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Thursday, February 13th, 2014 21:54
While clearing out my stash of old writing/blogging, I found this lengthy comment that I wrote back in November. It's a reply to the 2.39x1014th round of clueless dudes opining on why there are so few women in STEM without bothering to have done even the most preliminary of research.

Might as well save this reply for posterity; dollars to doughnuts says I'll have the chance to roll it out again all too soon.

Here's an archived version of Mika Schiller's post, if for some reason you are wont to subject yourself to it.

Hmmm, interesting topic! Can't help but wonder if anyone has brought this up before. Well, let's have a look, shall we?

2005: Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard, claims that women are underrepresented in STEM because fewer women than men are prepared to work long hours, and because they have less intrinsic aptitude in science and engineering. Numerous academics and academic institutions respond, pointing out the extensive body of research, ignored by Summers, that roundly refutes his claims. http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Lawrence_Summers

2010: John Tierney claims that this disparity is explained by a study showing some gender-based differences amongst the top 0.01% of high school grads. He is roundly condemned for drawing conclusions that are unsupported by the statistics he provides, amongst other things. http://geekfeminism.org/2010/06/09/the-latest-essentialism-go-round-do-we-dare-to-discuss/

2013, August: Dave Winer attempts to explain the lack of women in tech by advancing a completely specious argument from biological determinism. He is roundly mocked for not even doing the most basic of research before spouting off his uninformed opinion.

2013, November: Mika Schiller opines that "technology demands a very masculine set of mental qualities".

The gender-based variance in any given cognitive ability is tiny, and is far outweighed by the differences between individuals. The statistical difference is far too small to explain the massive gender difference in tech, it fails to account for the prevalence of female programmers in computing history, and it doesn't account for why women are present in other STEM fields in higher numbers than computing.

The sociological theory is much stronger than the ev-psych one. It pretty much blows it out of the water, actually.

The argument you're making is the same tired one that's been rehashed again and again, each time as if it's some new revelation. Repeating it doesn't make it any truer than it was the last go-round. If you're disappointed by the replies you get to this blog, if you get a whole bunch of angry responses and trolling commenters, I'd posit that it may be because they're giving this argument the level of debate that it deserves.

(NTS: The link to Shanley's piece is an addition, not present in the original comment I posted. Otherwise, verbatim.)