One problem: Why do we need more female computer scientists?By definition a computer scientist is someone who deals with the theoretical aspects of computing. I really think the author meant more female programmers but again that is illogical. What possible difference can the configuration of the programmers reproductive equipment make to whether their products work as desired.

Having been an IT manager in the 1980s and 90s when government schemes in the UK were encouraging women to take up careers in the field I was surprised by the numbers of women who in spite of having superior skills and a better attitude to work than male counterparts, left the profession to enter other fields of employment. On asking why I they were leaving in the standard “what can I do to persuade you to stay”, I received no consistent answer but what it came down to in most cases was they were just not enjoying the work.

Enjoying the work and being good at it, or even capable of taking a rational approach are very different. I’ll never forget the nerd who day after day would be hunched over his screen, tapping away on the keyboard while being very secretive about what he was doing. Eventually he unveiled his ‘project,’ it was nothing to do with the work he’d been given. “It’s a working image of a Rolex watch,” he announced proudly.

“No it isn’t,” I told him, “that fucking seconds hand is sweeping round, everyone knows a genuine Rolex steps round. You’ve spent the best part of a month programming an image of the kind of fake Rolex I could buy for £10 in the street market.” For the one and only time it was a pleasure to fire him. But I think that illustrates an important difference. Most women regard programming as a job (and if they do they are right in thinking it is boring), many men see computers as really cool toys and become quite obsessive about doing ‘cool stuff’ with them.

Another guy I had (he was actually named Guy) created an animated image of a backhoe excavator. He did it on his own time so that was fine, but by contrast he had quite a lot of difficulty writing a simple amendment to a stock control system.

One thing that did emerge from talking to the women who left the job however was that the problem was not the nerdy environment not working with a bunch of spotty, socially challenged males and their personal hygiene issues, it was the work. I can’t explain what was going on and I doubt anyone else can though I expect a few irrational feminist rants in response.

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Opted for comfortable retirement before I was fifty due to health problems and burn out. Now spend my time writing and goofing around. Home: northern England..

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