Open Forum on Broadening Participation

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  • 1.  There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering

    Posted 08-04-2022 02:30 PM
    Great article by Scientific American on how certain STEM fields exclude women, even though there is clear interest from women to advance in the field. What are some proactive steps we can take to combat these gender disparities?

    There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering - Scientific American

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    Jishyra Serrano (She/Her)
    Community Engagement Manager
    OFBP
    AAAS
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  • 2.  RE: There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering

    Posted 08-05-2022 11:31 AM
    This may sound strange, but I think we need to take at least some of the more risky, vulnerable steps from the literature. This includes checking ourselves we're perpetuating harm (and being open when someone points out the harm we're causing) to calling in others who are causing harm to larger steps if people continue to harm despite being called in.

    The risk and vulnerability varies from person to person, but I've noticed patterns where some people who are incredibly secure in their careers not want to call in someone significantly junior for fear of being disliked.

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    Alexis Knaub
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  • 3.  RE: There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering

    Posted 08-16-2022 10:49 AM
    I think why most women are not attracted to STEM is because of their biological and sociocultural expectations as a mother. I have never met any adult American woman who did not say that she wanted her children to become President of the USA at some point in their lives. I have seen a few but I believe most women do not like nurturing someone who is not their child or family. Also, the stigma of women seen devoting her time, energy, and body to others who are not her husband is also concern. This all ties back to the expectations of women to one day be a mom. Who would she want to marry as a husband? Or, who could she marry as a husband?

    So how do we include more women in STEM? How about adult education programs for women whose children are out of the household and/or separated?

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    Alan Pan PhD
    McKinney TX
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  • 4.  RE: There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering

    Posted 08-17-2022 06:52 AM

    This post wonderfully illustrates the implicit bias of misogynistic thinking that is experienced by women entering STEM, but more broadly any workplace where such bias is still entrenched.  That it would be posted in a public and professional setting also speaks to an assumption that this bias could be universal or acceptable in some way.  


    Let's break it down.

    "...most women are not attracted to STEM…"

    This could be considered true, though left out is that most men are also not attracted to STEM.  Which is why we should encourage and create opportunities for anyone who is.

    "...because of their biological and sociocultural expectations as a mother."

    Who's expectations?  The argument is not specifically STEM related so much as a statement of belief that women generally choose not pursue higher education or careers by choice.  Gender bias and sociocultural bias are reasons women divert from STEM, but assigning that as a choice made by women blames them for the outcomes of an institutional dysfunction.

    "...most women do not like nurturing someone who is not their child or family."

    This again could be true, as I am sure it could be a true statement of most men as well. That statement could have been about "most people" if not conceived through a bias filter.  

    Interestingly the majority of teachers in the world are women.

    https://www.cgdev.org/blog/six-things-you-should-know-about-female-teachers 

    "...the stigma of women seen devoting her time, energy, and body to others who are not her husband is also concern."

    That is a clearly concerning statement because it argues that the post was not about STEM at all, but women in the workforce generally.  

    "This all ties back to the expectations of women to one day be a mom."

    How so?  There is no appreciable effect upon future reproductive success that I am aware of that is made void by education or working in STEM fields.

    "Who would she want to marry as a husband?"

    Her wife?  Gender bias is clear enough at this point but if it were asking who a woman with an advanced degree in STEM and a great job working in a STEM field would choose to marry, I am just thankful that one picked me.  I couldn't be happier knowing that our child has a mother who ignored biased thinking to succeed and can teach him to do the same.

    "...how do we include more women in STEM? How about adult education programs for women…"

    I'd just change one word of that… and then perhaps we have a solution.



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    Justin Jackson
    Washington DC
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  • 5.  RE: There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering

    Posted 08-17-2022 09:46 AM
    I think it's important to keep in mind the byline of the article "It's not that they aren't interested; it's the culture of these fields and how they exclude women and girls". We should not place the blame on women for a broken system that has excluded them for so long; instead we should focus on identifying the factors that cause these disparities, and doing our part to better the system.

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    Jishyra Serrano (She/Her)
    Community Engagement Manager
    OFBP
    AAAS
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  • 6.  RE: There Are Too Few Women in Computer Science and Engineering

    Posted 09-09-2022 10:25 AM
    I have been in the computer ... what do you call it? Culture? Technoculture? ... whatever ... since the first computers appeared in schools in 1966. Very few women ever appear in computer labs. There are numerous reasons. Number One: Very few women appear in computer labs. Women do not feel comfortable in all male environments. They certainly are justified. Regardless of the laws women are vulnerable in such situations. Number Two: There are very few women bookkeepers, and a lot of computer labors consist entirely of bookkeeping. When it comes to grunt work, women seem to prefer secretarial duties over bookkeeping. Number Three: The pay is not equal to the education, responsibilities and dedication required for most basic computer jobs. As a result, motivation is low. Why men, and boys, like to challenge themselves with computer puzzles is probably linked to the male hunter bias. Going after a computer glitch is very much like big game hunting. Dominance ladders are prevalent, and ostracism is common.
    In school these reasons also apply. However, there may be a problem with teasing and debasing girls and women interested in computer technology. Boys and men get this to some extent, but I suspect the female is even more afflicted.

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    David Harden
    Senior Scientist
    Vista CA
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