July 28, 2011

Programming, women, and H1-B

Here's the first page of a 1967 article in Cosmopolitan called The Computer Girls that points out the advantages of a career in programming for young women. Photos show a lovely young IBM systems engineer surrounded by appreciative white-shirt-and-tie-wearing IBM bachelors.

The accompanying blog post claims that:
"In 1987, 42% of the software developers in America were women ... [Is that true?] From 1984 to 2006, the number of women majoring in computer science dropped from 37% to 20% — just as the percentages of women were increasing steadily in all other fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, with the possible exception of physics. The reasons women left computer science are as complex and numerous as why they had entered in the first place. But the most common explanation is that the rise of personal computers led computing culture to be associated with the stereotype of the eccentric, antisocial, male “hacker.” Women found computer science less receptive professionally than it had been at its inception."

Maybe, although there were other things going on as well. For example, the dominant language in mainframe business software in 1987 was Admiral Grace Hopper's verbose COBOL, a language that was particularly popular with female coders (my wife was one for awhile). Since then, the software languages that are popular have evolved toward higher levels of elegance and abstraction. 

It's a little bit like classical music composers. If you pick up a book on composers, such as R.J. Stove's concise and delightful A Student's Guide to Music History, they often start with the medieval German nun Hildegard von Bingen, composer of lovely monophonic songs. But, as composing art music became more complex, the number of top female composers became vanishingly small. 

But, here's another factor that helped drive American women away from programming careers: H-1B. Bill Gates and other zillionaires have added even more billions to their fortunes by getting the government to let in lots of foreign programmers to do for less money the lower level programming that American women tended to be doing. Logically, feminists should therefore have been anti-Bill Gates and anti H-1B, but logic doesn't play a big role in modern America in determining which Diversity Card trumps which. As a general Hi-Lo v. Middle rule, rich guys playing the race card against average whites are likely to win.

Exactly why was it important for the government to pitch in at the task of ruining computer programming as a fairly ordinary career for fairly ordinary Americans? Didn't Bill Gates have enough money already? Maybe it would have happened sooner or later anyway, but why did the government have to speed it up?

123 comments:

Camlost said...

In the 70's and 80's a lot of early programmers came from non-technical fields because Fortune 500 companies (especially telecoms) would take their own personnel from other areas and start to train them in coding. In the 90's and beyond companies wanted you to be turn-key ready with prior technical skills before they'd put you in programming.

jeanne said...

About 1/3 of our programmers where I work are women. I have noticed they gravitate toward pink ghetto work, coding DB apps, while the men do the realtime command-and-control programs.

My theory is that the design phase of our new releases is pretty rough-and-tumble and I think the gals get elbowed out of the way.

Anonymous said...

http://bcove.me/1359x95o

Neocons are gone but Neolds are here.

metatron said...

There may be a point to what you say about COBOL, in the 90s the main language was C++, which is a nightmare to debug, but now we are moving in the Python/Ruby/Java/C# direction and they are way more forgiving.

Stewart Griffin said...

Before personal computers people were not really familiar with computing and thus lots of people just sort of fell into it. Once home computing became commonplace, however, people quickly found out if it was their kind of thing - turns out, more men than women decided that it was.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe how few immigrants were around back then. Crazy as it might seem, there was a time when American workers got hired to do jobs in America.

Antioco Dascalon said...

They may have answered their own question, as they point out that there are more women in other sci-tech fields. Since women dominate fields like nursing, humanities, social science and are at parity in law and medicine, will feminists not be happy until women are at least 50% of every field, even though they are 90 % of other fields?

Anonymous said...

Things we learn about Steve Sailer:

1. Anti-immigration stance trumps anti-Feminististism

2. Female programmers and COBOL Language and also C+++

Anonymous said...

In the 70's and 80's a lot of early programmers came from non-technical fields because Fortune 500 companies (especially telecoms) would take their own personnel from other areas and start to train them in coding.

This is totally correct. I have a cousin that started off at a Fortune 500 company as as account manager, but was offered a chance to join the programming department due to the worker shortage. Nowadays, that wouldn't happen. They'd just bring over a H1B/L1/B1 to fill the job.

I don't think too many Americans realize the opportunities that their children and grandchildren have lost because of all these high-tech "guest" worker programs. Lucrative jobs that could've gone to American kids have been foreignized, while a lot of American kids are relegated to doing lower paying stuff or not working period.

albert magnus said...

This is apropos of nothing, but in the mid-nineties I was doing programming in the telecommunications industry. There were two cute blonde hair girls from Oklahoma in their mid-twenties, who had received degrees in business, decided to become computer programmers because they heard programmers made more money. The company, because it had problems with turnover, decided to let them do this.

They weren't totally terrible. The work they were given was not the hardest in the world and there were some good programmers around who they could ask questions to. Things seemed to get done on time.

I remember one of the girls said she woke up at 4:30 am every morning to get ready for work (it began around 8:00 am). Her hair, nails, makeup, clothes and everything else was perfect everyday. I don't know why a person who would have all that energy and need for an expensive lifestyle couldn't figure out that programmers made more money before she went to college.

Trew said...

@Camlost: yes, true.

I graduated w/ a BS in 1985 from a reputable & rigorous New England college. At that time, about 50% of the grads in CS at my school were females, and they did as well as the men in class. There were zero foreign CS students. All of us quickly got good-paying jobs in the Massachusetts route 128 high-tech corridor.

Once on the job, the females quickly sought to get away from hands-on software development. They sought out "project management" positions (i.e. set up and attend meetings, and tic-mark check boxes). Or, more likely, they went back to school for an MBA and/or completely switched careers out of software development.

In my opinion, my female classmates were good and dutiful students -- they could complete the school assignments, study for tests, and earn As and Bs. But when it came time to apply computer science in the real world, it was more hard work than they wanted to do. Not that they couldn't do the work, it's just that they didn't want to and, so, sought out other fields.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

the main language was C++, which is a nightmare to debug,
... for women and H1-B programmers.

Lugash said...

I am Lugash.

As battle scared, 15 year veteran of the ass end of IT(i.e. tech support) I've noticed this shift as well. A few other anecdotal observations...

-I think the H1B cap is being ignored. I've done rough, back of the envelop guesstimations, and the numbers just don't hold up.

-Every single one of the H1Bs in the past two companies I've worked for has brought over their wives and kids, often their parents, and about half have had kids in the U.S.

-Once an IT business unit goes a little bit H1B, the whites, Asians and women rapidly leave the department.

-H1B departments break down by ethnicity. They're either Pakistani or Indian.

-Money is part of the reason why management loves the H1B program, but H1Bs are also very compliant when it comes to dealing with management.

-Very, very few of the H1B departments are managed by women.

-For the IT departments that don't require management to have an in depth knowledge of something cognitively demanding(coding, DBs, networking, some admin stuff), or can permit management to get away with working non-insane work hours, women make up the entirety of management personnel.

-Management of the highend/mission critical stuff is still mostly done by white men, but their numbers are shrinking. Around their mid 40s a H1B is assigned to them as an assistant, their workload is increased until it's unbearable, they're found to be 'substandard', and then they're let go, with their H1B taking over.

-Help desk support is moving back to the US. The language and cultural distances were just too great.

-If you're a young person, avoid IT. Management will you as an expense, and treat you as such.

I am Lugash.

Kaz said...

@Lugash

I guess you don't consider Pakis/Indians Asians then..

Hunsdon said...

To the Anonydroid at 3:50.

I encourage you to criticize Steve to the best of your ability, while hoping that this isn't it.

I further encourage you to flesh out your arguments, to provide some data, some desired end state, perhaps, even, some argument. Do you have a level of immigration that you would find ideal? A (presumably for you somewhat lower) level which you would find tolerable? Do you have criteria which you would wish to use, to judge immigrants? Or do you think that anyone and everyone should be encouraged to immigrate to the United States?

Really, my good fellow. (Fellowette?) If this is the best you can do, perhaps you should stick to posting comments to newspaper articles.

international Jew said...

I don't believe the claim that women used to be 40% of "software developers". That's way high. I've been in that business for a long time and a fair number of employers, public and private. Women were very scarce then, and they're about as scarce now. So theorizing about why there's been a big change of some kind is a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

I think the assessment of IT trends is correct. I was humanities graduate drafted into COBOL programming by way of an aptitude test; back when industry skills shortages corresponded nicely with my income shortage. We had a lot of fun, but by the Nineties, and the advent of C, I came to the conclusion that I would be out of my depth staying in the tech stream.
I scored 99 'percent below' in the GMAT verbal, but only seventy something on quant; and so off I went to business school, leaving software development to the rocket scientists with the converse profile.

Gc said...

How come those old programming languages were easier? I don`t believe that. On the contrary it seems that you needed more talent to be a programmer then.
Women don`t like math related subjects because they don`t like to be around aspies and need more human contacts. Can`t blame them really.

Kaz said...

@GC

If 'need more human contacts' means they suck at it, then yes I agree.

Anonymous said...

In 1987, 42% of programmers were women? I was around (working and a computer geek) then, and this statistic just seems insanely unlikely - I can't hear my thoughts anymore over the bullshit detectors that keep going off in my head. And keeping in mind the significantly lower % of women in the labor force in the first place - particularly then - this almost implies a significant positive bias towards female programmers. Programmers?! In 1987?! More than 4 out of 10?! It was nerd-dominated back then too :-(

And yet ... I've traced the source back as far as claiming that it is based on raw BLS data, which sounds mighty credible. (I was cynically expecting to find some obvious flaw like lumping in people who used word processors as programmers.) I haven't yet got the BLS website to work well enough for me to double check this, but I'm not really willing to argue with that as a source.

Does anyone who has dug deeper have any insight on: is this really true? Is there a data source online that might help verify this? I'm appalled that my intuition and memories would put me so very wrong, but maybe I'm just getting old :-(

Anonymous said...

Your topic is so uninteresting that I will take this opportunity to announce that the African-American writer TA-NEHISI COATES has re-fullfilled the Black op-ed columnist slot left open by the parting of Bob Herbert at the NYTIMES.

Anonymous said...

Are female programmers less attractive on average?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Coates most objectionable anti-White screed can be read here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/28/opinion/28coates.html?ref=opinion

Victor said...

I suppose the government thought the money was safer in the hands of Bill Gates than in the hands of computer programmers with less "progressive" inclinations.

Anonymous said...

Is H1-B for IT different than for programmers (developers)?

I've been involved in hiring _many_ H1-B programmers over the years, and the idea that a lower salary would enter into the picture in even the tiniest way is just laughable.
Generally, the top 10% of programming talent is each 10x more productive than your median staffer. In a smallish company (< 100 people) it is very common (in my experience as common as not) that your very best programmer is an productive as every other developer on your staff combined.
Facing that, you want to find the great programmers, and it's just more efficient to search the whole world rather than just 300M or so Americans. (It's even worse than that, since an awful lot of the very talented US citizens will be striving to become investment bankers or lawyers :-)
You could fairly argue that the companies I have been employed by or founded go the H1-B route due to laziness. But to get cheaper staff? I've never seen that, and it would seem deeply irrational.

Unemployed White Guy said...

I've noticed in my current software engineer job search, that current placement firms, i.e. job shops, are now dominated by Indians/Pakis. This may have something to with the fact that jobs that use to pay $100/hr now are down to $50-60/hr or less. Every time I deal with them I can barely understand them, they have a hostile tone of voice and they are very combative when negotiating hourly rates.

Typical phone call goes like this:
RECRUITER: This job pays $50-60/hr.
ME: I am making $90/hr now.
RECRUITER: The most we can pay is $45/hr.
ME: WTF? Go back to New Delhi! Who let you into this country?! I am eating a large hamburger right now!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that I find the statistic that 42% of software developers in '87 were female.

Were they counting computer operators?

I have worked with computers for more than thirty years, and I can tell you that there have always been few female programmers.

In Silicon Valley there are lots of female programmers, but they are predominantly Chinese, then Indian, and lastly Caucasian (and even those are Jewish).

Five Daarstens said...

Steve:

I agree with you that there is a correlation between music and programming. I'm a programmer who loves music and many of my colleagues over the years have been musicians. This is probably a field worth study in my opinion.

Also, I think that IT workers now need some kind of guild to protect their interest.

K(yle) said...

How come those old programming languages were easier? I don`t believe that. On the contrary it seems that you needed more talent to be a programmer then.

The languages weren't easier per se. COBOL specifically is very verbiose and plain English, meaning less need to memorize byzantine and highly abstract commands.

Just google around for some examples of COBOL code and then compare with C++. The COBOL looks like pseudo-code you'd teach introductory students that have never programmed before.

Furthermore, you'd still be wrong that programming today is easier. A lot of the bloatware today is 'easier' because fly-by-night software companies don't perform due diligence in producing a quality product, but any serious publisher has a lot larger and more arduous of a workload in producing a decent app that is equivalent to whatever legacy version you want to compare it to.

By virtue of more robust and complex instruction sets in modern microprocessors alone winds creating added difficulty and the need for more abstracted languages. In scenarios where optimizing a program on a particular hardware platform is necessary this is a non-insignificant task that was much easier on older architecture, and it's why new students aren't just dumped on the newest x86 machine available when first introduced to assembly and machine code.

Gc said...

Kyle, I understand that the hard parts need still be done and they are as difficult as ever. But my reply was to the OP. Abstraction doesn`t make things more difficult. And COBOL sure looks easy and at least plain C is an old programming language.

Anonymous said...

"Women don`t like math related subjects because they don`t like to be around aspies and need more human contacts. Can`t blame them really."

No, it's because their intelligence curve is different. Simple science. Please crack a book, once, ever.

Anonymous said...

but logic doesn't play a big role in modern America in determining which Diversity Card trumps which. As a general Hi-Lo v. Middle rule, rich guys playing the race card against average whites are likely to win.

Paul Ramsey has an instructional video which can provide some insight on which Diversity Card trumps which. You can watch it on Youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ongalrKdJWg

Whiskey said...

I can answer your question Steve. Microsoft depended on cheap labor (options on shares that constantly increase) to drive very talented programmers way beyond any normal compensation, at what amounted to dirt-cheap prices with costs borne by stockholders.

Eventually, Microsoft stock ceased a constant rise, options were way underwater, and Sarbanes-Oxley killed that method of payment (by requiring expensing of said options) anyway. So Gates needed real cheap labor, quick.

Not so coincidentally, MS products have really, really been terrible since around that time (1998 or so).

Gc said...

Ano, do you think we are talking about the furthest right edge of the bell curve when we are talking about ordinary software development? Nobel prize winners are a different breed, of course, but there are hard fields were there are a lot of women, like chemistry, which is btw a _more demanding field_ than software development.

ladderff said...

Steve nearly had me convinced about immigration on other grounds. This naked protectionism makes me step back.

Anonymous said...

Re: TA-NEHISI COATES. I spent about an hour reading this guy's blog one time and I came away thinking this guy was a complete joke, an AA hire and a poor one at that. I'm actually pretty surprised the Times chose him. I didn't read a single sentence/thought of his that couldn't have been written by someone with and IQ of 100.

Anonymous said...

M$ products have always been really terrible. Pressure from open source software has been the only thing that has improved them very much and the only reason their current OS is reasonably usable is its insane bulk.

Let's! said...

Over the last 15 years, programmers have become glass-ceilinged at most companies, deemed unfit for promotion to management.

Though educated women often capitulate to the Mommy Track sooner or later, they like to think of themselves as important and special, so a glass-ceilinged career track is something they tend to avoid.

Programmers are given a manager-track workload and mission-critical responsibilities while receiving McJob-track opportunities for promotion.

It is a great deal for managers, since programmers are subject to the same FLSA loophole as executives - i.e. they can be forced to work overtime for free.

Mr. Anon said...

"ladderff said...

Steve nearly had me convinced about immigration on other grounds. This naked protectionism makes me step back."

What's wrong with protectionism? You probably practice it yourself, favoring (protecting) your own family over strangers.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ta-Nehisi Coates? He's a less-than-spectacular thinker and writer. I'm being nice.

Reg C├Žsar said...

But, as composing art music became more complex, the number of top female composers became vanishingly small.

If it weren't for Nashville, they'd have no jobs at all.

eh said...

...Women found computer science less receptive professionally than it had been at its inception.

This is often given as a reason. More or less lack of a touch-feely, 'nurturing' environment. Something like that. You get a whiff of discrimination -- by white males of course (back then when the decline began, anyway). That must get the heads nodding. But you know what? I don't recall anyone rolling out the fucking welcome mat for me either.

Excuse my French.

Fred said...

"Just google around for some examples of COBOL code and then compare with C++. The COBOL looks like pseudo-code you'd teach introductory students that have never programmed before.

Furthermore, you'd still be wrong that programming today is easier.


A venture-backed Silicon Valley start-up is all about making programming more like how you describe COBOL.

Ted Plank. said...

Ta-Nehisi Coates has had some interesting insights regarding his inner city upbringing that I found highly readable. He had a thread awhile back where he went to Civil War battlefields, which was an interesting twist, at least to me. But he's no great thinker along the lines of Safire, or even current laughingstocks Krugman or Friedman.

He's got a little more zip than the leaden Bob Herbert, and seems to be less of an automatically predictable race man than the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson. There isn't much out there that could top him in the 'Black Journalism' department.

Sadly, The Atlantic ran his blog without any editing, which meant you had to struggle through a lot of Coates bad spelling, grammar and punctuation. The NYT will probably fix that for him.

John Seiler said...

It doesn't matter any more because, with cheap Internet connections, you can hire programmers for almost nothing in India or the Philippines without the expense of importing them under H1B. They easily ace out American kids who have spent 17 years as inmates of America's dumbed-down and PC government K-12 schools and universities.+

Anonymous said...

Let's get real here Steve!

There are very few white American women who can compete with Eastern European, Chinese, Korean, and Indian engineers. White American men can more than compete with them, or used to be able to till the enstupidification of primary education, but white American women? No.

The only women at significant levels in engineering are Asian women.

Anonymous said...

I was told by a friend who took early retirement from IBM when they made the terms too generous that IBM lost it when they started preferentially promoting women.

eh said...

Also, I think that IT workers now need some kind of guild to protect their interest.

I believe I've met more libertarians in engineering, tech, IT, etc than in any other walk of life.

Then there's the general 'I'm above that' antipathy to, if not outright contempt for, anything similar to a clock-punching job that 'exempt' (exempt from being paid for their overtime, that is) employees often exhibit

So good luck with that idea.

Simon in London said...

"logic doesn't play a big role in modern America in determining which Diversity Card trumps which"

Straight white women are always at the very bottom rung of the cultural Marxist Ladder of Victimhood.

Remember that and it'll all make sense.

The big conflict on the Ladder seems to be Gays vs Blacks. Outside the US, Gay normally trumps Black (straight black male), but American blacks feel they have a special claim to status which muddies the waters somewhat. And to be fair, the Frankfurt School did initially design the Ladder for an American context with blacks on top, Homosexuals were initially a minor concern since they seemed too marginal to be much use in the destruction of Western Civilisation, which is the point of c-M.

Half Sigma said...

"How come those old programming languages were easier? I don`t believe that."

They didn't have object orientation, you didn't have to deal with design patterns and unit testing.

And the programs were simpler, there were no real-time user interfaces, no web stuff, you just put data in and got a printout as the output.

The newest Microsoft programming tool, Visual Studio.NET 2010, is way more complicated than the old Visual Basic from the 1990s.

Anonymous said...

O/T. But I am quite pleased with my quip of the day.

The Oslo massacre: The first known case of a neo-con going postal without air and navy support.

Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

But the most common explanation is that the rise of personal computers led computing culture to be associated with the stereotype of the eccentric, antisocial, male “hacker.”

So women choose careers based on media stereotypes while men choose careers based on reality?

Liesel said...

Women aren't being "driven out," more men were driven in.

In the 80s more computer programming depts were in busines schools, now they tend to be in engineering ( natural woman repellant.) Computer programming departments have grown so 42%(which seems way high to me) of a small number lead to 20% of a higher number.

COBOL was developed by a woman so I guess it isn't surprising that women might gravitate towards it.

Anonymous said...

@ Half Sigma

My friend, obviously you weren't around in the days where most banking software was written in IBM 360 Assembler language. Look around, deep, you'll see lots of that mission-critical software still running. True, very few people are still proficient in what amounts to Classical Latin, but companies are just scared shitless of re-writing the stuff

Anonymous said...

"computing culture to be associated with the stereotype of the eccentric, antisocial, male “hacker.”


Why, nasty male privilege rears its head again!!

http://geekfeminism.org/2010/07/27/if-you-were-hacking-since-age-8-it-means-you-were-privileged/

--------------------------------------------

"Q. What would get more women to choose careers in technology?

Ms. MacLean: We need to get girls interested in computing by first grade. By fifth grade, it’s game over. Computing has an image crisis. A boy geek subculture has grown up around gaming that involves violence. "

http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/why-women-have-an-advantage-in-technology/?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto


Why, that's what we gotta do; we gotta pull down this young boys' club!!

A nerd obliges. Facepalms ensue.

"He identified the design of Pac-Man as female-focused, with an emphasis on "eating" as a verb ("Girls love to eat desserts," Iwatani explained. "My wife often eats desserts.") and cute characters, including cute enemies."

http://www.joystiq.com/2011/03/03/pac-man-creator-reminisces-about-classic-game-design-calls-for/

------------------------------------------------

"will feminists not be happy until women are at least 50% of every field, even though they are 90 % of other fields?"

Well to point out the obvious, it is not our fault that boys default on homework, fail classes and keep playing video games all day long....oh wait.

Anonymous said...

"In the past year, the number of women majoring in Computer Science has nearly doubled at Harvard, rising from 13% to 25% (still nowhere near the 37% of 1984). And — because Harvard is not actually the center of the universe — it’s nice to know that the trend has been spotted elsewhere. In the past three years, the number of female Computer Science majors at MIT has risen by 28%. "

LMAO, nice trend.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that elites mainly hang out with rich people, so they know that one Indian H1-B that became the head of a companies IT department because he was really smart. They extrapolate that to all Indians, even though the vast vast majority are very low skill and compete on price with American workers.

"Generally, the top 10% of programming talent is each 10x more productive than your median staffer."

True, but many of your median staffers could be top programmers with the right incentives. My own productivity can increase by a factor of ten if I actually think I will get something out of it.

Anonymous said...

"In the past year, the number of women majoring in Computer Science has nearly doubled at Harvard, rising from 13% to 25% (still nowhere near the 37% of 1984). And — because Harvard is not actually the center of the universe — it’s nice to know that the trend has been spotted elsewhere. In the past three years, the number of female Computer Science majors at MIT has risen by 28%. "

They want to be, or be married to, Mark Zuckerberg. They do not actually want to program.

polymathblogger said...

I was always too high-level a math guy to worry about being outcompeted by H1B foreigners, and I also had business and communication skills they couldn't match, but they still affected me severely by lowering the wage scale in the technical parts of several industries that employed me, which trickled up and lowered my compensation too. Nowadays I have learned to get around this problem by working on a contract bases and quoting fixed prices for projects, which takes full advantage of my productivity advantage as a programmer.

By the way, C++ is from hell, and despite my extremely high abstraction skills (PhD in mathematical logic) I am much more productive with really simple low-level programming languages. All the abstraction built into those languages is just a crutch for people who fail to understand the underlying problem they are trying to solve clearly (I will admit it is useful when coordinating many programmers in a single project).

G Joubert said...

One reason it may have seemed there were more women doing "computer work" in the 1960s is because mainframes dominated in those days, which required copious keypunch data entry. Women, more than men, were skilled typists, and the position of keypunch operator was thereby seen as "women's work." It was a short jump for a skilled keypunch operator to more programming-related tasks. Women as back-end programmers (or software engineers, such as it was) was more illusory than real. The numbers were skewed.

Duncan said...

Good procedural programs of the past could be developed with minimal side effects and so procedures can be seen as a quasi unit test. Object orientation introduced the notion of software as infinite state machine and this needed more complex paradigms for testing.

I have a Chinese colleague and you can tell he struggles with the abstraction needed for good object oriented designs (his design diagrams usually start out with about ten boxes and then I go and erase 7 of them and replace them with three that maintain the original meaning). On the other hand he is able to juggle a lot of details and so he tends to deliver (but in a different way).

With that said, the run of the mill outsource engineers in India have very little upside and lack creativity. The show up for work, don't ask for much and deliver solutions that meet the "letter" of the specs.

Duncan said...

Up until the 80's most programming was considered a vocational track career and so it was commonly taught in technical high schools.

Also, the line between data entry and programming was not very clear as data and code was not safely differentiated in the organization of systems (as it is today).

Meanwhile most colleges relegated CS to a small aspect of the mathematics department, so high level training at the college level was hit or miss.

I have some old newspaper clippings that back this up.

Anonymous said...

"How come those old programming languages were easier?"

The older, procedurally oriented languages like Fortran are far easier to learn that object-oriented languages like C++.

Anonymous said...

"Re: TA-NEHISI COATES... I didn't read a single sentence/thought of his that couldn't have been written by someone with and IQ of 100."

That's why he's special-- the average American black has an IQ of 85.

Anonymous said...

"Are female programmers less attractive on average?"

Back in the 80s they weren't. Where I worked it was great, it was like being in college, and no-one really paid attention to the no-dating-at-work rule.

Cennbeorc

Rohan Swee said...

ladderff: Steve nearly had me convinced about immigration on other grounds. This naked protectionism makes me step back.

Uh, Steve's arguments about immigration have always been fundamentally protectionist, not excluding "protectionist" in its strict economic sense. Perhaps you just didn't understand them heretofore? (Hint: "citizenist".)

At any rate, just saying "but that's protectionist" is an exercise in point-and-sputter, not an argument.

Dahida said...

Bill Gates said that he had to hire foriegners because American schools did not put out enough graduates in programming and computer science. But people stopped going into computer science when they started inporting programmers! I can remember at a community college where I worked, which had an excellent computer science program, there was a waiting list for the hundreds of classes offered in every possible softwate and computer language. This was around 1999. By 2005 or 2006 there was only a few classes offered and many were dropped because of low enrollment. Much of this was due to programming moving overseas and H1-b. There just wasn't any demand for American programmers anymore!

Anonymous said...

"-I think the H1B cap is being ignored. I've done rough, back of the envelop guesstimations, and the numbers just don't hold up."

The H1-B visa works on the honors system. They "promise" to go home when its up.

Chief Seattle said...

The computer science class I took in college in '95 had the most skewed sex ratio of any. It was 1:11 out of about 200 people, and I did count because the ratio was so odd. Even high level math classes were not usually more than 1:5. I couldn't figure out why at the time, and I still can't now. It wasn't just geek factor - if it was that then math and physics would have been the same or worse.

H1-Bs are a lousy deal for American IT people. But the quality of most H1-Bs is generally low. They take the drywaller positions in IT, or places where a contract requires headcount to pad budgets.

Far worse than H1-Bs for the country is the almost exclusive use of foreigners as science grad students. The typical programer still makes a middle class salary. The typical grad student is a slave. The horrible conditions that foreign grad students accept in order to win green cards - 80 hour work weeks, subsistence pay, 8 year PhD programs, endless postdocs - discourage Americans with any alternatives. This hurts Americans, but it also hurts science. Talented Americans go elsewhere. The indentured class that replaces them isn't in any position to ask questions or direct research in a more productive way. Professors win in the short term, but science and Americans lose.

Anonymous said...

More evil deeds by white men...

APNewsBreak: Rosa Parks Essay Reveals Rape Attempt

NEW YORK (AP) — Long before Rosa Parks was hailed as the "mother of the civil rights movement," she wrote a detailed and harrowing account of nearly being raped by a white neighbor who employed her as a housekeeper in 1931.

http://news.yahoo.com/apnewsbreak-rosa-parks-essay-reveals-rape-attempt-100725998.html

Anonymous said...

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/07/24/disgust_interview


'Disgust' is the new 'hate'. We need 'Disgust Crime Laws'.

Article written by someone who finds 'homophobia' disgusting.

Sheila said...

My standard comment in any thread on IT and H1-B: go read TunnelRat's blog: http://techinsurgent.com/

Anonymous said...

Many if not most CS degree programs have become excessively theoretical and abstract, and are taught by professors who resemble pure mathematicians more than they resemble engineers. Graduates of such programs are often far more interesting in applying the methodologies & theories they were taught than in doing useful and profitable work.

Women in general do not enjoy theory for the sake of theory as much as men do, and such college programs are probably a real turnoff for many of them.

Traveller said...

It is not matter of COBOL vs FORTRAN.

It is matter of a totally new field being discovered and explored. Long before the theorists arrived, long before the "design patterns" and the "objects".

In that time, it was enough write a FOR cicle in BASIC and be considered a genius. Not like today, when everything you need to do is get the blame for the decisions of your retard manager (agreed: young people, avoid IT in corporate, do it free lance, be aggressive in asking money because programmers are the new millennium miners).

Never seen all those women anyway. Probably the statistics mixed programmers and terminalists (when they passed from typewriter to CRT monitor retaining the smile and the miniskirt).

Nice conclusion: when the task become abstract and complex, women are left behind. The bell curve with higher male variance? :-)

V said...

Steve, I really don't get the H1B hate. It might be the case in tech support and other fields that it's used to bring over cheaper immigrants, but in a field like programming, skill is massively variable and massively important. American citizens who are good programmers are getting good programming jobs. The issue is that mediocre programmers aren't protected anymore (and as commented elsewhere, you can replace ten to twenty mediocre programmers with one good one. That's a technical change that can't be fought- the question is whether we want Jaan Tallin in Estonia or in America.

And beyond programming, there are benefits to bringing over scientists and engineers and other high IQ people. It seems to me like being against H1B is a sign of nativism, not sensibility.

Kaz said...

What anon@10:19 said is correct.

The most important part of programming curriculum is not learning languages, it's learning the theory/idea behind them (I'm not sure when this shift took place by the way). It's useless to teach a language that may be obsolete in a few years; which is a fair risk to account for given the rate of the growth in the tech industry. What most H1-Bs are replacing by the way aren't skilled programmers, they're mediocre/low skilled jobs that were doomed to begin with. Hence why it's easy to replace them.

Kylie said...

"Steve, I really don't get the H1B hate."

I really don't get where in this thread you're seeing any "hate" for H1B.

The overly emotional language is really tiresome.

K(yle) said...

It seems to me like being against H1B is a sign of nativism, not sensibility.

And absolutely nothing is worst than nativism! I bet Steve is one of those familists as well. I bet that bigot puts more time, energy and money into his own son than mine. That hypocrite.

and as commented elsewhere, you can replace ten to twenty mediocre programmers with one good one.

Which in no way is happening in real life. Ten American programmers aren't being replaced by one Indian.

Anonymous said...

Affirmative Action for whites is not government policy but is de facto in everyday life.

Duncan said...

Do any of the posters on this board realize that America was a fucking great country long before H1B and multiculturalism. Protectionism protects more than just a wage scale, it protects a culture.

Have you ever actually worked with the slack-jawed H1B offerings? These are human drones of the worst kind. I'm not talking about the occasional high flyer who gets in on his own merits. This guy has about as much chance of enriching America as Larry the Cable Guy.

I'd like to know who these "white worms" are that think protectionism is unfair.

Ash said...

There was a generation of male workers who thought of anything involving keyboards as womens' work. My father-in-law is like this; an executive who practically never touched a keyboard until he was retired and got a computer to be able to use the internet.

This association of "keyboard" with "women" was a factor in women programmers in the 1960's, I think.

Charlesz Martel said...

I've been watching the computer industry for years. I remember going to NCC (National Computer Conference) in Houston in 81- (this was the biggest show pre-Comdex)- there were virtually no women who weren't models. Ditto for the first few Comdexes. I go back to the early days of the computer underground- T.A.P., Captain Crunch, Ozzie- etc. There were NEVER very many females involved- and believe me, any female that showed the SLIGHTEST interest in computers was highly sought after by male programmers. I too do not understand these statistics. Just sayin'.....

Anonymous said...

We have code Yan Shen here folks. Time to ignore unsubstantiated digs at "nativism", "white privilege" and superior Asian IQ made by anonymous poster"s".

Chief Seattle said...

Steve, I really don't get the H1B hate. It might be the case in tech support and other fields that it's used to bring over cheaper immigrants, but in a field like programming, skill is massively variable and massively important.

You're falling into the same fallacy as the press makes - confusing anyone with the title of programmer with exceptional programmers that create new industries. The average H1-B is pretty mediocre.

The best way to ensure H1-B quality? Auction off the spots to companies. $20k/year to import a superstar - no problem. $20k/year to bring in a IT admin - probably not. Auctioning the spots would also ensure that the surplus goes to the general public, not just the lucky companies that win the visas.

Anonymous said...

Are h1 b foreigners better programmers than US born women?

Isn't this question relevant?

Anonymous said...

You undermine your own credibility on issues of societal genetics with your opposition to H1B.

Is it sort of crummy how two or three industries managed to reduce the wages of skilled workers by getting the government to import huge numbers of very bright Asians trained to do those jobs but not the sort of SWPL upper middle class jobs done by friends of said politicians? Yes.

But the overall impact of importing millions of people with IQs over 115 is great because those folks have kids who aren't tied to any one industry and thus increase the general pool of smart folks in society. That may not be good for SWPL who want to get their kids into Harvard, but it's good for society.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 12:04 said: Affirmative Action for whites is not government policy but is de facto in everyday life.

7/29/11 12:04 PM

Hunsdon asks:

Do you mean whites qua whites, or Americans who happen to be white? Or whites who aren't American? Are you including the laughably termed "Hispanic whites" who are pure indigeno from south of the border, down Mexico way? And, beyond this bare assertion, could you provide evidence, or examples, even anecdotal examples?

ATBOTL said...

"ladderff: Steve nearly had me convinced about immigration on other grounds. This naked protectionism makes me step back."

What is wrong with "protectionism?" Isn't the main purpose of a society to protect it's members?

And who cares that H1B's take more of the lower skilled programming jobs? That doesn't make it less harmful to Americans.

Anonymous said...

Nice conclusion: when the task become abstract and complex, women are left behind. The bell curve with higher male variance? :-)

This is of course true.

Marlo said...

"The most important part of programming curriculum is not learning languages, it's learning the theory/idea behind them (I'm not sure when this shift took place by the way). It's useless to teach a language that may be obsolete in a few years; "

It's always been that way.

"It doesn't matter any more because, with cheap Internet connections, you can hire programmers for almost nothing in India or the Philippines without the expense of importing them under H1B."

True. You're the first person to mention the internet, which was inaccessible to most people in the 1980s. Now, virtually anyone with internet and enough time on his hands can learn how to program.

jody said...

i would say about 15% of the computer science majors at my college were women. definitely no more than 20%.

i'm surprised by the quoted numbers for percentage of professional programmers who are women. personally i never saw anything close to those figures. maybe like 10% at most. perhaps it depends on what "programmer" means.

i definitely saw women in the computer field and doing stuff, but writing code was not common. they did things which took some brainpower and ability and diligence. i don't want to downplay them like some male chauvinist. but rarely were they grinding away for 8 hours a day on the guts of the code for some important application the company was developing. i just never saw that. admins and DBs, sure. they were rarely techs, either.

jody said...

any of the important computer science advances coming out of university labs, international committees setting standards and algorithms for new computing devices and protocols, and almost all of the programming on major applications, compilers, operating systems, or video games (yeah they're applications but i had to break them out since they're way more "visible" to the average user), that's all men. almost no women to be found at the leading edge of various computer science related topics.

and that's just software. when you get into "computer science and electrical engineering", which is a degree offered by many universities, in which you learn pretty well how the hardware works too, there's just almost no women. the people who do all the circuit design and lithography for modern semiconductor manufacturing, they're solidly men.

for intance the new intel PC CPU, ivy bridge, is going to use an original transistor design, created at UC berkeley a few years ago by an american guy and two chinese guys. zero women seem to be involved in developing the guts of most of our engineering stuff which makes the world go around.

Anonymous said...

>> "Generally, the top 10% of programming talent is each 10x more productive than your median staffer."

> True, but many of your median staffers could be top programmers with the right incentives. My own productivity can increase by a factor of ten if I actually think I will get something out of it.

I love that faith in humanity's basic talent equivalence, where everything boils down to effort and inventives! Unusual for this blog, but I like it.

In every one of _my_ many programming departments, both big company and startup, I will say with complete certainty: If we incentivized our median programmer to match even half of our best, by both: (1) offering him or her $1Trillion on success, and (2) condemning their loved ones to an eternity of the most appalling torture if they fail, then it would have the same chance of success as would "incentivizing" them to wave their arms really had so as to fly.

I find it incredible (i.e. I do not believe) you have ever had a programming job or know anything at all about programming; could you clue us in a bit if this assumption
is somehow wrong? (Try not to
make stuff up, please)

Or (to be more conciliatory) maybe the difference is that we incentivized our staff reasonably in the first place? I would hope that someone who could gladly produce 10x if we just raised their pay by (say) 3x the salary [Is this enough incentive?] would be let go within a few weeks after hire as an disruptive slacker. I suppose I can imagine this not being so in government department or other places with no market pressure!

Here's the bottom line as I see it.
There are real and big differences in innate abilities. Programming really well is done best by those at the extremes (of intelligence, aspi-ness, training, and others factors). The net ability multiplier is huge. Scanning the whole world for the right people is economically best for most companies given the current legal climate. Salary incentivations of what is realistic, say +/- 50%, cannot come within an order of magnitude of making up for this.

EVERY company I have worked for would in a heartbeat pay a tax of 2x prevailing wages to the government for the right to hire whoever we wish, if there only the other option was limited to hiring U.S. citizens alone. If that were the choice, it wouldn't even merit discussion, it's such a no-brainer.
(Yes I am giving the anti H1-B's an proposal -- please run with it!)

Anonymous said...

I remember in the 80's, when I thought of "software developers" I thought of Roberta Williams of Sierra On-Line. http://www.sierragamers.com/aspx/m/671379

jody said...

"Furthermore, you'd still be wrong that programming today is easier."

it's definitely easier to be a professional programmer today. we're talking about what it takes to be a programmer at all. not whether the 85 bears could beat the 10 packers or any such impossible to resolve quandary. we're not talking about the pros writing the space shuttle software versus the pros writing the apollo software, for instance.

the average programmer in 2011 has a huge amount of RAM available and CPU cycles with which to stuff full of sloppy clumsy instructions. the code does not have the be ultra efficient or elegant. modern volumes of RAM and modern CPU power communicating over modern bus speeds can handle the average code churned out by an average programmer no problem. the hardware gobbles up that stuff.

this, in fact, is what leads to bloatware. the crutch that the average programmer today can always rely on: Throw more hardware at this bitch! screw working another 300 hours trying to "improve" my code. my code works already. just crank up the PC requirements on the end users, damn it.

jody said...

this was not the case 30 years ago. you should read up on how hard those atari 2600 games were to program with the extremely limited resources the hardware constrained you with. the guy who programmed donkey kong (i think it was donkey kong) was down to removing a few bytes per day from his code, every day for a few weeks, just to barely be able to stuff the game into avaialable hardware. each subroutine and calculation had to be small, fast, and robust.

this is quite a puzzle for me, why essential code does not get more efficient, compact, and harder to break over time, but is moving in the opposite direction. you would think that the kernel of our operating systems would be bullet proof lightning by now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an amazing woman this Grace Hopper was - why don't they teach about *her* during Womyn's Hystory Month instead of Clara Barton and Sacajawea?

Anonymous said...

The H1-B stuff is real, but there's something else going on too. I think you guys don't understand how calculating high-T, high-g women are. A heterosexual woman who is smart enough to program at a level for which she will be adequately compensated will choose and marry a man who can support her and her offspring in a fashion that allows her to do something all day long that isn't programming.

Kaz said...

@ATBOTL

Yeah but protectionism is RARELY about protecting the common man, it's about protecting some assholes monopoly usually. Even in Europe protectionism has left the youth unemployment quite high.

@Duncan

America has always been multicultural, I don't need to tell you that not all Europeans are the same. Two of the worlds largest wars have taken place their for a reason.

America has always been quite a diverse society.

If it helps you feel any better Asian fertility rates are barely above replacement in America, with that only being because of 1st generation Asians; 2nd generation Asians are below replacement as well. Don't worry it's not that bad.

Anonymous said...

I worked at WorldComm just before they went bankrupt. Overheard one guy, my boss's boss's boss's telling a long term H1B who was up for renewal that they would make sure their mandatory job posting was written in a way that only the H1b guy would be able to fit it.

Once heard Bill Gates defending H1B. He said the system generates 5 jobs for every one that they export (so to speak). He was really adamant about that point. Saying it repeatedly, and loudly, essentially bullying the interviewer, who wasn't exactly challenging him. (You can tell the guy's got no social skills, damn.)

On a semi-related note, saw NPR's latino immigrant reporter on some tv show and she said that Mexican immigration had been proven to be and economic plus for the United States. It was just that simple.

I admire you for keeping up the BS police Steve. The MSM is completely incapable of talking about immigration in anything like an even handed manner.

Anonymous said...

Women have better things to do with their time and funding:

http://www.the-spearhead.com/2011/02/19/university-kills-computer-science-major-but-keeps-womens-studies/


There are some women in the video games market:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_3OZuDnIlc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAzIPvrjxtM


and then there are the not-so-pretty ones:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallax_occlusion_mapping

Anonymous said...

"It's a little bit like classical music composers. If you pick up a book on composers, such as R.J. Stove's concise and delightful A Student's Guide to Music History, they often start with the medieval German nun Hildegard von Bingen, composer of lovely monophonic songs. But, as composing art music became more complex, the number of top female composers became vanishingly small."


Women have been very good at knitting and weaving, so they should have been able to make music of great intricacy.
Joni Mitchell and Carole King were among the most talented songwriters of the 60s and 70s.
It may not have been considered feminine for a woman to be overly and powerfully expressive as a creative talent in music. Weaving, otoh, was okay, cuz it was done silently.

Anonymous said...

Women have been very good at knitting and weaving, so they should have been able to make music of great intricacy.
Joni Mitchell and Carole King were among the most talented songwriters of the 60s and 70s.
It may not have been considered feminine for a woman to be overly and powerfully expressive as a creative talent in music. Weaving, otoh, was okay, cuz it was done silently.


Weaving was done SILENTLY? You people have never read Chaucer, huh. I think what you mean is that weaving isn't a performance, which is true - but neither is composition, and there have always been women performers.

There is a lot of failure to acknowledge women's role in textile production in the preindustrial age in the alternative right, but this is just dumb.

Weaving isn't as complex as composing and more importantly it isn't abstract. Knitting is extremely simple. More importantly, neither craft requires any innovation whatsoever to practice. You get great results just copying.

If you think Joni Mitchell is a great composer, I don't really know what to say. She's an entertainer. She's no Brahms. She's not even Zappa.

Anonymous said...

I spent over 35 years in the IT biz, learned my first programming language at 20 in the 1960's and my last in my early 50's, and I can say - as a woman - no way were women 40% of programmers ever. I initialy programmed in COBOL and 360 ALC and was better at it than most of the men working with me. I could also document and train users better than most of the men who worked with me. Plus I was single and childfree and so spent more long days and weekends in the office than most of my male colleagues, nearly all of whom were married w/kids. I was good at my job and respected. I loved my work.

I firmly believe that the rise of out-sourcing and importing H-1b's took an great toll on IT professionals in general even though I managed to retire from the field at 55. It also scared away a number of good people who would have entered the field but saw it as a losing proposition.

The WSJ had an article some years back about how tech executives couldn't get their children interested in IT and a couple of the children mentioned out-sourcing as a reason. WSJ published my LTE on the subject. Not a single one of my IT colleagues wanted their children to enter the field in spite of the fact that they had enjoyed their work.

I would like to offer one other reason for the decline in women in IT: Most IT H-1b's are males from countries where nearly all child-rearing and house-work are women's work that they wouldn't touch. If you are a manager in the IT biz, who would you rather rely upon - a US woman armed with family medical leave (FML) laws and a couple of children she has to get home to after her 8 hour day or an unencumbered Indian H-1b who can work 60 hours on salary and stay late to fix a bug with no problems because his wife covers the home-front? It's all about the Benjamins.

I think FML etc has done for women in IT - a highly unpredictable profession - what the ADA did for the disabled: made them more expensive to employ and therefore less likely to be hired. I doubt that I could have performed my job the way I did if I had had family responsibilities; and, face it, most women want children, even many who never have them. I see the same thing starting to happen in medicine with women doctors 'rebelling' against long hours and wanting part-time work. A number of professions simply don't accommodate regular hours and unplanned breaks for sick children or school meetings.

About 12 years after ADA, employment for the disabled was lower, not higher. Furthermore, back problems and mental illnesses - both hard to disprove or treat - had edged vision, hearing and mobility problems as the primary sources of disability.

The law(s) of unintended consequences can't be repealed.

Kylie said...

"Women have been very good at knitting and weaving, so they should have been able to make music of great intricacy."

Huh? Apparently you are from some planet where there is no distinction between physical and abstract complexity.

For us here on Planet Earth, this is a huge difference between being able to weave threads together into a usable and decorative whole cloth and being about to weave musical notes together both monophonically and polyphonically.

"Joni Mitchell and Carole King were among the most talented songwriters of the 60s and 70s."

Yes, and the world would probably have been better off if they'd both stuck to knitting.

As it would be if you stuck to the same rather than commenting here.

Anonymous said...

http://www.opensecrets.org/bigpicture/partisans.php?cycle=2010

Brain industries go with Dems. Muscle industries go with Repubs. In the end, man with brains will beat the man with muscles.

map said...

Half, you are not correct about COBOL. Having worked as a COBOL programmer in 2000 for a bank that had its system designed in the 1990's, COBOL uses a very sophisticated CALL-USING functionality that resembles object orientation and it has its own development environment designed to provide functionality similar to Visual Studio.

Cobol was never programmed as some kind of one long procedure. CALL USING functionality was around since the 80's.

Object orientation is a lot of hype. It's purpose was to move coding to modules that already have all the code you need. You simply assemble the modules together.

Anonymous said...

Programming really well is done best by those at the extremes (of intelligence, aspi-ness, training, and others factors). The net ability multiplier is huge. Scanning the whole world for the right people is economically best for most companies given the current legal climate.



Of course it is "best". But it is not "best" because you cannot find good people in the US. It is "best" because you can get a better bang for your buck by hiring cheap workers from abroad.

The same is true for every industry in the US. It has little or nothing to do with the skill or talent of US workers, and everything to do the fact that comparable workers can be found abroad for less money.

In a past career I worked as an electronic technician. I recently heard that the local cable tv company sends its used cable box's down to Mexico to be "refurbished". There's no way an American technician, no matter how skilled, can compete with somebody making $30/day. Even if the Mexican workers are only one third as good as their former American counterparts, it is still more economically sensible to do the work south of the border.

Multiply this across multiple sectors of the economy and it's hard to see whee the decent paying jobs of the future will come from.

Anonymous said...

i don't want to downplay them like some male chauvinist. but rarely were they grinding away for 8 hours a day on the guts of the code for some important application the company was developing. i just never saw that. admins and DBs, sure. they were rarely techs, either.

Admins and DB people are "techs".

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised you didn't tie in to this post the contentious history between white feminist and pro-immigrant/pro-non-white advocacy. For example, I think there was a fracture after the Civil War when Frederick Douglass sold out suffragists and made a deal for black male enfranchisement.

Hopefully Anonymous
http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

Anonymous said...

"Brain industries go with Dems. Muscle industries go with Repubs. In the end, man with brains will beat the man with muscles."

Manufacturing isn't done by hand, and funds quite a bit of R&D.

ATBOTL said...

"Yeah but protectionism is RARELY about protecting the common man, it's about protecting some assholes monopoly usually. Even in Europe protectionism has left the youth unemployment quite high. "

Nonsense. Nothing protects the common man's job better than "protectionism." Only greedy anti-American elites benefit from what you would advocate in place of "protectionism."

If having American workers(or "assholes" in your parlance) do American jobs is a "monopoly," then it's a monopoly we should be all for.

Udolpho.com said...

"this is quite a puzzle for me, why essential code does not get more efficient, compact, and harder to break over time, but is moving in the opposite direction. you would think that the kernel of our operating systems would be bullet proof lightning by now."

you answered your own question: it is very inefficient for some grade A programmer to spend weeks whittling bytes off his code

speed (hence, sloppiness and bugs) means getting code out the door before a competitor and grabbing all the money on the table you can

also, complexity has exploded

Gc said...

Where are the great classical anglo composers? I guess that abstraction needed was too much for them. They can compose those simple rock songs well, though.
This was oly a sarcasm, of course. It doens`t make sense to compare few remembered past composers to the hundreds thousands of softaware developers.

skiffle said...

"Joni Mitchell and Carole King were among the most talented songwriters of the 60s and 70s."

"Yes, and the world would probably have been better off if they'd both stuck to knitting."


The world would be even more better off if 90% of the male music makers repaired cars and dug ditches. You know--"kill doze cops and f@#k dem hoes." Or "tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, it's been 3 long years, do you still luv me..dda da da da." I think both these deathless ditties are the product of male talents.

I once knew a male poet who couldn't stand female voices singing, despite feminist sympathies. He also couldn't stand fruit or vegetables and only ate meat and potatos. I always wondered if there was connection.

Never a fan of either of those ladies you mention, but some of their songs are as compelling as any ever written, it's just a matter of taste. Very little 20th century music moves me, but sometimes the 60s still can.
End of 20th century, early 21st century is another story. They hit the dregs with rap and boy pop and girl pop. They do tell me lovely Taylor Swift is quite a talent for her age, but again, I don't listen to most modern music unless I "discover" it on my own.
Lisa Gerrard (you may know some of her more mainstream work from the movie Gladiator) does have something approaching genius, but she's in a rarefied category. In fact, the female music makers I've most admired have all been extremely off main highway, and mostly would not be well known by anyone. I think the next musical revolution will be alien music, and I don't mean the mariachis.

Kylie said...

"The world would be even more better off if 90% of the male music makers repaired cars and dug ditches. You know--"kill doze cops and f@#k dem hoes". Or "tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, it's been 3 long years, do you still luv me..dda da da da." I think both these deathless ditties are the product of male talents."

Yes, both the deathless ditties you cite should have died at birth.
It's the whining and sermonizing that, while found in the songs of both sexes, seem more prevalent in the efforts of female songwriters that I find so tiresome. Even worse, the lack of really good melodies. Check out YouTube and see how many people sit around in their living rooms and record themselves covering a Joni Mitchell song.

There've been some good male/female songwriting teams, though, I'm talking about solo efforts. That Brill Building group included some women, I know.

And please don't bring up the sexist oppression experienced by songwriters on the distaff side. There was nothing to stop some woman from secretly penning a masterpiece to be discovered and published later--nothing outside a lack of talent comparable to her male counterpart.

I think women will always lag behind men in musical composition simply b/c it's based on mathematics and women lag behind men in math. Also, women seem to excell more in creating good performances or interpretations than they do in creating the work to be performed or interpreted.

But I'm greatly impressed by two female film composers: Debbie Wiseman and Rachel Portman. They are certainly the equals of, say, Adrian Johnston, another British film composer.

But songs and larger orchestral compositions seem to have different requirements to film composing, which can be memorable (in a good way) with only brief melodies or short motifs.

Anonymous said...

But the overall impact of importing millions of people with IQs over 115 is great because those folks have kids who aren't tied to any one industry and thus increase the general pool of smart folks in society. That may not be good for SWPL who want to get their kids into Harvard, but it's good for society.

Wtf!?

What do you mean by 'society'? You might just as well have said 'the economy' or 'America'. What a load of nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Re bloatware, sloppy code etc.

Moore's Law and whatnot make this feasible.

At some point this process may wind down. Then coding will have to tighten up Donkey Kong style.

Anonymous said...

No reason why women shouldnt dominate IT, the media reinforce that all the time.

Just saw this show here in the UK>

The episode I saw featured two self employed female website designers. One white, one black.

The TV wouldnt lie to me surely?

Marc B said...

A former girlfriend was able to emigrate to the US from Canada to be join me here because of her computer skills (I had no interest in moving to Canada). She worked for a large ticket company that didn't have to work very hard to secure her entry visa because she had such a long history with and command of her employers propriety software. She was declared as someone with a very specific skill-set and supposedly there were few to none US applicants qualified for the position. She had no college degree, and this was her second or third job, started while semester off.

We won't ever know for sure if that was true because the job listing was nominally posted just enough days just to stay out of trouble with the government. I learned later on that they were expanding their staffing to Mexico and China. These jobs were not for branch offices located in different countries, but to handle work currently done in her US office in West Hollywood. She thought nothing of it, but I have no doubt that she was hired to train replacements for her co-workers all making close to or above $100K a year and possibly herself in the future. I'd rather her high paying job went to a natural born US citizen in the first place. I just wasn't that into her.

situ said...

"Just saw this show here in the UK>

The episode I saw featured two self employed female website designers. One white, one black.

The TV wouldnt lie to me surely?"

You really should stop thinking any "non-traditional" accomplishment by non-whites or non-males is pure tv fantasy, however comforting it may be. Hacking is a mostly white or Asian male pursuit, and so is programming (though my sister has made a good living programming for the past 30 yrs having learned on the job). However, Web design is not programming. There are plenty of women in web design, many having learned on the job because most places of business have web sites and people have to be able to design and manage them.
My html was black and was very good. Half the class was female. How many went on to make a profession out of it, I don't know. But again, it's not programming and plenty of women are designing web sites. Indeed, a lot of the esthetics come pretty naturally to them.

Tony Danton said...

The transformer and coil winding industry employes a 95+ percent female workforce in doing the actual work, i.e. running winding machines. When mag core memory was still being made this was true for it as well.

The superiority of female labor for this kind of work was such that the Apollo program was the driver behind forcing New England states to finally get rid of laws prohibiting employing women on second and third shifts. The vendor to NASA of space suits was and is the David Clark Co., elsewhise a manufacturer of women's foundation garments.

That's also why I won't buy audio output transformers from specialist manufacturers consisting of rich spoiled (male) yuppies such as one supplier in Philadelphia. Winding transformers is women's work, and as a EE formerly employed as a design engineer for a transformer company I should know.

Also, it's significant that Joni Mitchell is actually one of the most innovative guitar players in pop music. Her innovations in using open tunings were the basis for the work of more well known _sa guitarists_ male musicians, including Keith Richards.

Anonymous said...

Would America prefer American women or H1Bs with thick accents from India to dominate programming?
Occupied Programming???