17 August 2005

Men in computing


carried a link to a
on the Bill Gates-Maria Klawe talk
held in Redmond a few weeks back.

Professor Klawe worries aloud about the CS funding crunch and the
dearth of women in computing. Again, I can’t say much about the
former, but the most elequent answer to the latter came ten years ago
(a veritable eternity in this field) from Philip Greenspun:

Intelligent people with PhDs are working as C
programmers; The average engineering career lasts seven years, pays
average, and doesn’t justify an MIT education that costs $120,000;
anyone smart enough to make it as a computer scientist can make it
with less work and risk as an MD, MBA, or JD; there has been so little
progress in programming environments, systems, and computer languages
in the last three decades that programmers in India and other Third
World countries are perfectly capable of taking over the majority of
American computer science jobs.

Your January issue [of Communications of the ACM] asks
“Why are there so few women in computing?” Maybe you should do another
issue asking “Why are there so many men?”

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