Industry wants girls to stick to knitting

It’s almost funny…

On the same day I get this:

—–Original Message—–
From: newsletter-bounces@womengamers.com [mailto:newsletter-bounces@womengamers.com] On Behalf Of WomenGamers.Com Newsletter
Sent: Monday, March 13, 2006 4:31 PM
To: newsletter@womengamers.com
Subject: [Newsletter] WomenGamers.Com March Newsletter & XBox 360 Giveaway

Greetings and welcome to the re-launch of our very own WomenGamers.Com newsletter! To unsubscribe, see instructions below. Since we launched this website back in 1999, we have witnessed a fundamental change in this industry. Way back in the day, when we pried our feet into high heeled pumps to pursue venture funding for this website, we were actually asked “Women play games”? Nowadays we have women’s game conferences, scholarships for women to pursue Masters degree programs in game development, and an inquisitive press who is watching the grass roots movement of women slowly being accepted by the gaming community as consumers and as drivers. We want to thank you, our members, for contributing your time, energy and passion to our online community. YOU have made a difference.

Now to the news. In recent news, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is going to be placing a heavy fine on booth babes this year, new surveys show a near 50-50 male/female split of gamers in Asia, and Reggie Fils-Aime, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Nintendo, urges the industry to embrace new demographics, even if it means running ads during Oprah. How is *that* for fundamental change!
[…]

ZDNet publishes this:

Industry wants girls to stick to knitting
ZDNet – 9 hours ago
Commentary–The computer industry may pride itself on being different. But for all its self-congratulatory pretensions, this business …

My first reaction to the article title was: What a load of bunk!

The computer industry, while admittedly male weighted, has always been one the most accepting industries out there. Being married to a woman that worked Technical Support for a software and hardware company may make me a little biased, but I don’t think there is a problem in the technology industry in seeing a woman as an equal. For example if you look at the company I work for now, I beleive it has a good ratio of women to men – one I expect to be in the forty percent range, that includes the woman I used to report to before I took on my current role. I also maintain the misleading ratio of recommending for hire 100% of the women that I’ve interviewed for internships. The problem is that that amounts to a total count of 1 out of maybe 20 interviews and 60 resumes.

After actually reading the article, I’d have to say that it does have a valid point in that there are a lot more men in CEO positions then women. The thing is, I’m quite certain that in large part is is purely numbers issue, Perhaps in more ways than one. First, there’s the obvious, for years every one was told flat out that “Women are not good at math.” Now, it is statistically impossible (or infinately improbable, if you will) that there are exactly the same number of men and women genetically gifted with the exact same skill aptitudes for mathmatics. Therefore geneticaly and statistically speaking, one gender will be better than the other. Whether that is to an extent that is measurable, is another matter.

But regardless of the genetics involved, it is a self fulfilling statement. If you repeatedly tell large groups of people they aren’t good at something, a certain percentage will begin to act as if that is true. Then the condition snowballs it becomes obvious that there are fewer of that group participating and people look for reasons why. I will say that that was the case for many years in the technical fields. Women simply weren’t participating as much as men. For that reason alone you’d logically expect there to be fewer women CEOs. But does that explain it all? Not quite yet. For I have the sneaking suspicion, that we are right where we should expect to be.

You see, the real question in my mind is: “Is the number of CEOs out of proportion to the gender bias as it was when today’s CEOs entered the work force?”. There is a certain path that todays CEO’s took to get to where they are. It is logical to assume that most CEOs should be expected to take similar course. So we need to look at what that course is.

The best (first) number I could get for the average age of CEOs in the technolgy sector is 45.7 in 2003 (http://www.forbes.com/2003/03/31/cx_wt_0401exec.html) Let’s make our math easy and say they entered the technology fields at 19.7 years of age. That’s a difference of 26 years in the industry. So, we’d have to look at the women that graduated with degrees in technology related fields starting in 1980.

Well, it turns out, purely coincidentally, that 1980 was the year that the male to female graduate ratio reached an equalibrium in the United States with just as many female college graduate as male (http://sll.stanford.edu/projects/tomprof/newtomprof/postings/361.html). It does not stretch the imagination to believe that the degrees women received that year were largely weighted to non-technological fields such as Nursing.

Personally, I think this goes much further to explaining the lack of women in the top positions. This article was published in the US and self centeredly addresses a problem in the US. I agree that’s where the problem lies. A majority of North Americans are trained to want (and get) everything now! now! now! When they don’t get it, whether it is reversing the historical trends of the last century, or the re-training and cultural indoctrinization of a nation’s police force (off topic, sorry), it takes time.

Thoughts?

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