back to article 'Geek' image scares women away from tech industry

Women don't consider IT careers because “the popular media’s ‘geek’ image of the technology field” along with other factors including a lack of female role models and support at home and work “tend to dissuade talented girls from pursuing a tech career.” “Misguided school-age career counselling” is another problem, as it often …


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  1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    I await the many comments on this article which further demonstrate why there are so few women in IT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You are welcome

      First of all, the media does not portray geeks. It portrays IT as _NERDS_.

      NERD != GEEK up to arbitrary high values of GEEK

      Second, during the 20+ years of CS related career I have had an interview only with just ONE company which had a "NO NERDS" policy with a job requirement "You Must Have a Life". Just ONE company where having a life outside work was pretty much a requirement. The higher ranking technical manager interviewing me was surprise, surprise - a lady.

      At the same time, I have lost count on how many times the interviewer was hungrily awaiting to see another nerdy social misfit which will hide at work from the wider world and spend 80+ hours banging on the keyboard.

      It is a well known fact that social misfits are more often male. There is a big body of statistical evidence to prove that (autism rates, etc). So in an industry where a lot of companies live off sucking nerds life out it is not surprising that there are so few ladies.

      By the way, the further away you go from the Silly Valley "startup" culture geographically, the more ladies you are likely to find in classic "male" positions like BOFHs, embedded software engineering, etc. By the time you get to Eastern Europe the male:female ratio becomes fairly even (not 1:1 but not that far off). This may probably have something to do with Europeans insisting on having a life outside work out of principle :)

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

        "You Must Have a Life".

        So how do they put that in the contract?

        How about they call you at 02:00 in the morning because "the servers iz down". Are you supposed to say "nope, getting on with my life"?

        Your sure it wasn't government or EU that demanded that? Remember these people are paid by taxes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

          The few that do have a "no nerds"/"you must have a life" policy, are they discriminating? Autism and other conditions that impair social communication are not lifestyle choices.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

            1. You guessed the company wrong, it is not HP.

            2. Autism and other conditions which impair social communications are not lifestyle choices. However there are jobs in IT where you have to work on customer site and your job is to get to the root of customer problems so you can feed back the results into development (for fixes), product development (for roadmap) and architecture. Having communicative disorders as well as obsessive/compulsive problems disqualifies you for such a position in 99% of the cases.

            3. If your core customers are not IT - let's say financial services, oil, etc having a life outside work is a definitive requirement if you work on customer sites. You have to be able to have a conversation about something else besides work with the customer do you like it or not and not come across like a complete imbecile. The fact that your interests and the customer interests are least likely to coincide is not relevant. It is more important to have at least some interests as this allows you to behave sanely and have a sane conversation.

            1. h4rm0ny

              Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

              You know I feel really sorry for all those people with Autism who AREN'T computer geniuses (you knpw, 98% of them). Ever since the Rain Man movie and ever since Aspergers became trendy, anyone remotely socially awkward is expected to be obsessively brilliant. It must be like when you're asked "what do Black people think of X' and you're like: "I don't know - we don't have comittees or a hive mind,"

              Some Aspergers types, they just want to stand on the platform and collect train numbers, you know? Stop putting all these expecations on them.

        2. Windrose

          Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

          'How about they call you at 02:00 in the morning because "the servers iz down". Are you supposed to say "nope, getting on with my life"?'

          Then they damn well better have put it in my contract up front that, at 0200, *I* am the one they call to fix the servers.

          Surely you grasped the point: it's not what you are HIRED to do which is a problem, but all the other things you are also expected to be in on - four hour overtime daily to get the badly mismanaged project (sorry, "badly mismanaged" is redudant) in on time, emergency call outs during the night to fix the webserver when you're hired to implement their new database, or the desperate mails during vacation time 'cause they don't want to spend money hiring enough people.

          IF my contract state I am to be available at 0200 - and they pay the extra blood money - then I'll be there as required. If not I'll work the normal hours. That latter statement makes me an undesirable employee, I bet. Life, outside the hours the company pay me to work. There's the point.

        3. Dazed and Confused

          Re: 9 to 5, chilling at Hewlett Packard

          When I was an HP employee there was an expectation of work hard / play hard and the company expected to pick up at least some of the bill to play hard.

          Oh how times have changed.

          But when I left there more than 20 years back, there were a lot more women in technical roles there than there are today. Over that time I've seen a steady decline at the customers I've worked with to a point approaching zero.

          It seems to vary from country to country. The US like the UK seems to have seem a steady drop off in the numbers of women in technical roles. Spain and Greece on the other hand can see a close to 50/50 split.

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        ob. xkcd

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Inachu

      Some women should not apply to IT jobs.

      One super large MLS realtor system on the east coast hires women and they turned the whole thing into a clique that new men hired are gawked at and you must FIT IN to the female raunchy EAT WITH US or have a short career. I left that company after the blonde intern stole my ideas as her own and she got the praise at the company meeting instead of me. Lying ans tealing is the female way to get ahead of men and stomping on their shoulders to get ahead.

      Next company I was at the women were better mannered but the females who did all the server work had men who were either equally or better certified than them used as slave to pick up the server for them and place them in and plug them in and wire them up for the females.

      Look if you can not do your job 100% on your own that you were hired to do then you have no business doing it at all.

      1. Blitterbug

        Re: Some women should not apply to IT jobs.

        Misogynistic much?

        1. Figgus

          Re: Some women should not apply to IT jobs.


          Are you going to claim that some women don't use their gender to their advantage whenever possible? (Some, not all)

          If it is fair to say that some men are sexist pigs (and some are), then it is also fair to say that women (some not all) play to that to get what they want.

      2. Goat Jam

        "Lying and stealing is the female way to get ahead"

        Oh, so you've met our Australian PM then?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My boss is a woman and is so very terrible at her job. She once told me to fix some code by "converting IPv6 addresses to IPv4". I don't expect everyone to know what that means, but someone in a highly technical position (like my boss) should. In short, remember playing with blocks as a kid and you had to put the big cube in the big hole? Well, she's 40-some years old and would fail at that (IPv6 is a big cube and IPv4 is a little hole). She had been a programmer on my team for over ten years before getting promoted to a manager. The only reason I can see her getting promoted is because she's the only woman on our 30+ person team (and being hispanic probably doesn't hurt, she's an affirmative action gold mine). She's the worst manager I've ever had and a below-average programmer.

      So do we need more women in IT? Here's the twist: YES! So few women go into IT that we have to promote the incompetent ones to prevent lawsuits. If a competent woman came along to replace my manager, I might like my job more.

      Anonymous, obviously.

      1. N2


        Im sure she likes to put big things in little holes?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        female managers

        I've been in the business for over 20 years and I have to say it, most of the female managers are completely useless. They may start off their career with a couple of years in the technological side of it, perhaps even programming, but they find it hard and long to leave it, and the natural way for them to go is into management.

        And I have across one male that struggled with the techy side and did the same, moved into management. Now he's running a team of people for an investment bank and probably making very good money, whilst the much bettery techy's get paid peanuts.

        There's too many managers that think that managing is just a case of knowing Prince 2.

        British women in Engineering and ICT? No way. I wouldn't give them any of my time.

        But, female Indians in engineering and ICT? Far more of them than British and can be significantly better too. But in general, I find the Indians aren't as good technically as British.

        And their culture? That's just something else, you have to believe it to see it. If you're not pushing them, every day, they'll sit and do nothing.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Affirmative action?

        Only if she was also Jewish and either black,or Asian, or a lesbian. But let's not go there...

        But you also miss a point. Good managers are not necessarily very technical.

        Managers are the ones who have excelled in the soft skills of software development.

    4. Mr Common Sense

      Uh oh!

      At least they'll have a white knight to the rescue.

  2. Rab Sssss

    Would you count my

    Self inflected gender bias comment?

  3. Rather Notsay
    Thumb Down

    Manny Manne

    I would never hire someone who cares whether or not working for me makes them look cool. Competence is the only key selection criteria.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Manny Manne

      And do you care that gender stereotyping and expectations lead to a gross gender imbalance in the IT work place? The article is correct. The Geek stereotype - a bizarre cultural export from the American school system which insists on pushing people into being either smart or cool - does indeed put many women off pursuing such a direction.

      No-one cares whether you think cool should be a factor in whether someone wants a job or not (though I don't believe you if you say that whether or not your job is respected of laughed at has had no affect on how you feel about it). The point is that if you get rid of the Geek stereotype and accept that programming is just another career like accountancy, architecture, whatever... then you will have a wider a choice of people to choose from on the basis of competence, which is what you say you care about. Ergo - Geek stereotype is harmful to your ability to hire competent people.

      I enjoy programming. I started off writing device drivers. Does it mean I want to talk to you about the latest Spiderman vs. Batman comic? No it does not. Please keep your American high school student's hang-ups out of my career choice.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Let me fix that for you:

        ...a bizarre cultural export from the Hollywood about a fictional American school system which insists on pushing people into being either smart or cool, and is eagerly consumed by UN and European Statists intent on imposing their world view on others...

        BTW: It's The Hulk vs. Superman comic book. Everybody knows Spidey and Bats team up to catch the bad guys.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Let me fix that for you:

          Sorry, but here nerds don't come to school with weapons and kill everybody in range. So there should be something really not working in US school system.

          1. Roger 11

            Re: Let me fix that for you:

            Nobody is immune.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't there just a study or other...

    ... where yoof in general thought tech was un-cool and to be avoided?

    Can't really fault girls for staying well away from toys the boys are staying away from. And, yeah, the field is full of menses that think they're smart and emancipated and yet turn out to be misogynists after all. Or perhaps being totally focused on things isn't "PC" enough to allow wimminses to like it. Or whatever. I don't really care.

    I do note, however, that time and again this or that's been written about it, nothing yields a convincing answer, and so a bit of panel-prattle from a day's happening full of bigwigs and other people that like to hear themselves talk isn't going to yield a useful answer either.

    I say the focus isn't useful. Fix education so that kids get a good solid backgrounder in and feel for the hard sciences, get them to understand what it's there for and how it helps everyone. Get them to use what they've learned in the rough-and-ready "have slide rule, will solve problem" sense.

    And if that means teaching math, physics, chemistry, electronics, computing fundamentals, whatever else, differently to girls than to boys, so be it. Though I doubt it needs to go that far.

    Enthousiastic, clueful teachers, regardless of anyone's gender, are a good and sorely-needed start. Then, and only then, does it begin to make sense to see what turns girls away from tech specifically.

    But without a base to build on, the supposed fixes will remain just as much treehugging as the "new math" and all the other crap that's crept into the curriculum. I mean, if even professors advocate stopping marking down things for poor language because there's too much rotten grammar and spelling in the papers they see, because the teachers spent more time "connecting the kids with their inner selves" than with teaching grammar, then there just isn't a serious basis for further learning there. You've failed as educators.

    Get your heads out of your arses and fix that first. And while at it, don't let yourself get sidetracked by religious loons seeking to poison science with their made-up agenda. But do note that their gaining traction was possible because science education has again failed to convey just what science is there for. Don't obsess over the children. They'll grow up this way or that way. Get them what they'll need. Fix their education.

    1. Windrose

      Re: Wasn't there just a study or other...

      "Fix education so that kids get a good solid backgrounder in and feel for the hard sciences, get them to understand what it's there for and how it helps everyone"

      Yes, well, no. First we need to fix society so it doesn't encourage parents to believe there is a car gene and raise their kids to fit.

  5. JohnG


    “Misguided school-age career counselling” is another problem, as it often suggests to young women that ICT careers are too hard or somehow unfeminine.

    No they don't - they keep trying to convince young women that IT is cool, with things like Women in Science and Engineering. They have been doing this since I was at university, 30 years ago. The snag is, when older folk tell teenagers that something is cool, they will have actually convinced them of the exact opposite.

    Another problem is that young women (and men) considering a career in IT may have noticed the impact of ICT* visas, where people from India are brought to the UK to fill IT jobs or the offshoring of IT jobs, all conspiring to reduce opportunities and salaries. They may also have noticed the significant percentage of graduates from IT related courses who cannot find employment. Careers in medicine, law or banking are likely to have better prospects and salaries, which is decidedly more cool than being jobless.

    *ICT = Intra Corporate Transfer, a sneaky way to have someone working in the UK under Indian terms and conditions.

    1. Tasogare

      Re: Cool?

      "They may also have noticed the significant percentage of graduates from IT related courses who cannot find employment."

      I find this confusing: Jobs in the field are hard to come by, yet somehow they're anticipating there to be more positions than people by two million over the next decade.

      How can there be both a shortage of positions and a shortage of workers? There is something bogus here.

      1. schubb

        Re: Cool?

        Quite simple..when posting for a job it goes something like this:

        Windows administrator Level II

        Must have :

        DNS, DHCP, Exchange, Sharepoint, SQL, auto repair experience, and television broadcasting license.

        Preferred in addition to Must have:

        Fluent programming skills in Java, Perl, VB, .NET, C, C++, COBOL, banjo playing skills

        Education required:

        15 years experience in computer Science, PhD in Computer Science, Masters in amphibian mating rituals preferred.

        Pay scale:

        See above Windows Administrator Level II, you aren't expecting above £22/hour right?

        Yes this is an exaggeration, but it is indicative of idiotic job requirements that employers are posting.

        1. Kevin 6

          Re: Re: Cool?

          Level II my ass that's the entry level requirements for $13 an hour by me

          You also forgot the must speak Swahili requirement (seriously I saw a few odd languages in posts for requirements)

          1. Kevin 6

            Re: Re: Cool?

            forgot (wish there was an edit button) most job posts say: must be able to lift 75-100lbs...

            1. stanimir

              Re: Cool?

              you mean bench?

      2. Brezhnev's Shadow

        Re: Cool?

        Change your surname completely in several different directions for fun on some of the applications to see what the differences might be...... in fact, just make your whole name the same as a notorious gangster from the recruiter's home town, tell them you "don't do that messy stuff anymore" ;)

    2. Vanir

      Re: Cool?

      What the hell does 'cool' mean?

      Is it just a peer-pressure artifact?

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Cool?

      You forgot one other problem: Science and IT are HARD WORK. And while hard work may* lead to better pay, rewarding experiences, and a successful life, it has never been COOL.

      *Your exact mileage may vary. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All of life comes with some risk, so be sure to consult your lawyer, doctor, accountant, insurance agent, and financial adviser.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Cool?

        "And while hard work may* lead to better pay, rewarding experiences, and a successful life, it has never been COOL."

        Really? So if you're a jet fighter pilot or an astronaut, that's not cool. The architects who designed the Chrysler building oversaw construction of the Burj Khalifa, you don't think they introduced themselves and everyone thought they were awesome? Or you don't think it's cool to have written or published a novel or who become state champion in MMA or to have studied and become a really good painter whose prints are sold in a local gallery. What is it you dispute? That people will look at such individuals and say: woah - cool,.Or that they're not hard work. Because they're definitely the latter and I'm pretty sure of the former. Many people, myself included, happen to think success is also cool in and of itself. Or perhaps you are working some No True Scotscool angle and only certain types of social recognition count as social recognition^H^H cool. So why should the hard work* of programming not be similarly well regarded but be tarred with this geek label?

        (*I don't actually think programming is particularly hard work. No more so than most jobs anyway. It just takes practice, a bit of study and a methodical approach. But what do I know. I started off doing C for embedded systems though. Maybe HTML is harder or something.)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cool?

      This posting is so true. I have never seen such a massive influx of Indian immigrant workers as the last few years.

      One conduit for them to get into the country is via BT. I swear to God, I believe the Indians are deliberately applying to BT Tech Mahindra in India as a vehicle to get into the UK.

      The come to the UK on a work visa, they stay for long enough, bring their wife over, they then leave BT Tech Mahindra and apply for jobs with other companies here, then in time they apply for an 'indefinite leave to remain' visa.

      And the nepotism is unbelievable. And very strongly to the detriment of genuine English born workers.

      We recruited an indian senior IT manager 3 years ago, every person he has recruited since then (with the recent exception of 1) has been indian. He's completely transformed our organisation (and for the worse), whilst he surrounds himself with people which he can control and bully, he chooses submissive Indians which won't say boo to a goose, that will do exactly what he tells them to do, no matter how unprofessional it is, in order to hide his grave failings from his bosses.

      Every Indian knows 500 other Indians, and when ever a vacancy comes up, you discover: 1) that the new recruit has worked for BT Tech Mahindra at some point in the recent past, 2) that the new indian recruit knows several employees already within the company and almost certainly one of them has told them about the job advertisement.

      The network amongst them is unbelievable.

  6. heyrick Silver badge


    So this guy wants to appeal to the lesser (in IT) gender, doesn't want to be patronising, and wishes to show that either gender can pursue a career as a bona fide geek...

    ...and he does this by calling women "girls"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eh?

      Actually over the Sum of "New Wave" High Tech the ratio is probably not that bad.

      For every geeky computer engineer out there, there is a geeky lady in a white overall messing about with stem cells in a biotech startup :)

      So for every Mr Hacker there is a Miss Plague :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh?

        Yep, and I married her...and was subsequently divorced by same.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Eh?

          Look on the bright side: at least she didn't use you as her next plague test subject.

    2. frank ly

      Re: Eh?

      These events are targeted at school/college aged females, hence the word 'girls'.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have enough..

    jens already.

  8. Oninoshiko

    wait, what?

    Maybe half the problem is they are asking female managers, not female IT workers.

    Seriously, take a look at that list of titles. Not one of them has done serious IT work in years.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some of the Best Geeks I know

    are Girl Geeks.

    1. Ambivalous Crowboard
      Thumb Up

      Re: Some of the Best Geeks I know

      Some of the friendliest, approachable geeks I know are also girl geeks ("girl" loosely, age range from 18 to 40).

  10. Rob 5
    Thumb Down


    So the "popular media" has never portrayed characters such as Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds, Willow in Buffy and that hot genius chick in NCIS Los Angeles. Right.

    I don't know whether the ITU has always been a joke, because I only started paying attention to them after they started trying to Balkanize the Internet, but this screed seems about as credible as the mutterings of my old careers teacher, who told us all to prepare for assembly line work in the factory, 'cos that was the best we could hope for. Several of us went the Oxbridge route, others did well in different ways.

    If you were any good at something, anything, you'd be doing it instead of being a "careers counselor".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bollocks.

      Sure, most of the time media portrays an "IT girl" she's "hot" (because it sells, if you hire a young actress you hire an "hot" one for any role, if you're the average media guy) . But when they portray the "IT guy", he's usually a nerd, fat, graceless, coarse, and clumsy outside IT. The environment you will work in is as much important as the role you aspire. Girls wouldn't like to be the "hot chick" among a herd of nerds. They would like to be among the nice, clever, elegant (and often rich) boys.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Bollocks.

        The above is true. These shows have to be produced by men. They think that showing the woman as "hot" and cool, amongst a bunch of nerdy losers is showing women in a postive light. Instead of asking themself what woman wants to be the only female in a group of nerdy, socially awkward losers. It's not (much) like that in real life in the UK. Why does it have to be shown that way?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bollocks.

          It doesn't matter if they are produced by men or women. Both knows that the "hot" actress sells the show better even in the "stooge" role (probably because we men are more stupid than women when selecting shows), while that's not true for men. Especially if the main role is performed by a man, the male "stooge" must be dumber and funny to make the main one look more brilliant, while the female one needs usually to be "hot", because a successful man always has "hot chicks" nearby.

          Moreover, it is funny to see while IT has become pervasive in actual society, IT roles in shows are still very few and often as described above - or he is the "evil one" trying to create havoc with his knowledge.

      2. I think so I am?

        Re: Bollocks.

        "But when they portray the "IT guy", he's usually a nerd, fat, graceless, coarse, and clumsy outside IT"

        I always find this funny, mainly because quite a few of the IT Guy's/Geeks I know all tend to be big into Triathlon, squash and extreme sports.

        Its maybe just an over run from school when they did study all the time and never spent all their time parting and pissing away a future life.

        I can't wait for my school reunion in 10 years, where so many of the "cool" kids are now loser adults.

  11. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    No role models?

    Felicia Day.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Tut-tut. (was: Re: No role models?)

      Admiral Hopper.

      We are talking reality here, aren't we?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Tut-tut. (was: No role models?)

        Felicia Day double majored in Mathematics and Music Performance and the University of Texas. She is accomplished in quite a few fields of geekery of her own right before we start getting into her career as an actress.

        Maybe you should not judge a book by your prejudices of what the cover might or might not say. You know, like the whole point of the article? The queen of the internets is indeed a role model for women nerds of all kinds. From music and maths to acting straight through the truly nerdy pursuits such as tabletop gaming and D&D.

        The point of the article is that women feel discouraged from ICT because of the nerdy image. Geek isn’t “cool,” and/or is filled with misogynistic twats, and/or the pursuits of the nerdier members aren’t fun excepting to a small subset of humanity, etc.

        I believe that the queen of the internets manages to prove handily – to both genders – not only that female nerds can be awesome, but that they can be fun, attractive, humorous and desirable.

        Admiral Hopper is another good example, as is Marissa Meyer and many, many others. The point is that there are indeed role models. From straight-up engineers to more conventional examples. All throughout ICT and nerddom at large.

        Now, the fact that some of you lot who remember vacuum tubes with fondness and consistently misplace your teeth so narrowly limit your vision of what a “real” nerd or a “real” practitioner of ICT is to an engineer with an iron ring may in fact mean that you are exactly the kind of douchenozzles that women don’t want to work with. Nerddom in general is larger than that, as is the field of ICT.

        Well actually, I think may just be kind of douchnozzles that people in general don’t want to work with, but that’s an entirely separate debate...

    2. h4rm0ny
      IT Angle

      Re: No role models?

      Since when is Felicia Day an Engineer???

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Felicia Day

        Felicia Day doesn't play mere Engineers! She plays Boffins!

        She's also a very nice person in real life. Got to meet her at DragonCon where there were lots and lots of female geeks and nerds.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: Felicia Day

          So you're saying that an actress who plays scientists on TV is a role model for female engineers and programmers? There are tonnes of highly skiled female engineers and programmers. These are role models. An actress is a role model for people who want to act! She may be a very nice person in real life (I've never met her) but your whole comment about female geeks and nerds just confused the Hell out of me. What has DragonCon got to do with programming? Why is the presence of women at DragonCon relevant to women being turned off programming? Please tell me you are not confusing an interest in dragons with studying computer science or similar!

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Felicia Day

            A) There's more to ICT than programming.

            B) She is a programmer as well, which was my point; being an actress is one amongst her many talents, and not even the one she spends most of her time at or earns the majority of her revenue from. (I would in fact argue that would be project management.) The fact that most IT nerds can't look past the surface of things is a big reason for women not to want to have anything to do with ICT, and you are very sadly falling into that trap.

            C) Working in ICT - for better or worse - means having some understanding of the culture that a significant chunk of ICT nerds wholeheartedly embrace. Felicia Day proves that you can not only understand this culture, but embrace it wholeheartedly without being “uncool,” or otherwise falling into some nerdy stereotype.

            In other words, here is a woman with a Math degree, who does indeed program, is a writer, director, actress, musician, entrepreneur and more besides. She proves you can be a nerd and still engage in other hobbies. She proves that being a nerd can be a positive thing.

            For all intents and purposes, she proves that being a mathematician, programmer and other such “nerdly” pursuits doesn’t mean not having a life. She demonstrates that there need not be a reason to fear being a nerd.

            Though you are doing your damndest to give a damned good reason why perhaps people should be.

            Beer, because live a little.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Felicia Day

              Against my common sense, I eyeballed this person's website. She's an actor. And a wannabe singer. And a wannabe producer. She is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination an "IT goddess" who I would recommend to my nieces at as a roll model ...

              Methinks Mr. Pott has a crush on her, and has lost his sense of reason.

              Beer, because it's Friday evening & there is about to be a ballgame on telly :-)

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Felicia Day

                Who said anything about "goddess," oaf?

                Yes, her day job is as an actress. She does some singing, a lot of producing, directing, writing and is a hell of a musician with a number of different instruments. That’s cool, and fine, but the point is that she is a geek.

                One who knows how to fix her own computer, knows how to program in a few different languages and otherwise has geeky credentials in addition to the acting. You might disdain that she chose acting instead of STEM, (despite having the background to pursue any of a dozen STEM careers,) but frankly, who the hell are you to judge anyone?

                Is she an all-star engineer or programmer? No. She’s a geek, and one that demonstrates that you can be a geek without being an introverted, socially inept buffoon. That’s important, because a reasonable number of women fear getting into anything STEM related because they fear becoming a socially inept dork. Bizarrely, to people without aspersers, things like the ability to socialise with other human beings matters. Our species is funny that way.

                At the end of the day however, the number one reason people fear going into IT, jake, is working next to people like you.

                Can’t say I blame them.

                1. jake Silver badge

                  Re: Felicia Day

                  My wife can do all that this woman does with computers. My wife's a horse trainer/breeder and my right-hand-person here at the Ranch (or maybe I'm her right-hand-person ... blurry line there). My wife is not a geek. She's a horse trainer.

                  Ability to use a computer & tehintrawebtubes doth not a geek make. It just makes you a tool user. Which is kinda what makes HomoSap HomoSap.

                  I'm not judging her, Mr. Pott, I'm commentarding on your opinion. It'd totally crack me up to have her weigh in here ... pardon while I drop her an email with a link ;-)

                  And might I add that the type of ad hominem commentardary that you have been displaying here *probably* keeps more people out of IT than my realistic view of the world.

                  As a side note, that's "Asperger syndrome" or "AS", not "aspersers". Unfortunately for my IT career, I do not have that particular issue. I have hired many folks who do, though.

                2. h4rm0ny

                  Re: Felicia Day

                  What a lot of personal attacks. You don't seem to understand people's issues. I've never met her. She may well be very gifted at mathematics. And that's a good thing. She may also be a wonderful person. (Though we'll just put down the "Queen of the Internets" thing to your crush, shall we?). The point is that you keep raving about how she is a "Geek" and the question that is being put to you is how on Earth does being a "geek" make one a role-model for people wanting to become programmers? You talk about her playing scientists on TV or computer games or appearing at "Dragoncon". I fail to see what any of these have to do with computer programming. There seems to be some incredible short in your brain whereby being a "geek" (which I interpret as some American High School export vaguely to do with being into comics and computer games) has to do with, e.g. being a programmer or an engineer. There's no intrinsic link - just this weird sub-culture that infects the profession in the USA. It doesn't match up with my actual professional experience in the business in over a decade as a programmer. There have been some people in places I've worked that were into comics. A few more that were into gaming (as that's a pretty mainstream hobby). And the occasional one that had a beard and smelled bad (one). But of the three biggest "geeks" in my professional and social circle, two of them are unemployed and couldn't write Hello World. A third is a nice guy but works in Sales (similarly knows nothing about IT) and a fourth who likes to talk about Star Trek is, quite frankly, a really lousy programmer (though slowly getting better).

                  There's no intrinsic link between IT work and "geek culture", barely a superficial one. And when looking for role-models for female IT professionals, you keep touting someone because they are a "geek". That's the issue. Felicia Day - having done a quick search - is stunningly attractive. From what you've said, she's also very smart. So by all means have your enormous Internet crush on her. I could practically have one myself if I were inclined. But please stop saying that a role-model for a young girl with an interest in programming, is an actress and celebrity gamer, rather than, you know, someone who is actually a female programmer by profession.

                  And if, by any chance, Felicia Day reads this - please accept my apologies and be assured I'm not denigrating anything about you. I'm just taking issue with Trevor_Pott's stereotyping and muddled thinking. Because the Geek image *does* put people off programming. Girls and boys, I'm sure of it. The sooner we can detach this "Geek" image from an otherwise fun but ordinary profession, the better for the field. No career should have a cultural stereotype attached to it which dissuades people from outside that culture from trying it.

                  1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                    Re: Felicia Day

                    It's interesting to me to see your prejudices showing through in your comments.

                    Obviously if a male respects a female, he must "have an enormous crush on her," right? There's no other possible reason. Personally, I think she's cute; but frankly, not that cute. There's no reason to go ga-ga over Felicia Day because of sheer looks; Hollywood provides us dozens of tarted up this-or-that that are far more to my personal taste, even several who play geeks on TV.

                    Secondly, I didn't yammer on about her playing scientists on TV. That's a day job, as far as I am concerned, and something that you have chosen to focus on. It’s frankly the element of her professional and hobbiest life I find least interesting. (Honestly, I’m far more interested in her musicianship and writing.)

                    But whether or not you choose to admit it, people do avoid ICT and STEM jobs because of the “geek” stigma. They don’t want to be around geeks. They don’t want to BECOME geeks. Whether or not ICT and STEM fields are in fact populated by geeks (and to what actual percentage) is irrelevant. perceptions of such is huge.

                    So there are important classes of people in my mind that we need to get out in front of those who would be turned off by working next to raging geeks. The first are individuals like Felicia Day who is in fact a gigantic geek…but also pulls that off as “okay.” She’s not an introvert, she’s not shunned, she’s not the kind of person you chain to a desk and throw snickers bars at over the roof while yelling “keep working.”

                    She’s popular. She’s respected. She’s even fawned over by a reasonable chunk of 20-somethings. The concept that geeks aren’t scary – and can in fact be awesome – is important for the short term. Because in the short term, there is still a significant chunk of the population that cannot separate “raging geek” from ICT or STEM. So we need to make “being a geek” okay.

                    The next sort of person that is important to get out there are ICT/STEM workers who have nothing to do with geekdom at all. Gearheads, outdoors types, gardeners, writers, you-name it. Demonstrate a diversity within the field that shows a lack of cultural monoculture.

                    Unlike you however, I see that both are absolutely necessary. I understand the engineer’s approach of “picture only the best possible scenario and work towards that,” but we aren’t’ dealing with machines. We’re dealing with people. Group dynamics on a scale of hundreds of millions. That means planning for transitionary events, and spending more time planning on how to get from “extant to perfect” as it does trying to design the perfect solution itself.

                    It may well be that we will never separate ICT/STEM from the geek mystique, so we need people like Felicia Day to make geekiness seem “okay.” At the same time, we need to strongly encourage non-geeks so that all these related fields experience a diversity of experience, opinion and viewpoint.

                    So Felicia Day is a good role model in my mind. She is one of two necessary types. One that demonstrates that “geek can be cool.” Not just fake geeks “as seen on TV,” but she’s a real geek, in real life, with real geekly skills and qualifications. Even if you yourself don’t aspire to geekdom, it’s a wonderful thing to have this person out there showing geeks aren’t to be feared.

                    But this conversation has a much darker side. Certainly there are commenters in this thread who can’t help by try to define ICT/STEM according to their own beliefs. You yourself are guilty: constantly equating ICT with “programming,” to the apparent exclusion of all the other skillsets involved in ICT.

                    Others push engineering, some will push maths…but the point is that it is all absolutist thinking. Rigid, inflexible. “This is what it means to be X” is just one more way of saying those who want to enter the field must rigidly conform to something.

                    The correct approach is to take each and every individual on their own merits, and see what they bring to the table. There’s a hell of a lot more to ICT and STEM than programming, or engineering, than maths or any other one skill/belief/cultural element you can name.

                    So I do not proclaim Felicia Day as “the one true role model for aspiring ICT/STEM entrants.” I think she is one amongst many that are important, though for reasons you may not grasp. Similarly, I think Admiral Hopper is important, for completely different reasons. I’d also list Marie Curie, Maud Menten, Jane Goodall, Sally Ride and Marissa Meyer (off the top of my head) as relevant role models to ICT and/or STEM, each and every one for a different reason.

                    The absolutist binary thinking of people in this thread scares me. On/off. This or that. “Addresses all cases or none of them.”

                    “Why don’t more [people in general, with women as an important subset] go into ICT and/or STEM” is a hugely complex topic. All sorts of people are needed to help solve it. What isn’t needed is snark, condescension and constantly trying to put people in boxes.

                    Solving the recruitment problem requires both making geeks less scary and the long, slow slog of decoupling geekdom from ICT/STEM in the public eye.


                    Not OR.


                    First; you are correct, I did lash out at jake. That’s because I personally dislike him. Intensely. He may be playing the roll of troll online, or he may in fact be a gigantic douchenozzle in real life. The effect as far as I am concerned is identical. He is a downer. He rarely has anything positive to say, constantly criticises everything and everyone, except when he is agreeing with someone else’s criticism.

                    Most of his criticism is in the form of unprovable statements of opinion, and/or statements that are – at best – controversial. (I.E. there is no preponderance of evidence to prove his hypothesis versus any of the competing ones.) Indeed, he will often make statements that go against the preponderance of evidence, but which he asserts to be true because of his vastly superior intellect having carefully considered his personal experiences and extrapolated the sum totality of the human condition and the optimal life choices for all human beings on the face of this earth.

                    So I fell entirely confident in saying that his personality would remain a blight on any field he chose to occupy, and that any field evidencing a statistically higher-than-average percentage of individuals like him is likely to become one avoided by any number of subgroups.

                    Secondly, to put the pointless speculation about my “internet crush” to bed, Felicia Day isn’t it. I respect her immensely, but she is in the same category to me as Wil Wheaton: someone I want to interview, talk about their successes and failures, pick their brains and maybe even play some DnD with. My interest is professional, with respect for their roles as ambassador for my subculture.

                    They serve a role to me similar to that of “politician.” They represent a group of people (geeks), and we have elected them by popular acclaim. I’d certainly prefer them representing my subculture than Stephen Fry!

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Mr. Pott.

                      You have talent as a writer. I'd personally like to see more of your output over the years. Unfortunately, you seem to have issues with criticism. Which is part & parcel of writing publicly. Lashing out at critics isn't a good career path. If you have a mentor, I strongly suggest you have them review this thread with you.

                      If you don't have a mentor, get one.

                      Beer, because ... well, just because.

                    2. h4rm0ny

                      Re: Felicia Day

                      "It's interesting to me to see your prejudices showing through in your comments. Obviously if a male respects a female, he must "have an enormous crush on her," right?"

                      No, it was your multiple paragraphs talking about how lovely she was, that she was the "Queen of the Internets", how you'd got to meet her at Dragoncon, that you've now written 20+ paragraphs on this and the general squeeing. So don't state that I think the only reason a man might respect a woman is because he fancies her. I'm talking about you and your extended praise for her for things that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.

                      "But whether or not you choose to admit it, people do avoid ICT and STEM jobs because of the “geek” stigma. They don’t want to be around geeks. They don’t want to BECOME geeks"

                      I'm starting to think you're actually not very bright. I've been saying repeatedly that the geek stereotype puts people off a career in programming et al. You repeatedly respond by holding up Felicia Day as an example of a Geek who is popular / successful / whatever. When the point that I have stated so clearly that everyone but you seems to get it, is that the Geek stereotype should not have anything to do with programming at all in the first place. Everything else is irrelevant. Get rid of IT stereotypes and no-one has to give a shit whether geek is seen as cool, ostrasized or anything else. The more you get rid of cultural stereotypes associated with a career, the more *everyone* is free to pursue that career without worrying about social implications.

                      And yet you still have this incredible short-circuit in your brain, implicit in throughout your epic post where you talk about "making geeks less scary" or putting Felicia Day in the same role model category as Grace Hopper or Marie Curie! You think "Geek" is part of IT. It isn't. Most of the geek type people I know have nothing to do with IT. Most of the IT people I know have little to do with Geekiness.

                      We don't need or want to "make geekiness seem okay" as you put it. We want to get rid of the whole idea that "geekiness" has any intrinsic connection to IT. How, when I've explained that clear as day mutliple times, you can still keep coming back to the idea that Felicia Day is a role model for female programmers and IT workers, is at this point just mystifying. I think the problem with recruiting women to IT is someone like you. I picture you waiting at the door of a University saying to girls "hey - I'm glad you're okay with being a geek. Don't worry, it's really cool to be a geek. Look at Felicia Day. She's popular". It makes no more sense to me than if you greeted architecture students the same way, or music students, or History students.

                      You're like a medieval theologian who can't get their head around the concept of atheism, who keeps failing to understand that your Geek subculture is utterly irrelevant to most of us who work in IT. It's a weird US export that's not really wanted by the rest of us who just want to work in IT because we find it a satisfying career.

                      And as you seem provoked into writing multiple refutations of any notion that you fancy Felicia Day, methinks the lady doth protest too much. Having looked her up, she's stunningly beautiful and I can't imagine many straight men not wanting to be with her. She looks like most of us could only dream of looking. But unless she's actually a programmer, she's hardly a role-model for girls who want to be programmers. Just try to get that into your head.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. jake Silver badge


    The tech world has always been about ability. Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach[1].

    My daughter can code circles around me in the C-based languages. She's drawing about 65% more total annual compensation in her job than I ever did in my 9-5 career. I think she's awesome!

    [1]I teach. I taught her :-)

  13. deadlockvictim

    Women in IT

    In my 20 years in college and the working world, I have only met one female sysadmin (self-taught, as one tends to be), a few female programmers (and they didn't remain as programmers) and a few female DBAs (almost all of whom are Indian, Chinese or from the former Communist Bloc).

    Those women I know who studied Computer Science in the 90's have gone on to work in the Civil Service (but not at the codeface, so to speak) or become technical analysts, writing documentation, user stories and generally being responsible for the translation of business logic in technical documents. None of them, that I know of, have stopped what they were doing on account of motherhood.

    I suppose, if I had to summarise in general terms, all of these women seem to chosen fields where there is much more human contact than there is at the codeface.

    One last point: when I was stuying science in the 1990s, roughly half of the students overall were female in both first year and fourth year. The proportion of women to men was much higher in the biological sciences and conversely lower in the physical and chemical sciences. Computer Science was about one third women. The Engineering faculty was even worse. they had about 10% women, if what I was told was correct. Excluding the students of Computer Science, the dept of Mathemathics, however, had more women than men.

    To what extent is this nurture / social influence and to what extent is nature? Is the whole engineering aspect so unappealing to women?

    1. Brezhnev's Shadow

      Re: Women in IT

      Isn't the basic deal that any subjects that might be imagined to have a significant component of maths or have definite exam (shock!) answers that aren''t a matter of debate, and also can't easily be learned by rote or submitted slowly in low volume as part of term-based-modules, are avoided? Have to say a lot of guys have headed down this route too, generally because they were slackers at heart - History of Art and Royals anyone? ;)

  14. Joe 48

    We have loads

    We have quite a few women in our office, around 60%. In our first and second line teams there are more women than men. Oddly there are no women in the 3rd line team, simply we've never had one apply for the role when ones been available. We also have a few female programmers too.

    I struggle to see the image problem these days. Back when computers were new then the engineers were no doubt 'nerds', these days though everyone understands and uses technology. In my opinion everyone who owns a smartphone, the internet, streams movies, posts on social networks is a geek, which I define to be someone who embraces and uses technology, not just supports it.



      Everyone USES technology.

      Few people UNDERSTAND it.

    2. Ambivalous Crowboard

      Re: Oddly there are no women in the 3rd line team

      Same here. Third line is 100% male, and that's only because the women in our IT team don't /want/ to be in third line.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So what?

    There seems to be a huge amount of effort trying to get women into IT. How come there is no effort in trying to have more male nurses or school teachers? Anyone ever hear of international conferences trying to get more men into nursing or teaching? Thought not.

    Why is women not liking or wanting to do IT a problem anyway?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what?

      because if there's an industry with too few men its because men aren't interested in the role. If there's an industry with too few women its because men are keeping them out of the roles one way or another. Events like this are bught on by feminazis pulling unrelated figures out of their collective asshole and claiming its the fault of men, when its simply a case of women aren't interested in the career.

      And yet its these same people who advocate sexist measures like women only jobs / classes / lessons and clubs, even though the male only counterparts are no longer allowed, lest they be shot down as sexist.

      1. JC_

        @AC 07.47

        5 upvotes for a post blaming "feminazis"? Isn't this exactly the mysogynistic attitude that discourages females from working in the tech-industry? It's certainly a strange attitude to have.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So what?

        Of course, it could be that people compare figures from different countries and when they see significant disparities identify it as a cultural problem rather than something related to gender biology. For example, in Portugal college mathematics is female-dominated, while male students gravitate to prestige subject of engineering. Naturally Portuguese would find the idea, sometimes heard in the UK, that girls can't do maths rather silly.

        Similarly academics may study performance metrics from single-sex and co-educational education and find that girls perform better in single-sex education while boys do better in a mixed environment. Also, academics may also find that boys and girls have different learning styles. So, while teaching style has historically been changed to suit girls better (having identified a performance deficit in secondary education) there's some advocacy for mixed schools with single-sex classes to help improve average performance.

        Not being concerned about men in nursing is easily explained: women can be paid less to do the same job. Which, if you think about it, provides economic imperative to get more women in all industries.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what?

      Actaully there has been a huge push to get male teachers into schools. Still no need to use a search engine, as I have provided some lnks for you.

      1. deadlockvictim

        Re: So what?

        I, personally, would be scared to become a teacher. All it takes is one student to complain about inappropriate behaviour and your career is ruined. Such accusations never go away.

        1. Dcope

          Re: So what?

          Having worked in primary schools, i couldnt teach the kids without wanting to give half of them a good clip round the ear, thinks that why theres so few of them any more.

          (And yes i got a few clips myself from teachers growing up, hurt at the time but dont hold it against them now im older and wiser)

        2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge


          ... and that's cited as the number one reason why men don't get involved in primary-school teaching anymore.

          On women in IT - The "nerd" image is possibly due to the larger portion of people with mild Autism-spectrum disorders who work in IT compared to other industries (compare with the disproportionate number of building architects who have dyslexia, or the number of social workers who are innumerate), but most of the people I work with are male, but also communicative, empathic, understanding and friendly. However, as such, they don't stick out from the general population. Stereotypes are always exaggerated, but they come to define industries.

          This isn't a female thing, either: I (a male) feel the same way about the image of IT. Despite being a programmer for nearly 30 years, I have never identified with the "nerd", "geek" or "hacker" stereotypes. In fact, I think they're ultimately bad for the industry, because they are self-fulfilling, and will eventually leave us with a population of obsessive monomaniacs who will struggle to meet the needs of customers who are drawn from a much more diverse population.

          If only "nerds" are valued in programming roles (and I'm looking at Google, here, as one of the worst examples of this hiring policy), eventually that's all you'll get in the industry.

          You don't need to be super-brainy to be a programmer: imagination, a grasp of logical reasoning and an ability to write clearly will get you very far. The thing is, at the age where kids make their university (and thus career) choices, girls and boys have very different values. Girls of this age value community and friendship much more highly - often excessively so - than boys do, and any career that has such strong connotations with being an outsider will never appeal to them, regardless of their ability to do well in it.

  16. ChrisCabbage

    Interestingly, when I visit my company's Bangalore office, I'd say there was easily an equal number of female and male software engineers.

    Any thoughts/opinions on why that might be when compared with the situation here in the UK?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Because some of the ones in the UK are actually competent in IT (regardless of gender)?

    2. Brezhnev's Shadow

      I'll take this one ;)

      While it's technically possible your company may have sited its office there on a mission to specifically hunt down all the Admiral Grace Hoppers of the subcontinent, I feel they may actually be interested in other criteria, hence the population distribution of the office oddly more resembling the non-IT part of the population :P

  17. nexsphil

    I'd be happy about this

    Women are a nightmare in the workplace. They'll stab all backs necessary to get the poxy extra 5k promotion. All too frequently amoral, conniving and treat the workplace like their own personal playground for bitching. No interest in company profit - total interest in appearances and their position as alpha female.

    Not universal, but yes, all too common.

    1. Corinne

      Re: I'd be happy about this

      That's odd - bar one particular manager many years ago, it's always been MEN who have screwed me over in the office (in the metaphorical sense of course!). Often not even for promotion, but just so they are seen in a better light than me or to transfer the blame for their screw ups

    2. Yag

      "No interest in company profit - total interest in appearances and their position"

      This is the basic definition of most managers I ever met...

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: I'd be happy about this

      So basically the same as men, then?

  18. stanimir

    Look at the title: Manager of Global Public Policy for Facebook. the lady is just not an IT person. The next best thing would be getting the marketing dept and ask them why no gurl is coding your servers.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    What A Load Of Bull$hit

    The politcally incorrect truth is that girls are turned off by dealing with machines for weeks and months without end.

    Evolution made female Homo Sapiens the Child-Care-Giver and it is quite hardwired into their brains. Equally, men don't have breasts and have been traditionally been responsible for doing stuff outside the nest; which includes building thinhs, houses, bridges and of course war. War is very much related to technology and has ever been. Those with a better longbow can kill both animals and competing clans better than others. So men have technology hardwired into their brains. Little kids feel much more comfortable with women than men. Probably also hardwired.

    So what ? It is incompatible with Feminist Dogma ? Yeah, then better suppress it and pretend some crap ideology is the truth. Forget the scientifc principle if it concerns any sort of idealist matron.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: What A Load Of Bull$hit

      V. funny. Oh wait, you're serious? Okay then, I presume as a rational male, you like the scientific method, i.e. you are willing to put your hypothesis (it's not worth calling a theory) to an actual test.

      If it's biological in basis, how come you see vastly different gender ratios along cutural lines? How come in India there is a massively massive bigger proportion of women as programmers than in the USA? How come the farther East you drift from the USA, across Europe and into Asia, you see less and less gender division in IT?

      I await your unsupported, unresearched assertions that somehow positive cultural influences outside the USA (which of course should be considered the Natural state), overwhelm the underlying biological tendencies that you have faith *ahem* sorry, that you know to be there.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: What A Load Of Bull$hit

        Some points:

        A) Kids do indeed feel more comfortable with women, especially when they are small, sleepy or sick. Open your eyes or ask your friends who have kids. Even if daddy tries his very best.

        B) Girls are indeed much more fascinated by dogs, horses and all sorts of other mammals than boys. Just visit the local horse farmer and you will see. I count that on the mammal care-for-cute-mammal instinct.

        C) Girls are much more likely to enter certain educational routes such as Nurse, Midwife, Childcare, Teacher, Coiffeur - professionals related to dealing with human beings.

        D) Technologies invented by women suck. Just have a look at COBOL and compare it with FORTRAN.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What A Load Of Bull$hit

          @Wilbut - You are John McCririck ICMFP

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What A Load Of Bull$hit

          @ Wilbur

          You're wasting your breath mate. Libtards won't listen to you because you have the audacity to hold a viewpoint that differs from their own.

          It doesn't matter that you're right, any ability to reason that they might possess will be utterly consumed in a tidal wave of self-righteous fury which manifests itself as a massive hissy-fit.

        3. h4rm0ny

          Re: What A Load Of Bull$hit

          So basically, run, run, run away from actual empirical evidence and fall back on argument by assertion that "girls are indeed more fascinated by dogs and horses". :D :D :D

          I only asked a very simple logical question. And you scarpered away from even pretending to answer it and hid behind logic that would make a Creationist blush. Too funny. As to programming languages created by men and women, first and foremost, they are programming languages created by *people*.

          Anyway, I would like to thank you for helping undermine the idea that men are inherently more logical than women. By existing.

    2. Windrose

      Re: What A Load Of Bull$hit

      "Forget the scientifc principle if it concerns any sort of idealist matron."


      "Equally, men don't have breasts" - apply scientific thought to that one, and get back to us on the result, please.

      "... and have been traditionally been responsible for doing stuff outside the nest" - tradition is not, much to the sadness of many, evolution.

      "So men have technology hardwired into their brains"

      Eliza Murfey, 1870, patented 16 devices for improving bearings for rairoad-car axles.

      Mary Walton, 1879, created a method for reducing emissions from smoke stacks.

      Mary Anderson, 1903, invented the windshield wiper.

      Randice-Lisa Altschul, 1999, a number of patents for a disposable cell phone.

      Erna Schneider Hoover, 1954, created the computerized telephone switching system

      Patsy Sherman, 1973, patent for Scotchguard.

      Let's not even talk of Marie Curie, Grace Hopper or even Lady Ada.

      Some men can't assemble IKEA shelves. Some can't change tires. To claim they have technology hardwired into their brains is to say some men are braindamaged.

      Scientific principle my arse.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's because there's no fit blokes innit?

    Perhaps the females who are dissuaded from taking up a certain career path because of the image portrayed by the media, would be better suited to something like, oh , i dunno...Beauty Therapy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's because there's no fit blokes innit?

      If that keeps them away from engineering I am all for it. Can't they do research on that subject ??

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'Oh no, not again' - David Bowie, 'Ashes To Ashes' (1980)

    Or, to paraphrase Shaw, 'Must we have a 'Get More Women Into IT' drive in every generation / For the benefit of those who have no imagination?'

    Clue :- What IT needs is not more women. It needs fewer of a certain type of men. Then the women will arrive naturally. Same reason, in fact, that there are virtually no men in Weight Watchers.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Oh no, not again' - David Bowie, 'Ashes To Ashes' (1980)

      "What IT needs is not more women. It needs fewer of a certain type of men."

      What, you meqan the nerdy types who are bloody good with computers? Yeah , great idea, swap them for some touchy feely metrosexuals instead. They might not know one end of a usb stick from the other but they'll be a great shoulder to cry on when Sharon has another bust up with her boyfriend.

      Meanwhile, how shall we persuade all those women who like being around small children to leave primary school teaching so we can persuade tough guys to do it?

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: 'Oh no, not again' - David Bowie, 'Ashes To Ashes' (1980)

        What an odd reply. It presupposes that men who take care of their appearance or look good are less technically adept than men who don't. As there seems no logical basis for this, we can propose a bias on your part and suggest that you are probably one of the "types of men" that are being criticised. But despite your leaping to characterise the OP's position as wanting more metrosexuals who "Sharon" can turn to when she has a bust up with her boyfriend, I think it's more reasonable to suspect the OP is talking about creepy guys who see women less as people and more as entities defined by their gender. You know, like you do in your post?

  22. Tim 11

    It's in the genes - everyone knows girls can't understand computers ;-)

    we don't believe it but someone had to say it

  23. Spoonsinger

    Just save that Excel document luv and make us a cuppa tea.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just save that Excel document luv and make us a cuppa tea.

      Lol, there's now an office-based episode of Monkfish playing in my head.

  24. Cameron Colley

    I thought the geeks went ages ago?

    Perhaps in my not so varied career I've worked somewhere that's fundamentally different to most but in my last place of employment I could count the number of geeks on the fingers of one hand. I've come across far more women in IT than geeks.

    I thought nowadays IT was a service industry like any other and "soft skills" were what mattered.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I thought the geeks went ages ago?

      Depends on what kind of IT you work in. Some sectors (i.e. security) are far more geeky than say, financial one, and companies actually developing software may be more geeky than those simply selling services. Good IT needs people loving their job, but that doesn't mean they are nerdy. Sure, you may find more introvert people than extrovert ones, any scientific or technical skill is favored by the capability of "full immersion" into it, people who can't concentrate and need to talk to everybody in one mile radius are usually less adapt.

      One of the problem is our society has a very bad opinion of introversion. That's not autism or any kind of disease or pathology. It's just some people like to spend some time alone focusing on something interesting - but in the "social" world that will soon become illegal! :D

      1. Tasogare

        Re: I thought the geeks went ages ago?

        "It's just some people like to spend some time alone focusing on something interesting - but in the social world that will soon become illegal!"

        It hasn't already? In my experience, people think that minding your own business means you're up to something. Or that you have a problem with them. Which I do -- after they bitch about it.

  25. Scott 19
    Thumb Down


    This article is so 19-90's.

  26. Doug Glass

    Why would any self respecting woman ...

    ... want to come off as Sheldon Cooper with ovaries and live in a basement? Yeah, yeah, I know. But IT does keep our toys working and like Doctors, who even cares if the fix comes from a woman or a man. Just do your thing, fix the toys and let me get out of this dungeon.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Because everyone...

    ...every race, every culture, every gender simply MUST be THE SAME, and EQUAL, and EQUIVALENT. Apparently.

    Heaven forbid there should ever be any discrimination, ever, anywhere, by anyone, for any reason whatsoever. We are all the same. Repeat after me. We are all the same. Now just go and buy things from your local mall. We are all the same.

    1. stanimir

      Re: Because everyone...

      We are the same tis the inconvenient truth, innit?

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Atonnis

      Re: Tech don't need biased sexisim impossed it needs fair pay


    2. h4rm0ny

      Re: Tech don't need biased sexisim impossed it needs fair pay

      Your entire rant about how people can apply for jobs if they want them, how gender ratios shouldn't be enforced etc., is really very odd given that the subject is how to stop school children being discouraged from an interesting career. One might even suppose that you just wanted to rant against your preferred strawman. Sorry. Straw-woman.

  29. John A Blackley

    Plenty o' wimmins

    I've met many women in the IT business.

    Unfortunately it took a while to realise they were women - what with the facial hair, pot belly and soft-drink and crisps addiction.

  30. Lone Gunman

    Why are these things so patronising?

    Maybe I don't have the feminist gene, but I find these types of initiatives bloody patronising. Did any of you look at the website? Damn thing is pink for god's sake, only surprise is there isn't a picture of Justin poxy Bieber on it.

    Yes I'm female, yes I work for a technology company and yes I do like to meet other female professionals in this industry so that we can share the stories and learn from each other. What I don't need is someone telling me how to feel comfortable walking into a meeting at a "Women in Technology" seminar that our company held. Its hard enough to be taken seriously in a male dominated environment without being made to feel like we are on the special bus because someone in HR thinks we need a special programme.

    Feel we need a pair of shoes to go with this handbag. What do you mean its Spawn of Satan?

    1. Atonnis

      Re: Why are these things so patronising?

      I have to agree about that website. It's pretty pathetic.

      The most cringe-worthy part has to be the picture of the two women on the grass (towards the bottom right). You can almost here the 'oh my god! he did not just post that!' oozing out of it.

      The girl in the chair doesn't exactly appeal either. Is this site meant to appeal to women to go into IT roles or to get into 'fun with computers'?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ... most IT jobs need a high IQ so draw your own conclusions from the standard deviations below


    girls are on average maybe not as interested in tech stuff as in social stuff?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Or

      Now, now! Don't go all Charles Murray on them. I mean, that's all that icky math and statistics and comput....

      Never mind.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody hell...

    It's the usual misogynistic sexist bullshit again.

    Women aren't that common in IT because of a large proportion of the men in IT. Just look at the comments in articles like this one and then think if you'd like to work with people making them, especially if they are targeted at you?

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Bloody hell...

      While recognizing it is an odd characteristic, it is none the less a typical male geek characteristic that when we are attacked for being something we aren't, we respond by generating an exterior personality characterized by the errant fault. Because really, we don't like bigots for company, and it turns out to be a very effective defense. The only people who bother to push their way through are those who are truly interested in what we have to say, and possibly us as well.

      I say this knowing as all fucking misanthropes do, that you knowing this won't help any.

  33. Stephen Channell

    Womens work..

    The first commercial programmers were women (on LEO), because the “computer staff” (people who did the calculations) were women at Lyons. One of the great pioneers of computing was Grace Hooper who lead the spec for COBOL (which was much better for Data Processing than ForTran). Grace Hooper became an Admiral of the US Navy because it was women who organised the Navy processes when it used to be clerical.. that all changed when Men discovered that women had all the control, and men had to learn to type.

    Now that computing is a much more social activity, with lower emphasis on hardware, and the opportunity to make a stash of money, we’ll start to see the pendulum swinging back again.. but that does not dispel the big downside.. many of the men that currently work in IT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Womens work..

      Nah, that's just capitalism. Back in those days, women were cheaper to employ than men.

  34. Atonnis

    In my experience...

    ...and I reiterate - only in my experience...

    Women in IT roles usually tend, after a short while, to drift away from the technical side of IT roles and push more towards being a chatty visitor, sales or pushing into presales, account management or admin.

  35. Fab De Marco

    It's been said already but its down to interest

    Women are generally not interested in Tech and IT. Always been the case, maybe it will change but thats for future generations to decide.

    It's got nothing to do with "Certain types of Men" in the profession. I remember my college days the beaty therapy block was filled with beautiful young women, and while I would love to have been locked in an elevator with a few of them. There is no way I would endure waxing and facials (not that kind) because I would like to work with them because I have no interest in beauty. I would shave, sometimes, but thats about as far as I'd take it

    If there is a drive to strong arm women into IT then it is wrong. If they want to do it then they can. If they are made to do it then they will end up hating their job and retraining for something else, thereby simply wasting their time.

    Much in the same way as if there was a drive to get men doing beauty, if they want to do it fine, free choice, have fun.

    End of the day, give kids all the options as to what they can do, what they enjoy and then give careers advice based on that. Don't pigeon hole people based on their gender, its just as sexist as discriminating imo.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This software developer.

    Is doing his best to change the 'geek' stereotype to 'grumpy dipsomaniac'.

    Looking at this place, it would seem he is not alone.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    I'm still waiting...

    .. for the Cirinists to join this thread.

  38. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Typical sexism

    The assumption that girls want a pink and fluffy feminine career.

    In other news it was announced that there aren't enough men going into IT because it doesn't have the tough, macho, dirty and dangerous image of off-shore oil.

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The problem with these initiatives is

    that they are a load of bollocks.

    We need more men in social work but you wont see a drive for that for the simple reason that the driving forces behind equality dont want to give up the fiefdoms they currently control.

    I work for a company in SaaS which has more than 50% women overall, but in the areas of engineering, development, IT etc its almost 99% male. Thats just the way it goes, not many women apply for those roles.

    In our CS department we have a significant number of women in senior roles leading tech support teams but they rarely go forward for the coding or data crunching or other male dominated areas of the company. Its not that the opportunity isnt there, they simply dont apply. And its not because the men in those department are neanderthal mysoginists, most of them are married to or date women from the company.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: The problem with these initiatives is

      > And its not because the men in those department are neanderthal mysoginists, most of them are married to or date women from the company.

      People of all sexes should run away from companies like this quickly.

  41. Bucky 2

    The analysis itself is somewhat sexist.

    The stereotypical "geek" image isn't any more attractive to boys than it is to girls. It's sexist to assume that girls are more sensitive to external judgment than boys are. I'm willing to be educated, here, but being a high school geek, and a boy, did not get me any "cool" points. Quite the contrary.

    What I'm hearing is that girls will go ahead and change their very identity, and mortgage their future because high school sucks, and will do so in a way that boys won't.

    Sexist crap.

    I'll buy the statement that high school career counselors are useless, because I found mine useless. If they're more useless to their girl charges than their boy charges, then we're stepping beyond the realm of negligence and incompetence and entering into the dark woods of criminal activity.

    If they've found evidence of criminal activity, then let them start pressing charges and put a stop to it. Otherwise, it sounds like they're starting with a premise that girls are just, oh, so much more SENSITIVE than boys, and then proving it to themselves.

    Thank you, Saint Thomas Aquinas, but I don't buy your proofs. Now take this away and bring me the toasted cheese sandwiches I ordered earlier.

    Here's a novel idea. Ask girls what they want to do when they grow up, and then help them do it.

  42. Sarah Millin

    just read the comments

    Wonder why women don't want to be in IT or stay in IT? Just the read all the comments here. Really guys, could you dig up some new stereotypes?

    p.s. There was a woman programmer, Lois Haibt, who worked on the Fortran team.

    p.p.s. why is the only female avatar available a blonde with a certain reputation?

    1. James O'Shea

      Re: just read the comments

      1 She's not really blonde, unless you count bleach-blonde

      2 are you sure that the avatar that I'm using here isn't female, and how can you tell? And after you're finished with that one, how about ET, the avatar between Jolly Roger and Der Terminator? Or Tux, over to the left of this avatar? You mean that girl penguins don't exist?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Women are just smarter than Men...

    In my experience, women were infiltrating all aspects of technology during the Dot-Com boom. With every other commercial for a tech boot camp promising $65K (USD), the market flooded with people dreaming of a better life.

    Then the reality of long hours, no 'life', and calls around the clock settled in. IT became the modern day equivalent of indentured servitude. In classic social conditioning, men tolerated it because they had to provide for their families, whereas most women had other options.

    I find women in IT, but usually only in 'settled' environments with fairly regular hours and coverage for time off. I presume that they're just smart than we men.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    role models ....

    Jess Parker in Primeval ?

    Jen in IT crowd ?

    Call me whatever, but both look rather appetizing, and I think they'd make excellent role models.

  45. toadwarrior

    Unfortunately a lot of people in IT just come off looking like angry nerds. Just look around here. Don't dare claim to own an iphone or even like it. You'll bring on the wrath of hundreds who can't stand different opinions.

    Most people don't want to spend their whole day justifying things like opinions so can you really blame them for think IT is full of retards and it's best to avoid it?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It works in the opposite direction

    It works in the opposite direction to the benefit of women. Take a look at the average HR, marketing, PR departments... a massive skew to the female side.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: It works in the opposite direction

      Women and men are not opposing sides in some battle. A woman who inclined to go into IT and finds resistance to that, is not okay about it because some other woman somewhere else has an easier time of getting a job in HR (ooh, HR, how exciting!). Sexism is treating people by gender rather than as individuals. Were it the other way around and you wanted to be a programmer but found yourself being pushed into being a primary school teacher because that was more suitable to your gender, would you say: "it's okay that women have an easier time being programmers because men have an easier time being primary school teachers?" Or would you say: "sharing a gender with someone doesn't mean I'm the same as them."

      Next up, disliking one White person because a different White person nothing to do with the first one was mean to you. Same principle: treating people as a group instead of as individuals.

  47. BigUglyDean

    Non-techie observation

    This Cracked article indirectly points out a couple of misconceptions about XX-chromosome based techs:

    The women are either trendy beauty queens or hopeless social retards. No real middle ground.

    My own hypothesis that like most people these days, girls get their first interaction with tech through gaming. Maybe if male gamers, regardless of age, didn't devolve into horny fourteen-year-olds ("yer a GURL?? Tits or GTFO!!") when playing, tech in general wouldn't seem such a hostile environment for those in possession of a uterus.

  48. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    I know a woman who is extremely proud of being a geek - she also loves playing with all the latest toys and is THE computer person in her family.

  49. Jacqui

    When I was in my 20's

    I would tell folks I was a secretary rather than say I was a software developer. At parties, being truthfull would be the kiss of death - a true tumbleweed moment - blank face - excuse me - goodbye, then some sly looks from the other side of the room - social death.

    Things have changed (slightly) I still remember when being female and brilliant at your job was not just unexpected but hated with a vengance by many male (and some female) staff. I still remember having to get others in meetings to propose my solutions so they would be considered.

    My current employer is putting it bluntly the best.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When I was in my 20's

      > I would tell folks I was a secretary rather than say I was a software developer.

      > being truthfull would be the kiss of death

      Me too, I used to tell people I was a social anthropologist for exactly the same reason. But I'm male: I think all of us in these professions suffer the same problem. The question is, are women sufficiently alienated by this to actually give up their tech job (or never start it in the first place), while men are more prepared to put up with the social consequences?

  50. Wibble

    IT training courses

    It's a sad indictment that all IT training courses I attend -- these are *public* courses -- there's a very small percentage of female attendees, frequently there are none.

    There's more female project managers and administrators. Just very very few engineers.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    Hrrm. Thinks. Hrmmmm.

    Right, in my limited experience with women, the vast majority of them are *not* interested in how things work. They have better things to do and many of those things they do far better then men can.

    I've had several girlfriends over the years and am now common law married. My other half is intelligent, inquisitive, people orientated, but she *doesn't* like messing about with IT - she sees it as something that should just work.

    I don't seek out women who are like this.

    In my workplace, I'm lucky enough to have a very even mix of managers - there's actually more female managers than male. None of them - and we're talking 20 women here - show even the slightest interest in IT - and I work for a digital/ad agency!

    The blokes however, even the graphic designers, are all over tech - gadgets, phones, gaming, networks - you name it.

    I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is - for the most part, women aren't into IT, the same way they aren't into formula one, or rugby, or time team.

    On the flip side, men aren't much interested in many of the things women find fascinating.

    But heck, isn't that just great? It's the way of the world, it's part of the attraction and to try to deny otherwise is so pathetically "Politically Correct" it beggars belief.

    My other half, she would completely agree with what I've written here - but she's a strong person, we're modern, we share decisions and work as a team.

  52. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Geeky women...

    I've seen geeky women, but I do doubt that there are enough to try to approach a 50/50 split in those jobs that really should have geeky people in them. Some companies do try to get by with putting "normal" people into the kind of positions that should have geeks, and I suppose they will have less problem with this.

    I've heard enough complaints about places that try to overwork and underpay their IT employees, that this may drive geeky women into other professions (either completely different profession, or freelancing.)

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    female engineers

    'Female Engineer' is an oxymoron. It is here in the UK. Females look down upon people in IT and engineering. Go on a date, the first date and see how the girl reacts when you tell them you're in IT. It's a sure fire way to kill the date and for the girl to never see you again.

    What I have said is true for the UK. But, in countries like India and Pakistan, IT, engineering as an altogether very different status. When I've been to these countries and they ask me what I do for my career, when I respond with IT, the other person is impressed.

    I work with a lot of Indians and I have never come across so many female IT people. And you know what? Even though they have degrees in Computer Engineering, Electronic Engineering they are very feminine, unlike British females with degrees in these subjects.

    Don't get me started on WISE (woman in science and engineering), that's a complete waste of time (and money).

    The principle on which it is based - in my view - is completely flawed. They claim that engineering needs more females to give a different view, that somehow the products/services designed will be better because a female was involved in the design and development?

    That the woman can give a different perspective! (On female matters such as the development of sanitary products I might agree but not in hard core IT or other branches of engineering).

    I have only ever come across one female that's been better than a male in ICT, and she was an Indian engineer.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: female engineers

      "I have only ever come across one female that's been better than a male in ICT, and she was an Indian engineer"

      Better than a male? Which male? Any male? Because I've worked with a tonne of male programmers who were inadequate, didn't understand basic programming principles. I've had to sack someone because they were just so bad (and they were male). There are female programmers who are better than any of these. So why break it down along gender lines. Your logic is terrible.

      1. Vanir

        Re: female engineers

        Good rejoinder!


        So, you are in a position to sack someone. You did sack a male 'programmer' that you judged to being 'just so bad' - at programming / software engineering I assume.

        'just so bad' is a platitude.

        What are basic programming principles? Specifically those that you judged the male to not understand. Was the lack of understanding of these principles the sole reason for you to sack this male?

        Just curious.

        'There are female programmers who are better than any of these.' Oh dear - now you have fallen into the same rhetoric.

        Please be careful. Logic is reasoning is it not? Reasoning done on accepted truths / axioms. Men are superior to women is an accepted truth for some people. These people will reason, using other accepted truths that they can treat women in a manner that seems logical.

        I've worked with people who work as programmers / software engineers that do understand the 'principles' but still do shoddy work - may be they are afraid of being sacked.

        1. h4rm0ny

          Re: female engineers

          "So, you are in a position to sack someone. You did sack a male 'programmer' that you judged to being 'just so bad' - at programming / software engineering I assume."

          Correct. Though their gender is relevant only in so far as to show that there are female programmers who I would not have had to sack so it shows gender is not the criteria for sacking.

          "What are basic programming principles? Specifically those that you judged the male to not understand. Was the lack of understanding of these principles the sole reason for you to sack this male?"

          Specifically? They didn't understand inheritance, classes, passing by reference... They were a nice person and fun to be around socially, but they were a web-designer who thought they were a programmer. And my deadlines don't afford the luxury of someone treating their job as a training course and they *definitely* don't afford the luxury of me spending hour after hour babying them through the development process. So yes, technical ability (along with no sign that they were trying to address their shortcomings) was the sole reason.

          "'There are female programmers who are better than any of these.' Oh dear - now you have fallen into the same rhetoric."

          No. Your logic is very poor. That there are female programmers who are better than male programmers shows that gender is not the deciding factor. You said that you'd only ever met one female programmer who was better than male programmers which implies something else entirely: that one gender is better than the other at programming. How you can call an argument that gender isn't the deciding factor "the same rhetoric" as you saying it is, is beyond me.

          Well, it's not really beyond me. It's obvious that you saw me say I knew male programmers XY and Z, who were better than female programmer XX and were immediately primed for an argument about whether women or men were better, despite it being obvious that what I was saying was that it's not Men vs. Women. It's competent vs. incompetent.

          Why? I said they were so bad that I had to sack them. Why is that a "trite or dull remark" ?

          "I've worked with people who work as programmers / software engineers that do understand the 'principles' but still do shoddy work - may be they are afraid of being sacked."

          I don't know why you put 'principles' in quotes like that. You seem to be implying that they're not important. Maybe you work at a job where they're not. With me, they are. If someone does shoddy work because "they are afraid of being sacked," then they're responding to the threat rather badly imo. The correct response is to do good work, not shoddy work. Then you don't get sacked. In either case, gender is completely irrelevant so I think you're just dragging your own side-issues into this.

  54. zen1

    mars needs women

    Mars happens to be the knickname of my datacenter

This topic is closed for new posts.