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Discussion on: The Unbearable Whiteness of Coding

stokesm profile image
Matthew Stokes

Yes, we have to be very careful with statistics. But we still have to use them. We can't just keep using "our" experience. Often they are the best light we have.

Women have had a greater representation in universities than men (in the UK) since 1992. And it has only increased since then to what we have now.

I agree, from my personal experience I see very few women applying. I also agree, the ones I have worked with, and the few that were in my cohort at university are incredibly good. Diversity in a team is always going to be a good thing.

I don't think the lack of women in technology is a problem though. Not only is the student cohort in higher education dominated by women, but the teaching profession is also overwhelmingly dominated by women.

As such I find it hard to believe that there is some sort of pressure pushing women away from STEM, in fact in my personal experience from school it is quite the opposite.

The pool for female candidates is so low because few women are going on to study the degrees or work in the fields that lead to a job as a developer. I think that is happening due to the slight difference in interests between men and women.

I think your point about the pay gap is important though. Here you are coming about it in the right way in relation to experience. The "pay gap" that is normally given takes no account of the jobs that men and women are doing or experience grades. The only thing I think is important about it is in relation to the experience. I imagine children can be a major factor in this, and we need a good way of dealing with it which I don't think we have.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot

I hear you, here's my additional clarification. I have women in technology, but that's the leader of our implementation team, 2 out of 3 of our UX designers, all but one of our manual QA team, and my HR business partner. These people are really great, but it's a bit like all (portrayed) nurses in the 1960s being women, isn't it? Are you going to think "that's odd" when you're looking back in 20 years? I know I do when I think about the stereotypes from my early career. So IDK, but I rather hope so. I rather hope we won't be able to guess a tech person's function based on their gender.

It's my recollection from the early 90s that STEM was not a common choice for women and that the desire to change that was nascent. I studied in the 80s, there were certainly brilliant female mathematicians then too, but geekiness was frowned upon and decidedly less cool than it is today.

You are right on families etc, it takes a massive social change over many years to fix.

Look around the rest of my business though and there are women leaders all over the place. Heading operations, heading sales, managing directors, head of legal, etc. My company should be proud it has so many female leaders, but we are still lacking balance universally and hence still have a gender pay gap. I think your point is that people may choose these roles and that families are an interruption to a woman's career path. I hear that, and everyone should have a choice about the importance of career and family, but I just think we have to account for this too - better maternity pay that encourages work/life balance, etc. Other things I haven't figured out for sure.

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stokesm profile image
Matthew Stokes

I see what you mean. And that is definitely the case where I work too. If you scope out to wider roles in the company, there are many more women.

But I find it interesting how HR, leaders, UX and nursing are all mentioned in the same paragraph. I also think it would be great if we couldn't take a guess at somebodies job roll, and be correct a good percentage of the time. But I also want people to be completely free in what they chose to do, and partake in what interests them. The thing I find interesting is that it seems all of the mentioned roles would align to the greater interest in people (as opposed to things) that we see in women.

Social change will definitely be needed. I do worry about how much of it is generated by biological factors though. I think rather importantly though we need some economic change. We don't have a good way of placing value on the work involved around children.

Yes, my point is that choices between men and women will be different, and we need a better way of dealing with childbearing/care. I suppose I just think it is important we really identify:

  1. Is there actually a problem.
  2. What is the real root cause? We can't fix it with incorrect or bad solutions that come from a an oversimplified or surface view which I think too often is the case.
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blindfish3 profile image
Ben Calder

I suppose I just think it is important we really identify:

  1. Is there actually a problem.

Why do "we" need to identify this? Is it not enough to listen to the people who are telling us there is a problem? Or do their voices not matter because "we" are the arbiters of truth?