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An update on the Ada Initiative

An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Dec 31, 2011 23:24 UTC (Sat) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
In reply to: An update on the Ada Initiative by giraffedata
Parent article: An update on the Ada Initiative

The fact that intra-gender differences are more significant has no bearing on what inter-gender difference we should see.

Maybe we can visualize this a different way, if you had two venn diagrams of interest/ability in males and females they would have two different centers separated by the difference in average interest/ability but would be largely overlapping. That would lead to an expected outcome of maybe 60/40% if 90% of the area overlapped.

Whatever trait you're talking about, if you assert that it is distributed randomly, then it is not correlated with gender. That's just simple semantics. If the trait is correlated with gender, even anomalously so, the trait is not distributed randomly.

The trait I am talking about is interest/ability in science, math, engineering, and software. I am arguing that interest/ability in these areas is not correlated with gender (ie. women are _not_ inherently bad at math and science) and is distributed evenly in the population. The fact that we see only small single-digit numbers of females participating in software development would seem to indicate a serious problem, something is discouraging a large number of people from doing what they like and are good at. I think we should find out what is preventing people from doing what they like and are good at and systematically remove roadblocks preventing them from being successful. When those roadblocks are cultural then the culture which allows people to reach their full potential is going to have superior outcomes to one that is more caste driven and does not allow people to achieve based on non-relevant traits such as their gender, religion, color, etc.

Does my point make more sense now or am I still explaining badly?


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An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 1, 2012 19:02 UTC (Sun) by fuhchee (guest, #40059) [Link]

"I am arguing that interest/ability [science, math, engineering, and software] is not correlated with gender ... and is distributed evenly in the population."

It sounds like you are assuming, not arguing. What data do you have that substantiates such homogeneity assumptions?

"(ie. women are _not_ inherently bad at math and science)"

That "ie." is not an "ie.". Correlations or differently shaped bell curves do not translate to a simplistic summaries like "women are inherently bad at XYZ".

An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 2, 2012 6:58 UTC (Mon) by speedster1 (subscriber, #8143) [Link]

> The trait I am talking about is interest/ability in science, math, engineering, and software. I am arguing that interest/ability in these areas is not correlated with gender

Math skills have only recently reached parity in the US, over 40 years after widespread discrimination started being seriously addressed

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/25/education/25math.html

'Three years after the president of Harvard, Lawrence H. Summers, got into trouble for questioning women’s “intrinsic aptitude” for science and engineering — and 16 years after the talking Barbie doll proclaimed that “math class is tough” — a study paid for by the National Science Foundation has found that girls perform as well as boys on standardized math tests.'

'The researchers looked at the average of the test scores of all students, the performance of the most gifted children and the ability to solve complex math problems. They found, in every category, that girls did as well as boys.'

'On the ACT, another college entrance test, the study said, the gender gap in math scores disappeared in Colorado and Illinois after the states began requiring all students to take the test.'

I think it could well take some more generations of students before programming interest levels catch up with the math skills, unless there is a big movement among CS/engineering fathers to start making up the difference by getting their daughters involved early with programming. If there were more fathers like Bdale Garbee, there would naturally be more girls getting involved in Free Software without having to run any special campaigns to attract them.

An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 16, 2012 11:27 UTC (Mon) by ekj (guest, #1524) [Link]

That's true. Even if the average man is taller than the average woman, there's still some women who are taller than some men. How many, depend on how large the difference in average is, and what the standard deviance is.

Thus, biology could only exaplain a 90/10 split if either the difference in average skill was very large, or the standard-deviance was very small. It seems exceedingly unlikely that either is the case for general math-aptitude or related technical skills.

Freedom: no more, no less.

Posted Jan 16, 2012 15:37 UTC (Mon) by blujay (guest, #39961) [Link]

> The fact that we see only small single-digit numbers of females participating in software development would seem to indicate a serious problem, something is discouraging a large number of people from doing what they like and are good at.

That is completely flawed reasoning. As was pointed out, you are working from an unsubstantiated assumption. Not only do you assume that you know what people (in general) are good at--but you believe that you know what they should like? Wow.

It's just as bad to tell people what they should do or what they should like as it is to tell them what they shouldn't do or shouldn't like. Reverse discrimination is still discrimination. Affirmative Action is hypocritical and wrong.

> I think we should find out what is preventing people from doing what they like and are good at and systematically remove roadblocks preventing them from being successful. When those roadblocks are cultural then the culture which allows people to reach their full potential is going to have superior outcomes to one that is more caste driven and does not allow people to achieve based on non-relevant traits such as their gender, religion, color, etc.

I think you should advocate freedom for all people and let people do what they want. I think you should not try to manipulate any people. I think you should not assume that you know what people do want or should want. I think that you should not decide whether other people are "successful". You know, "pursuit of happiness" and all that.

To even insinuate that the "imbalance" of the sexes in FOSS is in any way like a caste system is an insult to the millions of people who actually have to live in one.

If you're trying to get any person or any group of people to do a certain thing, you're trying to manipulate them. Free Software is about FREEDOM. Advocate freedom and leave it at that.

Freedom: no more, no less.

Posted Jan 17, 2012 0:50 UTC (Tue) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

Your entire argument is based on confusing the difference between individuals and groups and is invalid.

Freedom: no more, no less.

Posted Jan 17, 2012 2:53 UTC (Tue) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Affirmative Action is hypocritical and wrong.

Affirmative action is not hypocritical. The proponents of affirmative action are pressing consistent values: they want equality. They believe some immediate inequality is necessary to gain a broader long term equality. I'm not an expert on the sociology myself, and you may very well believe it doesn't work, or even that long term equality isn't valuable enough to forsake immediate case-by-case equality, but if you think support of affirmative action is hypocritical, you probably just haven't listened to what supporters are saying.

Is a doctor hypocritical when he says he wants to ease suffering and then goes and gives a patient a painful lumbar puncture?

Incidentally, I don't hear much argument for affirmative action any more. Affirmative action is about fairness, and the racial etc. preferences being pushed these days are instead about diversity. Diversity is the idea that you get women (or whatever) into your company not to be fair to women, but because your company is better off with a mix.

Freedom: no more, no less.

Posted Jan 19, 2012 21:27 UTC (Thu) by fuhchee (guest, #40059) [Link]

"Diversity is the idea that you get women (or whatever) into your company not to be fair to women, but because your company is better off with a mix."

Or perhaps "diversity" is a new politically correct term to replace the old "affirmative action" one.

Freedom: no more, no less.

Posted Jan 19, 2012 21:48 UTC (Thu) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Or perhaps "diversity" is a new politically correct term to replace the old "affirmative action" one.

It may be a more politically correct concept to justify the same actions, but it is anything but a drop-in replacement term. If you listen to the reasons people give for pursuing "diversity," you hear entirely different words from what you heard to explain "equal opportunity" and "affirmative action."


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