CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Services

Why so few women in tech? It's Anthro 101

    In response to the report written by Ed Frauenheim, "Opening doors for women in computing":

    Glad to see that this subject is starting to be discussed more. It is not the long hours that dissuade women; for example, women in medicine are now at parity with men in most specialties, and I expect that to continue.

    Take it from someone who did an entire OS with her husband, working morning until night writing and programming with two children in school and pregnant with the third. Long hours of work are handled by women all the time, especially by women with two to three jobs at the lower economic level.

    I think we tend to discount how hard women work for their families unless it is some high-paying exotic job. But women around the world have always worked long hours.

    Unfortunately, the number of women who have 1) achieved in some area technically and, 2) are free to criticize the power structure from which they benefit, is very low. We all worry about blacklisting, and in a "slave," uh, excuse me, "ownership" society, a loss of your job can mean permanent career destruction.

    Why do we discount women or act as if they never contribute anything at all? Well, that's an easy one to answer.

    Women, in particular, find that a higher profile leads to greater risk--work denied, ridiculed or outright stolen. Women don't and shouldn't risk as much; a woman's first priority from society's standpoint is to her family and community, and raising risk endangers family and community. Raising risk is discouraged, all the Xenas or Lara Crofts notwithstanding. Any cultural anthropologist could tell you this one--it's Anthro 101.

    And since women generally have less credibility with the public in technology precisely because women aren't supposed to "like" technology, as you wrote in your article, it's easy to get away with demolishing a reputation that is a priori unlikely.

    It's not pretty, but it is pretty simple. Maybe it's time to just deal with it as such?

    Lynne Greer Jolitz
    Los Gatos, Calif.