[Edu-sig] Acadmic gender gap (was Thoughts)

Laura Creighton lac at strakt.com
Tue Dec 7 11:05:43 CET 2004

In a message of Mon, 06 Dec 2004 22:10:42 PST, Marilyn Davis writes:

>One more thing.  The fact that women aren't in computing as much as
>men totally escapes me.  I don't get it at all.  Coding seems very
>much like sewing to me, requiring artful careful well-planned and
>often tedious work.  I remember that, when typewriters first came out,
>it was men's work.  And then it changed.  So I wouldn't count it as
>decided yet.
>What do you think?
>Marilyn Davis

Right now, at Chalmers University (in Sweden) the women outnumber the men
in the Chemistry undergraduate department, while men still outnumber women
in the other fields.  The current belief is that until you get something like
30% of your class female, women will not show up in sufficient numbers to
produce a 50/50 split.  Women apparantly do not evaluate their university
courses only based on 'how much they like the subject' or 'even how well they
expect to do in the subject' but instead 'how much would I enjoy majoring / taking 
courses in the subject' -- or perhaps they think that they are unlikely to do well
in a subject that does not already have a lot of other women.  The men tend to
read the syllabus, think 'I should do well in this' and sign up.  The women look
for other women to ask about the Major, and end up doing what some other woman
explained to them worked out wonderfully for her.  Not all, of course, but enough
that this is statistically signigicant.  At any rate, getting successful women
graduates to come back and tell gymnasium (US: high school) students how terrific
being a Chalmers Physics major was is now believed to be even more influential
than they thought.

The girls aren't learning how to sew, either.  Mithlond, the Tolkien Society
holds classes in sewing, so people can learn how to make period costumes.
Heavily attended.  Nobody is learning this stuff in school or at home any more.


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