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Kevin Schofield - Tour of MS Research's University Relations Group

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Over the next week Kevin will take us through several parts of Microsoft Research. The first part of the tour took us through the University Relations group, where we stopped in on Sarah Revi Sterling. She's passionate about getting more women to choose computer science careers. Hear how she works with universities to help.

One event that they talked about is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference that occurs October 6-9 in Chicago.

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  • rasxrasx Emperor of String.Empty

    As computing becomes more communal or social there will be more women involved in computing. This field is optimized for anti-social males and it has saved my imperial/corporate life because of it. I would not last long playing air hockey and hackey sack, trying to socialize my way up the * order.

    The optimism here is that we will realize that software can’t go further without sociological and technical studies. We need sensitive people that can advocate for the end user—people that can intuit the unspoken and articulate it into silicon-based solutions. The stereotype is that women have these qualities more than males. Let’s check back on this “super important” initiative in five years and see what’s up.

  • moofishmoofish Living in Scotland, UK

    yea I think its really stereotypical to say women talk too much.

     

    Samuel, misogynist

  • I'll "mentor" some undergrad chicks. Where do I sign up?  Smiley

    Hah.  Faux pas?  What's that?
  • bhakitibhakiti All this and brains, too!

    Geez, men are the same no matter where you go... Tongue Out

    Anyway, hooray for Sarah.  I've been into computers since around 1973, since my father was a programmer back in the day.  Worked on the earliest versions of Pascal.  I remember him bringing me a baby tee, with a picture on it showing a baby working with baby blocks that had the letters PASCAL on them.  I loved that t-shirt.  Back then, we had a home computer...a big box, with no lid, a lot of circuit boards exposed, and a little black and white tv hooked up to it.  If he hadn't been an alcoholic, he may have ended up hanging with Mr. Gates and others.  Oh well.

    Anyway, originally, I wanted to be an oceanographer, but things never worked out that way, and I'm heading back into computers.  It's the only way to mix the analytical and creative parts of me.  Well, that is, until I figure out how to knit a program... Big Smile

  • moofishmoofish Living in Scotland, UK
    no were not, nice boobs :0
  • chrfrazichrfrazi Dogs and cats living together.... Mass Hysteria!
    She makes some very good points.  I'm currently a computer science student there are pretty much 2 women for every 16 men in my classes.  Obviously there are some issues here. 

    I'll ask some of my female counterparts what they think tomorrow.

  • LwatsonLwatson One ugly mug...

    I believe that I have echoed this sentiment before in response to some of Sara Fords video here at channel 9 but I will say it again

    In my own experience here locally with a technical college I found that the actual course matter was lacking in any definitive energy. The connection between what was being done in class to real world application was broken and there was just no fire there. By the time 3rd or 4'th quarters had rolled around most of the woman had bolted for greener pastures. Some of this observation was echoed in this piece when the examples of just making the courseware more applicable to real world application rather than the contrived and seemingly pointless exercises present in so many texts and courses that I have been subjected to through the years.

    For the record I met my wife in this technical college, she was taking the same courses I was taking. Her reasons for sticking around in the course I have come to understand was because I was there or she was going to leave it also. (I guess I am grateful for that at least but I am saddened to think that something as simple as some real world applicability might be what is stopping some woman from perusing a carrier in computing sciences)



  • Her last statement didn't make sense to me though. She said these new programs will help universities to recruit more women and minorities. That doesn't make sense, because throughout the conversation she focused on how to get more women on computer science programs, at the end she mentioned the minorities. Miniroty men are not women.

    Frankly, it is a mistake to recruit more women for the sake of it. I wish there were more women, but what I have seen is that, they are less likely to work in front of a computer like males for long hours. I guess it is against their nature. Artificially increasing women participation may work against the women themselves, maybe you are encouraging them in the wrong career.
  • LwatsonLwatson One ugly mug...
    Keskos wrote:
    Her last statement didn't make sense to me though. She said these new programs will help universities to recruit more women and minorities. That doesn't make sense, because throughout the conversation she focused on how to get more women on computer science programs, at the end she mentioned the minorities. Miniroty men are not women.

    Frankly, it is a mistake to recruit more women for the sake of it. I wish there were more women, but what I have seen is that, they are less likely to work in front of a computer like males for long hours. I guess it is against their nature. Artificially increasing women participation may work against the women themselves, maybe you are encouraging them in the wrong career.


    I'll agree that the last statement was a bit off but to say that Woman in general won't work long hours in front of the computer is just not right. I have seen many a guy who is just as averse to do the long stint. There are plenty of professions where men and woman put in some of the most grueling work one would ever want go through.

    Case in point:
    How about ER Staff Doc and Nurses, male and female. How would you like to work a 48 hour shift taking a 30 min nap on a gernie(sp?) in the back closet every 12-14 hrs. Until recently that was the way it was for medical students and nurses. Trial by fire in the ER. Makes you wonder how someone coming in the door with a knife wound ever survived.

    The point is that given the same sets of circumstances, folks with the inclination be they male or female can become a very good at (Insert you profession here). Computer science is certainly in that list.

    Clearly there are things that are making some woman look elsewhere, these barriers should be sought out and torn down.

  • Woman in general won't work long hours in front of the computer is just not right

    Why? Is there a scientific evidence that shows that they are as likely as males to sit in front of a computer and type computer code? Of course there are guys who will not do the same, but in my experience women tend to stay away from such tasks. They are more social than males.

    The point is not that women can not do it, the point is that they don't seem to be interested in doing that.

    If there are any barriers, sure, let's find them and torn them down. But what if the barrier is the female feelings and nature? In my education, I found girls to be much better at social classes than men, like writing, language etc... Those who were good at sciences, math and so on tend to select more social jobs, like being a doctor. However, I did have girl friends in my computer science school, they were all successfull, but they were fewer compared to males. I haven't seen a barrier you can torn down, there was nothing in my career that says women are not welcome or anything like that.

    The only barrier I can think of is sitting in front of a computer and programming for long hours which nobody likes to do. It is the satisfaction at the end that keeps us there. That satisfaction has been with me since very young ages, like when I was a child. I loved to program computers and I was willing to sit in front of a computer for 6-7 hours just to hear a noise or make computer do an animation and I was so excited about it that it didn't matter if the computer would lost everything once I had to close it, that one-two minute of seeing computer doing something that I wanted it to do was simply worth 6-7 hours. When I talk about this to my girl friend, she never understood me at all, but when I talk to my male friends, most of them did show some interest in what I was doing and they seem to understand what I am talking about. I don't see many women going around and telling how they are proud of sitting in front of a computer and programming something. More males seem to be crazy about that satisfaction of making computers do something, wheras women seem to be less interested in. This is based my own experience on the web, on my personal life and on others' personal lives.

    If you can find a way to torn this down, then that's just great. However, trying to look for barriers that are not there may create problems for everybody. What they are doing makes sense, but overall I personally don't expect a big difference unless universities mandate some sort of quota for women. In that case, it would be an artificial increase and will likely hurt both men and women.

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