[Linux-aus] Special support for women

Kevin Maciunas kevin at cs.adelaide.edu.au
Wed Oct 30 10:55:39 EST 2013

On 30/10/13 09:51, Michael Cordover wrote:
> Here's what I think though. I think women are as capable as men. I
> think there is a serious shortage of female participation in STEM in
> general and in computing in particular. I think this is because of
> systematic disincentives to participation put in place by society. I
> also think some of it is probably direct discrimination - though
> thankfully not within LA.
As an academic who has watched the female cohort of the classes collapse 
over the years, all I can say is that something really needs to be 
done.  Urgently.

My casual observation as someone who goes into the high schools to talk 
to year 10 students - I see the expected 50/50 gender mix with everyone 
interested and excited (maybe "excited" is a slight exaggeration...) 
about the science/engineer spruik.

When I do the year 12 spruik - the gender balance is probably 95/5 or 

The other casual observation I'd toss out there is that many of the 
female year 10-->12 students ask me about courses that lead to a career 
in forensics :)  I've got quite good at letting them down gently that 
what they see on CSI/whatever is not real life. Clearly: we need a show 
that has strong female coders in it.  That would (I suspect) redress the 
balance virtually overnight...

Female participation in the discipline *IS* a problem, and it needs to 
be fixed.  If you aren't aware of how deep the problem actually is, it 
is somewhat unhelpful to lob smoke grenades...

I don't normally engage in this kind of exchange, but we (the whole IT 
sector, and especially the OSS community!) should be 100% supportive...


Kevin J. Maciunas              Net: kevin at cs.adelaide.edu.au
Dept. of Computer Science      Ph : +61 8 8313 5845
University of Adelaide         Fax: +61 8 8313 4366
Adelaide 5005 SOUTH AUSTRALIA  Web: http://www.cs.adelaide.edu.au/~kevin
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