Girls are Strong

People like this Paul Ford fellow, who wrote this otherwise excellent article about computer coding, are always holding up statistics like the following, presumably for our collective horror: “less than 30 percent of the people in computing are women.” We’re supposed to say: Can you imagine? That’s disgusting. etc. etc.

But man, 30%! That’s great! That’s way better than I imagined we were doing as a country! Not that programming computers is somehow noble, something to which all and sundry should aspire, but still, it’s (often) lucrative, which is something. But given that there are fewer women in the US workforce generally (47% according to the BLS) and that that number isn’t really right since, according to the same official statistics, 27% of those work only on a part time basis–presumably because they’re busy doing better things like birthing or raising the next generation of human beings so that there will be someone to use all this equipment–and since computer jobs tend not just to be full time, but all-consuming (hence the beds and food service at those “campuses”) so we’re really dealing with something like 35% of the workforce, and then peeling off the disproportionate employment of women in excellent, worthwhile, life-changing careers like education, then we’re down to something like perfect gender parity in computer-related fields. Which, again, doesn’t really matter any more than it matters that we achieve gender parity in sanitation collection–which we don’t have and no one complains about–but still, the tone bothers me. The mouth agape, “I thought we had evolved” look they all pose. Like we’re all supposed to be ashamed that some women tend to prefer spending time with other human beings, rather than staring into a blue-lit square for days on end, or that, worse still, the supposed imbalance is somehow calculated, somehow indicative of a pattern (to pull a metaphor from the both the worlds of coding–pattern recognition–and clothing, both fields to which women have complete access).

Note: all U.S. girls who have access to books or TV or films or other people know they can do anything they want with their lives. “Imbalance” based on self-selection is no cause for collective rue, still less for finger-wagging.