Women’s experiences in the Tech industry: Death by 1000 paper cuts

March 29, 2013 at 1:34 am 5 comments

What a sad posting.  It’s particularly sad because it’s 10 years after “Unlocking the Clubhouse.”  Really?  Haven’t we figured out how to do this any better yet?

My college classes have next to no women in them. A professor makes creepy comments about “geeky girls” during class. One of my few female classmates tells me she’s just doing this to prove her father wrong. Classmates don’t take me seriously until I scream. The first time I learned that you get to be a bitch or you get to be ignored – a choice that would later follow me to the working world. Four years of paper cuts. Four years of pushing myself too hard because I wanted to prove something.

via My experiences in tech: Death by 1000 paper cuts.

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Cybersecurity as a motivation for drawing high schoolers into CS Interview with Code.org video director

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dennis Frailey  |  March 29, 2013 at 7:09 am

    What’s particularly frustrating about this is that back in the 1960’s (and ’70’s and ’80’s) there were a lot of women in the computer field, many of whom have since risen to positions of influence and responsibility and who have often broken the “glass ceiling” at their places of employment. I’ve had the good fortune to have worked with and often for many such women over my career and I have the greatest respect for them.

    So what happened? I blame the personal computer, which created a new model of what a software developer is and does – a model that seems to have been particularly attractive to boys of middle and high school age but not so to the girls. It’s a model that prizes cleverness over carefulness and speed over correctness. The snazzy video game is the paradigm, not the robust and reliable (and boring) financial system or database or engine controller. Perhaps the sociologists can point to other factors that contributed to this change, but in the 90’s we started to notice much fewer women majoring in computer-related fields and fewer women entering the profession.

    But I will point out that in many places, women are treated as equals to men in the computing field. One must seek out such employers – they will be the ones to benefit from the women who work for them.

  • 2. Bonnie  |  March 29, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I was a student in computer science when PCs arrived. I totally agree with Dennis Frailey. The computer science major went from a collective experience (the computing center at 3am as a buzzing hive of activity) to a “code in your cavelike dorm room” experience.

    I also blame changes in industry practice, especially the job interview process, which has turned into a combative “gotcha on that puzzle question” experience. I’ve been on many interviews where the interviewers don’t even show the candidates around. The candidate just gets shoved into a conference room and is grilled for hours. This is such a turnoff to women, and even to many men.

  • 3. The Dongle Incident » Geeky Mom  |  April 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    […] this morning, Mark Guzdial, who is a staunch advocate for getting more women involved in computer science was surprised that […]

  • […] you haven’t read about “Donglegate,” you should.  This piece reminded me of the thousand paper cuts post from last week.  Adria Richards spoke out against one of those cuts.  There’s a very nice piece on Wired […]

  • […] All these efforts to draw in more girls to computing are great, but the last sentence is a big deal.  How do we keep them?  How do we help girls to survive the thousand paper cuts? […]


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