The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Question: Why Doesn’t The CompSci Matter In Computer Science?

Posted on | May 2, 2011 | 9 Comments

by Smitty (via Digg)

Here is Anna North in with another pothole in the road to societal destruction: “Why Women In Computer Science Matter”. Gender actually doesn’t matter, Anna, but National Offend a Feminist Week is all about exploring twisty little intellectual mazes to furious effect, let’s see what you have to say.

. . .in an editorial today, the Crimson’s Irene Chen points out that sophomore declarations aren’t the whole story. She writes,

The rise of women concentrators in computer science is thrilling because it indicates an expansion of fields where women dare trod[sic] now.

For the record, debugging multi-page Java error traces and hate mail from MySQL are the utmost in heroic. Oh, wait: they’re not.
Anna just rocks her some classroom fashion:

When I started college, I was hoping to double-major in English and computer science. I chose Stanford in part for its strong CS program, and my first semester, I was excited to enroll in the university’s large and popular introductory CS class. My professor in that class was a woman; so was my TA. But I was still one of very few women in the room. In 2010, about 8% of undergraduate computer science degrees went to women — I graduated in 2005, and that number sounds about right. I learned later that some women in predominantly male areas of study feel that they need to tamp down their femininity –- I did the opposite. I wore a lot of lipstick and miniskirts and, somewhat incongruously, I insisted on eating Pop Tarts in class. At the time I thought I was being rebellious, like if I was going to stick out I might as well stick out all the way. Now my rebellion looks pretty silly, but it’s sad that I felt I had to rebel at all.

And this added what, precisely, to your understanding of sorting algorithms, Anna? Did your compiles go faster? The motives for miniskirts in class will remain completely unexplored.
And this:

I actually loved programming itself, but I ended up quitting computer science at the end of my freshman year. This was partly a decision about time. I wanted to be able to write fiction, and to work for my school’s newspaper and other publications, and to have fun, and I knew I couldn’t do all that and get a computer science degree — not when my introductory courses were already requiring all-nighters and older students were dropping pounds because their advanced classes left no room for eating. The computer science major was notoriously all-consuming, and I wanted to be able to do other things.

So, what I’m gathering here is that you were simply too lazy. Now, if you love programming, are you still doing any? What is your take on Haskell? (I grudgingly admit to having written more VBA than anything else.)
At last, she finally gets around to explaining why skirts in CompSci are so important, emphasis mine:

One thing I learned from all this is that numbers are an intangible. I can’t really tell you why it bothered me that my CS classes were only about 10% women, or why it made me feel like I should put on a skirt too short to bike in. But bother me it did, and while I’m glad that I got to write and take English classes and work for papers and ultimately do a Classics minor (possibly the opposite of computer science), I sometimes wonder how much gender really factored into my decision. Especially since I later learned that after “there are no girls in computer science,” the most common comment about gender in the major was, “all the girls leave after their first year.”

Fooled us! One would have expected an argument that, you know, supported the title of the post, especially from an English major. I could opine at length as to the motives for women taking CS classes, but I won’t. Did you ever code Perl, Anna? Do you remember the character that scalar variables begin with? That is correct: $.
I am geek, hear me roar: Computer Science is about the flow of information, especially as represented in binary form. There are precisely zero hormones involved. If it happens that fewer daughters are inclined toward the study, Then So Be It. If I ever have a daughter who wants to hack, I’ll cheerfully do a Linux From Scratch project with her.
Having hung out a lot on Slashdot before drifting into blogging, I can say that the gender bias actually favors any interested women. Actual skillz demonstrated will crush the occasional bit of chauvinism. Ladies, Computer Science, after working hours, is a target-rich environment. The odds are good, but the goods are odd: I won’t misguide you there.
What has got to be pointed out and derided at every turn is the tendency for feminists to assert that something perfectly natural, like gender discrepancies in the Computer Science field, are rooted in attribute evil intent. ‘The population of women in the Computer Science field is well below 50%. I hate the smell of conspiracy in the morning. It smells like. . .testosterone!’ The Anna Norths of the world get in there, get bored, head for more interesting climes, and then need to attack the Evil Oppressive Patriarchy for this imbalance.
Show us the code, Anna. The knees and ankles may be dainty, there in your mini-skirt, but there is no bigger meritocracy than coders. You will rarely get closer to the feel of the judgment seat of God while here on Earth than when you invoke a compiler against your source code. It really doesn’t care what flavor of tarts, be they PopTarts or chicks in mini-skirts, are sitting in the class, or the gender ratio of the students. The code is correct at compile-time, or you’re crushed.
Was it the fact that you just can’t blow sunshine up the compiler’s backside that drove you away, Anna?


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