Re: Educational brainstorming

Linda Purrington (
Thu, 07 May 1998 10:25:15 -0700

Having stared at the screen until my brain shriveled up and my eyeballs
swivelled, I can't wish the job of computer programmer on anyone--except
those who want to do it and need the money. The issue is twofold: (1)
women want the choice--the freedom--of taking more lucrative jobs as
well as finding out if they like to do them; (2) society may or may not
benefit from a public policy shifting more women into computer science
and men into early education, and shifting men out of computer science
and into the humanities. One is a flat-out civil rights issue-- people
deserve equal access to education and economic opportunity. The other
issue is a question of representation--will a society of equals and
friends arise more easily if women and men are represented more or less
equally in all social walks of life? We live in a society that aspires
to become a representative democracy, so yes, we need to support social
policy that enables this ideal. But we have to examine the assumptions:
let's look to see if men dominate the humanities as well as computer
sciiences: the last time I looked, they did. They also dominated the
literature presented by teachers to students at every level K to
postgraduate. Simply having women in the lower echelons clearly does not
mean that women dominate the cultural scene, does it? That would be a
little like counting the presence of cleaning women into the mass of
human bodies inhabiting the Senate, and concluding that women dominated
the Senate. Women are what percentage of the school superintendents of
the United States? Women are what percentage of the landowners of the
world? Women do what percentage of unpaid child care of the world? Do we
hear anyone competing for the right to do unpaid housework? Any takers
for increased participation in gardening and firewood collection in the
Third World? Any volunteers to ensure adequate child support? How about
costs due to ill health in pregnancy and childbirth? We need to widen
the scope of our understanding; women are made invisible in a great
number of ways around the world.
Linda Purrington
Title IX Advocates

John Meyer wrote:
> I've been watching this debate for some time now, and I even wrote a
> research paper about it, and I have a few thoughts as to the equity or
> inequity of boys and girls.
> First off, I noticed that a lot of the push was towards getting girls
> into technology, which is fine by me. Having a girl in technology, having
> everybody in technology, takes off a little bit of the stress in working
> with technologically illeterate people.
> But I don't see many feminists shouting about getting boys into more
> the humanities, which are suffering in terms of being cut out of funding
> and such. With boys having a disproportionate percentage in the illiteracy
> group, and with the dire need of humanities in school, you would think that
> we would be pushing humanities as well. Also, a majority of the teachers I
> had were female. Should we demand more male teachers? And how would we
> get more males into teaching? Apparantly this is not a top priority in
> this technophile society.
> Also, it will take a special kind of person to succeed in technology,
> and I am not talking about male or female. Let's take programming,
> although that is only a small part of the whole technological puzzle.
> When you program for 50 hours a week, looking at a monitor with your eyes
> focused like a laser, trying to find a single bug in your program that
> keeps it from working, you find out a true test of endurance. If
> feminists want more female programmers, that's fine; just remember that
> putting a person in programming and having them survive for long are two
> different ideals.
> My own belief is that in order for education to thrive, we need a
> to the "Renaissance Man/Woman". We need men and women who are interested
> in a varity of topics, not just "specializing". And with the turnover and
> layoff rates in the economy, a lot of people are going to have to broaden
> their horizons as well. So, what do you think?

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