The Gender Gap in Computing

Ted Weverka (
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 08:28:15 -0700

The LA Times carried this story on the gender gap. Tuesday, August 25, 1998

(times stories are accessible for free for 1 day only) The story leads with one
of my best friends who gave
up a career in computing to become a midwife. (If anyone needs a midwife in
Mountain View, let me know and I'll point you to her).

One thing that struck me about this story is the fact that part of the shortage
of high tech workers is due to the lack of women, and to cover the shortfall, we
are bringing in more foreigners. The irony is that foreign high tech workers
are predominantly male.

Importing male talent is exacerbating the problem. Not only because this shifts
the balance away from gender equity, but with fewer women as role models in the
field, this leads to a viscous spiral. Furthermore, the gender- role attitudes
which hurt women in this field are often more strongly held by the foreigners we
bring in. We've been importing 65,000 high tech worker a year, and this
undoubtedly is a strong contributor to the gender make-up
of the high tech industry.

The only way I see to remedy this is to apply strict gender quotas on the high
tech work visas. We have no direct influence on the gender make-up of training
programs in foreign countries. We do have control over who we'll allow in to
this most desirable work market. This is an opportunity to influence the world's
programs in gender equity in the high tech industry. Furthermore, such a quota
system has no impact on Americans and hence we can expect not to have the usual
objections to quotas.

Our country is contemplating increasing the high-tech foreign work visas by
50,000 per year. Now is the time to push legislation which will enforce gender
equity in these visas.

-Robert Weverka <>

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