Charming Pythonistas
Subject:   Dumbing it down for the ladies
Date:   2007-09-12 08:43:06
From:   dieselkat
As a female principal software engineer, I find this article offensive and derisive towards women. The overall message here is "let's dumb things down for the ladies", which only serves to re-inforce the stereotype that females are less technically competent than males. Hmm... sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me!
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Showing messages 1 through 4 of 4.

  • Dumbing it down for the ladies
    2007-09-13 09:40:11  jpk01 [View]


    We have to ask, though, what's the final goal - to educate students or to inflate ego?

    A while back, after having been in the s/w industry for 5 years, I took a Data Structures class just for kicks. The class was based on C++. I did fairly well because I'd had many years of C++ experience, but many of the students were struggling with (and dropped out of the class due to) basic C++ syntax. Granted, this should have been mastered in previous classes, but I don't think one semester is adequate to do so.

    The same prof is currently teaching the course using Python. I may have to drop him a line to see how he's doing...
    • Dumbing it down for the ladies
      2007-10-01 06:14:37  dieselkat [View]

      Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with using python as a teaching language. I have close to 20-years worth of experience with C, and only 2 with Python, but I typically use Python when I need to knock up something quick and easy. Any professor that wants to teach a fundamental concept such as Data Structures using C++ may want to rethink teaching as his/her chosen profession...

      I just have a problem with the connection that this will somehow magically improve girls' interest in, and acceptance of, Computer Science. The same imbalance can be found in math and other sciences; this issue is not restricted to CS and IT. We begin with the most simple mathemetical concepts (can anyone say apples plus oranges) way before we move onto Fibonacci. If simpler introductions are the way to go, then why do we see the same problems with math?
  • Dumbing it down for the ladies
    2007-09-13 07:41:26  Anna Martelli Ravenscroft | O'Reilly Author [View]

    Unfortunately, factors such as low self-efficacy, loner stereotypes, and the belief in CS as both difficult and not widely useful, are well-documented barriers to women entering IT. I've made some suggestions on how to address those factors. I'm sorry that you consider addressing them as "dumbing it down for the ladies".
    • Dumbing it down for the ladies
      2007-10-01 06:02:40  dieselkat [View]

      On the contrary, I fully support efforts to investigate these issues. But it would be far more insightful to look at WHY girls suffer from these issues, and why boys do not. Why don't boys suffer from low self-efficacy, and the belief that CS is hard?

      Until you answer that question, it's a massive leap of faith to believe that replacing a programming language with a simpler one would make any difference in the female:male ratio within the IT industry.