[Techtalk] Theory vs. practice

stephani schielke schielke at cs.montana.edu
Mon Jan 14 23:42:39 EST 2002

Glenda R. Snodgrass wrote:

>>Oddly enough, a friend on IRC was lamenting the decline of maths
>>today. "How can you think you can program if you can't understand
>>mathematics?" sort of thing. Not being a programmer, I wouldn't
>>know. :)
>I think maybe this should go to Issues with my comments here, but this has
>been a sort of sore spot for me for a long time now (maybe I should name
>this post Glenda's Pet Peeves Part Three).
>I personally think one of the reasons so few women consider a career in
>computers is because of the (IMO) over-emphasis on high-level math being
>necessary to work in computers.  Now granted, to do high-level
>programming, algorithms and such, high-level math is required.  But there
>are many many many jobs in computers that require little or no math
>I made As in math in high school, even took calculus my senior year, but
>I'm no math prodigy and I haven't had a math class since that one simply
>because I despised math classes, never took college-level calculus nor
>statistics at all (I took "business math" in college and learned to
>calculate loans and annuities).  My particular strength (intellectually)
>is languages, not math, and I think that much of computer work is more
>closely related to languages, learning foreign languages, communication
>skills, etc.  I can diagram the hell out of a sentence in 4 languages but
>I don't remember anything at all about calculating projectile
>trajectories. :))
>However, I definitely consider myself a "computer professional" and I've
>never encountered difficulties doing my work (programming databases,
>coding in PHP & HTML, writing word processing macros & templates, network
>config & setup) that would have been prevented had I more math studies in
>college. (When I need something like that for one of my PHP apps, I have
>one of my partners write that little bit for me and I keep going.)
>*shrug* Not to say I'm as good as Linus himself <BG> or that I'm capable
>of coding an accounting software program on my own, I'm definitely not in
>that class, but I think a lot of young girls interested in computers and
>tech things (I've always been very mechanically inclined, loved to take
>the vacuum cleaner apart and such) are discouraged from pursing a career
>in the computer field because "it requires lots of math, you must be good
>in math."
>I think the computer field is much broader than that now, and this
>misconception is keeping a lot of young girls out, who might otherwise be
>giving it a try.
okay, i'm gonna bite on this one.
Why are there only between 10-20% women receiving CS degrees(talking 
BS's here) while right around 50% of all undergraduate mathematics 
degrees are received by the female gender??  i think there are more than 
enough women who are "math prodigies", in other words, they are able to 
take 300, 400 and even grad-level math courses.  I for one wasn't that 
great at math in high school...the one class i worked at and could only 
muster B's.  now in university, I'm a math minor and it's my easy 
classes compared to my computer science courses.
maybe the reason so few women are getting into CS is because of the 
emphasis on the techy side of things.  maybe it's cuz there are no 
female "bill gates"(thank god!)...who knows.  but i truly doubt that it 
is because of a fear or supposed weakness in mathematics.  most of the 
geniuses in the math department here at Montana State University are 
females...and they are brilliant!!  
okay, off my soap box now.  and this was just my opinion.
(sorry about not moving it to issues, bad grrl)
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