15 Apr 2007 pcolijn   » (Journeyer)

Our Industry

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I tend to be a champion of getting more women interested in computer science. As Larry Page puts it, we're missing out on an incredibly large talent pool right now by having so few women in computer science. We could be solving more problems and more interesting problems if we had more people working on them, and over half the population is female, so the industry in its current state is clearly losing out.

According to Wikipedia, the number of women in computing the US declined from 35.2% in 1990 to 28.4% in 2000. Wow, talk about a step in the wrong direction. Why is this? There have been many studies, and the reasons can often be distilled down to feelings of exlusion and lack of respect. A principal source of both of the above is immature crude jokes.

Which is why when I saw this, I felt compelled to write this post. As immature jokes go, it is relatively mild. I have certainly seen and heard far worse. But it doesn't really matter; it's still inappropriate, and it's still bound to make people feel uncomfortable, and even more importantly, it's completely unnecessary! The poster could have made the same point using any number of other metaphors, and could have easily found another funny metaphor to use instead of the one he did choose, if he was hell bent on trying to make his post amusing.

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. I personally feel that as rude as it may be, attempts at public shaming like this may be the best way to get people to stop with these silly jokes. Pointing these things out isn't half as rude as starting them in the first place, and hopefully can help people realize how pointless and damaging they are.

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