Are most programmers male?

laotseu bdesth at
Wed Aug 21 07:26:28 CEST 2002

Val Henson wrote:
> James J. Besemer wrote:
>>When I was young and naive I used to believe that the only
>>differences between men and women were induced by society -- that
>>men and women were essentially identical except for the momentum of
>>traditional roles thrust upon them.  Now that I've been married for
>>over 20 years and raised children to adolescence (and observed many
>>other individuals and families), I find that viewpoint laughable.
> Ah, right, one person's anecdotal evidence clearly supersedes any
> number of properly conducted studies.
>>By preschool (3-4 years) the girls (generally) all were quiet and
>>cooperative while the boys (generally) were all noisy, aggressive
>>and less cooperative.
> I'd just like to address this one point, and leave the rest as
> exercises for the reader.  Studies have shown that adults treat
> children differently according to their (perceived) gender as early as
> 18 months of age (and possibly earlier), and are often completely
> unaware that they are doing so.  Adults play differently with a baby
> dressed in pink than they do with a baby dressed in blue, regardless
> of the actual gender of the baby.  Don't take my word for it, here is
> a link to one of Ellen Spertus's papers discussing some of these
> studies:
> Most telling is this excerpt:
> "The difference in toys cannot be explained purely by the children's
> preferences --- the expectations of parents and other gift givers play
> a major role. Numerous studies, cited in [Pomerleau et al 1990, page
> 360] have found:
>    "When interacting with an infant who was introduced as a girl,
>    adults used feminine toys (for instance, a doll) and talked more to
>    `her'. When the infant was presented as a boy, they used masculine
>    toys (e.g., a hammer) and encouraged more motor activity."
> Adults interacted differently with the same infant depending on which
> gender they believed the infant was, not the infant's actual gender.
> This means that adults treat boys and girls differently from an early
> age, and that difference is at least partly based on the adult's own
> preconceptions about what boys and girls want.
> Another beautiful study that I unfortunately can't find a link to
> right now is one on how far mothers allow their children to wander
> before calling them back.  Researchers observed mothers with children
> at playgrounds, and discovered that girls ended up travelling
> approximately one third as far as boys during the day, mainly because
> their mothers called girls back sooner than boys.  I may be
> remembering this study from "Unlocking the Clubhouse" by Jane Margolis
> and Allan Fisher - regardless, it's an excellent book for anyone truly
> interested in finding out why women avoid computer science.
> I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about the subject.  If you're
> interested in discussing it more, please contact me off-list.
> -VAL

<this is totally HS in this ng, isn't it ?>

All this comes to the fact that peoples don't act the same with boys and 
girls. It does not prove in any way that the *only* difference between 
boys and girls is due to education.

Now if you still want to lure yourself in thinking boys and girls are 
*identic*, try to have two males or two females give birth to a child ;-)

BTW, somes recent studies, not socials but medicals ones, tends to the 
fact that male's and female's brain organisation differs in some 
points... Remember what you may know about hormons and neurology, and 
you could imagine that education may not be the only cause).

NB : I'm not trying in *any* way to suggest that boys could be superior 
or inferior to girls (and not even that boys make better programmers), 
Just that they *are* different.


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