Computers, Science and Women

I was going through my delicious links today, and I was remembering what I was doing and what I was thinking when I posted a particular link.

For instance, HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux reminded me when I was just starting out in Linux and kind of intimidated.  I got some of the “OMG, you’re a girl” comments in IRC (not the linuxchix or ubuntu-women rooms).  It bothered me a little bit at the time, but now I’m “over it”.  I try to laugh it off usually, and explain why I run linux.  Granted, I shouldn’t have to explain anything about what operating system I choose, but I give honest answers to people who ask.

Now, I don’t mind people inquiring why I use Ubuntu.  If it’s an honest question (What do you prefer about Linux as opposed to Windows?  Why did you pick Ubuntu over Vista?  What is your favorite thing about Linux or Ubuntu?) I don’t mind answering.  What I don’t like are questions that imply that I’m not capable of installing and maintaining my own operating system (Linux, Windows, whatever).  I’ve gotten very little of that from the Ubuntu boards and IRC channels.  I consider myself lucky.

Continuing on in this vein, I came across Achieving Gender Equity in Science Classrooms from the Women in Computing Keyword List (following links from the HOWTO above) and going down to “Teacher Influence”.  This article is very interesting, particularly this bit, under “Provide Diverse Role Models”:

Female faculty: Ultimately, the best solution is to hire — and retain — female faculty who can serve as role models. Women faculty members who have families can also choose to share their stories about balancing work and family. “The faculty are very important in creating an environment that is supportive of women students” (Finholt 1990). According to the National Resource Council, “the presence of women faculty at all ranks” would be a “a signal to women students that they will be respected and treated fairly”(NRC 1991).”

In my schooling at Kettering, I found a couple of female faculty that allowed me to talk to them.  Granted, there were male faculty that I could talk to, but I felt encouraged by my female professors.


I just found these articles quite interesting.  I wonder if other female students would go into science/technology/computers if there were more encouragement and cooperation in those disciplines.

7 thoughts on “Computers, Science and Women”

  1. There’s a great deal of research and literature about recruiting more women into STEM disciplines. (STEM == Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.)

    The quote you give above is absolutely correct. Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a Catch-22; the best way to encourage women students is to hire women faculty, but if you have very few women students, they don’t stay in the system long enough to become women faculty.

    Of course, I’m male, so my influence is limited. On the other hand, you can be a great role model to other young women in engineering …

  2. It is a catch-22; but I think it can be reversed. I’ve had some good role models in engineering, and I hope to be able to be a good role model for a young person (female or male).

    Don’t underestimate your influence. If you encourage women in your classes and make them feel welcome, they will stay in the program.


  3. Oh, I’m certainly going to be welcoming and encouraging. It’s everyone’s responsibility to try and encourage everyone to succeed.

    But I also acknowledge that I don’t see the world in the same way that women do, and that I can be blind to some things. We can all learn from each other.

  4. I’m happy to say that women in Linux stuff has come a very long way since I started out with it several years ago. Before I hardly ever bumped into other women – and if I did I didn’t know because most hid their gender! I meet many more women now, especially since becoming involved with Ubuntu. It’s so exciting.

    And LinuxChix… I wouldn’t be where I am without it. Amazing role models, a supportive infrastructure, and I didn’t feel like I was some freak (as I often did in male-dominated tech channels). I used to be the kind of woman who disliked female companionship, but through LinuxChix I’ve met some amazing women who share a variety of my interests. I was floored when I first joined the LinuxChix IRC channel and realized I could talk about Linux and Beer to this group of women so naturally. Ah, it’s great.

    I’m trying to give back now as a role model because I’ve become successful. I just wish there were more hours in a day :)

  5. We all need more hours in a day!

    I recently discovered linuxchix. I love the community there. The IRC rooms and the mail lists really have helped with some of my questions. I’ll post questions to linuxchix before I’ll go to the ubuntuforums room, because I’ve gotten the “a girl uses linux! [gawk]” response a couple times. Sometimes I don’t feel like dealing with that.

    Thank you for the help you’ve given me. I appreciate it, and I’m trying to give back as much as I can; giving help in the IRC rooms and whatnot.


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