The Best of Systers Blog Attributing Gender Differences in Science
The other week I was sitting at a wedding reception discussing one of the happiest of topics: why there are so few women in computing and technology. Perhaps not the most appropriate venue for the topic, but a soapbox that I feel comfortable climbing on whenever I can bend a person’s ear. I was talking to a man I deeply care about – a family care physician and a thoughtful and kind person.
He was shocked at how few women are in computing. In his lifetime he has seen the medical profession move towards a more gender balanced realm, with some areas of medical science being predominantly female. What had happened to computing? Why hadn’t gender balance caught on in computing?
In our discussion, like many discussions I have with men inside and outside of technology, biological differences came up as a reason why women aren’t in technology. He asked, “Well, aren’t women just predisposed to not be good at math?” The attribution to cite nature (rather than nurture) for why women are not in computing is so easy to give, that I’m not sure he had spent time thinking through the implications of what he was saying. Was his response offensive: yes; coming from a good place: I’m sure. But if someone who I care about and who cares about me can cite this excuse so easily, how easy must it be for others?
I’m glad you asked. Here is a link to a recently reported research study that discusses the attributed reasons why women aren’t in science by gender. Here are example reasons given by men and women that I think make any point I would want to make for me:
When you talk to women and men in computing, the answers generally differ on why there are so few women in the field. The perception difference is important and one that we should all think about, both men and women.