Archive for February 24, 2010

Technology is not masculine

I first learned that information technology in Malaysia is female-dominated at an NCWIT meeting last year, which I blogged on last May. (A blog post about which Skud was pretty unhappy.)  Now, a new book is out describing this phenomenon: “Masculinity, Power and Technology: A Malaysian Ethnography,” What I find most interesting about this is the sharp contrast with prevailing attitudes here. We in the West often see technology as obviously masculine — even our pre-teen Girl Scouts tell us that.  Yet, the Malaysian experience points out that the relationship is constructed, not innate.  This gives me hope that we can correct the misperception.  A relationship constructed can also be re-constructed.

“In the U.S., technology and masculinity are very connected, which is not the case in Malaysia,” said Ulf Mellstrom, a professor of gender and technology at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden and a Clayman faculty research fellow, who discussed the topic at a presentation called The Intersection of Gender, Race and Cultural Boundaries: or Why is Computer Science in Malaysia Dominated by Women? “In a short time, booming industrialization has created new opportunities for women while transforming and reforming established society.”

via Malaysian women redefine gender roles in technology | Gender News.

February 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm 2 comments

Are there jobs or aren’t there?

Network World News had an article that several people sent to me, about the enormous growth of jobs for graduates with CS degrees.

“I think the job market is what’s driving the growth,” says Professor Bruce Porter, Chair of the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, which has seen its enrollment increase more than 5% this year. “The government has made it clear that computer science is a growth field, and I think that message is getting back to students and their parents.”

Corporate recruitment of top computer science grads has remained steady throughout the economic downturn. Last spring, at the height of the recession, Georgia Tech’s College of Computing had the highest job placement rate of any major on campus and the highest starting salary.

via Want a job? Get a computer science degree.

This morning, my colleague Aaron Lanterman sent me a link to a blog he follows, by an engineer working for NASA, whose job it is to make sure that the fuel tank doesn’t blow up the shuttle when the tank drops away.  He’s about to lose his job, due to the end of the shuttle program, and he’s upset with the focus on engineer education.

Coming down from on high today, in a different but nonetheless highly-public venue/context, is the word from Corporate:

It’s terribly important that something be done about the dire state of engineering education. This country (and thus, by extension this engineering-heavy enormous American corporation) is suffering from a terrible engineering shortage.

Huh? Run that by me again, please? And this time try to spin it so it makes sense using Earth Logic(tm) rather than Corporate Logic?

Are there jobs out there, or aren’t there?  Or is it all a bit of spin?  Note that the Network World News article talks about enrollment being up.  It’s up for us, too — in comparison.  Today, we have 800-900 BS in CS majors (depending on how you count), and about 300 BS in CM majors, for a total of (at most) 1200.  In 2001, we had 1500 BS in CS majors.  We’re “up” in comparison with how “down” we were.  I believe that new graduates are getting jobs, and those jobs have good salaries.  All graduates?  And what happens after that?

February 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm 7 comments


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