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Re: Why the Widening Gender Gap in Computer Science?

Hi all

Monique Y. Mudama wrote @ 25/11/08 17:15:
> On 2008-11-25, Meike Reichle penned:
>> Usually the interview will go somewhere along the lines that at some
>> point the talk turns to your kids and whatever cleverly composed
>> combination of day nursery, part time working husband, kindergarten and
>> what else you present, it will all be canceled out by the magic
>> question: "And who will stay home when it's ill?"
> That shocks me.  Interviewers at my company, and every company for
> which I've worked, would never discuss such a topic.  It's opening the
> door for a lawsuit.  My team lead interviewed a clearly pregnant woman
> and never broached the topic -- and we did hire her.

I don't know whether or not such questions are legal in Germany.
Probably most of them aren't. Sometimes they still come, wrapped in
small talk and general "How do you see your future?" questions.

But this is in my view not the actual problem. It's what people assume,
not what they ask:
* They just *assume* that a women around thirty with no kids surely
wants some and soon. They don't need to ask. Don't all women want kids?
* They just *assume* that the mother of a young child will stay at home
if her kid is ill and thus have more absence times. After all she'd be a
bad mother if she didn't! This is just basic stereotypes in action and
mothers are one of the groups affected by that. (For some numbers see
for example http://www.amanet.org/admin-excellence/editorial.cfm?Ed=177
there are also some quite interesting souces at the end of that very
worthwhile article.)

Nobody holds it against women that they might want to be mothers or that
they might stay at home if the kid's ill. All this is considered good
and natural womanly behaviour, it just seems that some employers don't
want these good, natural women as their employees.

And here we get to what really bothers me: When it comes to employment,
productivity is still key. Loyalty counts, spontaneously pulling late
hours and night shifts if necessary, being flexible, being committed,
showing team spirit ... all of which doesn't go too well with raising a
family. What these employers do not see is that even if mothers may have
higher absence rates (I don't know if they do) they also have some
things to offer that others may not (I'm not talking about apple pie
here) also research (e.g. Relinking Life and Work by Rhona Rapoport and
Lotte Bailyn) shows that work/life balance measures such as flexible
work times don't only benefit mothers and fathers but all employees.

So, concluding (and after getting a bit carried away :)), I think that
the current problems of mothers finding it difficult to get a job are
just one symptom of the more general problem. That problem is that
today's working world, the "virtues" it demands and the pressures it
exercises are drifting more and more away from humans and human needs.
(Having written that to a public list I'll probably never get a good job
again ;))

Best regards,

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