Maths, women and programming (Re: [Techtalk] Theory vs. practice)
Glenda R. Snodgrass
grs at theneteffect.com
Mon Jan 14 21:34:47 EST 2002
> But of course we shouldn't turn that into "don't worry girls, maths
> isn't required, so you can do it too!"
Of course not! In all things, balance is required.
> Now since I have done a lot of maths I can't really comment on how
> people can program when they don't understand maths, but I really don't
> think that maths should be regarded as 'the enemy' of women in
> computing, because that hurts women mathematicians, or women who might
> become mathematicians.
Of course not! I'm speaking from my own experience, that I didn't get
into computers much earlier in life because I'd been told I needed to be
really good in math and like math to work in computers. Since I was told
this by my (male) math teachers, I took it to mean I wasn't good enough in
math (in spite of my straight As and finishing 4th in my class overall).
I got into computers years later, when they started appearing in the
offices where I worked parttime while pursuing grad history work, and I
discovered that I was better with the computer than anyone else, and
before I knew it, I was the database admin and writing WordPerfect macros
and templates and such, and I've continued to get geekier over the years
<g> and I love programming most of all. But to me, the programming that I
do (mostly PHP and HTML) is much more like language translation than like
any math class I ever took.
> Whatever is keeping women out of computing may be the same thing that is
> keeping them out of maths, physics and engineering (~5% of all
I dunno, see, I believe those are very different cases. I think the
computer field is so broad now, that being good in math and liking math
should not be a limiting factor as to whether you can go into computers at
all, rather what sub-field of computers you might want to consider. I
think that girls that are good at math and like it should be encouraged
into using thsoe skills, but girls who are really good at computers and
enjoy it but aren't so great at math (I mean the ones who make As and Bs
in algebra and trig but really hate it) should be encouraged to look at
networking, training, low-level programming, documentation, etc. rather
than told they shouldn't think about computers at all.
Glenda R. Snodgrass
Before you begin, consider ... The Net Effect
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