Checking In With Three Women Technologists A Decade Later

from the have-things-changed? dept

10 years ago, the NY Times profiled three female graduates of MIT, who were going on to tech careers in fields dominated by men. Now, a decade later, the NY Times has caught up with all three to see what they’ve done. It’s really too bad the NY Times doesn’t link to the original article – as you would think that would make this story even more compelling. As might be expected, each of the three women took very different career paths. One became a CS professor – which she’s still doing – teaching new generations of female programmers (it’s an all women school). Another moved away from the techie side to the management side and now works at Google in business development. The last one decided she wanted a less demanding career to spend more time with her family, and is a patent agent for a Silicon Valley law firm. Of course, I’d bet that if you picked three random MIT guys from a decade ago, you might find very similar career paths, as well.

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Comments on “Checking In With Three Women Technologists A Decade Later”

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dorpus says:

Do we need to make special efforts anymore?

There are now more women (51%) than men going into medical schools. Biological sciences have long had female parity or dominance.

As for the argument that women were supposed to bring their perspective into male-dominated fields, make it into a more humane, well-rounded place, I’ve seen no evidence of it in my 10-year IT career. If anything, women are more into excessive agression and backstabbing, based on their insecurities or whatever.

Predictably, the New York Times has interpreted “women in computer science” to mean only white women. If you count all the Asian women, there isn’t much male dominance to speak of.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do we need to make special efforts anymore?

> women were supposed to bring their perspective
> into male-dominated fields, make it into a more
> humane, well-rounded place

Funny thing, stereotypes. ALL of the women in my office (about 40% female) have told me that they prefer working for a man than a woman (note: I am not their manager, so they were not buttering me up). When I asked why (and was truly surprised), they thought female managers were “meaner”, did more backstabbing, etc.

While that may be true, I think part of it could also be the normal female/male bonding. For example, women probably prefer to be pulled over for a ticket by a male cop, since they can flirt and/or cry to try to get out of it, while the guy has pretty limited options to appeal to his feelings. A similar aspect exists in any office relationship, but obviously not to this degree. Personally as I guy, I prefer (and have had more than 50%) female bosses for the same reason – I could turn the ol’ charm on from time to time to get that extra bit of influence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Do we need to make special efforts anymore?

In my last three jobs I have seen this too. The female managers had ZERO female direct reports. None of the women I spoke with wanted to work for a female manager. At one job, a female manager took over a group that had 5 women in it (out of 22 people total), within 6 months all 5 women transferred out to different groups (only 1 guy left in that time).
I was on friendly terms with some of the women, they all agreed: women managers were meaner then men. A male manager would often cut them a lot of slack over things whereas a female manager wouldn’t. (Minor stuff like coming in late, overlong lunchs, dresscode violations).

Perhaps the female managers were insecure in their positions, or felt a need to be more rigid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do we need to make special efforts anymore?

Re: women in biological fields. I agree. The last time I visited my local hospital, it seemed to be very female dominated, perhaps 40%-60% male-female (maybe 30%-70%). Even more: schools. I toured a local grade school last year during a PTO open house, heck, it was easily 20%-80% M-F.

Re politeness: I haven’t seen excessive aggression or backstabbing from women (any more than from men) but I do see a lot more “cliqueishness” from women. They definitely hold together in their “sisterhoods” a lot better than the “good-ole-boys clubs” do. Piss off (or just disagree with) one gal and the whole pack give you the cold shoulder for months.

Perhaps its just me, but I definitely see sex and racial disparities in jobs. JUst making up some numbers from my observations: for some reason, in tech areas (IT and Engineering) the ratio seems to be around 70%-30% male-female whereas in other fields (Marketing/Accounting/Sales/Manufacturing)its 60%-40% or even 50%-50%. But beyond that, the 30% females in tech areas seem to almost all be Indian/Asian/White generally in a 15%/10%/5% Indian/Asian/White ratio. I seldom see a Hispanic or Black female in a tech area.
BUt in the non-tech areas, its opposite – mostly White and Hispanic females, some Blacks, but very few Indian and Asians.

MY suspicion is that, for Indian/Asian women, culture is the reason they were able to become educated and emmigrate tothis country. In their homelands, I expect the businesses to be highly male dominated and strong cultural resistance to women inthe workplace. THus they can only have careers overseas, although I don’t understand why they are concentrated in technology rather then general business areas (like Mkting/Accting/Sales).

I also don’t understand why Hispanic/BLacks seem to shun technology areas and concentrate in other areas. I’ve seen far more Black doctors than I’ve seen Black computer admins. My guess is there is some cultural influence that I don’t notice/observe.

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