It's a fact that men greatly outnumber women in software engineering. As for
why, there is a fundamental disagreement between social constructivists and
Constructivists say that it’s because of systematic oppression against women.
Boys in the 80s grew up with computers, learned programming and made life a
living hell for their female classmates in CS101. Planet Money has the
scoop. Evolutionary psychologists say that it’s because men and women have
evolutionarily caused differences in interests and point to studies
indicating that progressive countries have larger gender representation gaps
because women are free to choose careers based on interest. I find
it likely that both positions contribute in part to the gender representation
disparity. Compelling arguments can be made for and against both, and both are
rooted in academic disciplines that are dangerously squishy. As a
result, I don’t think we currently have a good scientific way of determining
So what; science, schmience! Followers of the evo psych and constructivism are
at war. One continuously pisses the other off with their inflamatory rhetoric.
It is true that white males are historically privileged, but hammering “white
male privelege” into their heads predictably puts white males into a defensive
stance. Similarly, discussing how evo psych means that women are less interested
and therefore less capable of software engineering will predictably annoy
females, especially those rightfully proud of their software engineering
prowess, and tired of dealing with similar allegations for their whole career.
I've spent way too much time reading and thinking about this lately, and it
saddens me to conclude that the wisest course of action is to avoid discussing
this topic entirely (oops, too late). Scott Aaronson, Sarah Constantin and
Stacey Jeffery propose a respectful truce between the two camps.
Advocates of evolutionary psychology should:
do everything they can to foster diversity, including by creating environments
that are welcoming for women, and by supporting affirmative action, women-only
scholarships and conferences, and other diversity policies and also agree
never to talk in public about possible cognitive-science explanations for
gender disparities in which careers people choose, or overlapping bell curves,
or anything else potentially inflammatory."
Meanwhile, social constructivists should:
avoid libelling [white men] as misogynist monsters, who must be scaring all
the women away with their inherently gross, icky, creepy, discriminatory