing a tech career.” “Misguided school-age career counselling” is another problem, as it often …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Boffin

I await the many comments on this article which further demonstrate why there are so few women in IT.

24
2
Anonymous Coward

You are welcome

First of all, the media does not portray geeks. It portrays IT as _NERDS_.

NERD != GEEK up to arbitrary high values of GEEK

Second, during the 20+ years of CS related career I have had an interview only with just ONE company which had a "NO NERDS" policy with a job requirement "You Must Have a Life". Just ONE company where having a life outside work was pretty much a requirement. The higher ranking technical manager interviewing me was surprise, surprise - a lady.

At the same time, I have lost count on how many times the interviewer was hungrily awaiting to see another nerdy social misfit which will hide at work from the wider world and spend 80+ hours banging on the keyboard.

It is a well known fact that social misfits are more often male. There is a big body of statistical evidence to prove that (autism rates, etc). So in an industry where a lot of companies live off sucking nerds life out it is not surprising that there are so few ladies.

By the way, the further away you go from the Silly Valley "startup" culture geographically, the more ladies you are likely to find in classic "male" positions like BOFHs, embedded software engineering, etc. By the time you get to Eastern Europe the male:female ratio becomes fairly even (not 1:1 but not that far off). This may probably have something to do with Europeans insisting on having a life outside work out of principle :)

12
4
Silver badge
Facepalm

9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

"You Must Have a Life".

So how do they put that in the contract?

How about they call you at 02:00 in the morning because "the servers iz down". Are you supposed to say "nope, getting on with my life"?

Your sure it wasn't government or EU that demanded that? Remember these people are paid by taxes.

5
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

The few that do have a "no nerds"/"you must have a life" policy, are they discriminating? Autism and other conditions that impair social communication are not lifestyle choices.

6
0
Pint

Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

'How about they call you at 02:00 in the morning because "the servers iz down". Are you supposed to say "nope, getting on with my life"?'

Then they damn well better have put it in my contract up front that, at 0200, *I* am the one they call to fix the servers.

Surely you grasped the point: it's not what you are HIRED to do which is a problem, but all the other things you are also expected to be in on - four hour overtime daily to get the badly mismanaged project (sorry, "badly mismanaged" is redudant) in on time, emergency call outs during the night to fix the webserver when you're hired to implement their new database, or the desperate mails during vacation time 'cause they don't want to spend money hiring enough people.

IF my contract state I am to be available at 0200 - and they pay the extra blood money - then I'll be there as required. If not I'll work the normal hours. That latter statement makes me an undesirable employee, I bet. Life, outside the hours the company pay me to work. There's the point.

15
0
Silver badge

Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

When I was an HP employee there was an expectation of work hard / play hard and the company expected to pick up at least some of the bill to play hard.

Oh how times have changed.

But when I left there more than 20 years back, there were a lot more women in technical roles there than there are today. Over that time I've seen a steady decline at the customers I've worked with to a point approaching zero.

It seems to vary from country to country. The US like the UK seems to have seem a steady drop off in the numbers of women in technical roles. Spain and Greece on the other hand can see a close to 50/50 split.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

1. You guessed the company wrong, it is not HP.

2. Autism and other conditions which impair social communications are not lifestyle choices. However there are jobs in IT where you have to work on customer site and your job is to get to the root of customer problems so you can feed back the results into development (for fixes), product development (for roadmap) and architecture. Having communicative disorders as well as obsessive/compulsive problems disqualifies you for such a position in 99% of the cases.

3. If your core customers are not IT - let's say financial services, oil, etc having a life outside work is a definitive requirement if you work on customer sites. You have to be able to have a conversation about something else besides work with the customer do you like it or not and not come across like a complete imbecile. The fact that your interests and the customer interests are least likely to coincide is not relevant. It is more important to have at least some interests as this allows you to behave sanely and have a sane conversation.

2
1
Silver badge

ob. xkcd

http://xkcd.com/747/

4
0
Silver badge

Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

You know I feel really sorry for all those people with Autism who AREN'T computer geniuses (you knpw, 98% of them). Ever since the Rain Man movie and ever since Aspergers became trendy, anyone remotely socially awkward is expected to be obsessively brilliant. It must be like when you're asked "what do Black people think of X' and you're like: "I don't know - we don't have comittees or a hive mind,"

Some Aspergers types, they just want to stand on the platform and collect train numbers, you know? Stop putting all these expecations on them.

6
1
Devil

Some women should not apply to IT jobs.

One super large MLS realtor system on the east coast hires women and they turned the whole thing into a clique that new men hired are gawked at and you must FIT IN to the female raunchy EAT WITH US or have a short career. I left that company after the blonde intern stole my ideas as her own and she got the praise at the company meeting instead of me. Lying ans tealing is the female way to get ahead of men and stomping on their shoulders to get ahead.

Next company I was at the women were better mannered but the females who did all the server work had men who were either equally or better certified than them used as slave to pick up the server for them and place them in and plug them in and wire them up for the females.

Look if you can not do your job 100% on your own that you were hired to do then you have no business doing it at all.

3
9
Meh

Re: Some women should not apply to IT jobs.

Misogynistic much?

2
1

Re: Some women should not apply to IT jobs.

Misogynistic?

Are you going to claim that some women don't use their gender to their advantage whenever possible? (Some, not all)

If it is fair to say that some men are sexist pigs (and some are), then it is also fair to say that women (some not all) play to that to get what they want.

9
1
Anonymous Coward

My boss is a woman and is so very terrible at her job. She once told me to fix some code by "converting IPv6 addresses to IPv4". I don't expect everyone to know what that means, but someone in a highly technical position (like my boss) should. In short, remember playing with blocks as a kid and you had to put the big cube in the big hole? Well, she's 40-some years old and would fail at that (IPv6 is a big cube and IPv4 is a little hole). She had been a programmer on my team for over ten years before getting promoted to a manager. The only reason I can see her getting promoted is because she's the only woman on our 30+ person team (and being hispanic probably doesn't hurt, she's an affirmative action gold mine). She's the worst manager I've ever had and a below-average programmer.

So do we need more women in IT? Here's the twist: YES! So few women go into IT that we have to promote the incompetent ones to prevent lawsuits. If a competent woman came along to replace my manager, I might like my job more.

Anonymous, obviously.

8
1
N2
Bronze badge

However

Im sure she likes to put big things in little holes?

0
3
Anonymous Coward

female managers

I've been in the business for over 20 years and I have to say it, most of the female managers are completely useless. They may start off their career with a couple of years in the technological side of it, perhaps even programming, but they find it hard and long to leave it, and the natural way for them to go is into management.

And I have across one male that struggled with the techy side and did the same, moved into management. Now he's running a team of people for an investment bank and probably making very good money, whilst the much bettery techy's get paid peanuts.

There's too many managers that think that managing is just a case of knowing Prince 2.

British women in Engineering and ICT? No way. I wouldn't give them any of my time.

But, female Indians in engineering and ICT? Far more of them than British and can be significantly better too. But in general, I find the Indians aren't as good technically as British.

And their culture? That's just something else, you have to believe it to see it. If you're not pushing them, every day, they'll sit and do nothing.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Affirmative action?

Only if she was also Jewish and either black,or Asian, or a lesbian. But let's not go there...

But you also miss a point. Good managers are not necessarily very technical.

Managers are the ones who have excelled in the soft skills of software development.

0
0
FAIL

Uh oh!

At least they'll have a white knight to the rescue.

0
0
Silver badge
Trollface

"Lying and stealing is the female way to get ahead"

Oh, so you've met our Australian PM then?

0
0
Bronze badge
Alert

Re: You are welcome

First of all, the media does not portray geeks. It portrays IT as _NERDS_.

NERD != GEEK up to arbitrary high values of GEEK

Yabbut the media don't make the distinction between GEEK and NERD, so the masses don't get what you're saying.

1
0
Flame

Would you count my

Self inflected gender bias comment?

0
0
Thumb Down

Manny Manne

I would never hire someone who cares whether or not working for me makes them look cool. Competence is the only key selection criteria.

6
2
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Manny Manne

And do you care that gender stereotyping and expectations lead to a gross gender imbalance in the IT work place? The article is correct. The Geek stereotype - a bizarre cultural export from the American school system which insists on pushing people into being either smart or cool - does indeed put many women off pursuing such a direction.

No-one cares whether you think cool should be a factor in whether someone wants a job or not (though I don't believe you if you say that whether or not your job is respected of laughed at has had no affect on how you feel about it). The point is that if you get rid of the Geek stereotype and accept that programming is just another career like accountancy, architecture, whatever... then you will have a wider a choice of people to choose from on the basis of competence, which is what you say you care about. Ergo - Geek stereotype is harmful to your ability to hire competent people.

I enjoy programming. I started off writing device drivers. Does it mean I want to talk to you about the latest Spiderman vs. Batman comic? No it does not. Please keep your American high school student's hang-ups out of my career choice.

6
4
Silver badge

Re: Let me fix that for you:

...a bizarre cultural export from the Hollywood about a fictional American school system which insists on pushing people into being either smart or cool, and is eagerly consumed by UN and European Statists intent on imposing their world view on others...

BTW: It's The Hulk vs. Superman comic book. Everybody knows Spidey and Bats team up to catch the bad guys.

1
0
LDS
Silver badge

Re: Let me fix that for you:

Sorry, but here nerds don't come to school with weapons and kill everybody in range. So there should be something really not working in US school system.

0
0
FAIL

Re: Let me fix that for you:

Nobody is immune.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Wasn't there just a study or other...

... where yoof in general thought tech was un-cool and to be avoided?

Can't really fault girls for staying well away from toys the boys are staying away from. And, yeah, the field is full of menses that think they're smart and emancipated and yet turn out to be misogynists after all. Or perhaps being totally focused on things isn't "PC" enough to allow wimminses to like it. Or whatever. I don't really care.

I do note, however, that time and again this or that's been written about it, nothing yields a convincing answer, and so a bit of panel-prattle from a day's happening full of bigwigs and other people that like to hear themselves talk isn't going to yield a useful answer either.

I say the focus isn't useful. Fix education so that kids get a good solid backgrounder in and feel for the hard sciences, get them to understand what it's there for and how it helps everyone. Get them to use what they've learned in the rough-and-ready "have slide rule, will solve problem" sense.

And if that means teaching math, physics, chemistry, electronics, computing fundamentals, whatever else, differently to girls than to boys, so be it. Though I doubt it needs to go that far.

Enthousiastic, clueful teachers, regardless of anyone's gender, are a good and sorely-needed start. Then, and only then, does it begin to make sense to see what turns girls away from tech specifically.

But without a base to build on, the supposed fixes will remain just as much treehugging as the "new math" and all the other crap that's crept into the curriculum. I mean, if even professors advocate stopping marking down things for poor language because there's too much rotten grammar and spelling in the papers they see, because the teachers spent more time "connecting the kids with their inner selves" than with teaching grammar, then there just isn't a serious basis for further learning there. You've failed as educators.

Get your heads out of your arses and fix that first. And while at it, don't let yourself get sidetracked by religious loons seeking to poison science with their made-up agenda. But do note that their gaining traction was possible because science education has again failed to convey just what science is there for. Don't obsess over the children. They'll grow up this way or that way. Get them what they'll need. Fix their education.

11
1

Re: Wasn't there just a study or other...

"Fix education so that kids get a good solid backgrounder in and feel for the hard sciences, get them to understand what it's there for and how it helps everyone"

Yes, well, no. First we need to fix society so it doesn't encourage parents to believe there is a car gene and raise their kids to fit.

0
1
Bronze badge

Cool?

“Misguided school-age career counselling” is another problem, as it often suggests to young women that ICT careers are too hard or somehow unfeminine.

No they don't - they keep trying to convince young women that IT is cool, with things like Women in Science and Engineering. They have been doing this since I was at university, 30 years ago. The snag is, when older folk tell teenagers that something is cool, they will have actually convinced them of the exact opposite.

Another problem is that young women (and men) considering a career in IT may have noticed the impact of ICT* visas, where people from India are brought to the UK to fill IT jobs or the offshoring of IT jobs, all conspiring to reduce opportunities and salaries. They may also have noticed the significant percentage of graduates from IT related courses who cannot find employment. Careers in medicine, law or banking are likely to have better prospects and salaries, which is decidedly more cool than being jobless.

*ICT = Intra Corporate Transfer, a sneaky way to have someone working in the UK under Indian terms and conditions.

16
0
WTF?

Re: Cool?

"They may also have noticed the significant percentage of graduates from IT related courses who cannot find employment."

I find this confusing: Jobs in the field are hard to come by, yet somehow they're anticipating there to be more positions than people by two million over the next decade.

How can there be both a shortage of positions and a shortage of workers? There is something bogus here.

1
0
Alert

Re: Cool?

Quite simple..when posting for a job it goes something like this:

Windows administrator Level II

Must have :

DNS, DHCP, Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL, auto repair experience, and television broadcasting license.

Preferred in addition to Must have:

Fluent programming skills in Java, Perl, VB, .NET, C, C++, COBOL, banjo playing skills

Education required:

15 years experience in computer Science, PhD in Computer Science, Masters in amphibian mating rituals preferred.

Pay scale:

See above Windows Administrator Level II, you aren't expecting above £22/hour right?

Yes this is an exaggeration, but it is indicative of idiotic job requirements that employers are posting.

5
0

Re: Re: Cool?

Level II my ass that's the entry level requirements for $13 an hour by me

You also forgot the must speak Swahili requirement (seriously I saw a few odd languages in posts for requirements)

2
0

Re: Re: Cool?

forgot (wish there was an edit button) most job posts say: must be able to lift 75-100lbs...

0
0

Re: Cool?

you mean bench?

1
0
WTF?

Re: Cool?

What the hell does 'cool' mean?

Is it just a peer-pressure artifact?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Cool?

You forgot one other problem: Science and IT are HARD WORK. And while hard work may* lead to better pay, rewarding experiences, and a successful life, it has never been COOL.

*Your exact mileage may vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All of life comes with some risk, so be sure to consult your lawyer, doctor, accountant, insurance agent, and financial adviser.

0
0

Re: Cool?

Change your surname completely in several different directions for fun on some of the applications to see what the differences might be...... in fact, just make your whole name the same as a notorious gangster from the recruiter's home town, tell them you "don't do that messy stuff anymore" ;)

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Cool?

"And while hard work may* lead to better pay, rewarding experiences, and a successful life, it has never been COOL."

Really? So if you're a jet fighter pilot or an astronaut, that's not cool. The architects who designed the Chrysler building oversaw construction of the Burj Khalifa, you don't think they introduced themselves and everyone thought they were awesome? Or you don't think it's cool to have written or published a novel or who become state champion in MMA or to have studied and become a really good painter whose prints are sold in a local gallery. What is it you dispute? That people will look at such individuals and say: woah - cool,.Or that they're not hard work. Because they're definitely the latter and I'm pretty sure of the former. Many people, myself included, happen to think success is also cool in and of itself. Or perhaps you are working some No True Scotscool angle and only certain types of social recognition count as social recognition^H^H cool. So why should the hard work* of programming not be similarly well regarded but be tarred with this geek label?

(*I don't actually think programming is particularly hard work. No more so than most jobs anyway. It just takes practice, a bit of study and a methodical approach. But what do I know. I started off doing C for embedded systems though. Maybe HTML is harder or something.)

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Cool?

This posting is so true. I have never seen such a massive influx of Indian immigrant workers as the last few years.

One conduit for them to get into the country is via BT. I swear to God, I believe the Indians are deliberately applying to BT Tech Mahindra in India as a vehicle to get into the UK.

The come to the UK on a work visa, they stay for long enough, bring their wife over, they then leave BT Tech Mahindra and apply for jobs with other companies here, then in time they apply for an 'indefinite leave to remain' visa.

And the nepotism is unbelievable. And very strongly to the detriment of genuine English born workers.

We recruited an indian senior IT manager 3 years ago, every person he has recruited since then (with the recent exception of 1) has been indian. He's completely transformed our organisation (and for the worse), whilst he surrounds himself with people which he can control and bully, he chooses submissive Indians which won't say boo to a goose, that will do exactly what he tells them to do, no matter how unprofessional it is, in order to hide his grave failings from his bosses.

Every Indian knows 500 other Indians, and when ever a vacancy comes up, you discover: 1) that the new recruit has worked for BT Tech Mahindra at some point in the recent past, 2) that the new indian recruit knows several employees already within the company and almost certainly one of them has told them about the job advertisement.

The network amongst them is unbelievable.

0
1
Silver badge

Eh?

So this guy wants to appeal to the lesser (in IT) gender, doesn't want to be patronising, and wishes to show that either gender can pursue a career as a bona fide geek...

...and he does this by calling women "girls"?

1
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: Eh?

Actually over the Sum of "New Wave" High Tech the ratio is probably not that bad.

For every geeky computer engineer out there, there is a geeky lady in a white overall messing about with stem cells in a biotech startup :)

So for every Mr Hacker there is a Miss Plague :)

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Eh?

These events are targeted at school/college aged females, hence the word 'girls'.

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Eh?

Yep, and I married her...and was subsequently divorced by same.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Eh?

Look on the bright side: at least she didn't use you as her next plague test subject.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

We have enough..

jens already.

4
0
Silver badge
WTF?

wait, what?

Maybe half the problem is they are asking female managers, not female IT workers.

Seriously, take a look at that list of titles. Not one of them has done serious IT work in years.

8
0
Anonymous Coward

Some of the Best Geeks I know

are Girl Geeks.

4
0
Thumb Up

Re: Some of the Best Geeks I know

Some of the friendliest, approachable geeks I know are also girl geeks ("girl" loosely, age range from 18 to 40).

1
0
Thumb Down

Bollocks.

So the "popular media" has never portrayed characters such as Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds, Willow in Buffy and that hot genius chick in NCIS Los Angeles. Right.

I don't know whether the ITU has always been a joke, because I only started paying attention to them after they started trying to Balkanize the Internet, but this screed seems about as credible as the mutterings of my old careers teacher, who told us all to prepare for assembly line work in the factory, 'cos that was the best we could hope for. Several of us went the Oxbridge route, others did well in different ways.

If you were any good at something, anything, you'd be doing it instead of being a "careers counselor".

6
0
LDS
Silver badge

Re: Bollocks.

Sure, most of the time media portrays an "IT girl" she's "hot" (because it sells, if you hire a young actress you hire an "hot" one for any role, if you're the average media guy) . But when they portray the "IT guy", he's usually a nerd, fat, graceless, coarse, and clumsy outside IT. The environment you will work in is as much important as the role you aspire. Girls wouldn't like to be the "hot chick" among a herd of nerds. They would like to be among the nice, clever, elegant (and often rich) boys.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Bollocks.

The above is true. These shows have to be produced by men. They think that showing the woman as "hot" and cool, amongst a bunch of nerdy losers is showing women in a postive light. Instead of asking themself what woman wants to be the only female in a group of nerdy, socially awkward losers. It's not (much) like that in real life in the UK. Why does it have to be shown that way?

2
3

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.