Maybe the women are right

Summary: Perhaps the women who don’t choose computer programming are making a good choice, especially with the deteriorating working conditions, stagnant or falling salaries, and offshoring.

Recently, we’ve had a few postings about women in computing (or the lack thereof) — see Bray, Wood, Tenison, and Bray (again), all ignited by a piece in devChix.

These postings all assume that we need to do something to pull more women into coding. Why? Do we think there are there lots of women would be happy coding, but aren’t smart enough or motivated enough to choose the right careers for themselves, or are too timid to deal with any barriers unless someone comes along and dismantles them first?

Listen to the market

In an age where we’ve come to trust central planning less and the free market more, why not try to learn from the labour market instead of trying to push it ways it doesn’t want to go?

If we assume that the majority of working women are smart, strong, motivated, and brave, then we can also assume that they have good reasons for choosing their careers. And in fact, it turns out that their track record isn’t bad. For example, in the 1970s and 1980s, women were grossly underrepresented in manufacturing and overrepresented in lower-paying service-industry jobs like retail. But when manufacturing starting offshoring in the 1980s and 1990s, it was the women who were still working (often as managers, at this point), while the men were at home, depressed, collecting welfare cheques or trying to retrain for jobs that paid a fraction of what they used to earn.

Now, while there’s lots of work connected with tech, we see pure coding increasingly being offshored, the same way that manufacturing was 20 years ago. There’s no shortage of women working in jobs connected with computers, but instead of coding, many women choose onsite consulting, training, marketing, and other jobs that are not only social but require face time with customers, and as a result, are much more difficult to offshore.

Of course, if you absolutely love coding, like I do (and most of the people reading this do), you’re going to work hard to try to find a way to keep doing it, whether you’re a man or a woman. But if you don’t feel that burning love, why let yourself be dragged kicking and screaming into an industry where salaries are falling, jobs are fleeing, hours are increasing (bye bye weekends!), and workers are increasingly treated as interchangeable cogs on a development assembly line, without even the (questionable) union protection their parents had in their factory jobs 20-30 years ago?

About David Megginson

Scholar, tech guy, Canuck, open-source/data/information zealot, urban pedestrian, language geek, tea drinker, pater familias, red tory, amateur musician, private pilot.
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2 Responses to Maybe the women are right

  1. SusanJ says:

    I agree with this 100%.

    But there is a serious problem which is the shortage of US citizens getting advanced degrees from US CSE Departments. One way to tackle this shortage is to get more US women into the field. This approach has been suggested because it appears that of those people who want to be some sort of scientist, women more than men are increasingly choosing other sciences than Computer Science. Now it may be that part of the problem is the label and that women are still going into computational science but via Mathematics, BioInformatics, Computational Chemistry, etc.

    See also the information from the Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research: “http://www.cra.org/Activities/craw/”

    • Yasuaki says:

      I know a lot about this topic so please fogvire the length of this reply. I have a lot of good info for you. I am a mother of two little girls who are actually tugging on my arm as I write this so I will try to be brief. Many people are looking for work from home companies. All the scams definitely create a big problem but also, there is a problem of people misunderstanding the difference between work from home jobs and work from home opportunities. There really are not work from home e2€œjobse2€9d. To get that you have to start working for a company in their offices first, then they MAY allow you to take the job home.Most of the work from home opportunities that are legitimate offers are not an hourly pay type job. They are business opportunities that help you in starting your own business from your home.What you should do first is to decide if you are simply looking for an hourly rate type job or if you are looking for more of an opportunity for additional income such as what you would make in your own business being your own boss from home. Many say a JOB stands for Just Over Broker and I have found that to be true as well. I never got anywhere working for others. Small home businesses have some small costs involved, less then $100 to start is reasonable and I would stay away from those wanting $300, $500 even some asking for $1000-$5000. It doesne2€™t cost that much to start and run a home business so you shouldne2€™t pay it. The real ones will have a small monthly overhead as well. Should be around $50 a month but no more then $75. And everything should be included from your web sites to training and team support to back office accounting and booking. Ite2€™s ok to pay this overhead because ite2€™s a business, they cost money. Ite2€™s not reasonable to assume you can run a business from home with a website and more for free so do keep that in mind as you search. If you are coming across places that say free then I would RUN done2€™t walk the other way! They never are. I tried them many a times and 3 weeks later I had to buy this and 6 weeks later that. After 6 months these e2€œfree businessese2€9d had cost me over $800 on average.Ie2€™m a stay at home mom of two little girls as I mentioned, ages 1 and 3. I work about 15-18 hours per week for a National Medical Benefits Company. This is a home business, a nationally known and reputable home business which is what you need to make sure you are looking for. I have been with the company almost a year now and I make over $2000 a month! In your first month, depending on how many hours you can work, I have seen people make anywhere from $300 to over $3000. And your income will increase each month because we get paid residual income as well. If I continue on as I am going at the end of the year I will be making $5000 a month. My friend Becky from South Carolina started 2 years before me and she is now making $95,000 a year with this company.The best part is they have 401(k), direct deposit, life insurance and a benefits package most of which you get from day one. In addition, there are no products, no hard selling or pushing, no cold calling, no home parties and no telemarketing! That was VERY important to me.I absolutely love working with them and I can’t believe I am making what I am making and in so few hours per week. The neat thing is there are other people on your team that you work with so you are never alone. You have great team support and you get to know the other people on your team pretty well. The support is great but I have made wonderful friends as well. I think thate2€™s important too, especially being at home!I was a bit apprehensive at first because I know a lot of companies are not legit but this company is the number one National Medical Benefits Company in the US. They are a member of the US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Dental Plans and the owner of the company actually sits on the board of The Consumer Health Alliance to which we are also members. Also they were featured in e2€œThe New York Timese2€9d, e2€œWall Street Journale2€9d e2€œTime Magazinee2€9d and the e2€œAmerican Medical Reviewe2€9d. Even e2€œ60 Minutese2€9d with Morley Safer did a big special on this home based business.Even more then all this is they are accepted at over 100,000 retailers nation wide. These are fortune 500 companies like Sears, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Wal-mart, Publix and more. These companies would never work with a company that was any thing less then reputable. That made me feel very good about working with them knowing they were accepted at these stores that I frequent. Also now of course being with them I get the dental and vision benefits for free and I saved over $150 on my last visit to the dentist! Thate2€™s just a beautiful perk! : – ) When I first started I just felt very safe with them, that and my friend was already making so much money with Ameriplan. But at this point I feel a sense of security financially that our family has never had before. That plus LOVING what you do? What could be better? Check them out! Just type in in your web browser.-AmyThis answer has been chosen as a e2€œBest Answere2€9d more then 14 times!

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