Reading coverage and, especially, the comments section on articles like this, I really get why a lot of people, especially women, do not want to work in tech.
The gist of the story: Google offers DonorsChoose.org gift cards to teachers who motivate girls to take part in programming classes on Khan Academy or Codecademy. Apparently, this makes the slashdot crowd feel – to use the eloquent Dutch expression – like someone stepped on their penis.
The cry of “discrimination!” by the group that has virtually always been on the non-discriminated-against side of the fence is equally ridiculous and enraging. First of all, in most places, and maybe especially in tech/IT, men often get preferential treatment over women. Boys are encouraged to try their hand at programming more often than girls, the only difference is that it happens automatically and it’s not explicitly encouraged. Now, teachers are explicitly encouraged to motivate girls. Noooo!
Also, and this is important: nowhere in the article does it say that boys cannot partake in the programming classes, or that boys cannot benefit from the grants that teachers receive. If I understand correctly, the grants can be used to support class projects at DonorsChoose.org, meaning that teachers who win the grants are able to support *other* teachers to do school projects with their students. I’ve searched a bit through the database and found some projects specifically for girls (e.g., math) and some projects specifically for boys (e.g., reading). Most projects, however, are not gender-specific. This means that boys will *also* benefit if more female students take up programming. In what way, exactly, is this a bad thing?
Apparently, the /. crowd sees it differently. The comments section is a prime example of the sort of discussions and the sort of people that make the environment in tech so uninviting. Grown men crying like they’ve been hit in the groin because high school girls get something and they don’t – no, wait, because teachers who motivate girls get to support other teachers, and, uh, they don’t? Imagine, as a girl, reading those discussions. I’d be out of there in a heartbeat. And that’s a pity, because there are also so many super nice guys in tech. But they’re usually less loud.
“Only 18% of computer science graduates are women, Google is interested in encouraging more girls to learn how to code. Funding rewards are therefore just for girls right now. The courses are DEFINITELY open to both boys and girls, and we’d love for your whole class to participate.”