Recruiting more women to CS

Kirby Urner kirby.urner at
Sat Jan 14 16:38:05 EST 2006

Along these lines of recruiting more women, we frequently encounter two
specific stories in the standard CS curriculum:  a woman invents computer
programming (helping out a man); a woman invents the compiler (making
computer programming more accessible to men).

Of course I'm talking about Ada and Hopper respectively.  

I just got ugly with some text book writers because they didn't note
Hopper's high military rank in their version of the story (Rear Admiral).  

I think while we're at it, we should advertise that women also boss men
around, don't just do their bidding.

Also, I came across some late-in-the-game male chauvinist piggery in the New
Yorker awhile back, aimed at unseating Ada from her coveted position as
first computer programmer.  I took care of that upstart revisionism in one
of my on-line essays.[1]

I'm looking at doing some video about female bosses with heavy duty
responsibilities in computer world.  Many come to mine.  Nora Slatkin for
example (also military).  

I won't be making this language-specific, in the sense of which gets used.
We could dub it into several languages (or go with subtitles).

There's this stereotype going around that women are better networkers than
men, are better able to collaborate behind the scenes, whereas guys are more
out for personal credit, ego, a name in lights -- always fighting and
butting heads.

Given computers likewise have this low-profile, almost subterranean role in
gluing our world together, I think this stereotype will work nicely to our

Women will be given to understand that computer world is *their* world,
regardless of what those prideful men think.

Of course the men will make their own "me first" propaganda -- they always
do -- so I'm not overly worried about the impact of this media campaign on
male egos.


[1] (see point 1).

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