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Women in Tech: 25 Profiles in Persistence

11/20/2017 00:01 AM EST
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Evariste
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Re: ...
Evariste   12/23/2017 6:14:07 PM
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I studied EE in Germany at one point.  Maybe things have changed somewhat, but at the time, in lecture halls of 300 people, there would be at most one woman.  This was in a country in where a university education was essentially free, engineering was well-respected (the currency used to picture engineers and scientists (including female scientists)), and which was "progressive" (as politically defined) in that working hours were limited and there were strong parental-leave mandates.  The future chancellor would be a female physicist.  Yet women were nowhere to be seen on the technical campus.

realjjj
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Re: ...
realjjj   12/22/2017 3:54:56 PM
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Would say that most if not all is cultural. Don't think genetics is a major factor, if at all (edit: can't even state with certainty that genetics are not an advantage for women). Everything we humans do is to rise above that anyway.  I do agree on pink vs blue, cars vs dolls, not just in this context but in the broader context of equality. Ofc we don't have to be the same to be equal so it's a bit tricky to decide if women and men should always behave the same as it is not necessary - and ofc if we do that, why should women behave more like men and not the other way around so maybe best we meet in the middle. Anyway, to better market engineering would work but it would be best if the Western world reshapes its values a bit, in a much broader fix. Maybe we should show more respect for every job out there, why look down on waiters or janitors, every job should be dignifying. We should care less about what people do and how much they earn and ... gonna stop here , don't want to go too off-topic but you get the point. Just don't ask how we would do it LOL , got no idea how to escape materialism (and all its consequences) quickly but long term, robots should allow us to do it.

elizabethsimon
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Re: ...
elizabethsimon   12/22/2017 1:50:27 PM
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@realjjj Thanks for the link. So there is a bit of cultural bias at work. There was an interesting bit toward the end where they talked about the relatively high numbers of women in India. These women are attracted because engineering is seen as a high status profession there. Maybe what we need it to elevate the status of engineers in general.  

realjjj
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...
realjjj   12/21/2017 8:39:57 PM
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The large differences between nations are rather interesting.

"In Europe and North America, the number of female graduates in engineering, physics, mathematics and computer science is generally low. Women make up just 19% of engineers in Canada, Germany and the USA and 22% in Finland, for example. There are some bright spots, though: 50% of engineering graduates are women in Cyprus, 38% in Denmark and 36% in the Russian Federation, for instance."

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/women_still_a_minority_in_engineering_and_computer_science/  

Edit:  short URL goo.gl/NBcMxw

elizabethsimon
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Re: I think, still missing the point
elizabethsimon   12/21/2017 5:36:39 PM
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@Bert, I agree with most of what you said but there is one aspect of the parential influance that could have an effect on what girls and boys play with.

If you go to the toy aisles of any store, you will find the toys segregated by gender. How many parents/grandparents etc. buy toys exclusively from the "gender appropiate" section?

Not that this is much different than when I was growing up. When I was young I got a lot of dolls but never played with them much. Fortunately I had a younger brother and parents who noticed that I was more interested in blocks and tinkertoys than dolls so I got some toys that matched my interests.

My point is to give young children a variety of toys and give them a chance to show their interests. And having teachers and parents who are OK with Susie playing with trucks and Billy playing with dolls helps as well.

After all, what better gift can we give the next generation than the opportunity to follow their interests whereever they lead. This might not lead to more women in engineering but would certainly result in a happier and more productive society.

Bert22306
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Re: I think, still missing the point
Bert22306   12/20/2017 9:00:46 PM
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I don't disagree that by the time the kids are in school, it will appear that "pressure" is being applied. I'm only saying, that is after the fact. The interests are manifested earlier on.

It should be telling to ask these successful women engineers, and the men too for that matter, when they showed those interests first. I can bet a healthy sum that most were interested years before the familar "role models" excuses had a chance to become an issue.

Honestly, my view has become that what is truly "stereotypical" are the list of excuses given for this state of affairs. I've heard the same excuses ever since the early 1970s. Unabated by the counterexamples.

resistion
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Re: I think, still missing the point
resistion   12/20/2017 8:50:19 PM
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Then the question is still whether society exerts its influence when the child is in school. At that point, girls and boys tend to separate, so the stereotypes would be negatively enforced there.

Bert22306
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Re: I think, still missing the point
Bert22306   12/20/2017 8:23:15 PM
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"Isn't this largely from parent-transferred stereotypes?"

Not believably. That's why I say to start looking at very young kids, like 1 and 2 years old. At that age, even 3, young boys identify and interact with mom more than with dad. And they very much do their own thing.

The first toy my daughter got was a dune buggy. She was maybe younger than 1. She even knew to make engine noises. But that hardly kept her interest long term. You can't force kids to do what they're not interested in.

Besides, once again, the counterexample of medical schools, vet medicine in particular, should make people stop using the familiar old excuses.

resistion
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Re: I think, still missing the point
resistion   12/20/2017 8:18:25 PM
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"The kids who show interest in mechanical gadgets, trucks and spaceships, airplanes, cranes, and so on, will predominantly be boys, every time." Isn't this largely from parent-transferred stereotypes?

Bert22306
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I think, still missing the point
Bert22306   12/20/2017 7:21:52 PM
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This is a bit of a strange crusade, and I can't tell if men are being made the "bad guys" or not. The profiles of these successul women engineers might as well be profiles of men engineers. The talk about "juggling family and career" is, of course, universal. It is hardly only women in engineering who have to juggle like that. And, so do their husbands, when both work. So I continue to ask, so what?

One common complaint is about role models while growing up. But come now. Isn't that putting the cart before the horse? Of course, there will be fewer women engineer role models, so fewer girls who are interested in engineering will find role models that "look like them." That's obvious, but you imply that it is the CAUSE for the small representation in the profession, and I dispute that once again.

It would be far more enlightening, Junko, if you were to visit preschools and kindergartens. I've come to believe, quite strongly, that people's interests are already demonstrated at these early ages, ages PRIOR to just mimicking what others around you are doing, and also prior to showing off. Between the ages of even as young as 1 to 4, maybe 5, is when kids are truly themselves.

And there is no question that boys and girls, for the MOST part, maybe not 100%, gravitate to different toys and different games. Just go and take a survey, in settings where these young kids can pursue their own activities, before being subjected to classroom lessons. The kids who show interest in mechanical gadgets, trucks and spaceships, airplanes, cranes, and so on, will predominantly be boys, every time. Many of these will want to figure out how these devices work. Those are the future engineers.

Now, try to get kids at those ages to play with toys they aren't interested in. They won't. They might briefly be quizzical, and then quickly lose interest and go to the more fun stuff.

Or here's another idea: ask successful engineers, men and women, when they got interested in the general subject area. I'm sure the vast majority will say, as far back as they can remember. Not in high school, for sure. I'm saying, the interest in whatever young children are into, occurs even before any "role models" enter the picture.

I think Elizabeth Simon has said this several times. She was interested in engineering early on, while many other girls were not. Full stop. No one in his right mind would suggest that women can't do it, but in higher percentage than men, they don't want to. Once again, the medical professions have gone the other way. Without any apparent herculean effort to force-feed women into medical schools, this shift happened. These days, if anything, it is men who would need to be force-fed into medical schools, to bring the student body close to parity. But no one thinks it should be an issue, including myself. No one is going out of their way to make excuses.

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