Flutterby™! : Women and careers

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Women and careers

2010-07-27 15:24:08.160883+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

Stubornella on women in technology.

... I mean, just take a look at the fastest growing careers for women. We are veterinary technicians not veterinarians, dental assistants not dentists, medical assistants not doctors. We like to believe we have evolved, but the data speaks to something else. Being a home heath aide is dirty work with bad hours and heavy lifting — but it is a career women can imagine, whereas, right now, they clearly can’t imagine themselves coding. I want to understand why not…

Via Lyn, Scott, and others.

Last year when we got new cars, Charlene and I asked a few of the folks we know at COTS if there were deserving people who could use our old ones. Mine got given to someone who promptly fell off the wagon, left the shelter and the program and abandoned it in Truckee, where it was towed and sold at auction.

Charlene's got given to someone we've kept closer ties with, and who's doing fairly well, but she used it as leverage with a mechanic for another vehicle, and it apparently bounced around a bit, and we recently got a knock on the door from the translator for a woman who'd bought it for cash without all the paperwork in order at the fair. So Charlene's helping her get the paperwork in order.

Anyway, yesterday Charlene spent some time at the DMV helping square things away, and one of the discussions was about kids, these low-income, undoubtedly undocumented, people who speak little or no English have fairly large families, but the translator was talking about not driving. Apparently her mom had been teaching her to drive, and her husband, or perhaps at the time future husband, had said "stop that".

Of course now said husband is in jail, and the translator is needing to pick up a whole bunch of skills fast, and will probably end up regretting some of those kids.

While I'm glad the guy is in jail, although, unfortunately, viewing women with that particular disdain isn't yet an incarceratable offense, I'm afraid that culturally this is a symptom of something that does extend all the way up to the higher financial and social tiers. So it's worth reading that essay.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Interactive Drama Invention and Design Software Engineering Writing Work, productivity and environment Marriage ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-27 23:35:15.570489+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

I think Stubornella's premise is wrong. The "fastest growing careers for women" aren't "the only careers women can aspire to" they are the "fastest growing". The careers "Dentist" and "Veterinarian" are not growing as fast as the assistant positions. For instance, my wife has a doctorate in Physical Therapy. In a clinic setting, she would see a patient for just a few minutes and then pass them off to the PTAs. There would be 5 to 10 times as many PTAs as PTs. The career "physical therapist assistant" is growing 5-10 times faster than "physical therapist"

In the cast of dentistry, women are quickly reaching equality in terms of professional program enrollments: http://www.spiritofcaring.com/public/488.cfm

And women are already in the majority at Vet schools: http://sacramento.bizjournals....o/stories/2009/03/02/focus2.html

The Forbes article just highlighted the fastest growing professions that are disproportionately female.

I've mentioned this before, but I think the real reason there is such a discrepancy in computer programming is that programming is a culmination of the masculinist perspective of the world. The same thing with math... it's not that math is hard or that women aren't good at it, it's just, in a very basic way, contrary to the way women experience the world. Women are very capable programmers and mathematicians when writing code or solving equations moves them closer to goals they value.

The real issue is that society continues to value these artifacts of the masculinist perspective greater (in terms of dollars) than similar artifacts of the feminist perspective. A classic example is the (under)value of a house wife. Full time house wives have been so undervalued that it's not really considered a "career" or life choice.

Home health aides, for instance, provide very valuable services. I would put the value of a home health aid over that of a computer game programmer any day. What's screwed up is that imbalance.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-28 18:20:48.521149+00 by: John Anderson

> I've mentioned this before, but I think the real reason there is such a discrepancy in computer programming is that programming is a culmination of the masculinist perspective of the world.

Lemme quote some Gibson at you:

"Now that," Case said to his glass, all his bitterness suddenly rising in him like bile, "that is so much bullshit."

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-28 22:34:22.645893+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

John: Are you then agreeing that there is rampant sexual discrimination in software development and mathematics? I guess there is also now rampant sexual discrimination in schools of veterinary medicine where enrollment is on the order of 80% female?

My point is that there are concepts that have been developed by mankind that seem to be strongly associated with a modernist (and by extension, masculinist) world view. I propose that computer programming (and mathematics) is one of these concepts. The sexual imbalance of professionals in the field of computer programming is not because women are bad at it or that men are particularly better or that men don't appreciate the contributions of women. It's because it is a pursuit that fits nicely in the male world view. And just as there are some male hair stylists, there are some women who are comfortable (or enjoy the challenge if) immersing themselves in a pursuit that is highly male dominated.

I have known women who are excellent programmers (and mathematicians) but more often, they consider these as tools to some other end. And I can say, having worked as a software developer for a couple decades and having a BS in mathematics, it's much healthier to view these as tools to be used to some greater ends than the tools themselves.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-31 12:00:08.870997+00 by: Medley