What women want

The National Science Foundation spent $19 million a year to end gender discrimination that it was convinced was responsible for a disparity in the number of women and men in science and technology fields.

It might’ve been a premature conclusion according to Joshua Rosenbloom at the University of Kansas who studied, in particular, the information technology field and found that the primary reason there aren’t more women in the field is that women don’t want to be in it.

According to the Boston Globe story

Rosenbloom and his colleagues used a standard personality-inventory test to measure people’s preferences for different kinds of work. In general, Rosenbloom’s study found, men and women who enjoyed the explicit manipulation of tools or machines were more likely to choose IT careers – and it was mostly men who scored high in this area. Meanwhile, people who enjoyed working with others were less likely to choose IT careers. Women, on average, were more likely to score high in this arena.

Personal preference, Rosenbloom and his group concluded, was the single largest determinative factor in whether women went into IT. They calculated that preference accounted for about two-thirds of the gender imbalance in the field.

Susan Pinker, author of Men, Women, and the Real Gender Gap, says the assumption that women in sciences was a case of gender inequity, was a misdirected drive for equality, according to an interview she did recently with the Vancouver Sun.

“I think it was necessary at the beginning, equating equality to sameness,” she said. “Essentially all feminist writers say we want what they want, so we’ve got to be like them. The science tells us, no, we’re not like them … unless biology changes.”

Let’s think about this just a bit. Explain this: The future of social media is going to be all about women.

It’s the lead of an article in Business Week today:

Traditionally, men are the early adopters of new technologies. But when it comes to social media, women are at the forefront. At Rapleaf we conducted a study of 13.2 million people and how they’re using social media. While the trends indicate both sexes are using social media in huge numbers, our findings show that women far outpace the men.

  • Cassandra

    Gee, golly. Who’da thunk to ask women what they actually wanted? Feminist radicals didn’t have enough respect for women to let them choose for themselves.

    Yet the media will continue to give credence and publicity to the same social-engineering idiots over and over again.

    Throw a hundred million more at it. Maybe they’ll decide that a traditional family model was best after all.

  • GregS

    Can we expect an apology to Larry Summers anytime soon?

  • Anna B

    I will own up to not being too excited by the idea of being a code monkey for a living – but I really wish that I would have been encouraged more during my K-12 years (especially the 7-12 grades) towards math and science. Even growing up in the “Free to Be You and Me” generation, it still sometimes felt like boys (e.g., my brother) got more encouragement at school for math and engineering than girls (e.g., me). For that matter, no one told me until after I finished my oh-so-useful degree in anthropology and theater that my aptitude for tools and interest in how things work might be useful for something other than artistic endeavors (oh – you didn’t have calculus? well, here’s a paintbrush and a hammer – go build a stage set).

    I finally found my way into a job where I do web-related stuff, but might have gotten here a lot earlier – or might have found my way into another tech/IT/mechanical sort of career – if I had been given different messages while I was in school about where my aptitudes might lead. I like what I do, but wonder where I would be now if I had gotten another nudge or two to continue on with math past Advanced Algebra. It’s a matter of interest, sure, but also where you get steered by your mentors and teachers.

  • Alison

    I wonder if things will be different for my daughters’ generation. They have grown up knowing my scientist colleagues, many of whom are women. I wonder if they make any distinction between men and women’s jobs at this point (ages 5 & 6).

    And then where do transgendered people like me fit in? Should I prefer a ‘male job’ or a ‘female job’. From my point of view the whole gender ability question is rather absurd. As if I should be more or less capable of doing a job depending the gender I present as!

  • http://minneapolis.metblogs.com Erica M

    Women as users of social media and women as designers of social are two different things.

    Although, the tools will best serve women if women are involved in the design process.