back to article The gender imbalance in IT is real, ongoing and ridiculous

Over the past few years it has been my delight to serve as a judge with Young ICT Explorers, an annual competition of primary and secondary age kids who put their heart and soul into some often very impressive IT projects. After every event I come away seriously impressed with the skills of the next generation. I judge the …

  1. Lusty

    The problem has nothing to do with the IT industry. It's true that we get fewer women applying for roles, but it's certainly not the case anywhere I've worked that it's a male environment or misogynistic in any way (UK based). Perhaps it's different in your locale, but here the problem lies squarely with the 20 or so years leading up to entering the workforce. There is still far too much gender bias while growing up. Why do women wear dresses and men don't? It's because parents dress up little girls because they look pretty and then reinforce that by telling them how pretty they are. This and many, many examples like it lead to girls having different preferences than boys. Disney is a prime offender here, telling the little princess that her job is to find a prince. Fast forward to working age and it's no wonder that women don't fancy the lifestyle that goes with IT. Long hours in the deepest darkest corner of a building for low pay. Women have been brainwashed from birth to prefer caring work such as teaching and nursing while men were brainwashed to prefer power, challenge, difficult. There is no natural preference, so if your little girl decides not to get a job in IT it's your own fault, not the fault of the industry.

    For the record, I know more women in IT than I do female lawyers, and I worked in the legal industry for many years.

    1. xerocred

      I do not agree preferring pink is not the reason.

      Researchers have found even at 1 day old baby boys look at mechanical things more than 1 day old baby girls - the choice was faces or things. YouTube - The Gender Equality Paradox, Norwegian with English subtitles.

      Like gay people are born that way, not made by bias.

      I will not urge my 4 year old son (or anyone male or female) to do Engineering or IT - why? cos it can be outsourced to low income countries, ever changing technology that you have to keep on top of and compete with cleverer graduates Interesting for a while yes, but a long term career, no.

      No, I will implore him to become a doctor or lawyer and to specialize. But he likes Lego and everything he builds is symmetrical and fragile and is described as a flying thing, so what can I do? Dress him in pink flowery things?

      Disclaimer: I am an male engineer for which I make no apology - 1 female out of 65 males on my EE course, she did power engineering IIRC.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe women are too sensible to do engineering...

        I'm an engineer, my wife is a lawyer and earns double what I earn.

        I earn less than 17 years ago too ($ for $ not even accounting for inflation).

        She has not expressed an opinion that she regrets not being an engineer to me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I couldn't have said it better myself.

      Yes a gender imbalance does exist.

      No it does not exist because everyone who works in IT either hates women, doesn't take them seriously or conspires to keep them out of the industry as part of "The Patriarchy". Or at least this is my experience in the UK.

      If you want more women in tech, you have to get them interested in tech. The girls I work with are completely self-reliant, proficient at their job and have a passionate interest in their field so I'd like to think that I'm to be forgiven for believing that some of the people who complain the most about this issue don't really have much of an excuse. All too often I get the impression that the idea of male-dominated fields being misogynistic and keeping women out is perpetuated mostly by people who want to blame their personal shortcomings on society at large and by self-loathing male "feminists".

      Sometimes I think that IT staff and employers are attacked so much over this issue purely because it's easier to beat down a bunch of quiet geeks and force companies to adopt quotas than to take on big marketing corporations that force feed pre-determined hobbies and interests to boys and girls.

      At the end of the day, the world of technology is a meritocracy and many of the people who work in IT understand this and agree with it. Everybody has to prove that they are worthy of the job they want. To give preferential treatment to anyone just because of some myths regarding "cis white male privilege" is unfair to the people who work themselves to the bone in order to succeed.

      tl;dr you want women in tech, get women interested in tech because moaning at us about how bad we supposedly are does nothing to help anyone and will only serve to alienate people from the field.

    3. virhunter

      Something along these lines has to be the cause of it because there are so few women in any IT courses at colleges or universities. This tells me they are not even considering going into the field, so all the promoting of women in IT is not going to close the gap.

      With contraversies like donglegate and groups like the Ada Initiative (claiming to advocate for women in IT) censoring talks at conferences, I'm surprised there isn't open hostility to women in IT. I wouldn't mind seeing more women in the field, but if so many of us already in the field run the risk of losing our jobs because some over-sensitive, over-emotional (in a way that even the worst misogynist wouldn't dream of) woman gets her panties in a bunch over a joke, maybe things should stay the way they are.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just IT

    Not to take away anything from your point, but I think it applies to anything that can be seen as technical or engineering. I know nearly 10 car mechanics. All male. I don't think I've ever met a female one.

    They keep talking about the fact that we need to attract more girls to STEM* subjects, so I think this probably applies in [most of|all] those areas.

    *Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.

    1. Lusty

      Re: Not just IT

      As I said above, you can't attract women into STEM subjects if everything leading up to that point was brainwashing to create a preference against such things. The commonly held belief that girls prefer pink is a prime example - surround someone young and impressionable in pink for 10 years and tell them they love it and they will likely prefer pink. Just as computers were considered "boys toys" in the 80s don't forget girls were being given easy bake ovens and baby dolls in pushchairs as "girls toys". The workplace is complete as far as gender equality is concerned, the next steps are society and parenting, and articles such as this one are just distracting from that truth.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not just IT

        " [...] surround someone young and impressionable in pink for 10 years and tell them they love it and they will likely prefer pink."

        A friend had two boys and then a girl. As each reached their early teens they were provided with their own PC in their bedroom. When it was the girl's turn for that step - a new PC was set up in her bedroom as a surprise for her, When she entered the room her eyes went wide - and she exclaimed "Zomg! - it's pink!". The event is fortuitously recorded on the webcam that was running at that instant. Yes - it had been painted to match her chosen room decor. However - she never expressed any technical interest - and anything technical she automatically assumed was impossible for her to understand.

        That was a family where both parents and her brothers were interested in technical things. However - peer group pressure accounts for much of a child's development.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not just IT

          You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink - no matter how much the other horses are drinking.

          If you want more women in STEM then start dressing them all in shapeless blue overalls from birth and give them testosterone injections and cutting their hair short and not giving them the option to study art or music, not dolls just weapons and meccano and car engines. Maybe you get a few more engineers, but you'd have a hellofa lot more miserable young women, young men and parents.

          I was good at French and German - but I dropped them like a hot brick as soon as I had the option. I just wasn't interested. Do I lie awake at night wishing I had done French and German - NO! I've only had to say 4 words in French in my whole life so the 3 years of study I consider an utter waste of time.

          Is there an army of women out there that wish they had continued to study A-level Physics Maths and Further Maths instead of English Biology and Chemistry? I don't think so - but let's hear from some who do.

        2. Amorous Cowherder
          Flame

          Re: Not just IT

          "However - peer group pressure accounts for much of a child's development."

          So very true. A battle we're fighting right now with my own daughter. Our daughter had Barbie when she was young but was always way more interested in the cars you could get for them. The most played with toys while she was young was her garage and cars and her LEGO! She loved building houses and cars. Despite having messed about and worked with computers for close on 35 years ( since I was 7 years old! ) I tried to gently persuade our daughter to take up more technical subjects but she was never that interested. However she loves the more traditional science subjects over maths and english, and for the last 2 years she's talked of nothing else but desperately wanting to be a vet.

          This is where it's starting to become harder. She's in 2nd year at Secondary and none of her school mates like biology, they can't stand the idea of cutting up fluffy animals and inspecting the insides ( be honest neither do I ) but my daughter loves biology and chemistry. She loves getting to understand the nitty gritty of what makes us all tick inside. All the kids in her class think she's weird wanting to be a vet, some have called her a freak for enjoying biology and the hard part is convincing my daughter to stay true to her dream of becoming a vet. We're always talking about the work, what she's been doing and even though she's only 12, already showing her the websites and requirements she'll need to get into the Royal Veterinary College. Taking her to zoo, behing-the-scene days, farm yards. Anything to keep that dream alive.

          I don't want her dreams crushed by morons who can't see that some people do have dreams and want to pursue them. Peer pressure is a battle you have to fight by proxy, a hard fight.

      2. Matthew Taylor

        Re: Not just IT

        You seem very sure that we would all be equal if only women weren't "brainwashed" during their childhood. Isn't it possible that statistically women tend to make different choices, and that this difference is innate, rather than the result of some patriarchical oppression?

        1. Lusty

          Re: Not just IT

          I never said women were brainwashed, I said all children are conditioned. You took that to mean that I thought girls where I clearly said boys and mud too.

    2. 142

      Re: Not just IT

      Exactly. It depends on the role not the industry. There are a ton of women in the music industry for example. But none are sound engineers at a high level. In my ten years or more in the industry, I haven't met one in woman in a professional sound engineering context. Managers, musicians, songwriters, stage managers. Yes. TONS. But none in a senior engineering role.

      Music tech colleges generally have an 80:20 split between guys and girls on entry. Almost invariably, they end up focusing on the other areas I outlined - less on the tech.

      My own thinking is that there needs to be a fundamental change at school level.

      We need to somehow stop the situation where girls willingly accept help from boys to solve tech problems for them.

      Teaching sound engineering, and having studied IT in college, I've witnessed countless situations where the girls never learnt how to problem solve tech for themselves. You'd never see a guy allowing another guy to do everything for them. And absolutely never a girl help a guy. This showed itself right from day 1.

      Yet, it was far more democratic when it was book learning, as opposed to practical. They'd form balanced study groups and all help eachother.

      So, I'm not sure whether it's the case of:

      A/ the guys being overly enthusiastic "knights in shining armour", or

      B/ guys subconsciously don't believe that girls are fundamentally capable of solving these sort of practical logic problems or

      C/ if it's the case of girls finding it easier to get through life playing the "damsel in distress" card, or

      D/ the girls have been conditioned to believe they can't figure out this kind of thing.

      E/ another reason?

      Either way, I found it so frustrating to witness intelligent girls simply not learning because of this.

      I'd be very interested to hear a female perspective on this!

      1. Stacy

        Re: Not just IT

        To be fair I think a through c are all probable. I knows spoilt little rich girls who just expect people to do everything for them because they are pretty little rich girls. That doesn't help...

        I've also had guys trying to be knights in shining armour taking over to help me when all I wanted was a second take on a problem (though I have also been guilty of doing that to guys too :-P)

        And I have had a lot of guys who rather than help me just took over as they thought that I was incapable (which annoyed the hell out of me).

      2. AbelSoul

        Re: Not just IT

        I haven't met one in woman in a professional sound engineering context. Managers, musicians, songwriters, stage managers. Yes. TONS. But none in a senior engineering role.

        Music tech colleges generally have an 80:20 split between guys and girls on entry. Almost invariably, they end up focusing on the other areas I outlined - less on the tech.

        I attended a Sound Engineering course 3-4 years ago and there was one woman in a class of ~30.

        OTOH, one of my favourite live music venues in town here has a female resident sound engineer.

      3. DropBear
        Facepalm

        Re: Not just IT

        I'm pretty sure it's mostly "C" coupled with a corresponding amount of "A". I've seen countless times in life that people always end up playing to their strengths - relying on them, developing behaviour with those at the center; one of the most striking such patterns is that people not needing to do things for themselves just never learn to do them - it's just much easier to rely on one's ability to get other people do it for them. And before anyone objects, I've seen this applied by men just as well as by women - although admittedly male instincts toward women are an easily exploited target and form the bulk of such behaviour. If people like you, they tend to offer their help, and you tend to grow up learning to rely on that - as simple as that.

        The other side of the coin is that this is just a generalization - specific individuals, male or female, will learn whatever they are interested in: I have seen women in IT that couldn't have been kept out of it even by sharks with lasers. But they are the exception; a lot of women actually just don't seem to enjoy the sort of challenges IT tends to offer so they stay out of it - if you want proof just stroll up to someone and try explaining to them the last problem you faced and how you solved it (if sixty seconds later she's still around you, you're either looking at a unicorn or she really likes you). Like it or not, that's not going to be less true just because someone has a chip on his shoulder and some windmills to fight...

      4. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Not just IT

        >But none are sound engineers at a high level.

        That's not entirely true. Women producers and engineers make up around 5% of the industry. So they're rare, but they do exist.

        >We need to somehow stop the situation where girls willingly accept help from boys to solve tech problems for them.

        Maybe women simply don't find tech very interesting? They certainly don't seem to get myopically obsessed with it in the way males do.

        Thing is, to most of the population tech is a dull incomprehensible world full of dull incomprehensible people, and programming is mostly drudgery, punctuated by management abuse.

        When women can become doctors, lawyers, or architects relatively easily, why would they want to be engineers?

        I'm always baffled that STEM careers are sold as if they offer a promotion from 'just being a girl'.

        "Yes we know you have ovaries and like Barbies, but if you learn C++ and GitHub you'll be all better."

        The reality, in the UK at least, is that many STEM jobs are relatively low-status. If you're going to get a degree and aspire to be middle class there are better career paths to follow.

        Perhaps a lot of women are savvy enough to realise there are better opportunities elsewhere.

        Cultures that don't patronise people who get useful things done inexplicably seem to have a better record on equality.

        1. 142

          @ TheOtherHobbes

          Interesting arguments I hadn't considered.

          > Perhaps a lot of women are savvy enough to realise there are better opportunities elsewhere.

          I'm not sure I agree, but it's certainly food for thought.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just IT

      "All male. I don't think I've ever met a female one."

      An acquaintance in the late 1980s was an ex-naval mechanic. His daughter learned to strip and rebuild car engines with him. She later complained that no matter how good she was - her father never gave her any credit "because she wasn't a boy". He was socially conservative and chauvinistic to a pronounced degree - but probably not atypical of his generation.

      1. Benjol

        Re: Not just IT

        I know several men who have suffered all through their adult life because their fathers never gave them any credit. Because.. what? I don't know. That's just the way they were. They didn't DO praise in those days.

  3. Christian Berger

    Some women aren't helping it

    Here's an example of a "research project on 'gender inspired technology'".

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5KhOKzIl_g

    That's not helping it at all. That's just showing idiots as if they were representing women.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to do with Work culture

    Mark Pesce you are utterly deluded.

    You can't (for example) just simply decry a lack of ethnic Scandinavians in the Senegalese restaurant industry as sign of discrimination - there is an underlying reason for it that has nothing to do with prejudice.

    There are very few women in IT (particularly the hard-core types of IT - engineering, low level programming type stuff), because very few women have any qualifications or portfolios that will put them above the piles of men who might apply for the same job.

    Here is a simple test -- go online and just *Look* at the open/sample/uploaded code that people are making in their bedrooms. Nobody is paying them to do it, and none of them are required to seek permission to do it. Yet it is nearly all guys.

    We can't just drag girls in off the street and force them to be in the 'IT industry'

    A disclaimer -- My sister is a qualified programmer who is continually offered work and opportunities and makes decent money, because she is good.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Nothing to do with Work culture

      @AC

      "A disclaimer -- My sister is a qualified programmer who is continually offered work and opportunities and makes decent money, because she is good."

      Something I do notice is the difference in quality of male to female developer. The females I find are really good and interested in the subject to be there and so produce good results. I find males to be much more variable but numerous ranging from great to diabolical. I do not believe that women are just better at it than men just as I dont believe the other way around, but I do believe it has a lot to do with my experience through uni. All those wonderful adverts of quit your job and make your money in IT caused a lot of kids with no clue of what they want to do to take IT in various forms. My classes were full of people who went to uni to avoid getting a job (student loan is free money and let them drink and party) with very few who actually cared about the subject.

      My expectation is that the girls had their own choices of what to do without a clue and if my experience since school is at all representative there was a worrying number who's aspirations ended at getting up the duff early and being given a council house and free money. I do hope mine was an odd experience but I expect the many girls with no idea what to do will disperse to their own interests. I expect the vast sea of blokes in IT is down to them having no idea what they wanted to do and followed a herd.

      *Note: One of the guys in my classes would regularly ask extremely basic questions which at first got on my nerves thinking he didnt care about the subject like most of the people there. However after a while it became apparent that he didnt know much about the subject but was actually interested in the topic and I went out of my way (as did a couple of other serious students) to help him understand the classes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nothing to do with Work culture

      I cannot explain why I have no interest being a doctor, a banker, or a biochemist; I just know that I have no enthusiasm to take on those roles. All those options were open to me and I was encouraged in those directions rather than turned against. It is not necessarily discrimination, lack of opportunity, or something which can be fixed, but perhaps simply that most women are disinterested in technology, engineering, programming and IT.

  5. smartypants

    I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

    Sometimes, such a thing is the simple consequence of a deep unfairness in society. Take, for example, the number of women with the vote 150 years ago. Or take the number of women who drive cars on their own in Saudi Arabia today.

    In these cases, it isn't the imbalance itself which irritates. It's the unfairness which explains it.

    When I look to IT - or at least the little corner of it that I inhabit in Blighty, I don't consider it another example of society being unfair. I don't see the mountain of women put off by things that Need Changing (tm).

    There's a lot of hand-waving about gender imbalance in certain corners, but not others. For some reason, IT has been singled out as something worthy of our attention. Presumably, nursing's rejection of men will follow later? (Please don't bother).

    The women in our organisation are few. But they don't have to fight any battles beyond the bug splatting. Their relative scarcity is entirely a product of the percentage of applicants being female being so small. There is nothing to fix at our place, and I suspect this is true of much of the UK industry and elswehere.

    The only way I, as someone who hires people, could fix this perceived 'problem' is to invite only women to new vacancies as they arise, or at least to heavily bias the selection process so that it operates largely upon gender lines rather than the judgement of the best person for the job.

    This is palpably unfair - just the sort of thing that annoys me about the real injustices that remain in the world.

    Why would I want to make the world a worse place for candidates on the basis of their gender? Isn't this precisely the sort of thing that we ought to be getting away from?

    In summary: No. I won't change our hiring choices. It'll continue to be on suitability for the job rather than chromosomal make-up.

    1. Stacy

      Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

      It isn't about discriminatory hiring practices to get more women into a team - that is just never going to work well, you should hire the best person for the job. It's about making the industry more attractive so that more women decide to educate themselves to be able to work in it and be that best person.

      Read the article again. Up until a certain point girls outnumber boys. After that something happens and they get turned off. Why? Could it be the comments about girls / women knowing nothing about IT (I am a development team lead for the largest online insurance comparison site in my country and I still get these 'jokes' said about me. I also get shocked reactions from sales people when they meet me and have been asked to prove I'm technical by one moron who lost the sale with that question). A woman in IT needs a thick skin, much thicker than a man needs in the same industry.

      It has nothing to do with parents telling their daughters they are pretty. It is about telling them that they can do whatever they want if they try hard enough. You can do both as a parent. One does not rule out the other.

      It is about encouragement and positive role models. It's about fanning a spark of interest that someone shows, rather than trying to put it out (I had that at school too - being told that I was aiming to high). Its about changing attitudes about women full stop (my grandmother cannot believe that I ride a motorbike - after all that is what men do!)

      And yes it works both ways, should a boy want to be a nurse then they should get the same encouragement.

      1. Lusty

        Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

        My comment about parents telling them they are pretty was a single example of the conditioning that all children are put through as they grow up. Look at any toy shop - there will be one aisle of "girls toys" and one of "boys toys" and that's a prime example of the change in young people. Yes, you can tell your little girl that she can do anything she likes, but give her an easy bake oven and a pram for her 6th birthday and her brother a console for his 7th and subliminally what did you actually tell her? Allow her brother to go out in the mud while she stays in playing with makeup and brushing her hair and you can tell her what you like but inside her head it's not that she can do anything. Even if you don't stop her going out and playing in the mud, what if all she has are those pretty dresses and her brother has ripped jeans - you think she's going to ruin a princess dress in the mud?

        Add to this the various media pressures both sexes face and you end up with a society that genuinely believes women prefer "women jobs" because they are genetically programmed to be more caring.

        What I'm saying is lay off the "unfair workplace" nonsense and start a campaign to actively push parents to be gender neutral to fix the root cause and the rest will sort itself out. Give the boys makeup and get the girls playing on their skateboards and for the love of $deity, keep them away from comics and magazines and make sure there's an even split of movies and tv shows.

        1. Stacy

          Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

          Did you read my comment about about the comments I get in my job? Yes, the workplace also needs attention. Notice I said also.

          I wear dresses to the office (except on those days when I know I'm going to be crawling under a desk - then it's jeans!). Wearing dresses does not reduce my intelligence. It reduces the respect that i get though - but I'll be dammed if I'm going to let narrow minded idiots determine what I wear or do.

          And I don't see why girl can't have the doll and the computer (my niece does), and she plays ruff and tumble. And with cars. And with what ever else she feels like playing with.

          Why do you think they should be mutually exclusive?

          1. Grifter

            Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

            Well Stacy as you can see from all the comments in this thread, there is no inequality or discrimination, and if there is there are multiple excuses listed in all these comments boiling down to basically it being the fault of women themselves.

            Sigh.

            1. Stacy

              Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

              @grifter: I've learnt not to expect better...

              What really made me shake my head was a comment that amounted to "give girls positive encouragement" and it was down voted nearly as much as up-voted.

              The fact that people ignore my experiences and proclaim that they don't happen, or that I should just have to put up with it are par for the course unfortunately.

              1. Grifter

                Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

                Sadly in our society it's all too easy to dismiss anything said by women, I mean look at the Cosby stuff right now, it took a man (Hannibal Buress), after decades of women not being believed.

                You shouldn't have to put up with this shit, and I wish you wouldn't have to.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

          "My comment about parents telling them they are pretty was a single example of the conditioning that all children are put through as they grow up. Look at any toy shop - there will be one aisle of "girls toys" and one of "boys toys" and that's a prime example of the change in young people."

          Don't you know any gay people?

          Gay boys will typically prefer playing with "girl toys" from a very young age regardless of all the cultural conditioning and resistance they encounter.

          Sorry to rain on your parade but boys and girls like different things and it doesn't always have to do with their culture and upbringing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

            Don't you know any gay people?

            Gay boys will typically prefer playing with "girl toys" from a very young age regardless of all the cultural conditioning and resistance they encounter.

            Do you actually know any gay people? Or are you basing your argument on stereotypes you've seen on TV?

            The gay guys who like "girly" things are more obvious but there are plenty of us around who you wouldn't notice.

            The fact that some boys like "girl toys" contradicts your final paragraph quite neatly. Or are you trying to argue that gay men are actually women?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

              "The fact that some boys like "girl toys" contradicts your final paragraph quite neatly. Or are you trying to argue that gay men are actually women?"

              I'm sure you're being dense on purpose.

              Obviously gay men share certain traits with women, e..g, liking men. So why not other traits, like playing with "girl toys" when they are younger? Just because some things share traits doesn't make them the same thing. If you were a little less indignant I'm sure people would take your points more seriously, although I'm not sure if you're trying to make any actual points. (Gay men not being women isn't something that really needs to be argued.)

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

                Obviously gay men share certain traits with women, e..g, liking men. So why not other traits, like playing with "girl toys" when they are younger? Just because some things share traits doesn't make them the same thing.

                All gay men share one trait with women, being attracted to men. Some men (gay, straight or whatever) share other traits with women, such as liking "girly" things. There's an overlap between those groups but I have no way of knowing (and neither do you) whether that overlap is large enough to justify your statement about what gay boys typically prefer.

      2. foxyshadis

        Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

        Most of the push is just impatience; the idea is that there is an injustice, and we must fix this injustice NOW. Since there's no way to go back in time to change everyone's upbringing, it falls on industry now to retroactively fix society's bullshit. The occasional instance of a wildly unjust and misogynist workplace is blown out of proportion to its real-life influence, and if anything that myopia only drives away women who'd be happy in most IT departments. (Well, as happy as any of us; IT is full of alcoholic clock-punchers. Can't say I blame anyone for avoiding it.)

        Unfortunately, it doesn't work out that way. Some social revolutions take time, and can only start with the new generation. This really shouldn't be news to anyone who looks at social dynamics.

        1. dan1980

          Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

          @foxyshadis

          "Some social revolutions take time, and can only start with the new generation."

          Which is why there is push to - as you say - "fix this injustice NOW".

          Change - real change - must be organic. You can help steer it and nudge it but you can't force it. If you try, you will get backlash and, while you can engage political spin mode and point to this isolated incident or that, you will not have actually achieved the goal.

          As with the gender pay gap, this will take a while. It that instance, most of the difference is due to more men holding the top-of-the-top positions, which pay extraordinarily well, and skew the balance.

          But those people are almost always 55 and over - usually quite a bit over. To see why, those people dominate and are able to skew the results, you can't look at things now; you have to look at things when these people were entering the workforce. At that stage, it was very sexist and these people have benefited from that, including the - 'old boys club'.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

        > Up until a certain point girls outnumber boys. After that something happens and they get turned off. Why?

        So it couldn't be adolescence then. Or is that a bit too obvious?

    2. Alfred

      Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

      " Presumably, nursing's rejection of men will follow later? (Please don't bother)."

      So sick of hearing this ignorant bullshit. Nursing has been trying to attract more men for decades.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

        >So sick of hearing this ignorant bullshit. Nursing has been trying to attract more men for decades.

        Yet remarkably, there doesn't seem to be a realistic claim that there are so few men because of sexism in the health service.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think our company has any issue hiring females into any role. (Our CEO is a lady of serious character and presence). The only concern I'd have is whether we pay them equally. From the few people I've had conversations with it doesn't seem like we do.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      More likely the pay issue is aggressiveness, men are more demanding, hence they get more pay...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gender Imbalance

    Happens all over and on both sides. My daughter's primary school had entirely female staff; even the caretaker was female. A customer of mine who works at Lloyds bank told me that the entire branch staff ( a largish branch) were female. The HR department at a major corp I used to work for was all female - except for one bloke. So, if women don't want to sit in front of screens writing code, who cares?

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Gender Imbalance

      Who cares? The war mongers and the bankers that's who! We can't send the men off to fight for some bankers profit or some politicians glory if industry immediately grinds to a halt because all the specialists were male. Similarly we can't just keep paying males to do stuff and not capitalise on the negative wage pressures that are possible from doubling the list of potential candidates. What do we do next? Despite the massive distortions that we have engineered through much of society to advantage females and discard the energy, risk taking and initiative of our young males we still cannot overcome psychology and biology for this glorious future of an xx slave labour force managed by right thought.

      Mark Pesce - if you want to lead the charge go for it. Give up your employment on the understanding that your position will be given to a women. Spend the rest of your days in righteous poverty knowing that you did your bit for the new world order. Please keep writing for the Reg to let us know how you are getting on and be sure to record that moment when the warm fuzzy feeling wears off and you realise you have been had.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gender Imbalance

      If people of gender A actually, genuinely don't want a job (stereo)typically seen to be usually done by gender B that's fine - I don't think anyone has a problem with that.

      However, if people of gender A don't think (for spurious reasons, like it being implied they can't without anything to back it up) they can/should do a job (stereo)typically seen to be usually done by gender B then that isn't fine. And somewhere along the line it seems that these biases are still being fed to children.

      Also, to keep hearing "there's nothing stopping women/men going into that profession, it's just that they don't want to" is a subtle reinforcement of the status quo. To a child it can make you feel odd or wrong for wanting to pursue a particular career path, or make you feel like some things are off limits. As adults, it's easier to throw off. As children and teens, it's harder as the pressure to fit in with your peers seems a lot greater at the time. Hell, it can have that effect on adults, sometimes, too. (And before anyone asks, the only example I'm prepared to mention explicitly is me (which means next to nothing given I'm posting as anon ;-) ), but I've had others say this sort of thing to me as how they feel)

  8. madmalc

    Marketing wasn't in it

    Back in the early days of the 8 bit micro no one in this line of business had heard of marketing - adverts for micros were completely amateur stuff mainly just describing the product (That usually wasn't finished yet). Techie stereotyping, not gender stereotyping! On my computing degree course there were about 35% females, some of whom were happy to flutter their eyelashes at the cleverer lads to get them to do their coding. Wherever I've worked females have had exactly the same pay. If you look at the Meyer Briggs personality types that suit coding you will find a lower percentage of them are female. My wife is one of those personality types, has a Masters degree in IT and wipes the floor with most of the males she works with.

  9. petur
    Thumb Down

    BS article

    When I was studying electronics engineering (no sign of IT focus back then, but electronics did have programming courses), there were maybe 3 or 4 girls in a group of a few hundred, so < 5%.

    Things have gotten better since then, but not so much, so I'm not surprised of the imbalance.

    If the facts were to show that there is an imbalance of unemployed IT workers (lots of unemployed female and less or none male), THAT would be an interesting fact.

    Want more female in IT? Get them interested and in the schools. But maybe you need to face the fact that males and females are DIFFERENT and have different interests.

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    What

    None of what I have read matches anything of reality.

    It is also a delusion born out of feminist dogma to deny differences due to gender.

    It is also not a problem if there are professions that have a gender imbalance.

    Can we now close this dossier?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What

      "None of what I have read matches anything of reality."

      Like fuck it doesn't, you lying sack of shit. I look around my workplace; far more men than women. Every high-tech workplace I've ever worked in, the same thing. He said that, it's true, it matches reality.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What

        > Like fuck it doesn't, you lying sack of shit. I look around my workplace; far more men than women. Every high-tech workplace I've ever worked in, the same thing. He said that, it's true, it matches reality.

        Jesus, calm down.

        No-one is arguing about gender imbalance. The issue is if that imbalance reflects sexism/conditioning/bias or if it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

        Personally, I think that a lot of the disjointedness of the commentary on this forum represents a significant different between the US and the rest of the world. We often hear stories of misogyny at conferences and in companies and they nearly all tend to be in the US perpetrated by Americans.

        I've worked for a number of companies in the UK and in Canada and I have *never*, *ever* seen sexual discrimination or bias in the companies where I have worked. I have worked with women at various times but it is true that there is a gender imbalance dominating the industry. But like nursing, this seems to be a natural consequence of the average preferences of our sex which are, without a shadow of a doubt, different.

        1. Grifter

          Re: What

          >>I've worked for a number of companies in the UK and in Canada and I have *never*, *ever* seen sexual discrimination or bias in the companies where I have worked.

          Well see, here's one problem with that; you're not a woman. I don't want this to sound like an attack on you, but that attitude is one of the reasons we have such an imbalance in the first place.

          Unless you are in their shoes (literally), you will never ever see or experience that offhand remark, the subtle but inappropriate touch, the leering, the sneering, the utter outrage from some men who yell obscenities at women who choose not to acknowledge them when 'all they did' was to tell them how pretty they were, as if the women exist merely to make some guy's boner happy.

          It is really easy as a man to say you've never seen or experienced it, and that might be why it gets dismissed or ridiculed when brought up. I challenge you to examine your own bias filters for perceiving the world around you. These comments for this article are the perfect example; the few (really obvious) women who've posted in this thread have been shot down and argued with when they speak up. And the fact is that in the workplace, most women who are harassed don't even speak about it, usually for fear of retribution, getting fired, being pushed out.

          You having never seen or experienced it sadly means nothing, maybe it will mean something to you when it's your daughter or girlfriend whom it happens to.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What

            > Well see, here's one problem with that; you're not a woman. I don't want this to sound like an attack on you, but that attitude is one of the reasons we have such an imbalance in the first place.

            I get what you're saying but the reverse is also true.

            I'm not saying that there isn't a problem but I challenge you to prove that it is as endemic as you suggest.

            My main point is that there are clearly different experiences in different places. Your default assumption is that where I work there is discrimination, and the fact that I don't see it is because I am culturally blind. It might just as easily be the case that it doesn't happen here.

            I do know that where I work now we did have a misogynistic twat at one point in the past. Almost as soon as his true nature was discovered (which was very soon after he joined), he was kicked out on his arse.

            It does happen and we must be vigilant against it. But don't assume that your particularly experiences are representative elsewhere. Some of us did grow up when we left school.

            1. Grifter

              Re: What

              >>Your default assumption is that where I work there is discrimination

              No, I apologize if I gave that impression, I make no such assumption, I hope wherever you work that it's free of gender discrimination and harassment, perhaps even equal pay.

              The point I was trying to make was that unless you were confided in by a coworker who was harassed, you would never know about it. If you've worked in a lot of different places, chances are higher that it has happened somewhere you've worked, whether you saw it or not. Harassers tend to not advertise their advances and generally wait for moments of privacy with the victim.

              As for proving that it's endemic? Just talk to women, man. Here's a quick google (well, duckduckgo) about women in tech; http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/21/tech-sector-sexist-survey-guardian -- and it's not endemic to just IT, this pervades our entire society.

              Even here on the reg, the podcasts, one of them was (by chance) lacking in men and had only women, so their talk turned to women in tech, they echoed everything there, not being taken seriously, being belittled, being told to look pretty, being easily dismissed.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We are DIFFERENT. End of.

    Male and female monkeys; boys and girls; men and women are DIFFERENT.

    They like doing and are good at different things.

    That is a fact of biology, no matter what the feminazis say.

    If you misguided fools really want to start levelling the playing field, you can begin with helping the poor little boys who are already behind girls at reading from the age of 5.

    And you can also stop telling us what to wear, FFS.

  12. P. Lee

    Clickbait Article

    I joined a telco unix/security team in the late 1990's / early 2000's. The balance was 50/50 with a female tech lead. By the time I left, there was one female left in the team.

    Interestingly, historically, blue was a girls colour and all babies (male and female) were referred to as "girls." (caveat: source=QI)

    My take is that the nature of IT attracts the socially incompetent and that turns off many women, whom I suspect are wired differently. There are lots of techies you would never put in front of a customer. Its similar to the ability to climb to the top of the political pole or CEO role. Anyone could do it, but those that do tend to be backstabbing liars with a slight autistic bent. I suspect that you can also pay the socially incompetent less and ask them to work longer hours.

    Unless there are loads of out-of-work female IT job seekers, I wouldn't worry. Personally, I'd probably hire women over men - I don't understand the idea that men would rather be with men than women.

    1. AceRimmer

      Re: Clickbait Article

      "the nature of IT attracts the socially incompetent "

      Or it could be that the prevalence of socially incompetent IT bods has made IT a haven for the socially incompetent

      Problem solving (which is the bulk of real IT work) doesn't have to be anti-social

  13. OzBob

    I would love total equality in the workplace (IT or otherwise)

    but men passively resist this. Why? Because so far "equality" means "all the stuff men get to do". When I get 50% of the "stuff girls get to do" (interior decorating decisions, keeping a home, both nurturing and disciplining offspring) then I will be more open to talk of "equality". But most Men are not interested in these sorts of thing and society as a whole does not think less of them for it. True equality is still several generations away, once men and women have cottoned on to the fact it means a larger change in attitude than has been made so far.

    1. Roo
      Windows

      Re: I would love total equality in the workplace (IT or otherwise)

      "When I get 50% of the "stuff girls get to do" (interior decorating decisions, keeping a home, both nurturing and disciplining offspring) then I will be more open to talk of "equality"."

      In my case I have found that you can actually get to do 50% or even more of the stuff girls get to do...

      "The wife" is always will to let me get the kids ready for school, do a full working day then help the kids with their homework, wash them, put them to bed, cook dinner for the both of us, wash up, put everything away that 3 kids and the wife have left scattered upon every horizontal surface including the floor, and hang the laundry out to dry. The wife actually *expects* that level of effort every day, but bless her kind heart, she also encourages me to do all the traditional manly things like fixing broken stuff, switching TV channels, fixing bikes, cars, computers, assembling flat pack furniture and interior decorating as well. :)

      I'd welcome equality. :)

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Re: I would love total equality in the workplace (IT or otherwise)

        Putting 'Wife' in speech marks makes me question if she exists or if you don't consider her to be suitable to be called a wife.

        1. Roo
          Windows

          Re: I would love total equality in the workplace (IT or otherwise)

          "if she exists"

          She does, I love her. I was watching Les Dawson on iPlayer shortly before posting.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm suprised....

    ...it must be oooo 3 months since the last time this was bought up and in that time I'm amazed everything hasn't changed.

    Come back in 10 years with the generation that have grown up with tablet pc's, smart phones and computers pretty much everywhere.

    My 6 year old girl was stunned that she was born before iPads were invented and her favourite programme is Technobabble on CBBC.

    Kids this age take technology as a given, whereas my generation it was all new and you needed to be a bit geeky to use it.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop blaming us, please

    So have a look around your office. Seeing mostly men? Then you’re the problem.

    I guess I fit the bill for this article - 50s and male. Much of what the article says is a reasonable description of the reality of the industry from the 80s on, but I'll be buggered if I'll accept the author or anyone else blaming me for this.

    Seek out bright young women. Mentor them. Given them the access they want and the environment they need to flourish.

    Good advice. I did that at the time and so did my managers. The lack of women in the industry at the time was a limiting factor, but how we were supposed to do something about that, I don't know - if anything was wrong it was in the whole of society.

    Something went badly wrong from around the mid-80s, and working culture became more adversarial than cooperative, and that badly affected not just women but a large part of the male workforce, because the rewards and influence began to depend one's skill in and appetite for career advancement above achievement.

    It sure is a mess and something needs to be done about it, but it does not help at all to (almost) label all of us misogynists. The heart of the problem is the demand-driven performance-related I'm-alright-jack working ethos that has grown like a cancer and wrecked what was an enjoyable field of endeavour. Cure that, and the problem will be taken care of. Go for the easy 'misogynist' insults, and it won't.

    1. xerocred

      Re: Stop blaming us, please

      Like you, I object to being blamed for this. I'm sure many geek parents wish their girls would take more interest in these things too - but I guess they have little more success than everyone else.

      At uni in the mid 80s there was only 1 girl out of 65 on my degree course - so whatever happened happened long before that, at my A levels it was the same.

      The way I see it a only a tiny proportion of the population are actually interested in this stuff. Only 10% of all graduates are in all computing & 'all' engineering ~40k (https://www.hesa.ac.uk/stats qualifications by subject table) the same number as in creative arts or 'allied to medicine' or social science or 2/3 of business&admin. So that's less than 5% of population doing IT and relevant engineering.

      If we wonder why females aren't interested then we should also wonder why 95% of the population isn't interested either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @xerocred - Re: Stop blaming us, please

        You make a good point about 95% of the population not being interested in it at all. That is about what I would expect, which is why I think government moves to get more children into IT are doomed to failure.

        Whether the lack of women in IT is due in any significant part to them just not being interested is a question that I don't know the answer to. It is certainly conceivable that there is a gender-related bias, but that doesn't account for all of the discrepancy - I agree with others here that societal expectations of girls have a lot to answer for in relation to the proportion of women entering the field.

        If the IT working environment needs a cultural change then I think, as with all revolutions, it needs to start with removal of the top layers of control, allowing the more civilised lower layers the freedom to be decent human beings. I am not holding my breath.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not the fault of the z80 generation, it's the fault of the SJW generation.

    It's fairly simple to see why there are less women than men in some fields and equally more women than men in some fields;

    We are a sexually dimorphic species (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dimorphism). However much people try to say it's all because society forces girls to like Barbies or calls girls "bossy". You can't ignore the fact that humans have evolved to live in groups in which the females give birth to and care for the young and the males protect the group and hunt for the food. This has resulted in the physical and mental differences between men and women. This is undeniable.

    I can see why there is this great push to get women into attractive areas like IT but unless someone comes up with a magic ray gun that can fundamentally change the way women think (i.e. turn them into men with a female body) there will always be a lower percentage of women getting onto the path that leads into those attractive industries. So you either need to deny that evolution happened or admit that the only way to achieve "gender equality" in some industries is to discriminate against males based on their sex alone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not the fault of the z80 generation, it's the fault of the SJW generation.

      I think Steven Pinker pointed out in one of his books that, given the many obvious physical differences between men and women, it's a bizarre assumption that our brains would be the same.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's not the fault of the z80 generation, it's the fault of the SJW generation.

        Neither of you ACs have studied, socialized or worked with smart techy females have you. More fun than reading books or browsing Wikipedia to confirm the 19th century lingers on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not the fault of the z80 generation, it's the fault of the SJW generation.

          >Neither of you ACs have studied, socialized or worked with smart techy females have you.

          So instead of refute the points stated you resorted to "I can't spell my own name but I'm better at football than you" method of debate.

          >19th century lingers on.

          The results of evolution will linger on for millions of years. Probably well beyond the end of humanity.

      2. foxyshadis

        Re: It's not the fault of the z80 generation, it's the fault of the SJW generation.

        However lucid Pinker is, pithy one-liners aren't science, they're just pithy one-liners, that's the thing. Science says that brains have certain statistical trends, but that female brains are just as adaptable as male brains, and that there's a much larger overlap between male and female brains than the curmudgeons insist, and yet not as much as the folks who want us to be completely genderblind.

        I guess you could ask why, when everyone has two eyes and ten fingers, we make so much out of such minor differences?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's not the fault of the z80 generation, it's the fault of the SJW generation.

          "Science says that brains have certain statistical trends, but that female brains are just as adaptable as male brains, and that there's a much larger overlap between male and female brains than the curmudgeons insist, and yet not as much as the folks who want us to be completely genderblind."

          Interesting that I posit that male and female brains are different and I get a bunch of downvotes and two people jump in to say that female brains are just as good.

          It might be time for some self-examination. Why are you guys equating "different" with "not as good as a male's"?

          That reaction is frankly disgusting.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UNFAIR

    As an overweight guy in his 50s I cannot get a job as a pole dancer!

    Seriously - get the young ladies to take the courses at school and professional qualifications & then we can discuss this seriously. This discussion should be with teachers and career guidance people

  18. SundogUK

    Complete SJW bullshit.

    I hope this is just a click-bait article and not the Registers new direction, otherwise I may have to get all #GamerGate on you...

  19. Banksy

    50% female bin'people'

    Why aren't there 50% female refuse workers? And how about sewerage workers? It's a shocking level of discrimination and more should be done to get women into these industries.

    1. pompurin

      Re: 50% female bin'people'

      You never hear the same complaints about construction and labouring industries. There is easily less than <1% female representation in that workplace. If we're all the same apart from these 'gender constructs' then why are there so few women labourers?

      Because we're not the same, and never will be.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In my 50 years' experience...

    ...very few of my colleagues in the UK IT industry did anything technical with home computers.

    In the 1960s the UK computer manufacturers recruited people with "A" Level education or non-specific university degrees - and there was a high proportion of women doing programming. As a junior programmer my department colleagues were three women and one other man. Other programming departments also had a high proportion of young women. However there were very few women in the hardware engineering roles. Computer operations staffing was constrained by general rules that did not allow women to work night shifts - although women system programmers often came in to use dedicated time at night

    When the computer companies started preferring the newly introduced Computing degrees in the late 1980s - then the number of women being recruited for programming roles fell sharply. Presumably there were few women taking those university courses.

    The 1960/70s women intake often retired from the industry to raise a family in their thirties - although there were initiatives like Hilary Cropper's home-working "pregnant proggies".

    1. QuiteEvilGraham

      Re: In my 50 years' experience...

      I think you might have a point there - I started in the biz in the early '80s and the mix was pretty equal to begin with; possibly for the reasons you mention - companies would take bright people on and train them, regardless of qualifications. We had women managing, programming and working shifts as operations staff. Chromosomal arrangements did not appear to stop anyone progressing within that ecosystem according to their interests and talents. Plenty of casual workplace "sexism", but misogyny? No SJWs back then, but I (and everyone else I knew) would have considered anyone who indulged in that a complete bastard. If anything, since then, we have become even less tolerant of such things, so I'm not entirely sure that argument stands up, except in the minds of those who thing that everthing is "becoz, the Patriarchy".

      What I have noticed, is that when I took the techier path and got into the world of operating systems and low-level languages, the proportion of women fell off a cliff; they seemed to prefer the Systems Analyst, Business Analyst route instead. Nothing wrong with that, it's all important, but there does seem to be a point at which women, in general, lose interest in computers. So it may just be that your observation that Computing degrees as an entry point for the industry puts women off by making the first hurdle somewhat boring and abstract, rather then practical. Of course, this is all anecdotal,

      So, I think that the article's thesis that the problem is "teh menz" rather than a choice made by women is horseshit; how to make IT attractive when these choices are made is the real problem.

  21. Jagged

    First off, as one of the Z80 generation ... Fuck You!

    Second, I am currently discouraging my son from having a career anything to do with IT as there are too many people going for too few under valued jobs. So I won't be encouraging any girls to do the same either.

    1. Ben Norris

      @Jagged well then you are a fool because currently IT has a shortage of skilled workers and demand is very high. It is one of the few professions that completely bucked the recession. Since ICT was introduced and killed the previous bubble of interest there are far fewer people coming into the industry and chasing jobs. Demand to automate and increase productivity is higher than ever, that requires IT people to implement.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        @Jagged well then you are a fool because currently IT has a shortage of skilled workers and demand is very high. It is one of the few professions that completely bucked the recession.

        The idea that IT bucked the recession in the UK is frankly laughable. I know so many people that lost their jobs, and many many more that haven't seen a payrise in 5 years. Good people, not just those making up numbers.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      I am currently discouraging my son from having a career anything to do with IT as there are too many people going for too few under valued jobs.

      Yes, due to the wholesale offshoring of jobs in an industry the government very much pushed generation X to move into, I will be doing something similar. I'll teach my children technology, coding etc, but I won't be encouraging them to follow me into the field. I'd rather they became vets or doctors - something that can't be outsourced.

      If the government are still serious about the T part of stem, then they need to take a lead here. If you allow all the jobs to be offshored or flood the market with imports, and you very much are doing both of those, then nobody will view IT as a serious option. If little Timmy or Sarah see daddy struggling for work by the time he's 50, despite having solid technical skills, the message that will send is not "IT is a good career option".

      Ageism and offshoring. These are the biggest issues facing IT not gender discrimination.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Argument is fundamentally misguided

    Has anybody thought about what a disgustingly chauvinistic point of view these sorts of articles exhibit?

    "Oooh, our male-dominated field is obviously so amazing that of course everybody would naturally want to be a part of it, but us males have so much control over the world and how people are raised and educated that we are (intentionally or unintentionally) preventing poor, helpless womenfolk from becoming a part of it."

    Right. Imagine a bunch of high-school nerds in a corner with pocket protectors and taped-together glasses, discussing how sorry they feel for girls who don't want to join their chess club. Because that sad-sack situation is exactly what all this gender-equality-in-IT hand-wringing boils down to.

    Maybe instead of trying to pull girls down into our social strata, we should be trying to figure out how to get into theirs. Lord knows as soon as I tell anybody at a party that I'm in IT, they stop talking to me almost immediately (which is why I stopped telling people years ago). I wouldn't wish that fate on the women I know.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Argument is fundamentally misguided

      Maybe instead of trying to pull girls down into our social strata, we should be trying to figure out how to get into theirs.

      It wasn't their social strata I spent my youth trying to get into, but I take your point.

      Lord knows as soon as I tell anybody at a party that I'm in IT, they stop talking to me almost immediately (which is why I stopped telling people years ago).

      I figured out a long time ago that's a great way to disperse a crowd. Nowadays I just tell people I'm Johnny Vegas body double in most of his shows. Seems to work ok, with the added bonus that nobody whips out an iDroid phablet and asks me to fix it for them.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hollywood. TV. Chloe (24), Willow (Buffy), Chloe (Smallville), Claudia (Warehouse 13), Skye (Agents of Shield) immediately sprung to mind as cool tech characters in fantasy drama. Far harder to find examples of male tech types who aren't dysfunctional awkward male stereotypes.

    After 30 years plus in the tech business during which time I've encouraged gender balance when I've had an influence, can't say that the author gets what its about. If anything discrimination is in favour of women, the imbalance occurs long before anyone is hiring. "For my part, I won’t be speaking or even attending events where women have been forgotten, excluded, or ignored. This change begins with me.". What are these events? Think you need to get over yourself Mark.

    My son is currently deciding on A levels for next year and it is interesting to hear what directions his contemporaries are contemplating. Medicine is a popular area among girls, and a good example of a profession that has changed from being male dominated (doctoring) and female dominated (nursing) to female dominated overall. Attractive to some as a 'doctor' is a highly paid guaranteed job for life so long as you pass the entrance tests. Nursing likewise a safe choice. Conversely, science and technology make for a very uncertain future of career opportunities post university. Its at 16 the imbalance starts to manifest and as far as I can tell, the girls are, or are encouraged to be, less adventurous and go for a safer career direction. If the author is interested in making a difference, attitudes in mid teens would be a good place to start.

    1. dan1980

      Just look at the "male tech types" in some of those very shows!

      I am not a fan of 24 but in, say, Buffy, the male 'tech types' are "the Trio" - three socially-awkward, unloved guys who operate out of Warren's mum's basement. In Agents of Shield? Fitz, while handsome, is awkward and obsessed and, well, very nerdy. Simmons is much more 'normal' but loses nothing in the smarts. He is lost without her but she functions without him.

      I really can't remember much about Smallville except my constant incredulity that ANYONE could even look at anyone except Chloe. I know this is not necessarily the kind of thing to bring up in such a discussion but I watched that show for far longer than it had any right to be watched.

  24. LucreLout Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The author is the problem, not the industry

    Oh dear. The whole article starts with a flawed premise, then spends the rest of its time spinning any data that could conceivably back it up.

    And not just male-dominated, but something just on this side of misogynistic.

    Speak for yourself. My female colleagues have always been subjected to the same respect or derision as my male colleagues based solely upon their skills and quality of output.

    In 1983’s War Games, Matthew Broderick hacks into WOPR while Ally Sheedy looks on in wonder. That’s Hollywood telling women they don’t have a meaningful role in IT.

    No, it’s Hollywood telling you her character doesn’t have a role in IT. She’s not in the military either, so does that suggest to you that Hollywood thinks women shouldn’t enlist? Do you presume that since McKittrick is also not a hacker that Hollywood is telling men that their careers in computing should end before 40? That’s actually a far bigger real world problem than the gender issue, but amazingly gets almost no press time.

    leads to a defensive claim: “I’d hire more women - but so few apply.”

    So few apply because the discrimination against women in IT is systemic, pervasive, and (insofar as we can put a pin down) begins in secondary school.

    Utter rubbish I’m afraid. So few maintain an interest in technology or desire a career in IT. Do you perceive the lack of male teachers at primary school a problem? So few men teach that age because they aren’t interested in doing so, not because they can’t land a job due to the possession of a penis.

    It’s up to us to fix this. If, like me, you’re in your 40s or 50s, you grew up with microcomputers and into an exclusively male culture of IT. Now we control the levers of power, and if we want to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have the same opportunities we have enjoyed, we need to begin changing things – today.

    Yep, I am and I did. And yes, I do want that too. Things have already changed. You’re fighting an imagined battle from your youth that simply doesn’t exist any longer, if it ever did. Some of the best techies I know are women and that’s been a constant throughout my career. So are some of the worst. Same as us men really.

    We already have the situation of major employers insisting on greater representation of women in senior posts, which when you think it through, has got to lead to some women being promoted because of their gender as opposed to their talents, while simultaneously holding some men back because of their gender and not their talents, which has got to be wrong. Roles should go to the best person to do them – black or white, male or female, gay or straight – it shouldn’t matter. It’s never mattered to me when I hire people.

    So have a look around your office. Seeing mostly men? Then you’re the problem.

    It’d be awfully convenient for your flawed hypothesis for that to be the case, but I’m not the problem. Never in my whole career have I refused to interview someone because of their gender, and I certainly haven’t passed over the best candidate because they had breasts. If you have, you’re an idiot, and you should seek help. Don’t defray your guilt by pretending that we all have a problem.

    Most women don’t want to surround themselves with furry toothed sandal wearing unix geeks. That image, which has always been a dated and invalid stereotype, is what puts many people, both men and women, off a career in IT. The industry needs better PR not positive discrimination, which is as always, just discrimination. War games showed people that computers could be interesting. The Matrix made them cool. The reality of life in IT is poles apart from what youngsters think it is – I’ve never seen socks & sandals in the office, but equally, we’re not all app millionaires – and until the industry has a more realistic focus on PR, little will change.

    1. dan1980

      Re: The author is the problem, not the industry

      Do you presume that since McKittrick is also not a hacker that Hollywood is telling men that their careers in computing should end before 40? That’s actually a far bigger real world problem than the gender issue, but amazingly gets almost no press time."

      I think I disagreed with you once. I was probably right but I take it back anyway.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: The author is the problem, not the industry

        I think I disagreed with you once. I was probably right but I take it back anyway.

        Hope you don't mind but I've printed and laminated that.

    2. Julz Silver badge

      Re: The author is the problem, not the industry

      "I’ve never seen socks & sandals in the office"

      You never worked in ICL then :)

  25. Just Enough
    Thumb Down

    Guilt not accepted

    If you want to fix an imbalance in IT, you're going to have to change (not "fix") society, its attitudes, and the resulting opinions that women in general have about IT.

    I've know quite a few woman in IT, and they are exactly the same mix you'll find amongst the males, just fewer of them. Some are excellent, most are average, and some are muppets. They are in IT for exactly the same range of reasons too. They're interested, they just fell into it, they wanted a career and salary.

    But in life, as a sweeping generalisation, its usually the case that women simply are not interested in IT to the same degree as men. Why is that? Well we could speculate over a number of possibilities, all that are of a size and scope that goes way beyond IT. One of the them could be that most woman are just fine with not being interested to the same degree. You can try any policy, promotion or initiative you like. But you can't force individuals to take an interest in things they simply are not interested in. Telling them that it's just cultural conditioning they've been brainwashed into isn't going to change that.

    But what I do know is that no where I've worked could be called "female hostile". Male dominated perhaps, but certainly not unwelcoming to women. I've always found that work places that are exclusively of either gender are unhealthy environments, not to mention dull. Variety and diversity of all sorts is a good thing. Monoculture of any kind is stupefying. So I've never been interested in promoting or working in exclusively male company.

    So I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to pass on the guilt to someone else. I do not accept I'm "part of the problem".

  26. Connor

    Yawn, same old, same old.

    I think people, notably feminists their rent a mob followers and well meaning men read too much into this kind of thing. The fact is it is nature not nurture that determines the differences between boys and girls - they like different things because they ARE different. The famous monkey study where male monkeys ignored the dolls and picked up the trucks and the female monkeys all picked up the dolls demonstrated this. Male and females were built different purposes, therefore have different wants and desires.

    This kind of thing happens the other way too. Just 10% of nurses are men (yet more than half of doctors are women) yet you see no media lamenting the lack of male nurses, no finger point to children's toys, upbringing, society or the Government. The Government are quietly trying to attract more men but frankly, no-one else cares certainly not the feminists nor do they care that female doctors outnumber male and the gap is increasing very quickly. Nor is it even really mentioned that the NHS, the MoD and the prison service are resorting to positive discrimination and fast tracking the genders to match quotas. My local prison recently had a 22 year old female wing governor - straight from academia to being in charge of a whole prison wing with no practical experience, needless to say naivety and criminals don't mix. Likewise there has been a glut of fast tracked men into management at my local hospital, most of whom have only been qualified as nurses for a few years, have no real depth of knowledge of nursing but are pushed into management roles over women who have been there years. One has to wonder whether this is because men make crap nurses compared to women (they just don't care as much about the actual patient) and are therefore pushed into management roles away from patients. Incidentally my (male) friend who's a nurse was told recently that he had to work Christmas Eve because they needed men on that day as it is a very busy day for women and they needed it off. Apparently that kind of thing (along with the cliques) goes on a lot. So there aren't just lad cultures out there.

    Finally has no-one really thought that the reason that IT and Science is 80% men is because to be attracted to either subject you have to be either on, or very close the to autism spectrum? Diagnoses of which are sky-rocketing yet the percentages are the same 80% are boys, 20% are girls. There is a reason why the exceedingly smart, obsessive, inquisitive, forward thinking scientists that we rely on are usually men, and it has nothing to do with how they were encouraged as children or what toys they played with.

  27. Matthew Taylor

    What a load of rot. Why do we assume that the reason for the small number of women in I.T must be some sort of oppression / discrimination? That always strikes me as enormously patronising to women. Make your mind up, are women just as strong and capable as men, or not? If they are (and I believe they are) then there's nothing to stop them entering I.T. The many women who already have successful careers in the industry prove this.

    I think that the fact there are relatively few women in computing, can be put down to their relative lack of interest in the subject, (measured statistically as a group). I've never understood why it's considered holy writ that men and women must have statistically identical interests. I don't think we do at all, but that's not demeaning anyone's ability - it's just average preferences.

  28. Ben Norris

    As AC put it so well, the reason for lack of women in IT is NOT because it is misogynistic or unwelcoming but because they opt out of learning the skills.

    Worst still the SJWs repeatedly telling everyone the myth that it is a toxic, sexist environment are only making the situation worse by putting off more girls from choosing it as a career path!

  29. MalachyHT

    We're probably not as different as you might think

    Awfully quick to jump to the gender essentialist excuse, aren't we? The article itself talks about a clear shift over time of women away from tech.

    1. JulieM

      Re: We're probably not as different as you might think

      Of course we aren't that different. Genetically, we've 45 chromosomes out of 46 in common, which doesn't leave nearly enough storage space to account for all the supposed differences.

      There have been several experiments where an adult subject has been asked to determine which toys a toddler preferred to play with -- the twist being that sometimes the child was a girl presented as a boy, or a boy presented as a girl. In a statistically-significant number of cases, the adults reported a preference in accordance with the presentation; i.e., they reported that a baby <i>they were told was a girl</i> preferred to play with a doll, <i>even when the baby was actually a boy</i>. This suggests that some pretty serious subconscious gender policing is going on.

      Furthermore, I would be prepared to lay good money that brain scans of newborn boy and girl babies will be barely distinguible; whereas brain scans of rich and poor adults of the same sex will show differences as obvious as the differences between adult men's and women's brains. But only if you'll go double-or-quits on someone publishing a study about wealth or poverty being genetically-determined.

      1. Connor

        Re: We're probably not as different as you might think

        Does that study prove bias or does it just show that we all know that there are differences but these days we aren't allowed to say? Take a look at the monkey study with children's toys. All the male monkeys played with the trucks, ignoring the dolls. All the female monkeys played with dolls and ignored the trucks, do the monkeys suffer from subconscious gender bias too? No of course not so this shows that there is no gender policing but merely basic biological differences.

        As for the chromosomes, it leaves plenty of space. Genetically we are 99.9% identically to chimps, but you wouldn't say we are just 0.01% away from being chimps. You can't measure genetics in the same way as other stuff as frankly we are still pretty clueless about it. Incidentally we share almost all the same chromosomes with chimps too (except they have two more) so again, not a good benchmark to use.

        Finally brain scans of the sexes do show differences, you just have to know where to look, something we've only recently come across.

        1. foxyshadis

          @Connor

          Your reading comprehension skills are in the sewer; you managed to completely misunderstand the referenced study AND somehow that brain scans aren't the same, when JulieM clearly said that the differences are of the same magnitude of those between rich and poor, not that they don't exist. The referenced study only makes sense when it comes to people completely lying to themselves to fit a narrative, and genuinely believing it. It's called rationalization, and it's a bedrock of human psychology.

          Seriously, man, go back to grammar school.

          1. Connor

            Re: @Connor

            @Foxyshadis I am familiar with both studies, perhaps you are not, but either way please don't presume to tell me what my interpretation of the study should be just because you've been told what you should think it demonstrated. The babies (who were too young to go off and pick their own toys) didn't prefer any toys, they played with the toys they were given by the adult, sometimes given quite persistently and then the adult was asked which toy the child preferred and they invariably said it was the one they had given them (a doll for what they perceived to be a girl etc). But as I said the study is irrelevant, it was claimed that it showed that adults give certain toys to certain genders because of biased gender stereotypes not because the children like them (the study was in fact set up to prove this), but the monkey study totally disproves this as they do not exist in macaque society yet they apparently all fell into the same gender bias trap, that isn't rationalization, it isn't even nurture, it is nature. They gave the toys the way they did because biologically that is what the children would have preferred to play with. The reason we have different toys isn't because society has thrust them upon us, but because boys and girls genuinely like different toys, just like in monkeys.

            JulieM stated that there is no real difference between newborn boys and girls in terms of brain scans, I said this wasn't true there are clear differences. Finally she said that rich people's brains and poor people brains show up different on scans, this simply isn't true. Besides it doesn't matter about differences it only matters where those differences occur and what function that part of the brain has. You are comparing apples and oranges.

            Seriously though, you need to go back to manners school with perhaps a correspondence course at logic school.

            1. dan1980

              Re: @Connor

              On brain scans and 'small' differences, I would say a few things.

              First, where the difference is is rather important. Second, a small difference in one region can prove far, far more important than a larger difference in another region.

              Take ADHD for example. Scans have shown that certain areas are generally 3-5% smaller and usually only during earlier development. It is a tiny difference and so small that scans like that are not valid diagnostic tools. BUT, once you have diagnosed the condition, the scans can confirm it.

              3-5%, during development.

              And this tiny difference equates to massive changes in life and risks.

              To be clear, I am not supporting either position here because I don't know enough about it - I just want to point out that "small" differences shown up in brain scans are not necessarily correlated with only "small" differences in the person.

    2. Matthew Taylor

      Re: We're probably not as different as you might think

      Awfully quick to jump to the societal gender expectation excuse, aren't we?

      A clear shift of women away from tech could be explained by any number of factors. The changing nature of the tech industry, not to mention it's increasing size, or other competing opportunities becoming more available to women. Any of these seems more likely than what is implied by what you claim, which is that young girls being corralled into "feminine" occupations is happening more today than it did in the past.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm seeing the subtext here!!!

    I think I understand what you are trying to say! The problem is that even if I flooded your office with women coworkers, none of them would want to go out with you, Mark...

  31. Dancing With Mephisto

    Fashion

    I don't see this as an internal problem - i.e. this isn't an issue with the IT industry, instead it stretches much further than that. It's the other way around.

    At the age of 28, when I was growing up with IT, it was seen as an unfashionable thing to want to do. No one really even knew what a computer was, and the internet was only just starting to enter regular people's lives. Not only would female classmates see it as unfashionable, but just generally, it was not seen as something serious. I remember my Form Tutor telling me there wasn't a future in IT and that I should focus on something else instead. To this end he ended up sending me to a "Careers Councillor" who echoed the same sentiment.

    I'm a Senior Software Developer now and doing pretty well for myself.

    I think it's been embedded in western culture as a whole that "someone into computers" is a geek and not "normal". A clown-like figure or a novelty. It's only with the recent explosion of popularity with "apps" and touch screen crap that "geek" is becoming "cool". Hello, Hipsters.

    Fashionable is doing Law at University. Not Computer Science. It'll remain this way for at least another 5 or 10 years.

    1. xerocred

      Re: Fashion

      Are you suggesting women will take up IT in preference to law because (some) apps are cool?

      How on earth is Law fashionable for women - is Ally McBeal a role model?

      Maybe, but I would warn everyone against such an attempt at following today's fashion. App developers don't make much money (sure some do, on average and in general they don't). The technology might drastically change and there will be armies of others to do the work, you might get in just in time to see your potential career outsourced. There is a low barrier to entry to app development - anyone can download the development kits for free and get started. This is not the recipe for a long, financially rewarding career that will allow you to pay the student loan off.

  32. JulieM

    Interesting Solution

    The way things are going right now, the number of men in IT is decreasing by one while the number of women in IT is increasing by (one minus the same amount).

    Yeah, I scored 45 / 46 on the chromosome test, and am now going through the long viva voce .....

    My only regret is not beginning my transition sooner, but I was convinced in spite of everything that I had to live up to what Nature had put between my legs.

  33. Esme

    Whilst I am not comfortable with much of the tone of Connor's argument above, nevertheless they do make a good point regarding intellect and autism, as has everyone who;s pointed out that perhaps predelictions towards certain interests and not others may be to some extent innately different between males and females. I'm in my late 50's, mucked about a bit with computers back in the days of 6502's and Z80's and such, and fell into IT (I'd much rather have been an astrophysicist, but operating mainframes was the job I could get). In my career I have experienced misogny of every strength from 0 to 11 in my various jobs, but it;s always been a case of what the mix of personalities of those present has been like. I've been in an otherwise all-male team where all was hunky dory and another where it was utterly horrible - but that's just because the latter bunch had a higher than average arsehole quotient in their personalities.

    People are people, and both males as a whole and females as a whole are extremely variable. IT initially appealed to my love of problem solving, but nowadays I frankly couldn't be bothered with programming, I much prefer my current helpdesk role because I'm more directly helping people, talking to people etc. Yup, stereotypically (but not exclusively) female behaviour. I'm also, please note a feminist, and to disparage all feminists as being some kind of overly 'politically correct' social fascist is, frankly, idiotic. Feminists are people too, and thus variable, but it only tends to be the over-the-top and/or wrongheaded ones that attract attention. They are a minority.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Today, every professional path will take them in - except IT.

    This is utter nonsense. Women are welcomed into IT, there just aren't many of them that choose to study it, and so aren't qualified.

    The problem, in this case, is the women themselves.

  35. dan1980

    TL;DR - no, thanks.

    "So few apply because the discrimination against women in IT is systemic, pervasive, and (insofar as we can put a pin down) begins in secondary school. The years when young people come into their own sexuality - and their own understanding of sex roles - seems to be when women start to lose interest in IT. Why? Because the entire culture screams at them that IT is a male thing - that it’s part of male culture."

    Is it your position, then, that there really are fewer women available to hire and so - even with the best intentions - a manager conducting interviews will inevitably be forced to hire males?

    If so then this is very much what people like me, who have to conduct these male-dominated interviews, get defensive about. People talking about the gender make-up of IT always use the term 'defensive' as if that is necessarily a bad thing. If I feel that I am being attacked without reason, of being blamed for something that I am not responsible for then of course I will be defensive.

    'Pointing out something bloody obvious to anyone outside the IT industry inevitably leads to a defensive claim: “I’d hire more women - but so few apply.”'

    Given your own words, as quoted at the start, this would seem to be a factual claim. Why call it "defensive", then? If it is to be labelled that, then it is because it IS a defence, in the same way that telling a judge that you couldn't have been at the murder scene because you were in another state is a defence. I.e. the facts support the claims of the 'defendant'. People only get defensive when they feel they are being accused of something.

    This issue almost inevitably involves one side saying things like "just on this side of misogynistic" (WTF?) and the other getting offended and therefore defensive.

    I was going to call it a "conversation" but it's not. It's one side that feels it has the moral high ground because it is representing a minority (in the situation) preaching about how bad everything is and the other side saying "if you're going to accuse me of being part of the problem then you can fuck right off".

    "So have a look around your office. Seeing mostly men? Then you’re the problem.

    Beg your fucking pardon? I am the problem? I don't mean to be rude but you don't even fucking know me, mate.

    "Seek out bright young women. Mentor them. Give them the access they want and the environment they need to flourish."

    Ahhh, I see the problem. Let me re-write that for you: "identify people based on gender and single them out for special treatment so as to assist their advancement (flourish[ing])". Yes, that sounds right.

    "And if you should find yourself in yet another sausagefest, hold the men there to account. There is another gender."

    Hold them to account? For what? Having a penis? What would you have them do? Should they perhaps feel guilty - ashamed that they are male? Should they have boycotted the event perhaps? Are they allowed to go if their employee has paid for them to go or should they sit their boss down for a lecture about gender equality and why going to the conference would be perpetuating the problem?

    It is great that you are taking a stand on this but you are an in-demand speaker and just because you can pick and choose and get flown around to the place to sling buzzwords at people doesn't mean that the rest of us do. You are not hurting for money and, with column inches to fill and new technological developments and threats to explain to ABC audiences, you undoubtedly get more invitations to speak than you can accept and even if you didn't you are still far, far better off, financially, than the vast majority of 'sausages' reading this article. So what about where it's not so easy. What about, say, in a hospital when your child is sick? I don't mean to get personal, but would you refuse to admit your child to a hospital if it didn't have programs actively promoting male allied health workers and female surgeons? Would you yank your children out of a school that didn't have programs in place to promote more male teachers?

    Yes the nursing and teaching professions are always offered as counterpoints but that's because they are excellent comparisons and, in my case, ones I know very well due to the professions of my family as well as my extended experience with the health sector. Try finding a male live-in nurse. Or, worse, try finding a male behavioral therapist and male speech therapist for someone with ASD who reacts more favourably with men than women.

    Now, I am not saying that people are glossing-over or ignoring the gender imbalance in those industries but you can sure as hell bet that female psychologists don't write articles saying "look around your practice. Seeing mostly women? Then you are the problem".

    Are these women "the problem"? For the record, this was the first (non-sponsored) link. What about these women? Are they the problem?

    Hell no. And nor should they be made to feel like they are.

    Perhaps we should blame "Hollywood" for telling men they "don’t have a meaningful role" in therapy, allied health, care, teaching and development professions an thus engineered their exclusion from these female-dominated areas. As an aside, do you know that people in nursing actually cite IT as a comparison, asking why, if women are breaking into IT, can't men break ino nursing? One of the big problem here is a sort of sexist assumption that is a form of begging the question. It is simply assumed that men enjoy advantages across the board so if they are under-represented in some profession then the reason must be that they're all too busy looking down the shirts of the women in middle-management - through the glass floor/ceiling separating them.

    You are an in-demand speaker and that must be lovely for you. But just because you can pick and choose and get flown around to the place to sling buzzwords at people doesn't mean that the rest of us do.

    The seems to be something about riding so high a horse that engenders a particularly accute myopia. I've heard you speak before, Mark and you seemed a really nice guy but you've made a mistake that many others with similar convictions do, which is of the form:

    "I am part of MAJORITY and accept there is a problem with MAJORITY's treatment of MINORITY and therefore as a member of MAJORITY I am qualified to accept the blame for and on behalf of the rest of the members of MAJORITY."

    No, thanks.

    1. dan1980

      Re: TL;DR - no, thanks.

      P.S - I am shattered due to far too many late night so please excuse any spelling/grammar mistakes.

    2. foxyshadis

      Re: TL;DR - no, thanks.

      "Beg your fucking pardon? I am the problem? I don't mean to be rude but you don't even fucking know me, mate."

      <3

      1. dan1980

        Re: TL;DR - no, thanks.

        "However lucid Pinker is, pithy one-liners aren't science, they're just pithy one-liners.

        Ditto.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another stupid article on the suposed gender bias in IT

    There is no gender bias in IT!!

    There is however a gender bias is society as a whole against women in technical roles. You cannot force women into IT if they aren't interested. A sea-change in society's attitude towards women from an early age is required if we are to see more women interested in tech.

    So stop bloody well blaming IT for societies shortcomings!

    1. conan

      Re: Another stupid article on the suposed gender bias in IT

      This is exactly my experience. Firstly, there is a gender imbalance in IT, and the industry would be better off without it. Secondly, I have never noticed the IT environment I work in being hostile towards women specifically.

      I do think the problem arises before women enter the workplace, but it isn't the responsibility of the IT industry - even the men in it - to address this fact, and that demographic isn't responsible for it. We try to hire the best people, to the best of our ability; recommend some ways that I can find and retain better candidates that also happen to involve considering or appealing to more women, and then you'll have something useful to say.

      I agree it is a good thing for IT professionals to help young women engage more in technical disciplines, but I don't think it's a responsibility. It is however a responsibility for men - and women - in general to do the same. Just because I work in IT doesn't grant me any specific responsibility for reducing the gender divide in that industry beyond what I have as a human being that is part of our society.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Difference in assessments....

    Interesting that it is so casually mentioned that up to years 5 and 6 female regularly outnumbers male and assumed that women dominating in this is not a problem?

    Shouldn't that imply there is some gender imbalance in the schooling or competition systems? Some drive to encourage younger boys to better academic achievement?

    No? Oh of course not - they are boys and the men two generations older than them had things far too much their own way, so we couldn't possibly do anything now that could ever be perceived as aiming to benefit boys.... it would be politically incorrect....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Difference in assessments....

      OMG! Either that is such a poor joke, or you are such a misogynistic moron that you actually think the problem is that girls to a certain age are doing well!

      There are so many comments here showing what the problem is, but this takes the biscuit! Damn those girls trying to do something, get back down where you belong!

  38. LDS Silver badge

    we would have paid to have girls interested in our Commodores and Sinclairs....

    Unluckily all of the were more interested in boys with a new motorbike than a new computer, and valued playing soccer much more than being able to code in 6502 assembly.

    None of my sister's friends entering our study ever screamed 'Cool, the new Commodore! Can I try it?', and ever asked me to exchange ideas or programs... To them I was mostly 'that strange brother who spends so many hours *playing* with a computer instead of doing something better'. PCs were seen just as a boys' *game*.

    Even the two daughters of a friend of my mothers, whose father was a university professor of electronics,, one is a veterinary, the other studied 'engineering', but not IT or the like, just a strange hybrid called 'business engineering' and now works in IT, but 'of course' in the role of sales and business manager, nor in hardware or software production...

    So, please, don't blame us. We really didn't anything to hinder girls fall in love with IT. We would have really liked it to happen, and see girls around us. It didn't, some of us found PCs interesting, almost all of the girls didn't. Sellers targeted the group more likely to spend money on their products, as it happens in any other market, and the nerd stereotype and stigma was created. Being a negative one, it kept girls away.

    Probably, you should blame more the media and ad industry - where many women work - to have created a negative stereotype of IT professionals, and keeping women away from IT, instead of applying a sexist and misogynist stereotype now. In my now twenty year experience, it's not IT people keeping women away. It's women keeping them away themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: we would have paid to have girls interested in our Commodores and Sinclairs....

      Agree entirely. At the Uni Amateur Radio Club we heard an interested girl would come with one of the senior guys for sure, the committee was so keen to 'promote girls in Ham Radio' she got co-opted onto the club committee before she even showed up.

      I looked around the club and pointed out "there are guys there that come here every week for years already and here we are promoting a woman we haven't even met, you should be ashamed". So they co-opted the regulars on too.

      She never did show up. There were never any girls in the club. Come to think of it, there were never any electronic engineers (from my year) in the club except me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: we would have paid to have girls interested in our Commodores and Sinclairs....

        >Agree entirely...

        There were never any girls in the club.

        Come to think of it, there were never any electronic engineers (from my year) in the club except me.

        This should be put to music.

        Just kidding.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: we would have paid to have girls interested in our Commodores and Sinclairs....

      As a teenager, we didn't have computers at school but recall conversations about what we could do with the upcoming tech we read about - taken longer to get tablet computers than we predicted but surprising how accurate our youthful predictions have proved. In fact my first teenage sweetheart I dated in 1971 went on to study Computer Science at University a couple of years later. I was quite surprised at University to discover maths and science less gender balanced - at the time we put it down to the old-fashioned single sex grammar schools still outnumbering coed comprehensive schools such as the one I attended.

      One thing we never predicted was that discussions like this would be taking place 40 years on! Or that single sex schools would still exist to divide the sexes in their formative years. Never seen any evidence that its nature not nurture as some commentators suggest. Interesting topic for historians. The Commodore anecdote suggests something changed by the early 80s.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: we would have paid to have girls interested in our Commodores and Sinclairs....

      Yup, because they should have been there to be interested in you, not the computers...

      Because they were not real people wanting to do something, they are eye candy that should want to go out with you because you did stuff with computers...

      But, no, there is nothing in the IT culture that treats women as strange objects that maybe puts them off...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - "Yup, because they should have been there to be interested in you, not the computers"

        You read a sad tale from someone bemoaning the fact that girls weren't interested in what he and his friends were into and somehow conclude that he was a sexist only interested in eye-candy? Weird.

        According to your logic, any man who says that there should be more women in his working enviornment is only interested in them for their bodies. So, no matter what we say, no matter what we do, we are the problem. Born evil, I guess.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC - "Yup, because they should have been there to be interested in you, not the computers"

          The first sentences reads as though the person is more upset about them being interested in boys with bikes rather than boys with computers. And boys who can play soccer than boys who can code.

          ---

          Unluckily all of the were more interested in boys with a new motorbike than a new computer, and valued playing soccer much more than being able to code in 6502 assembly.

          ---

          So, no, I don't read it as a sad tale of woe, I see it as someone more upset that others got to play with the girls. Which is kind of the problem, he didn't care if they liked they computers, he cared that they didn't like him.

          Now, if he had left out that first sentence then I would have been all for the idea behind (most of the rest) of the comment.

  39. xerocred

    Even at 1 day old, baby boys choose to look at mechanical things more than girls

    Title comes from the YouTube video Gender Equality Paradox- gives a plausible explanation as to why the situation is so.

    Women represent 60% of graduates - that's 50% more than men (its even worse at 2:1 in Sweden). I would say the gender imbalance of higher education is much more pressing issue than wondering why women don't do IT, but I digress.

    Women obviously have ability and opportunity - they choose not so do IT or Engineering - they do medicine, law, veterinary science is 87% women in the UK when they do STEM it is most biology related.

    I do not believe it is because they were dressed in pink at an early age not all are. Like gay people, you are born that way, not because your mum made you wear a pink shirt when you were 9.

    Only about 2-3% of all men turn out to be Electrical engineers, why is it not more? Because they are not interested.

    I am a white male Engineer for which I make no apology. I will not urge my young son or anyone male or female) to do Engineering or IT - why? cos it can be outsourced, ever changing technology that you have to keep on top of and millions of educated masses to compete for jobs with. Interesting for a while yes, but a long term career, no. I will implore him to become a doctor or lawyer and to specialize.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even at 1 day old, baby boys choose to look at mechanical things more than girls

      Medicine, law, veterinary science are all very well known activities where its straightforward to get secure, well paid, jobs once qualified. Other STEM subjects bring less predictability or security. On the other hand spending most of your life as a GP inspecting verrucas and diagnosing the common cold is hardly an inspiring prospect for someone capable of gaining the several A* s at A-level required by medical schools. Perhaps a change of culture where parents aren't encouraging kids to become doctors or lawyers would help. Less financial, more fulfilment.

  40. Rogue Jedi

    I work as IT support in a school with students aged 13-19, I oftern have students who are interested in IT ask me for help and advice on many IT related issues ranging from basic computer repair and maintenance to how to get into a career in IT, I answer these questions and enchourage this curiosity. in 5 years no female has ever asked for this kind of help.

    it seems by the age of 13 girls have already been put off IT.

    2 of the 3 Middle Schools which provide our students have female IT Technicians, as does my school.

    if, even with positive female IT role models from the age of 9, no 13 year olds are interested in IT this will not be easy to change.

  41. karmagarda

    Such a load of codswallop

    I've never read such rubbish in my life. I've worked in IT for about 15 years, have conducted 100s of interviews and I would guess that about 2% of those candidates were women. So that makes it my fault that there's a lack of females in IT?

    Reverse back a little further to University. When I started the course it was about 60% male. 2nd year it was about 80% male. By the final year of my Degree how many females in my class? ZERO.

    Females just don't seem to flock into this market. There just aren't as many geeky girls out there as geeky blokes. Girls are a more social and open species which seems to make them hate the geeky world. Those that do - thrive (2 of the best developers I know are female). So how on earth is it our fault that it's not flooded with females?

    What next, are you going to have a rant at all NFL players saying they're the problem and it's their fault it's a Male dominated sport?

    Have to agree, this feels like such a click-bait article - you take the bait, click, and read yet another disappointing badly written load of codswallop.

  42. Turtle

    As usual...

    As usual, demands for equality turn out to be demands for preferential and discriminatory hiring practices.

    1. Stacy

      Re: As usual...

      Where? I read it more as needing to make the industry more attractive (and keeping those interested at an early age), not make hiring practices discriminatory towards those who are there (which is a terrible idea!)

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as an OF, I think it may be related to the triumph of commercial values in setting our social context since the 1980s.

    When I took my hard science degree course in the 1970s 40% of the people graduating with me were women (most of them got 1sts, *mutter*). Since then I've worked for a variety of specialist software companies and the proportion of women in the "technical areas" (e.g. analysis/design/implement/test/qa/project management) has always been somewhere between 25% and 40%.

    However, I have noticed that this ratio is dropping amongst those now in their 20s, and I suspect the influence of the internet and its insistence on conformity will only make this worse in the future.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a fuck-knuckle bloody article. Best thing you could do, author, is to stay the fuck out of politically correct "make me feel good and hope to get laid" subjects and focus on the real world. And every conference you're not going to because you think it's somehow unfair to women, the organizers will support you all the way; we'll all be better off if you never attend another one with your stupid uncaring and ignorant attitudes.

    This whole subject is simply first world "pretend that I care" problem du jour. Get a fucking life.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if The Register sometimes doesn't help..?

    I wonder if The Register sometimes doesn't help in this regard, unfortunately?

    The Reg has managed to occupy a quite popular niche in the anglophone interested-in-computers world, and so I imagine that quite a lot people, both women and men, who do have an interest in IT will have come across it at some point in their internet travels and may well have stuck around as regular readers.

    Many of us read the Reg because it _is_ informative, and the wonderful hand-biting tone (mind your fingers..) is often just what is needed to keep the world of IT in its place. And certainly, for the most part, the contributions of fellow commentards are often (not always, but very often) genuinely far more thoughtful, intelligent and well-written than those on many other parts of the interwebs. That in itself hopefully helps to shatter the stereotype of people in IT being clumsy and unable to communicate.

    However.. At the same time, the blokey tone of the Reg maybe sometimes gets a little too blokey and sometimes conveys a tone that can get rather too misanthropic in general and perhaps even sometimes specifically misogynist (admittedly this may sometimes be more in the words of some commentards), which, at the risk of stereotyping, I'm sure doesn't present a welcoming environment or view of IT to many women (or indeed, to many men).

    Regular Reg readers will understand the light-hearted context of the Paris Hilton icon and of the magnificent PARIS and LOHAN projects, but I wonder whether that might not always come across as intended for new (especially female) readers and could be misconstrued as just being plain lecherous? (We perhaps need a corresponding male 'role model' (ahem) icon and a male name for the next SPB project to help keep things in balance?). More specifically, some of the wording of articles relating to (for example) "dead Steve Jobs" (he may not have been perfect, but who is, and I'm sure his family and friends still miss him), Martha Lane-Fox and Year of Code's Lottie Dexter, while perhaps making perfectly valid points overall, have sometimes rather crossed a line in terms of poor taste and offensiveness that I'm not personally comfortable with myself either. There are certainly ways to comment or criticise without resorting to excessive crassness (However, Hoxton hipsters are fair game for snark at any time, I reckon..).

    On a similar note, other commentards have previously commented uncomfortably about the noticeable increase recently in the use of "women as eye candy" images as attractors for spotlighted articles. Now, we are all admirers of whichever variety of the human form appeals to us, and I suppose it must generate some extra clicks for the highlighted articles, but what impression of the role of women in IT (or the IT industry's view of women) does this convey? There are many other places we can look if we really want to find pictures of less-than-fully-clothed people, I'm not sure that the Reg is really the right time or place for this, as it were..

    I love the Reg's punning headlines as much as I'm sure you do coming up with them (although you _can_ over-do supercalifrag.. puns, use sparingly!), but, of late, it has also started to seem that there has perhaps been a bit of an overspill of, umm, body-part-related punning (a specific part, shall we say), and perhaps somewhat too much of a good thing maybe can convey too much of a laddish (not in a good way) tone, which might not be welcoming to all.

    I dare say I'll get down-voted to hell for this comment, and I'm certainly not suggesting that the Reg should ever become entirely straight-laced, but, just a perspective to consider..

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many of the women I've worked with in I.T have stated they prefer a male dominated environment, some even claiming they hated working with other women.Female management also seemed a lot happier managing men.

  47. Paul J Turner

    Obviously wrong

    I work alone in my own IT company doing hardware and software.

    What's to stop any female doing the same?

    Hard to blame the workplace when you are the workplace.

    There is plenty of absolutely free tuition and education at all levels available to all ages and genders via the web.

    It must be due to their own preferences.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The same Mark Pesce?

    Is this the same Mark Pesce who's keynote presentation at linux.conf.au 2011 displayed sexual images in a public place? If he had owned that he had once been part of the problem then this article would have been so much more convincing.

    In retrospect "home computers" were used almost entirely by boys. But I wonder if ascribing that to sexist marketing is the whole story. I saw it at the time as a continuation of the "tinkerer" culture (which was already male-dominated). The boys who spent hours tuning carburettors in the 1970s spent them tuning computers in the 1980s.

    Once programmers left home there were other issues preventing the progress of women as easily as happened prior to the 1980s.

    Programmers were being paid serious money. Not rock-star money, but certainly a lot. If you were an entry-level programmer in the the public service in the 1980s you were paid the same as a "senior officer". That is, the same salary as a person holding substantial responsibility (a "senior officer" can be called to testify to Parliament). There are a horde of "bros" which follow the money -- you can track their progress through sales and then banking finance -- and they arrived in computing in the 1990s, elbowing aside everyone else.

    The vogue of "software engineering" didn't help. Engineering already has serious sexism issues. Adding computer science into that department didn't lead to CompSci making Engineering less sexist, but the depth of Engineering's disease obscuring that CompSci had issues.

    I see the lack of reasonable working hours as a major issue preventing more women in IT in the current era. You don't see much material on IT and work-life balance, but I wonder if that's because of the low proportion of women rather than there not being a serious issue.

  49. Bucky 2

    This is what I'm hearing

    We take it as axiomatic that women WANT to do all the things that men do, in precisely the same numbers, for any given occupation.

    Therefore any situation where there is other than a 50/50 split of men and women is the result of injustice.

    This is caused by men being unfair in some way that does not imply any difference of ability or will, maintaining that dominance for generation upon generation, watching other empires meanwhile rising and falling.

  50. Unlimited
    Mushroom

    Is Journalism Exempt?

    50% of all articles published on this website should be authored by women.

    You can start by rejecting all Mark Pesce submissions in favour of something written by a woman.

  51. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Anecdote

    I'm male and 45 and have been coding since I was about 10 or 12. My school had a one-year Computer Studies course as an option in 1985ish, and I remember that there were equal numbers of girls and boys. This course covered computing, not office it skills, programming, database structures, basic underlying concepts.

    Digging out an old backup of the VAX password file for my university course in 1987-90 I notice 22 females and 38 males.

    I had a software testing job a couple of years ago, and my boss the senior tester of a team of four was female with two other female testers - but the entire programming team of about 20 was male - almost all of them younger than me.

  52. Rik Myslewski

    An observation about women in the semiconductor industry

    I've perceived an interesting evolution in the past year or three. For some years I've been attending relatively high-level technical conferences in the semiconductor industry — ISSCC, IEDM, GTC, Hot Chips, SC[insert year here], SEMICON — you know that type of joyous nerdfests I'm talking about. Some years back, it was relatively rare to find women among the attendees; in the past couple of years, however, young women have become more and more part of the geeky festivities, both as interested, note-taking attendees and as insightful, ground-breaking presenters.

    The interesting thing, however, is that rarely are they US or European women; they're far more likely to be East or South Asian students and researchers, with some Eastern Europeans — Russians, mostly — thrown into the mix.

    No hard statistics, no conclusions, just a personal observation.

  53. strum

    Blokes

    Reading through these comments, there seem to be two attitudes - either "we should be nicer to the gurlies, 'cos we want to fair" or "to hell with them, if they wanted it, they'd do it".

    But it isn't just about being fair to women. It's about being healthier for everyone.

    All-male environments are nasty, immature, petty and self-satisfied. Most [work] environments become better, when they're mixed. For all I know, all-female environments are just as bad - I wouldn't know, being a bloke. I do know that I hate working with nothing but other blokes.

  54. JLV
    Thumb Down

    >Seeing mostly men? Then you’re the problem.

    BS.

    I have never treated any woman differently at work from a man. I suspect many of us haven't either.

    Yes, yes, and I do remember the recent article (much more factual, IMHO) posted a lady in IT and about the guys hitting on her and being general pests at trade conferences. Like many of the commenters I was horrified and believe the guys responsible should have been reprimanded if not fired.

    And, no, I don't generally prefix my remarks with something about discrimination against men. We still are in general better off than women.

    But... back to this article.

    Why do you feel the need to lay some guilt trip on us? If no women seek to work in this field, that is regrettable, but it is also largely their choice not to. Will you be writing an article any time soon about how women are at fault for not having enough males in the nursing profession? No? Didn't think so.

    Now, if I was a manager and chose not to hire or promote women, then yes, you'd have a point. But I am not, many of your readers are "just" techies and you did not qualify your blanket criticism in the least bit.

    By all means, I don't mind if you encourage us to take steps to increase diversity and be accepting of women in our field. I don't mind if you remind us not to engage in any sexist and unpleasant activities. For example, going to strip clubs with your buddies is your business, if you're into that. I find it profoundly distasteful when it this is done in an after work context and you happen to work with women. Yes, some women will be OK and will be having a laugh but it is insensitive to think none will object or feel uncomfortable. And, yes, I know companies where this happens.

    Constructive criticism is not the same thing as telling us that the reason so few women work in IT is all due to us and not at all due to the preferences of those who choose not to pursue IT.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021