[UbuntuWomen] Women learn more slowly, or can't learn, about computer science?

Christina Eater christina.eater at gmail.com
Fri Apr 4 01:54:51 BST 2008


Hi, Ryan,

On Thu, Apr 3, 2008 at 4:13 PM, Ryan Prior <ryanprior at gmail.com> wrote:
> It may be that I reacted in a sexist or macho or otherwise alienating way that I'm too obtuse to realize.
On the contrary, I think you're the only one in that situation who
/wasn't/ being sexist...

> Is that an experience others have had?
I've never been in a position to tutor/be tutored in CS, as I only
took a few CS classes, but I imagine if I'd asked for help I'd have
been put in touch with a male tutor, because there weren't really
other women in the classes who could have tutored.

> Are many young women intimidated by their male peers?
Speaking only for myself, yes, definitely. My CS and computer-related
classes comprised a majority of male students who had or claimed
previous experience in the subjects being taught, and often acted
superior and bored. ("Oh, you're still working on that project? That
was easy. I did that in an hour last night.") I was stunned when
professors told me I was among the best in the class; the attitudes of
my classmates suggested quite the opposite. Maybe that's a difference
in communication methods, I don't know, but it certainly had the
effect of making me feel stupid and, yes, intimidated.

> Is the opinion that women need to be treated differently in computer science education widespread?
Neither my professors nor my classmates ever voiced such an opinion,
though I did have one professor who I suspect graded me more leniently
than the other (all male) students. I never had the opportunity to ask
him if he had done so, and why he would think that was appropriate.

> What should I do in the future if confronted with the same attitude?
I suppose you could skirt the issue by saying that, as a tutor, your
goal is to help the student with her specific difficulties rather than
to enforce a pace, and you're confident that you'll be able to
overcome any hurdles caused by individual personality? I'm annoyed
that anyone in academics would react negatively to your positive
attitude about a student's potential, but I hope it doesn't dissuade
you from generously offering your time to help others as you did in
this situation.

-- 
Christina



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