[ubuntu-uk] Age and gender

Sean Miller sean at seanmiller.net
Thu Aug 28 10:08:28 BST 2008

On Thu, Aug 28, 2008 at 7:20 AM, Lucy <lucybridges at gmail.com> wrote:
> computers is mainly because of social upbringing. For example, in
> India (and some other asian countries) there are more equal numbers of
> men and women working in programming). It wasn't so long ago that

This wasn't my experience during my 2 months at Technopark in
Thiruvananthapuram, training IT developers and interviewing for new
ones.  There wasn't one woman involved in the IT area, which numbered
about 20 or 30 personnel, and not one of our interviewees were female.
 I was actually surprised at this.  In contrast, in the call centre
which was in another wing of the same building, there were hugely more
women than men.

What worries me about any thread such as this is that there is a
serious danger that we create allegations of discrimination when in
reality it's just the way it is - women are programmed differently to
men (no pun intended) and seem, from my observations at least, to
drift by default into different types of job to their male
counterparts.  The nursing profession, for instance, is dominated by
women whereas road builders and railway maintenance engineers appears
to be virtually a male domain.

I grew up in a very exciting period when it came to computers, just as
the home computer concept was starting.  My school in Glastonbury
initially had an RML-380Z which did exciting things like text-based
puzzles and not much more.  The BBC Micro then arrived in my second
year of secondary school and we used to play "Digger" and "Space
Invaders" at lunchtime.  A fella called Hogan then took over the maths
department and set up a network of Commodore 64s in the Maths Room -
it was always a fight between the BBCs in the science dept. and the
Commodores in Maths. BBC was most definitely the better, though - you
could actually do things without having to use PEEK and POKE all the

For 'A' Levels I went to the private sports-orientated school
Millfield.  They had a really nifty Econet network, which ran on 5.25"
floppy disks.  But technology was improving at a pace and by the time
of my upper sixth this had been replaced with a network of BBC Master
Series computers with (shock!) hard drives for storage.  Interesting
thing here was that it wasn't trendy at all to be involved with
computers - you sort of got sidelined, called nerds, and so I had to
also do cross-country running to keep my reputation intact and visit
the Computer Room with dark glasses and false beard.  As for women on
computers, there was only Mrs Thomas (God bless her!) - no Millfield
girls would have been seen dead near a computer.  During my time
there, however, I met the mighty Hugo Fiennes who is now working (I
believe) for one of the major MP3 player manufacturers, having sold
his EMPEG business to them which was a pioneering car MP3 player which
achieved relatively cult status in the mid-90s.  But this was much
earlier... together we coded a BBC-micro based BBS system called
Viewdata+ which was based on Prestel and at one stage had 7-10 Sysops
around the UK using it.  But I never recall any females phoning my BB.


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