Microsoft's KPL

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In a message of Sat, 08 Oct 2005 19:31:46 CDT, John Zelle writes:

>As usual, I don't have time to comment on all the intriguing things that
>have come out of this thread. But gender balance is something that I've
>spent a lot of time thinking about and working on as regards our own
>program. So I felt compelled to say something.
>
>Laura Creighton wrote:
>> Why females shy away from math and science is no big mystery.  It is
>> deemed 'not useful' by them.  See many posts by Anna Ravenscoft on the
>> subject here in edu.sig archives.  These days she is 'Anna Ravenscroft
>> Martelli' having married Alex Martelli.  (Hi Anna.  cc'd to you so as
>> to not talk behind your back, and in case you want to comment.)
>>
>
>I hear researchers say this at conferences, and I read it in the
>literature about gender balance in computer science, but I still don't
>understand it. Can you explain why when selecting majors women consider
>CS as "not useful" and therefore to be avoided when they seem to have no
>such qualms about, say, history or English literature? Here in the
>states, women are also severely underrepresented in natural sciences and
>engineering, also areas of obvious utility.

When we interviewed the chemistry students here at Chalmers, as to
why they were 'bucking the trend' -- last years, decades, worth of
female students who lead the way seemed to be the answer.

I think that your question indicates your problem.  It is not that
women start with a list of 'everything is worthwhile' and cross
things out.  Rather, they start with a list of a few things that
are worthwhile.  Those not on the list are assumed to be worthless.

The problem is to get programming (you will never get
computer science as I know it on the list, since it is only done
for the sheer joy of it, and is mostly unuseful) on the list of
_useful applied sciences where women do well_.  For some
strange and largely  not undserstood reason that happened here
in Sweden about Chemistry.  

Lots of us are trying to understand this.

>>Speaking specifically to CS, both boys and girls are heavy users of
>computers now (although girls tend to start a bit later). So why don't
>girls perceive computing as a useful field of study? I don't think it's
>because it involves mathematics, because frankly, most entering CS
>majors (male or female) have no idea that CS involves much mathematics.

This is a new thing in the USA, then, and it has not spread here
where 'you have to be good at math' is seen as necessary for a
CS major.

>I can understand this "usefulness" argument to some extent for
>mathematics majors, but at our institution (liberal arts school in
>rural, midwest US), we have little trouble attracting female math
>majors. On the other hand, it is extremely rare to find a female
>interested in CS, period. Virtually all of our female majors are
>recruited when they take our CS1 class as either a Gen Ed. class or a
>requirement for another major.
>
>To my mind, the "useful" argument is a nonstarter. There must be
>something else going on. Any ideas on what that is?
>
><snipped part about Laura being a mutant>
>
>> But most women are not like this.  They want concrete usefulness.
>> Here at Chalmers in Sweden the women students outnumber the men in all
>> the Chemistry departments.  Chemistry is presented as concretely
>> useful.  
>
>As I mentioned above, this is not the case in the US. Chemistry is still
>one of the fields where women are underrepresented.

Yes.  But what we see is that chemistry is here perceived as
'being useful' while   Computer Science is not.  It is around here
called -- 'Mental Masturbation' -- though actually something that
is plenty ruder and less alliterative.

I do not think that you understand the viceral dislike that
many women have of girls who do things, selfishly, for no reason
beyond that they enjoy them.  I think that only girls who have
fought this understand it, and for most, the path of 'make sure
that what you do is immediately justifiable in terms of
benefitting others' makes immediate sense.  Most women have mothers
who ingrain this overcompensation to prevent selfishness into
all girls.  But I was raised by my father and my grandfather.  
When Catholic Girls School was teaching me that I was being
Selfish and Wrong, my elders were teaching me that as long as I
did not actively hurt anybody, it was OK for me to be selfish.

This is a very male thing.  So -- math is cool, and dear God
I am Good at it, so why not persue it?  This is male thinking.

For hundreds of thousand of years, the job for all women has
been the raising of their own children.  Childraising is
difficult, and very few women have the natural talents to do
this well.  Thus the futhering of civilisation required
the convincing of women that their best interests involved
sitting around doing something they do not particularly enjoy
and which they do poorly.

There is a two proned attack on this.  The first is to tell
women that 'raising children takes no skill, or training, only
love and unselfishness'.  This is wrong.  The second is to
convince women that being selfish is the ultimate evil.

>>When I offered a night-course of three weeks at the Chalmers
>> computer society (all chalmers students are automatically members) on
>> compiler design, pypy, and how to hack ...  only got 4 takers, and all
>> male.  A different 4 week course -- 'how to build a bot to take care
>> of seeing if your favourite websites are announcing the things you
>> want to know about -- NO PREVIOUS PROGRAMMING SKILLS NECESSARY' got me
>> 57 takers, 35 of which were women.
>>
>
>This is interesting. But is the real difference here practicality, or is
>it something else like the web (i.e. communication) or the NO PREVIOUS
>SKILLS NECESSARY?

I don't know.  But we have had other NO SKILLS NECESSARY courses
without the turnout.  This was a large shocker.

>I speak to women all the time, and when I ask them why they're not in
>CS, they tell me it's because they don't like computers. I've never ever
>had one tell me they didn't find computers or computer progams useful.

What did they say to you when you asked them why they did not like
computers?  If your experience is like mine you will get some
version of 'they are useful, yes, to other people but not
useful to me'.  Which counts as not useful in my books.  Perhaps
my questioning biases the sample about utility, though.  This
effect -- even if you try to not have leading questions, are
you leading anyhow? -- is hard to measure.

>
>As to why they don't see the Art and Joy, it's probably because they've
>never been exposed to it. It seems as if boys like using computers, and
>many of them, for whatever reason, are motivated to take a peek
>underneath and end up hooked on programming. Girls are using computers
>just as much, but don't seem to go that next step and try to see what
>makes them tick. Why? I don't know. Someone please tell me so that I can
>get my daughter interested in programming some day. (Not too soon
>though; I don't think there's a need for any kid to spend much time with
>a computer before at least Jr. High. But that's another thread entirely..
>.)

When I was 3 I took apart my first clock 'to find out why it worked'.
Over the next 4 years my grandfather taught me what it was that I
broke and why I could not fix it.  For my seventh birthday we
celebrated by having the repaired clock, repaired by us, with mostly
made by us pieces -- one cog had to be ordered special.

I took this to catholic girls school.  I was terribly proud of it,
and was at the age when 'show and tell' was a common feature of class.
So I 'showed and telled'.  And was told that what I had done was
prideful, and unchristrian.  It seems that it was selfish to repair
the clock rather than confess my sin to have broken it (somehow, in
the breaking, it had never been a sin with my father or grandfather,
just a very serious mistake and bad error of judgement on my part).

I resolved at this point and time to be prideful in all things.
But secretly.  I think that this is the make legacy,  what all
boys are obligated to do -- but secretly.  correct?

>
>> In Sweden we have laws preventing the sort of advertising that
>> I think MSFT is doing in the USA -- targetting children is
>> illegal.  
>
>Then how do your kids know what their parents need to buy for them ;-)

Exactly.

However, 'my freind xxx has one' is still a good argument.

>
>>But given that you are stuck with it, I would be
>> very interested in seeing if it has an effect in student sex
>> ratios.
>>
>
>Perhaps that's one good thing that could come out of KPL-type efforts---
>getting some girls to see the Art and Joy. Though I'm not holding my brea
>th.
>
>--John
>--
>John M. Zelle, Ph.D.             Wartburg College
>Professor of Computer Science    Waverly, IA
>[hidden email]          (319) 352-8360
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>Edu-sig mailing list
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Take care all,

Laura
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In reply to this post by Arthur-27
In a message of Sat, 08 Oct 2005 20:54:14 EDT, Arthur writes:

>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]] On
>> Behalf Of John Zelle
>
>> I speak to women all the time, and when I ask them why they're not in
>> CS, they tell me it's because they don't like computers. I've never eve
>r
>> had one tell me they didn't find computers or computer progams useful.
>
>Seems to me that the analogies with "car culture" are too close to ignore
>.
>
>Women drive cars to pretty much the same extent as men but few care much
>about the operating system.
>
>How many megahertz do you got under the hood of that baby?
>
>What's your baud?
>
>It was a great day for me when I went from 1400 to 2800.
>
>Not a joy I could share with my wife.
>
>The question is are these phenomenon related by having the same parent
>class, or is computer culture - for whatever reason - something that
>subclassed directly from car culture.
>
>Art
>
>
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It is about control.  Women are trained to be controlled and
to shun all activity that gives them more direct control.
Indirect control -- manipulating others -- is possibly ok, but
all the rest is dangerous selfishness.

Laura  - who also helped make the fastest MG in Toronto-area
         proven in our local race track by helping to 'stack'
         the exhaust system.  Designing that was cool.   Power is
         cool.   But very unfeminine.

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In reply to this post by Radenski, Atanas
In a message of Sat, 08 Oct 2005 18:25:57 PDT, "Radenski, Atanas" writes:

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: [hidden email] [mailto:[hidden email]]
>On
>> Behalf Of Arthur
>
>
>> Beauty is beauty, and is never useful.
>
>'Beautiful' is what gives us pleasure. (Things that give us pleasure can
>be useful at times, perhaps.)
>
>I am curious why computers do not seem to give enough pleasure to most
>women. I do not know.
>
>Atanas

Part of the answer is that women are trained to not 'over indulge'
in pleasures that do not directly benefit other people.  But
why the message 'fractals are cool' only translates to some women
(and men) is a puzzle I will never understand.  The notion that
all nature shows itself _fractally_ is just too fundamentally
way cool ???

Laura

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Chuck Allison
> But I have read plenty of research through math society publications
> that suggests that perhaps there is a genetic difference
> mathematically. The jury is still out, of course, but the numbers
> point that way. That's what the Harvard president in trouble, but the
> numbers are in his favor. It would be nice to figure all this out
> someday.
>

My view is closer to:  IF there is a genetic difference of such chasmic
proportions as to forever put math on the male side, THEN there'll
inevitably by another math that's more female in its operations, i.e. you'll
get a parallel technology, not a imbalanced monopoly.  That's just
speculation, as we're still considered two halves of the one species (but
will that change?).

> I have only one female out of three classes I'm teaching this
> semester. Pretty status quo.
>

I've taught large roomfuls of women only for years at a time.  One of my
more pleasant jobs.

Kirby


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Chuck Allison


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Chuck Allison [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 9:01 PM
> To: Laura Creighton
> Cc: Arthur; 'Kirby Urner'; [hidden email]; [hidden email]
> Subject: Re[4]: [Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL
>
 
> I find this very illuminating. To be frank, I've suspected some of this
> but we dare not say things like this in public because of the inflamed
> rhetoric of feminists. We are skewered if we suggest that there is a
> difference between men and women.

Yup.  You're affiliated. ;)

But sincere sympathies on this point.

Thank God I no longer have to read through memos about to behave
appropriately inauthentic.

Boy we've taken a strange turn regarding all this business.

Did I say "boy".

Sorry.

Actually I can try to squeeze out some sense of humor on these matters
because I feel we are coming out the other end of the worst of the Cultural
Revolution.

And I will promise to swear that we are all the better for having been
through it - once someone can promise me its over ;).

Art


 



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 9:52 PM
> To: Radenski, Atanas
> Cc: Arthur; Laura Creighton; Chuck Allison; [hidden email];
> [hidden email]; Kirby Urner; [hidden email]
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] Microsoft's KPL
>
> Part of the answer is that women are trained to not 'over indulge'
> in pleasures that do not directly benefit other people.

Yes.

And women outperform men in school these days because one is no longer
judged by performance on exams - but by "projects", i.e. the effort one is
willing to extend to please teacher.

So the feminists have rearranged the system to better reward a subservient
attitude.

Not what they were going for, think I.

Art


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Arthur [mailto:[hidden email]]
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
> > Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 9:52 PM
> > To: Radenski, Atanas
> > Cc: Arthur; Laura Creighton; Chuck Allison; [hidden email];


> So the feminists have rearranged the system to better reward a subservient
> attitude.

Perhaps someone as unaffiliated as myself can suggest that perhaps math and
science seem too hard, in that sense.  Not intellectually - but the
performance criteria are not the one's women prefer.

The standards by which one is judged to have or have not absorbed the
material are too objective.  

There is no one to please.


Art


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In a message of Sat, 08 Oct 2005 22:32:01 EDT, Arthur writes:

>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Arthur [mailto:[hidden email]]
>>
>> > -----Original Message-----
>> > From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
>> > Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2005 9:52 PM
>> > To: Radenski, Atanas
>> > Cc: Arthur; Laura Creighton; Chuck Allison; [hidden email];
>
>
>> So the feminists have rearranged the system to better reward a subservi
>ent
>> attitude.
>
>Perhaps someone as unaffiliated as myself can suggest that perhaps math a
>nd
>science seem too hard, in that sense.  Not intellectually - but the
>performance criteria are not the one's women prefer.
>
>The standards by which one is judged to have or have not absorbed the
>material are too objective.  
>
>There is no one to please.
>
>
>Art

This is extremely well known by women.  It is a mystery to me why
this simple truth is not well known by men.

Actually, the problem is not 'there is no one to please' but
rather 'you have to please yourself'.  External objective validation
of math is all well and good, but the first inkling you must have
in order to develop a mathematical intuition is the 'this feels
good -- like the correct way to proceed' feeling.

Then, if you get rewarded when you get the correct answer, thus
validating your 'mathematical workmanship' all is well.  But only
some people develop a mathematical intuition, given mathematical
problems to solve.   The rest seem to learn how to solve them
by rote learning, memorization of techniques, and things that
do not involve the mathematical intuition at all.

I think that only people who thrive on playing with their
mathematical intuition will love computer science and all
higher math.  But most women do not work on developing one.

Laura

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Chuck Allison
Hello Laura,

Saturday, October 8, 2005, 8:53:09 PM, you wrote:

LC> I think that only people who thrive on playing with their
LC> mathematical intuition will love computer science and all
LC> higher math.  But most women do not work on developing one.

This is complicated nowadays by the fact that computer-related fields
have multiplied, and only some of them involve much in the way of
mathematical intuition. Core CS is very much a mathematical exercise.
We have many students who balk at the mathematical part of our
program, and they bail to IS or IT or Multimedia, etc. That's fine -
we all should be so lucky to find where we belong - but once again
mathematics becomes the crux of the issue.

Kinda makes me feel good that I have 3 degrees in math. All those
years of geekdom are finally paying off :-). I discovered programming
in a FORTRAN in my senior year at college and knew I found my thing.
The other two subsequent degrees were mainly because I didn't want to
back up and retool in undergraduate CS - but my last degree was in
Applied Math with an emphasis in CS.

Yet I wonder if the likes of us are becoming very much a minority,
in the U.S., at least, since our math skills as a nation are falling
dramatically.

"Knuth alone hath gazed on beauty bare."

I think that's what Edna St. Vincent Millay would've written if she
wrote that poem today. Few there be that find it, eh?

I have an artist relative that thinks I'm a narrow left-brained nerd.
When I try to discuss the beauties of design and problem solving and
clean code, etc., I get blank stares and condescending disbelief.
Sheesh! He thinks he has a monopoly on dealing with beauty.

--
Best regards,
 Chuck

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
> To: Arthur
> Cc: 'Laura Creighton'; 'Radenski, Atanas'; 'Chuck Allison'; edu-


> I think that only people who thrive on playing with their
> mathematical intuition will love computer science and all
> higher math.  But most women do not work on developing one.

But why?

Haven't we gone around in a circle.

Is it a moral or other obligation of men to ruminate on this matter?

Can we (men) move on -

until someone gets back to us.

And prove that we are liberated men, not believing that all problems are
ours to solve?

Art







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Gender and Programming (was: Microsoft's KPL)

Dethe Elza
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton
Just a couple of data points for the discussion.

My eight-year-old daughter loves math and computers and has asked me  
how she can make her own computer games.  I've tried showing her what  
goes into making games and she lost interest for now.  She also  
writes stories, draws beautifully, invents constantly (including how-
to step-by-step sketches), and prefers to play roughhouse (and chess)  
with the boys than to hang out with the girls, who (at least last  
year) were more into psychological games and popularity contests than  
actual play.

I also recently worked with a practicum student from Chile who was  
suprised to find her IT classes mainly full of boys here in  
Vancouver, apparently in Chile mostly girls study computer science  
and IT.

On the rare occasion that I go to parties, men are more likely to be  
talking about computers than women, even if the women are  
programmers.  Boys and their toys, I guess.  I know a lot of great  
women programmers and women who like to *use* computers, but not very  
many women who are into computers for the sake of computers or who  
treat them as attractive gadgets.

When I switched from the Creative Writing department to the Computer  
Science department, I found there was far *more* freedom of  
expression and creativity allowed, but I don't think that's widely  
known, and it may not be common in other schools.  The women in my CS  
classes (not universally, but mostly) treated the classes as classes,  
and only did what was required to get through the class.  Some of the  
men were the same, but a substantial proportion programmed because  
they loved computers and loved to make them do things.  Computer  
programming was the closest thing they'd found to magic.

Overall, I think there are a lot of reasons why boys choose CS more  
than girls, but I think they are culturally dependent, not universal,  
and I think some of it is just that both boys and girls have a poor  
understanding of what computer programming is (or can be) all about.

--Dethe


The laws of nature were not repealed on September 11. --Kathleen Tierney




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Re: Microsoft's KPL

John Zelle
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton
OK, I think I'm getting some insight here, but something still doesn't
quite ring true for me.

I said:
>>I hear researchers say this at conferences, and I read it in the
>>literature about gender balance in computer science, but I still don't
>>understand it. Can you explain why when selecting majors women consider
>>CS as "not useful" and therefore to be avoided when they seem to have no
>>such qualms about, say, history or English literature? Here in the
>>states, women are also severely underrepresented in natural sciences and
>>engineering, also areas of obvious utility.
>
>

Laura responded:
> When we interviewed the chemistry students here at Chalmers, as to
> why they were 'bucking the trend' -- last years, decades, worth of
> female students who lead the way seemed to be the answer.
>
> I think that your question indicates your problem.  It is not that
> women start with a list of 'everything is worthwhile' and cross
> things out.  Rather, they start with a list of a few things that
> are worthwhile.  Those not on the list are assumed to be worthless.
>

I think I understand what you're saying, but what I still don't
understand is how majors like English lit and history _do_ get on the
list. There are many "non-service" majors that do not seem to have this
problem with gender balance. How are women getting the message that it's
OK to pursue a "selfish" interest in literature? The obvious answer to
me that they must get more enjoyment from literature than from
computing. The question is why? Is it cultural, or is it a natural
male/female distinction?

> The problem is to get programming (you will never get
> computer science as I know it on the list, since it is only done
> for the sheer joy of it, and is mostly unuseful)
 > on the list of
 > _useful applied sciences where women do well_.  For some
 > strange and largely  not undserstood reason that happened here
 > in Sweden about Chemistry.
 >
 > Lots of us are trying to understand this.
 >

Computer science to you must only be theory. That's fine, but for the
record, there's plenty of practical and applied CS as well. I think in
Europe CS tends to be much more theory laden than it is here.

Anyway, I think you are probably right that trying to understand why CS
is not on the "useful list" is the key here (at least for me).
Substitute programming and the problem is the same.

>
>>>Speaking specifically to CS, both boys and girls are heavy users of
>>
>>computers now (although girls tend to start a bit later). So why don't
>>girls perceive computing as a useful field of study? I don't think it's
>>because it involves mathematics, because frankly, most entering CS
>>majors (male or female) have no idea that CS involves much mathematics.
>
>
> This is a new thing in the USA, then, and it has not spread here
> where 'you have to be good at math' is seen as necessary for a
> CS major.
>

Again, I suspect this is a US/Europe distinction. CS here tends to be a
mix of theory and practice that is much more "career oriented."

<lots of good stuff cut here>
>
> For hundreds of thousand of years, the job for all women has
> been the raising of their own children.  Childraising is
> difficult, and very few women have the natural talents to do
> this well.  Thus the futhering of civilisation required
> the convincing of women that their best interests involved
> sitting around doing something they do not particularly enjoy
> and which they do poorly.

This seems way too strong to me. I find it highly unlikely that humans
would have survived if women weren't damn good at raising children. And
I doubt that civilization would ever have evolved if it required somehow
"brainwashing" women against their natural characters to take care of
the children. Certainly, plenty of women (and men) find having and
raising children to be enormously rewarding.

>
> There is a two proned attack on this.  The first is to tell
> women that 'raising children takes no skill, or training, only
> love and unselfishness'.  This is wrong.  The second is to
> convince women that being selfish is the ultimate evil.
>

Warning, I'm _way_ out of my element here. It seems to me that learning
to raise a family only requires that people can learn how to raise
children based on their experiences of how they were raised. Larger
societal messages are only strictly necessary to learn things that can't
be directly experienced by individuals. But everyone was raised in some
way.

How is the message about selfishness differentially taught to boys and
girls? I certainly try to teach both my son and my daughter to behave
unselfishly. And, of course, I encourage them both to pursue what
interests them. I don't feel any compulsion whatsoever to treat them
differently in this respect. Where is the coercive power structure that
instills such apparently different values in boys and girls in our
modern society? If I as a parent don't feel it, what causes it? If
anything, it seems that men have traditionally had the burden of
"having" to pursue externally useful skills because they were expected
to be the bread winners.

I just don't think it's as simple as girls being "taught" that they must
always serve others. There still must be a reason that they prefer not
to serve others by studying English lit rather than helping others by
creating new technologies. Or maybe I'm missing something in this
argument. It is true that I have no firsthand experience of the societal
pressures that girls/women feel.

--John

--
John M. Zelle, Ph.D.             Wartburg College
Professor of Computer Science    Waverly, IA
[hidden email]          (319) 352-8360
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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Peter Bowyer
In reply to this post by Chuck Allison
At 18:11 08/10/2005, Chuck Allison wrote:
>While their graduates will
>indeed be effective in some technical workplaces, I think the slanted
>education will take its toll. As a college professor, I am concerned
>for people who go that fit-a-mold route.

I've been keeping quiet on this thread, but I don't think you can
blame fit-a-mould students on programs formed by corporate
sponsors.  Most university departments (excepting those in the arts I
guess) produce fit-a-mould students.  I study physics in the UK and
guess what?  Most graduates will go on to do physics research or work
in the city of London on financial models.  Most students do fit a
mould, they're not being taught to, but to think outside the mould
requires effort and time both on your part and that of a mentor in
the department.

Added to that the pressures for the students to be 'employable'
afterwards influence how the study is geared (we now do poster
presentation and power point presentation modules and write reports -
usually without any guide of what should be produced - as employers
used to complain physicists didn't have these skills)

No doubt CS is different because you are being prepared for one
industry, but I wanted to make the point it happens without corporate
sponsors just as much.

One other point: I think in the US you have a great benefit in having
a spread of subjects in your university degrees (I'm right in
thinking you major and minor in different subjects?).  That's
something I'd have loved to do.

Peter

--
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http://www.mapledesign.co.uk 

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In reply to this post by Arthur-27
In a message of Sat, 08 Oct 2005 23:21:22 EDT, Arthur writes:

>
>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
>> To: Arthur
>> Cc: 'Laura Creighton'; 'Radenski, Atanas'; 'Chuck Allison'; edu-
>
>
>> I think that only people who thrive on playing with their
>> mathematical intuition will love computer science and all
>> higher math.  But most women do not work on developing one.
>
>But why?
>
>Haven't we gone around in a circle.
>
>Is it a moral or other obligation of men to ruminate on this matter?
>
>Can we (men) move on -
>
>until someone gets back to us.
>
>And prove that we are liberated men, not believing that all problems are
>ours to solve?
>
>Art

This isn't a problem for men to solve as men.  It is a problem for
educators to solve, as educators.  But that shoe fits most people
around here ...

Laura

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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Laura Creighton
In reply to this post by John Zelle
In a message of Sat, 08 Oct 2005 23:06:18 CDT, John Zelle writes:

>OK, I think I'm getting some insight here, but something still doesn't
>quite ring true for me.
>
>I said:
>>>I hear researchers say this at conferences, and I read it in the
>>>literature about gender balance in computer science, but I still don't
>>>understand it. Can you explain why when selecting majors women consider
>
>>>CS as "not useful" and therefore to be avoided when they seem to have n
>o
>>>such qualms about, say, history or English literature? Here in the
>>>states, women are also severely underrepresented in natural sciences an
>d
>>>engineering, also areas of obvious utility.
>>
>>
>
>Laura responded:
>> When we interviewed the chemistry students here at Chalmers, as to
>> why they were 'bucking the trend' -- last years, decades, worth of
>> female students who lead the way seemed to be the answer.
>>
>> I think that your question indicates your problem.  It is not that
>> women start with a list of 'everything is worthwhile' and cross
>> things out.  Rather, they start with a list of a few things that
>> are worthwhile.  Those not on the list are assumed to be worthless.
>>
>
>I think I understand what you're saying, but what I still don't
>understand is how majors like English lit and history _do_ get on the
>list. There are many "non-service" majors that do not seem to have this
>problem with gender balance. How are women getting the message that it's
>OK to pursue a "selfish" interest in literature? The obvious answer to
>me that they must get more enjoyment from literature than from
>computing. The question is why? Is it cultural, or is it a natural
>male/female distinction?

No.  This is completely false.  Start with the premise that a woman will
never, ever, ever do something because she enjoys it.  (This is also
false, but a lot closer to reality than where you are standing.)  Thus
there are some women who persue literature 'because it is an accepted
thing for women to do' and discover to their joy that they enjoy it.
They are therefore able to get away with doing something enjoyable.

The rest of them are not enjoying it.  But they aren't necessarily aware
of the fact -- and if they are they most likely consider it irrelevant.
Whatever they were doing, they would not expect it to be enjoyable.

>Computer science to you must only be theory. That's fine, but for the
>record, there's plenty of practical and applied CS as well. I think in
>Europe CS tends to be much more theory laden than it is here.

It is indeed, and you have pegged me quite correctly.
The practical stuff I call 'programming' and not 'computer science'.

>This seems way too strong to me. I find it highly unlikely that humans
>would have survived if women weren't damn good at raising children. And
>I doubt that civilization would ever have evolved if it required somehow
>"brainwashing" women against their natural characters to take care of
>the children. Certainly, plenty of women (and men) find having and
>raising children to be enormously rewarding.

No, the problem is that my standards of 'good child raising' are
very high.  When actually, any fool can get pregnant, and then,
provided that you don't destroy your children, they will survive
however wretchedly you raise them.  

>> There is a two proned attack on this.  The first is to tell
>> women that 'raising children takes no skill, or training, only
>> love and unselfishness'.  This is wrong.  The second is to
>> convince women that being selfish is the ultimate evil.
>>
>
>Warning, I'm _way_ out of my element here. It seems to me that learning
>to raise a family only requires that people can learn how to raise
>children based on their experiences of how they were raised. Larger
>societal messages are only strictly necessary to learn things that can't
>be directly experienced by individuals. But everyone was raised in some
>way.
>
>How is the message about selfishness differentially taught to boys and
>girls? I certainly try to teach both my son and my daughter to behave
>unselfishly. And, of course, I encourage them both to pursue what
>interests them. I don't feel any compulsion whatsoever to treat them
>differently in this respect. Where is the coercive power structure that
>instills such apparently different values in boys and girls in our
>modern society? If I as a parent don't feel it, what causes it? If
>anything, it seems that men have traditionally had the burden of
>"having" to pursue externally useful skills because they were expected
>to be the bread winners.

Oh women brainwash their daughters.  

>
>I just don't think it's as simple as girls being "taught" that they must
>always serve others. There still must be a reason that they prefer not
>to serve others by studying English lit rather than helping others by
>creating new technologies. Or maybe I'm missing something in this
>argument. It is true that I have no firsthand experience of the societal
>pressures that girls/women feel.
>
>--John

A think that you have missed is that a large number of women define
their own value by how much they are 'suffering' and 'sacrificing'
for others.  This keeps them very far away from careers which are
seen as self-serving.  And if you do not know whether a course of
study is selfish, then you can always count the number of women
in it.  If there aren't lots, then there must be something wrong
with it.  Thus lit gets people, not because women decide that it
is an unselfish way to live their lives, but because they think that
lots of women in it IMPLIES it is an unselfish and good way to
live their lives.

This is part of the chemistry story.  it attracts women who say the only
important reason for them to become chemists is that 'there were a lot
of women in it'.  Which is rather hard on those of us who would like to
spread the succcess elsewhere.  It means that if we could get even
moderately successful, we could probably snowball, but the first
step seems as hard as ever.

Laura



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Laura Creighton


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Laura Creighton [mailto:[hidden email]]
 
> This isn't a problem for men to solve as men.  It is a problem for
> educators to solve, as educators.  

Well  - let me be the reactionary, again.

With some reference back to David's point about "social engineering" and its
deleterious effect on education.

There is a long history of literature on the subject of the inevitable
destructiveness of just these kinds of engineering efforts - mostly an
outgrowth of the intellectual minority mustering some effort to confront the
intellectual majority's pussyfooting on subjects like Marxism.

Educators have done enough harm to boys already by trying to solve these
problems (in an atmosphere of duress), and more abstract, but real, harm to
girls as well.

More efforts will bring us more of the same.

As a good reactionary, I actually wish we could - for the good of all - roll
things back a bit.

But will settle for a moratorium.

A good, long moratorium.

Art



 


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Arthur [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 10:40 AM
> To: 'Laura Creighton'; 'Arthur'
>
> Well  - let me be the reactionary, again.

Only because this subject is *so* significant to me, and I understand that I
am subverting that seriousness by being the tongue-in-cheek "reactionary",
let me restate and add some personal frame of reference.

The elder sister I refer to, the one perhaps in the "history books", has not
simply been among the women of her generation who have broken new ground for
women in education and in the professions, she has applied her education and
devoted a good deal of her professional life to the cause of women,
particularly in giving women the ammunition they need to defend themselves
as members of the workforce, in various ways, and on various fronts.

And while I am not on board with every word of every law, and I recognize
that this ammunition, like all ammunition, can be misdirected - I am
certainly generally supportive of what she and her colleagues have
accomplished.

So again, I didn't want it be too easy to dismiss as the tongue-in-cheek
reactionary.

But....

First do no harm.    

Everything we can look to with any objective eye should tell us that it is
the boys who are suffering most under the current atmosphere of our schools.
And I see that absolutely clearly from my personal frame of reference. My
feminist sisters see it absolutely clearly with their own children.

And it is largely because the engineers have seen fit to denigrate the
things boys gravitate toward, and the ways that they gravitate towards doing
it.  And that has been done largely in the interests of achieving fairness
for girls - of the shallowest kind. By in fact making strengths of the exact
weaknesses of women's culture that Laura articulates so well. Hardening
those problems, rather than confronting and solving them.  All done with the
best of intentions, by human beings of various and sundry genders who have
no right to expect otherwise - no right to expect that your ape of more than
average intelligence would have be equipped to get this effort right.  


We are achieving shallow fairness at the expense of a deeper pervasive
unfairness.

Yes, and feminization. But feminization in the sense of what feminists are
not supposed to want it to mean.

Moratorium, at least until we get our heads on straight.

Art






>
> With some reference back to David's point about "social engineering" and
> its
> deleterious effect on education.
>
> There is a long history of literature on the subject of the inevitable
> destructiveness of just these kinds of engineering efforts - mostly an
> outgrowth of the intellectual minority mustering some effort to confront
> the
> intellectual majority's pussyfooting on subjects like Marxism.
>
> Educators have done enough harm to boys already by trying to solve these
> problems (in an atmosphere of duress), and more abstract, but real, harm
> to
> girls as well.
>
> More efforts will bring us more of the same.
>
> As a good reactionary, I actually wish we could - for the good of all -
> roll
> things back a bit.
>
> But will settle for a moratorium.
>
> A good, long moratorium.
>
> Art
>
>
>
>
>



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27
> But will settle for a moratorium.
>
> A good, long moratorium.
>
> Art
>

Just trying to get clear what there's a moratorium on.  Educators doing
something to right an imbalance of some kind?  Sounds like we might want to
be doing that, not slamming a door shut on.  And your objection is something
about pussyfooting and Marxism?

Kirby



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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Kirby Urner
In reply to this post by Arthur-27
> Moratorium, at least until we get our heads on straight.
>
> Art
>

OK, Art, much clearer that time.  Amazing what a change in frequency will
do.

I want to back up and start earlier:  there's not really a problem here,
with women and math.  They're good at it, period.  In all dimensions.  They
just have a different trick set than boyz, because, like boyz, they've been
around the block a number of times, but a lot of them were different blocks.


We're not two species, as biologists understand the term, but those from
Venus from Mars type books sell well for a reason:  we're a somewhat
different mix of ethnologies, on top of being different genetically.  

We're rather different distros of a same OS (however, the same could be said
for ourselves as individuals -- we're unique on several different levels,
yet have in common our human nature (although existentialists argued against
there being one)).

As a boy, I'm looking at a different rebalancing act:  CS infuses math with
new blood, changing its sex appeal in the process, and pretty much erasing
the so-called "gender gap" -- however at a cost of making what boyz and
girlz learn tomorrow, in terms of content-wise distance from what you
learned when you and I were little, pretty vast.  GPS starting 2nd grade,
with earth.google.com.  Stellarium.  Celestia.  You and I picked it up from
reading, then looked up and saw light pollution and forgot the
constellations.  We were ignorant, and then we died.

Cheerily,

Kirby


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Re: Microsoft's KPL

Arthur-27
In reply to this post by Guido van Rossum


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kirby Urner [mailto:[hidden email]]
> Sent: Sunday, October 09, 2005 11:38 AM
> To: 'Arthur'; 'Laura Creighton'
>
> > But will settle for a moratorium.
> >
> > A good, long moratorium.
> >
> > Art
> >
>
> Just trying to get clear what there's a moratorium on.  Educators doing
> something to right an imbalance of some kind?  Sounds like we might want
> to
> be doing that, not slamming a door shut on.  And your objection is
> something
> about pussyfooting and Marxism?


Am I incomprehensible to you because I talk over your head, or under it?

Do you bother to read what I write?

I am quite sure that there are intelligent responses to what I am trying to
say. I am also just an ape of more than average intelligence.

Your's doesn't qualify as an intelligent response.

But you are denigrating, not responding.

And - yes - as usual I think I am speaking at a level of substance that
deserves more than that.

And yes, I am taking the kind of counter position against which it is easy
enough to take cheap shots - and sound like the one "in the loop".

I would appreciate it if you resisted.

Or at lest, first, made some effort to indicate you actual read what I wrote
with some sensitivity. As a prelude to your denigrating response.

But as you have said, you read what I write with a sense of from where it
comes. And you have a right to (to be wrong) about that.  

Art



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