Wednesday, 19 November 2014

School Systems and Silicon Valley - Why the Extreme Differences in Workforces?- Audrey Watters

This presentation was most certainly an eye opener for me. The idea that women online were much more likely to be harassed and abused, even academic professionals, was something I had never considered or really thought about. When Alec pointed out he had never been victim to the type of Twitter abuse that Audrey experiences it really got me thinking about how the social media medium just became an easy conduit for sexism to keep rearing it's ugly head. I've always known about the racists, trolls and other such people that live to harass and be racist online. Even last week I was shocked at the tweet from the New England Patriot's Official Twitter account, with over 1 million Twitter followers. Take a look:

This tweet was sent out to 1 million plus followers.

The tweet was quickly deleted and the Patriots and they apologized for their software, which auto generated the tweet with the 1 millionth follower. Trolled.

Silicon Valley and School Systems

While I resonated with much of what Audrey had to say, I was critical of using the hiring practices of major corporation such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and so forth. Many of the companies had in the 70-80% range of male employees. Figures from the Computing Research Association Taulbee Survey indicate that less than 12% of Computer Science bachelor's degrees were awarded to women at U.S. PhD-granting institutions in 2010-11 (Retrieved from The hiring is simply based on the available workforce. However Alec was quick to point out that this was just further indication of an issue in technology sector, and society and culture as a whole.

I also instantly thought of our school systems.

The male proportion of the full time educator workforce nationally dropped by 41% in 1989 to 35% in 1999, and is lower among younger educators. However, over longer time frames, the percentage of men in teaching has gone both up and down; women were a higher percentage of educators much earlier in the century. And there is continuing concern about the ability of women to play leadership roles in teacher education (Acker, 1997) and in the profession (Gaskell & Mullen, 2006). (Retrieved from

One thing that is noteworthy when it comes to systemic sexism is that both sectors have a disproportionate amount of men in higher positions relative to that of their workforce.

I need your help ECI. I have some thoughts but I want to open it up to you first!

Why is it that so few women enter computer science programs?

Why is it that so few men enter the education field?


  1. Really good post Clayton. Perhaps so few women enter fields such as computer science and other technology realms due to the fact that they don't want to work in a predominately male field where they might feel chances for promotion are few. Perhaps it's also that from a young age they were engrained with the impression that that is boys work and so society just subconsciously turned them off from that.

  2. Good questions Clayton. I don't think I have any answers. I do know that when I was in high school (sometime in the 90s ;), I took only the math and science I needed to graduate. As for computers, I would have never considered computer science, but I did take information processing (keyboarding). I can even remember telling teachers that I will never use computers in the future. Wow.

    So why did I feel this way? I don't really know. I guess I thought I didn't have the skill set. Now, in my current position, I'm consulting on science and math as an ELA teacher. I also receive numerous requests for technology support which I can often complete with ease; however, the really "hard tech stuff" always goes past me to the guys at division office who are more "techie". But, they usually send those requests right back to me when they know it is something I can do. Good or bad? I don't know. The underlying assumption is still there.