Professor Asserts Men And Women Are Different. University's School Of Science Disagrees.

After a professor from the University of Washington School of Computer Science wrote an essay for Quillette asserting that women were less likely to strive for computer science degrees than men because women and men are different, the university’s School of Science Director Hank Levy emailed the campus, stating, "We disagree with the conclusions drawn in the article."

As Toni Airaksinen noted in Campus Reform in her article about the situation, Levy would not confirm whether he had read Stuart Reges’ article or reviewed the research Reges cited. Spokeswoman Kristin Osborn told Campus Reform, “We disagree with the assertion that gender differences and preferences [help] explain the disparity between men and women in computer science and engineering … we disagree with the notion that any one factor could be seen as greater than any other. … The source data used in the piece is not our concern, and we don’t believe it would be productive to comment on it.”

For his part, Reges told Campus Reform that he couldn’t understand how his work could be condemned without his research being read. He stated, “This is what science should be about. UW already decided based on ideology, not science, that they disagree with my conclusions. When you're sure you know the right answer before you even look at evidence to the contrary, you cease to be a scientist."

Here are some excerpts from Reges’ article:

I believe that women are less likely than men to want to major in computer science and less likely to pursue a career as a software engineer and that this difference between men and women accounts for most of the gender gap we see in computer science degree programs and in Silicon Valley companies … The NPR piece also noted that we have experienced a slow but steady decrease in women majoring in computer science since 1984, as indicated in the graph below … The idea that men drove women from the field is not supported by the data. There has been no period of time when men have been increasing while women have been decreasing. In 48 of the last 50 years the trend was the same for men and women with the percentage of women going up at the same time that the percentage of men went up and the percentage of women going down when the percentage of men went down. But while the trend has been the same, the magnitude of the response has differed significantly. ...

In both cycles, men disproportionately reacted to the boom part of the cycle and women disproportionately reacted to the bust. … Men disproportionately respond to economic incentives, so they are more likely to respond favorably to reports of high salaries for tech workers. Women tend, on average, to be more risk averse, and are more likely to respond strongly to negative stories about dwindling job prospects in tech. ...

In 2013, Psychological Science published a paper … They concluded that women may choose non-STEM careers because they have academic strengths that many men lack. They found that individuals with high math ability but only moderate verbal ability were the most likely to choose a career in STEM (49 percent) and that this group included more men than women (70 percent men). By contrast, individuals with both high math ability and high verbal ability were less likely to pursue a career in STEM (34 percent) and this group had more women than men (63 percent women). ...

In 2018, another paper explored the same question from a different perspective using international data from the PISA survey (the Programme for International Student Assessment) … in almost all the countries—all except Romania and Lebanon—boys’ best subject was science, and girls’ was reading ...

Our community must face the difficult truth that we aren’t likely to make further progress in attracting women to computer science. Women can code, but often they don’t want to. We will never reach gender parity.

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