Gender Gap Is Not What You Think

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-07-28 Print this article Print


Meanwhile, Nathan Torkington, a consultant and O'Reilly Media blogger, said that from his experience teaching kids to program, "the gender gap is not what you think. I tech kids ages eight to 10, and the girls have better math skills and focus."

Also, in an OSCON session titled "Heroes: Women in FOSS," Pia Waugh, a consultant at Waugh Partners in Sydney, Australia, said: "My mom was a techie, so I grew up with computers. So I never even thought of gender issues." Waugh said when she first noticed the disparity in numbers between men and women in the technology industry, she thought to herself: "All these women don't know what they're missing out on."

Yet, she said she began to witness and experiences gender issues and later determined that it was more of a cultural issue than a gender issue. "This has nothing to do with the different body parts we have. ... Every community has morons," she said.

Waugh then listed a series of women heroes of the open-source world, including Cooper, Stormy Peters of OpenLogic and Mitchell Baker of Mozilla.

Waugh then delivered a list of suggestions for women to improve the plight of women as a whole in the technology business.

Under the heading of "We need," Waugh listed: "To know the facts; to connect with each other; to try to assume stupidity over malice; to fulfill our dreams; education about pay and how to negotiate; just a little empathy; not let issues get in the way of our goals; to represent; not hide; and encourage others."

Waugh also said what several other speakers at the event mentioned-that free and open-source software "is the world's most powerful platform for social change." That may or may not be true. I tend to believe that it is likely not. It's just too sweeping a statement for me.

In any event, Waugh added, "We succeed in spite of politics, social agenda, economics, the Digital Divide and ourselves."

Right on, sister. That's no whinge. That's just telling it like it is.


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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