quarta-feira, 11 de março de 2009

ACM women's newsletter on the old, 'intriguing' lack of women in Computing

The last issue of acm-w [1(4), Spring 2009] is out. Since I always sensed (in my experience as CS professor) women presence in class as very beneficial, here are some notes:

  • Most articles approach the decreasing number of women in Computing.
  • In an interview, 25-year career professor Gloria Childress Townsend says the decline is unnatural, due to "artificial and unfair 'requirements' (or the perception of the requirements)".
  • David Klappholz criticizes the "programming-first approach to computing education" that "turns off far more scientifically- and mathematically-talented middle/high school girls and college age young women than it turns on". He reports on a study that reveals that women prefer "organic" careers (med, vet, biology, psychology...) that emphasize the very same skills that are lacking in the real Computing business (to which women didn't come), which is not so much about programming, but mainly about requirements. He then describes a project aimed at recruiting women for Computing based on the real Computing business, not the oligophrenic programming-only Computing (my adjective).
  • Former president of SBC (Brazilian Computing Society) Claudia Bauzer Medeiros reports on "Women at the Brazil National Database Conference" (SBBD). Good news that girls are getting together. Funny that the pictures show as many women being portrayed as men taking pictures.
  • "Ada Lovelace Day" column gives some background information on Ada's life. Good things to learn.

I´ve said it before but never in writing, so here it goes: to me, the whole problem with Computing begun right after the Eniac project was over. Eniac had a female-only programming team. Then men came and it is a long story for a blog entry... My summary is: the world was taken by hordes of irrationalists-intuitionists who are enemies of thinking, but can hammer a keyboard (until some time, some day the compilation will "pass"). The rest is our daily experience with "software" (the thing that you swear at) and "hardware" (the thing that you kick).

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