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January 2006

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Subject:
From:
Stefanie Ploof <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Technology Discussion at UVM <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 12 Jan 2006 13:47:27 -0500
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I work in IT.  I don't have a CS degree.  No one seems to mind.  I've used
computers since I was 9, and would have used them earlier if I'd had
access to them.  I don't need a CS degree to understand a
computer.  I don't need CHE to feed me more propoganda about women and men
and their differences.  I know a lot of men who chose not to get a CS
degree but who work in computers - is there something wrong with them,
too?

I said nothing about a CS degree being worthless, that's not anywhere near
my point.  I'm not speaking up to suggest that Computer Science is some
sort of a sham.  What I am speaking up about is the choice to tout gender
as "the issue" and a CS degree as the only representation that women are
involved in the IT industry.



On Thu, 12 Jan 2006, Sam Comstock wrote:

> At 01:07 PM 1/12/2006 -0500, you wrote:
> >Raise your hand if you work in IT but -don't- have a CS degree.  Now, look
> >around the room.  Point made.
>
> Ummm. My hand is partially down (a minor in CS), and I missed the point...
>
> 17% of CS graduates in 2004 were female. Unless you're point is that a CS
> degree is worthless, I'd say that a University touting diversity should sit
> up and take notice. And from the personal front, raising three girls and
> with a computer-illiterate wife, I'd argue that more effort should be made.
>
> Sam.
>
>
> >On Thu, 12 Jan 2006, Alison Pechenick wrote:
> >
> > > Hello everyone,
> > >
> > > The CEMS faculty received this today, and I found it to be an
> > > intriguing, and somewhat startling piece.
> > >
> > > Best wishes,
> > >
> > > Alison
> > >
> > > -------- Original Message --------
> > > Subject:      From today's Chronicle of Higher Education
> > > Date:         Thu, 12 Jan 2006 09:00:51 -0500
> > >
> > >
> > > The Chronicle of Higher Education <http://chronicle.com/>
> > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > > Information Technology <http://chronicle.com/infotech/>
> > >
> > > http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i19/19a03501.htm
> > >
> > >   From the issue dated January 13, 2006
> > >
> > >
> > >        Wanted: Female Computer-Science Students
> > >
> > > * Colleges work to attract and support women in technology majors*
> > >
> > > By SCOTT CARLSON
> > >
> > > Are computer programmers from Mars? Is computer science a guy thing?
> > > Some experts are wondering just that  at least, as it is taught now.
> > > While other fields, like mathematics, science, and chemistry, have seen
> > > growing enrollment and involvement of women, the number of women in
> > > computer science and related fields remains low and stagnant. According
> > > to the Computing Research Association, only 17 percent of undergraduate
> > > computer-science degrees were awarded to women in 2004, down from 19
> > > percent in 2000. Those dwindling numbers come at a crucial time for the
> > > discipline, which has seen shrinking enrollments in since the dot-com bust.
> > >
> > > Could it be that men are more attracted to the nuts and bolts of
> > > computers, while women are more interested in the social and cultural
> > > applications of the devices? Perhaps computer-science programs, suggest
> > > some researchers, are stacked against women and the way they learn.
> > >
> > > Some women who have been successful in computer science, however, say
> > > that is nonsense. What is needed, they say, is more social support for
> > > women in the discipline  and for peers and parents to stop telling
> > > girls that computers are not for them.
> > >
> > > To provide that support, programs and clubs for women in computer
> > > science have recently cropped up at colleges across the country, notably
> > > at Carnegie Mellon University and at the University of
> > > Maryland-Baltimore County.
> > >
> > > Women who want to go into computer fields can face discouragement and
> > > discrimination from as early as grade school, through college, and into
> > > the work world. Consider the story of Kim, who graduated from Ohio
> > > University in 2004. Kim, who asked to remain anonymous, arrived at the
> > > university intending to major in mass communications. But, having grown
> > > up building ham radios with her father, she thought a technical field
> > > would provide better job options and offer more of a challenge.
> > >
> > > Communications-systems management, a technical degree with lots of
> > > programming, was definitely challenging, but not in ways she had
> > > anticipated. She was one of only a handful of women in the program. "The
> > > guys wanted to be my partner when it came to writing papers, but no one
> > > wanted to be my partner when it came to lab time," she says.
> > >
> > > Advising sessions for the degree were held at a local bar. "All the guys
> > > would sit together, eating the hot wings," she says. "I hated going
> > > there, because I knew that unless the other girls showed up, I would be
> > > sitting by myself."
> > >
> > > The challenges did not end when she got her first job after graduation,
> > > at AT&T, as the only woman on a team of techies charged with selling
> > > equipment and services. On her first day, a senior male colleague tossed
> > > a pencil on the floor in front of her. "Could you pick that up?" he
> > > cooed, clearly wanting to ogle her.
> > >
> > > "I was floored," she says. "I called home that night and just cried."
> > >
> > > *Downward Trend*
> > >
> > > Studies of women in technology inevitably refer to /Unlocking the
> > > Clubhouse: Women in Computing,/ a highly influential and celebrated
> > > study of women in computer science, based on research conducted largely
> > > in the late 1990s at Carnegie Mellon. At the time of the study, only 7
> > > percent of the computer-science majors at Carnegie Mellon were women.
> > >
> > > Nationwide, "things have not changed that much," says Jane Margolis, a
> > > researcher at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
> > > at the University of California at Los Angeles, who was one of the
> > > book's authors. "In fact, they've gotten worse."
> > >
> > > Her studies indicate that boys get more hands-on experience with
> > > computers at home. In addition, she says, games and computer software
> > > are generally designed by guys, for guys, and tend to engage boys more
> > > than girls.
> > >
> > > In high-school and college courses, computer science is presented as
> > > straight programming, which is seen as tedious, especially by women, she
> > > says. Men are generally interested in computers as tools and objects of
> > > study, according to her research; women are more interested in what
> > > computers can do for science, the arts, or society.
> > >
> > > "What our research found was that their motivation for learning computer
> > > science very much hung on the purpose that computing was going to be
> > > used for," she says. "It wasn't just hacking for hacking's sake. There
> > > was a real social context that gave them motivation and meaning."
> > >
> > > In response to such findings, Carnegie Mellon changed the admissions
> > > policies for its School of Computer Science in 1999. Instead of
> > > primarily looking for students who had prior programming experience, the
> > > university broadened its criteria to include students who had ambitious
> > > goals, who showed leadership skills, and, of course, who had excellent
> > > grades. After 2000, the number of women entering the computer-science
> > > program went from below 10 percent to more than 30 percent and has held
> > > steady there since.
> > >
> > > Lenore Blum, a professor of computer science, arrived at Carnegie Mellon
> > > just as the admissions policy changed and as the population of women in
> > > the program surged. Local newspapers were celebrating the arrival of
> > > women in the computer-science program. "I could see that unless we did
> > > something that provided the critical professional support for women in
> > > the program," Ms. Blum says, "you would see articles the following year
> > > saying that half the students had dropped out."
> > >
> > > She wanted to set up a program that would foster the professional
> > > experiences and support for women at Carnegie Mellon that are "implicit
> > > and often not acknowledged for a majority in a population," she says.
> > >
> > > The program, called Women@SCS, draws prominent female speakers from the
> > > world of technology who can serve as role models for the students. It
> > > runs a mentor service, in which women who are juniors and seniors can
> > > counsel freshmen and sophomores, offering support for course work or for
> > > dealing with the rigors of the major. Social occasions, like lunches,
> > > are set up to provide opportunities for the women to network.
> > >
> > > "These are common-sense things to do, but you've got to do them," Ms.
> > > Blum says, adding that she is tired of hearing people bemoan the fact
> > > that computer science is losing female students. "What I'm realizing is
> > > that there is too much talk the talk and not enough walk the walk. We
> > > have the complete support of the president, the provost, the dean, and
> > > the chair of the department. They're not just saying, 'Hey, you're doing
> > > a good job.' They are paying the bill."
> > >
> > > *'Bias In, Bias Out'*
> > >
> > > The expanded population of women in Carnegie Mellon's computer-science
> > > program has given Ms. Blum the opportunity to do her own research on the
> > > classes of 2002 and 2004. She says her findings contradict some of the
> > > conclusions of /Unlocking the Clubhouse./ The book's research was
> > > tainted by "bias in, bias out," she argues, reflecting Carnegie Mellon's
> > > admissions requirements at the time, which rewarded programming
> > > experience that male students were more likely to possess.
> > >
> > > Ms. Blum does not believe that women are oriented toward applications
> > > and that men are oriented toward programming. "We didn't see any gender
> > > differences at all, but found similar spectra in men and women," she
> > > says. "We found that there were some men who were hackers and some women
> > > who were hackers. ... One of the women we interviewed said that she
> > > kisses her computer every morning."
> > >
> > > "To say that there are intrinsic male and female differences and you
> > > have to accommodate for those is absolutely wrong," she says. "Don't
> > > devise the curriculum so that it's female-friendly. That will only serve
> > > to marginalize women."
> > >
> > > Other colleges have set up programs like [log in to unmask] The University of
> > > Maryland-Baltimore County recently started the Center for Women and
> > > Information Technology, or CWIT, as it is more commonly known. The
> > > center supports female students in computer science, information
> > > science, computer engineering, and information studies. Women in the
> > > center's program live together on a designated floor of a residence
> > > hall, allowing for the sort of support that all-night programming
> > > sessions require. The center also helps women make connections with
> > > local companies for jobs and internships.
> > >
> > > CWIT attempts to counter some of the negative influences that have
> > > ground down the students' self-esteem. Lindsay Mannchen, a senior, says
> > > she was one of two girls in her high-school programming courses, where
> > > her male peers told her again and again that she was no good at
> > > programming and that she was out of place.
> > >
> > > "One of guys I grew up with and was in all of the classes with told me
> > > that, scientifically, girls were not programmed to do math like guys
> > > could," she says. "And I believed him."
> > >
> > > Since joining the CWIT program in college, her attitude has changed,
> > > "mostly because I'm surrounded by girls who say, 'That's not right;
> > > don't listen to that,'" she says.
> > >
> > > "I do notice that a lot of my classes are male-dominated, and in
> > > information science, we do a lot of group projects," she says. "The guys
> > > don't want to listen to the girls, unless you stand up and prove
> > > yourself right away."
> > >
> > > The women's center is not all women. A select group of male students is
> > > involved with the program, a strategy to draw UMBC men into the
> > > conversation about women in technical fields. "It's not so much that
> > > only women can encourage us," says Amanda Schwenk, a freshman. "It's
> > > that the guys realize that it's harder for women to get a start or keep
> > > going in this, and that it's not exactly socially acceptable."
> > >
> > > *Social Factors*
> > >
> > > Claudia Morrell, executive director of CWIT, is not a computer scientist
> > > but a psychologist who has been studying the attitudes and influences of
> > > women and girls in computer science. Support programs for female
> > > computer-science majors can help women stay in the discipline, she
> > > argues, but crucial influences in childhood are strong factors in
> > > steering girls away from computer science and related fields.
> > >
> > > "Parents are students' No. 1 source for decisions in career making," Ms.
> > > Morrell says. "Daughters tend to identify or align themselves with their
> > > mothers, and mothers aren't often the ones who are involved with
> > > technology." Meanwhile, dad is the one who is often fussing with the
> > > computer, hooking up the home stereo system, or even has a job involving
> > > technology.
> > >
> > > When girls enter middle school, Ms. Morrell says, these perceptions
> > > begin to solidify into career goals, as young people start to form their
> > > identities. "At that age, gender issues become important as an
> > > expression of personal identity," she says. Too often, a middle-school
> > > girl who says she wants to be a computer scientist is treated much like
> > > a boy who says he wants to be a nurse  the professions carry gender
> > > identities, even if they are outdated.
> > >
> > > Those gender identities still have power over enrollment choices. If
> > > schools offer computer-science or programming courses  and all too
> > > often they don't, scholars say  enrollment is often dominated by boys,
> > > who are already playing around with computers at home. A middle-school
> > > girl in a programming class might feel as out of place as a boy in a
> > > sewing course.
> > >
> > > Add to all those influences the image of computer scientists and
> > > programmers well known in the media: the brilliant but socially inept
> > > mumbler who could use a few tips on hairstyles and clothes.
> > >
> > > "Unfortunately, computer fields have a geeky image," Ms. Morrell says,
> > > "and girls in particular don't want to be perceived as geeks and nerds."
> > >
> > > So by the time girls enter high school and start thinking about colleges
> > > and careers, computer science and related technology fields are distant
> > > thoughts compared with biology, chemistry, and mathematics, which have
> > > seen tremendous growth in women's participation in the past few decades.
> > >
> > > Ms. Morrell and others at UMBC are trying to change that in Maryland
> > > with a couple of programs that are specifically aimed at middle-school
> > > girls. The university runs a summer program that invites girls to
> > > explore science and technology. While the girls are digging into
> > > computers, people from CWIT sit down with parents to talk about the
> > > troubles of attracting women to computer science, the subtle influences
> > > on that trend within the home, and the potential women have in the field.
> > >
> > > The university also runs an after-school program at six suburban
> > > Baltimore middle schools, focusing on hands-on activities in science and
> > > technology. Supported by a $1-million grant from the National Science
> > > Foundation, the program covers basic tenets of science and technology,
> > > while giving students the opportunity to tear apart cameras to see how
> > > they work, to put together telephones from kits and string together a
> > > telephone network, and to create presentations on computers.
> > >
> > > At a middle school in Essex, an economically depressed community east of
> > > Baltimore, Renee Yusuff and Anissa Nixon pore over a diagram for
> > > assembling a blue plastic telephone, barely looking up to answer a
> > > reporter's questions.
> > >
> > > "I learned how to use a digital camera and how to use PowerPoint," Renee
> > > says when asked about her favorite lessons in the program. "I want to go
> > > into information technology." Anissa says that she is considering some
> > > kind of career in engineering.
> > >
> > > True to Ms. Morrell's observations, the girls have had strong role
> > > models in technology within their families. Renee learned about
> > > computers from her uncle, who used to work on them in the basement at
> > > home. Anissa's mother used to climb telephone poles to repair lines for
> > > Verizon. "She was one of the only women in that job," Anissa says, then
> > > adds proudly, "and she was one of the best."
> > >
> > > *Mentors Needed*
> > >
> > > Among college women in computer science who were interviewed by The
> > > Chronicle, many recounted special circumstances from childhood that
> > > helped them enter the field and stick with it.
> > >
> > > Amy Goodwin, a junior at Carnegie Mellon, picked up computers as early
> > > as elementary school because she had a learning disability that affected
> > > her handwriting. She dug into her laptop, a constant companion, and
> > > learned some common programming languages by sixth grade.
> > >
> > > In programming classes in high school  at an all-girls school in
> > > Maryland, where, she says, girls "don't have to pretend not to be smart
> > > when they're around guys"  she says she knew far more than the students
> > > who enrolled from a nearby boys' school. Her mother, a law professor,
> > > was a strong figure in her life and taught her by example to persevere
> > > in a profession that is still an old-boys' club.
> > >
> > > She considers her gender an asset  something that might make her stand
> > > out in job applications. Recruiters from Microsoft and from Google  who
> > > brought shirts with the o's in Google transformed into female symbols 
> > > came to Carnegie Mellon to talk about the opportunities for women in
> > > their companies. But she has also heard, from women who graduated from
> > > Carnegie Mellon a few years ago, stories about male colleagues who said
> > > things like "You don't belong here" and "You're only here because you're
> > > a woman."
> > >
> > > "Those are the people that are out there in the work world," she says.
> > >
> > > Ms. Blum and Ms. Morrell point out that their programs for women are
> > > building alumnae networks, through which women can find out about
> > > friendly workplaces and evangelize about the field. National
> > > organizations like the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology,
> > > which is composed of female professionals from the computer industry and
> > > academe, provide opportunities for women in the working world to get
> > > together and support one another.
> > >
> > > Progress may come, if slowly. Computer science, Ms. Morrell points out,
> > > was once the dominion of women. Early programmers, called "computers,"
> > > were women who worked on huge mainframe computers during World War II.
> > > Grace Murray Hopper, an early programmer, is celebrated as a pioneer in
> > > the field, having found the first computer "bug." Ada Byron Lovelace, a
> > > 19th-century mathematician, is credited with writing the first computer
> > > program.
> > >
> > > "We forget to celebrate," Ms. Morrell says, noting the progress that has
> > > been made over the years in mathematics and other sciences. "It's simply
> > > a matter of time before women see the professional opportunities and the
> > > financial opportunities. We'll reach a tipping point where women reach
> > > some level of comfort, and this will no longer be a problem."
> > >
> > >    http://chronicle.com
> > > Section: Information Technology
> > > Volume 52, Issue 19, Page A35
> > > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > > Copyright <http://chronicle.com/help/copyright.htm>  2006 by The
> > > Chronicle of Higher Education <http://chronicle.com/>
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > Alison Pechenick, Lecturer
> > > Department of Computer Science
> > > College of Engineering & Mathematical Sciences
> > > 351 Votey Building
> > > University of Vermont
> > > Burlington, VT 05405
> > > (802)656-2547
> > > http://www.cems.uvm.edu/~apecheni
> > >
>
>
> Sam Comstock, Livestock Specialist
> University of Vermont Extension
> 11 University Way, STE 4
> Brattleboro, VT 05301-3669
>
> Phone: (802) 257-7967,  (800) 278-5480 (In-state)
> Fax:      (802) 257-0112
> Email:  [log in to unmask]
> http://www.uvm.edu/livestock
>

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