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How do we bring more and more women in STEM fields really?

A few days ago, I read a couple of articles of women in STEM fields on nytimes.com
Some who support affirmative action are saying, “This type—I’ll call it “affirmative effort,” is essential in providing a level playing field for women who aspire to STEM(science, technology, engineering, mathematics)field careers," through affirmative action--Nancy Hopkins in a biology professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The others are saying that rather than affirmative action, it’s more important to convince girls to pursue careers in STEM fields while they’re young. Janelle Wilson a teacher at Lanier Middle School in Gwinnett country, Georgia mentions, “I’ve observed that most girls are still interested in science, but something happens as they begin to worry more about friends, looks and being “cool”. ” There might be a debate going on fb, I assume. Anyway, is this fundamentally all because of the prejudice against women that we can’t do better than men in this STEM field? Or as Janelle says, our interest, and ultimately, the fear that others wouldn’t consider us to be attractive if we’re just too engrossed in studying science and mathematics prevent us from pursuing careers in this field? Above all, the efforts to bring more women in STEM field, are they effective? I wasn’t good at scoring high on math tests whenever I take them. Personally, I wasn’t really fond of mathematics. But most of my friends who were pretty good at it didn’t really excel in their field compared to their male companions. Are women too emotional to focus on such subjects?(which I consider to be groundless, though)
What are your thoughts?

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    Oct 24 2012: Elizabeth,
    I believe there are many women who aspire to achieve/have achieved careers in STEM fields...the graph may lean more towards science rather than math/technology. Women think, analyze and solve problems differently, when compared to men because of the physiological differences in our brain..this does not mean that we cannot excel in them. It also depends on our interests. Peer pressure does have some influence.
    Math was never my favorite subject as a whole..but I liked algebra, calculus and I excelled in them. I believe that learning algebra and calculus does contribute to analytic thinking that can be used in any field other than math/technology eg business. We can ignore the misconceptions/preconceived notions about women not suitable for STEM fields and approach them with a clean slate.
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    Oct 7 2012: My wife is the role model I use to judge these things. She is excellent at all things math and teaches our family children when they need help with their homework. I see no reason why any female cannot excel at math.

    내 아내는 내가 이런 일을 판단하는 데 사용하는 역할 모델입니다. 그녀는 모든 것을 수학에 뛰어난하고 그들의 숙제에 도움이 필요할 때 우리 가족의 아이들을 가르치고 있습니다. 어떤 여성은 수학에 뛰어난 수없는 이유가 전혀 없습니다.
    • Oct 7 2012: :) thanks for your comment.
      You must be proud of your wife. She's a true role model.
      And I love your last comment, "I see no reason why any female cannot excel at math."

      그런데 웬일로 한국어를 다 쓰셨어요? ^^ 한국어 쓰신 것 보니 반갑네요~
      혹시 구글 번역기 돌리신 건 아니시겠지요? ㅋㅋㅋ 좋은 의견 감사합니다
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        Oct 7 2012: Thank you. I ran the Korean you posted in the Google translator. Here is how it came back.

        Brings Korean did you write? It's good to see one of yours ^ ^ Korean
        You ..., Dolly Shin're not? Blah blah good feedback Thanks
        • Oct 7 2012: OMG! lol a bit wrongly translated. hahaha XD

          Let me translate that for you :)

          "By the way, what made you use Korean? :) It's good to see you use Korean~
          You didn't happen to use Google translator, did you? lol Thanks for your great opinion"
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    Oct 7 2012: Elizabeth, people are really better at coming up with ideas. A select few are very handy at providing solutions to complex problems. Today, the computer does all the math. Nobody does math, they just type the functions in Math Cad, break them down and try to find different ways to put them back together. They do the same thing with chemical equations and economic spreed sheets.

    In the old days, we had to generate a table of values, plot it on paper and hope we had enough paper to look at the problem in different ways. This, of course was very time consuming so when we did find a solution, we went with that and put it to work ASAP.

    Your generation is lucky to have, what I call, the fruit of my generations hard work and technical efforts: the computer.
    With this machine, you will build houses on the moon, travel to Mars and create genetic medicines that will make the earth healthier and, hopefully, happier.

    Your generation is already demonstrating that you have the veracity and mental aptitude to solve all the worlds problems. There has never been so many young people seeking doctoral degrees in the whole history of this planet. Your children will stand on your shoulders and start the climb to the stars. They will explore our solar system and do away with all manner of sickness and disease.

    You and your children will build a world unlike anything that has ever existed. You and your children will evolve into a Class one civilization and there will be nothing that you can't accomplish.

    I asked a successful business man, when I was 17, what it took to be successful like him. He told me all it took was persistence and hard work. That was all.
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    Oct 7 2012: what you said is right .we have this phenomenon i think culture plays s leading role .most of us agree that men should be the leader of a family especially in some easten countries women just stay at home raising children . and in the long term we have a concept that we the big things should be compeleted by man .so less and less women have worked on STEM.

    and as we can see that many female work in the filed of relaxed and environment good place.they can not do something burden and dirt.so most of them just work at bank and companies .or work as a nurse .less of them have a labor work .this also makes them far away of STEM you know work in STEM is very dangerous .and somethies we must face the poisonous gas and matter.

    while if we want to change it .i think it is not a easy thing .unless you have a strong will .you can work as a scientise .and you must abodont some femail's idiosyncrasy. you know it is a hurt thing. and it need a huge courage
    that is the monent now .if you want to .

    the question how do we bring more and more women in STEM field.
    i think we should settle the problem of concept and give some great examples to lead the socienty .just as Feyisayo said .and also we should help to change our prejudice about work .
    • Oct 7 2012: Working in a dangerous environment doesn't account for the reason why not many women work in STEM fields. And I saw so many women around the world work in dangerous places. See, that could be your prejudice.
      "i think culture plays s leading role .most of us agree that men should be the leader of a family especially in some easten countries women just stay at home raising children ."
      It has been a serious problem so far, but simultaneously, that kind of cultural barriers have been disappearing in my country. I assume the main problem is our ambiguous way of thinking. We just say that people need to overcome this bias against women and we need to encourage women to study hard..(something like that)as if that's the best solution we can think of for right now. And again we remain silent. Seems like we all are certain of this issue and the solutions, but people just hesitate to think about it more seriously and don’t speak up as if this issue would be solved 'somehow' by some smart experts and activists. But without more proactive ways of dealing with this issue, we can't really "change it". Why should we wait powerlessly until someone solves this problem ‘someday’?
      (Personally, I feel guilty for that matter because I’ve had that kind of passive attitude so far. I was mad at myself.)
      We know that it takes a bit of a long time to generalize some innovative thought(these days it has gotten faster thanks to fb, twitter, etc.) especially in developing countries or places where people are still prejudiced.
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        Oct 7 2012: since you do not agree with me .i want to ask you some question ?
        is boy'courage much bigger or girls?
        and second what is the leading role in your family and is there is female presdent in your country ever.
        third do you think that you can have much more strength than boys.

        and i agree with you that there is a difference between boys and girls in the way of thinking

        maybe i should read more about this
        and also i agree with you that south korea is developing very fast .your coultural barriers
        are gradually disappearing ..not only south korea but also china japan .we are all reduce the prejudice of that couture .
        take japan for example japan is a developed country ,and their female salary is 69 percent of male .and also i havent seen a female primer in their country ..maybe in the future .but at least we can not benifit from that kind of cultural barriers have been disappearing in my country
        actually it is you not me i am a boy lol...

        while if you want to be that you must break out the prejudice of culture and also you need a huge courage .

        why are you mad at yourself without that you can also have many other choics .you should be happy for that .
        last i think you are a Feminists
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        Oct 8 2012: thank you for your links i will read some time.what i wan to say is that it is a fact that at this moment male is playing a leading role in our society .dont you think so .? well about the "some other choices " what i mean is that maybe you will face a much more stress when you choose to be a STEM. JUST AS I SAID ABOVE .you need courage and break out the prejudice of culture .
        i think you quote my words out of context. i have never define that women can not study in STEM.
        maybe they are better at. while it is the coulture that define it .you can also break out .if you want as long as you insist on

        and in china most of the females think that they should find a job in a bank or company
        most of them do not like reseach and they even do not talk about it .once i ask my classmate what is your future goal,she says .first find a good job .and then have a nice husband, my life will be gone .that is it .they do not have a big ambition .
  • Oct 6 2012: I don't think affirmative action is the right thing to do, nor very effective to get women into STEM fields. At least in my country there are no restrictions on STEM educations, so girls who wish to follow STEM education are not hindered by any policies. There has been an increase in STEM educated women here over the past decade or two but they remain the minority by a large margin in the more mathematically oriented fields (physics, math, computer science), meanwhile medical students are now predominantly female. This seems to be a cultural issue: because of their upbringing women choose to be lawyers, doctors or office workers, but not physicists, plumbers or software developers. However women taking over medical school and slowly trickling into the fields of biology and bioengineering is a sign things can and will change over time. Each generation of girls will see more women from the previous generation in STEM fields, causing even more girls to enter STEM fields and so on.

    If you want to actively accelerate the process I agree with Feyisayo below: make female role models in STEM fields more visible.
    • Oct 7 2012: @John
      (Since there's no reply button with your reply to Feyisayo, let me reply to you here)
      "Yes, affirmative action is never the anwer, it's always some bandaid used to mask the symptom of some systemic dysfunction."
      In some part, I agree. I also hate mere legislative formats which never take effect practically.
      It's like burying one´s head ostrich-like in the sand.

      Btw, what do you say to read this article and tell me your opinion about her idea?
      I'm not sure whether I should follow this affirmative action or not, but what she's saying is quite convincing to me.

      • Oct 7 2012: You can't reply once you hit 3 indentations.

        "Btw, what do you say to read this article and tell me your opinion about her idea?"

        Her idea is a good one and not affirmative action at all: use more objective assessment methods like grades instead of personal information.
  • Oct 10 2012: I wish there was more women(including men) here to talk about this issue...
    Women in STEM fields would be also great...!
    They would tell us how the things is really going on in their career and disadvantages of working in their workplace, something like that. :)
  • Oct 9 2012: Affirmative action. Does is support women for equality or degrading women's capability that women can get by with their strength? Thoughts?
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      Oct 9 2012: yes you can as long as you try best ,if you want to ,you must do whatever you can to achieve .i think if you want you can fly a plane if you want you can do wahtever man can .while on the premise that you must try you best.i think there will be a conflict between man and woman on the goal of equal in jobs .whatever.Only you can't imagine, nothing you can't achieve.
  • Oct 9 2012: Some expert says even concerning with perfect balance between men and women in STEM fields could be part of bias against women. She thinks if women's interests are not in STEM fields, we don't necessarily have to find ways to place them in those fields. She mentions, since in other fields, men fall far behind than women, we don't need to worry about the imbalance in STEM fields.

    Do you agree with her?
    • Oct 9 2012: There are of course biological differences which is why kindergartens will always be dominated by women and the military by men, but I do believe in most fields the difference is due to culture, upbringing and schools not catering to the different development rates of male and female teenagers. We should strive for as much gender equality in professions as possible, we just shouldn't do it through affirmative action.
      • Oct 10 2012: Thanks for your reply.
        Hmm...we shouldn't..?
        Then, do you think affirmative action in colleges and universities for promoting racial diversity also inappropriate(Or, rather ineffective, should I say?)?

        What's the fundamental difference between affirmative action in STEM fields and affirmative action in colleges?
        You don’t support the former, while supporting the latter, or both?
        (Not to disagree with you, just want to know your take on and the main grounds. Since you seem to be quite interested in almost every subject in TED conversations)
        Thoughts are welcome! :)
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    Oct 7 2012: “Ladda Tammy Duckworth (born 1968) is the former Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs[1][2][3][4] and the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.[5][6] Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot whose severe combat wounds cost her both of her legs and damaged her right arm. She continues to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard along with her husband, Major Bryan W. Bowlsbey, a signal officer and fellow Iraq War veteran." Wikipedia

    This is one cute, good looking Mama that makes her husband proud to be an American Soldier.

    “Roza Georgiyevna Shanina[a] (Russian: Ро́за Гео́ргиевна Ша́нина, IPA: ['rozə 'ʂanʲɪnə]; 3 April 1924 – 28 January 1945) was a Soviet sniper during World War II, credited with 54 confirmed targets hit,[1][3] including 12 snipers during the Battle of Vilnius.[4] Praised for her shooting accuracy, Shanina was capable of taking precise bolt action shots on moving enemy targets.[5] She fired in quick succession, effectively eliminating two enemies by double shots. Shanina volunteered to serve as a marksman on the front line.
    The Allied newspapers described Shanina as "the unseen terror of East Prussia".[6][7][8] She became the first Soviet female sniper to be awarded the Order of Glory[9] and the first servicewoman of the 3rd Belorussian Front to receive it.[10] Shanina died during the East Prussian Offensive while shielding the heavily wounded commander of an artillery unit.” ~ Wikipedia Another hot looking female soldier.

    You should have met the Vietnamese women we had to fight in Vietnam. Those gals were deadly accurate and could exist in the jungle on bugs and rice.
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    Oct 7 2012: I would suggest the main barrier is sex. Men only learn science and math to make money, thus impressing women, and eventually providing security for a family... If a man is unattractive, he must bolster his social resume with a good job...

    The problem, thus... is men. If a woman is having trouble finding an attractive partner... learning science won't help her, as much as exercise. For a man, learning a job skill, is more valuable socially and sexually than 20 minutes of exercise, for a women, it is not, because men are idiots.

    The problem isn't that women can't do STEM work... The problem is that it's hard, and no one wants to do it, so if a woman has an attractive partner and a family, already... why would she want to work in an engineering lab or a mine? I think this is one of the fundamental problems with the sexual revolution in general, though it was an absolutely necessary step in human evolution. When the womens movement began, it was said that women wanted equality... In the 1950's equality, was farming, mining, or working in a factory... No one wanted that. Women wanted to work on Wall Street, and be doctors, and lawyers... No one was fighting for their right to do hard math in a physically demanding environment.

    Someone has to do that stuff though. If it was fun, people wouldn't have to pay you to do it. That's the big lie of the womens movement... "How dare you not let us do the jobs that made you miserable?"... The universal male response "We thought we were being nice".
    • Oct 7 2012: "Men only learn science and math to make money"

      If you're smart enough to get a degree in science or mathematics and you want to make a lot of money you go into finance or medicine. Science doesn't pay that well, compared to other, easier jobs with easier education and it's not seen as sexy at all. I don't know a single scientists or mathematician who's in it for the money and doesn't work in finance.
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        Oct 7 2012: Yeah... Pay them what the average factory worker gets paid then... We'll see how quickly the money matters. Men only get degrees in general to make money. I was a math genius in my youth... It doesn't make sitting in a room writing numbers any more entertaining or fascinating. In fact, the more naturally easy something is, the more boring it is, and the more you have to force yourself, or be forced to do it.

        Science pays better than labor, and labor is what 90% of men do for a living. If you have a STEM degree you are financially secure, and that is attractive, to women. It is less attractive to men, do to social conditioning, and physical bias built in to our reptilian brain.

        Personally, I am conditioning myself as much as possible, to see a woman with a STEM degree as particularly sexy, but I have to admit I'm fighting my own internal built in systems for evaluating attractiveness.
        • Oct 7 2012: "Yeah... Pay them what the average factory worker gets paid then..."

          They have to earn back the money their education cost, plus the (at least) 5 years they didn't have a paid job while pursuing their education, even in Europe that would be at least 150.000 euros (part of it is collecting interest too), then there is the fact that many work ~4 years as a research assistant during which they actually are paid the wage of a factory worker. Factor in higher taxes and lower credits and subsidies and your average scientist won't have that much more purchasing power over a lifetime than a factory worker. Of course there are exceptions (and of course there will be differences by country, I'm talking mainly about Europe here where factory workers are paid more and scientists paid less than in the US, though tuition is much higher in the US), but, seriously, if you want to go for the big bucks and you have the brain of a scientist, go get an MBA or become a medical doctor, you'll get to party (with girls) a lot more in college as well.

          Doctors have much more reason to be in it for the money, in many countries female med students outnumber male ones, in the US it's 50/50, most teachers are female as well, so there goes your theory...

          Btw, to me a STEM-educated woman is more attractive than she would have been without it, and I never had to condition myself to feel that way.
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        Oct 7 2012: Oh ya... You see a womans degree, and just go all googley eyed. That's the natural built in human response, you don't need to condition that at all : p

        In California you can get a four year STEM degree, for about 32,000 dollars... Then you make 60 k a year as a public school teacher. After 2 years of work, you can never be fired, and you're guaranteed to have a pension. Some places are different than others. None of the millions of teachers are doing it for the money though... It's all altruism.

        PS I picked teachers, not because they are a bad example. Most people in the western world believe teachers should be valued highly. Engineers make more money than most teachers. All STEM degrees pay very well... Especially stem + trade, plumbers, and electrical engineers make a great living. I'm not saying these people aren't worth the money, but the average person with a STEM degree in America will make more than two million dollars more than the average person, so I'm sick of hearing how altruistic scientists are.

        It's a secure job, that's a particular type of sexy. It's not coke and hookers sexy like business... but no one sane with self control really wants that anyway.
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      Oct 7 2012: I do it for the fun of it. I study everything but that's just me.
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        Oct 7 2012: I'm merely suggesting that is a culturally learned behavior loosely attached to our sex drive, but directly attached to financial motivations. You have learned to enjoy studying everything because it is beneficial in society for social and financial reason.

        If engineers and teachers were paid less than farmers, there would be much less incentive to study and learn things, and more incentive to do necessary physical labor. It's a balancing act.

        Also, as I mentioned, everyone wants to learn enough to work on wall street, or be a doctor, or lawyer, or engineer... Very few want to be plumbers and farmers.
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          Oct 7 2012: I think it depends on your level of education or what you find interesting when you're still young.

          When I was 15, I wanted to be a truck driver because all my buddies dads drove trucks. Their dads took us on trips across the country and we loved it. One summer when I was in Clear Water Florida, my pals and I went out on a sponge boat with a friends father. After that, we all wanted to be sponge divers. :)

          We didn't really think too much about the money.

          My sister was always a part of the pack so she wanted to drive trucks and dive for sponges too.
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        Oct 7 2012: And, then you grew up.
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          Oct 7 2012: Yes I did. I started three businesses. Junk business, Lock Smith Company, Software development. Of course, the most fun was Software but the most money was the Junk Business. Lots of money there. My sister worked with me in the Junk business. She could tear a motor apart as well as any man and still cleaned up nice for her boyfriend. :)
        • Oct 7 2012: lol
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        Oct 7 2012: Case in point. The best money, came from not sitting in the air conditioning. I'm not saying some women aren't interested in junk business... I'm saying why would anyone choose the junk business, if it was not more profitable? Why would we care to make more than a sustenance wage if we were not trying to provide comfort for our family?

        You must remember I think the future of an equal society, is that productive women will soon find attractive partners who cannot compete in the work environment... The way men used to... A level playing field in which some people choose to do the hard work, and for that they are rewarded with enough money to allow someone to raise the children. I don't think gender should be the deciding factor... I'm just saying... It's insane to pretend that women, in general, are chomping at the bit to work in junk... No one ever wanted that job, they want their family to survive, and realize it's a useful service.

        Following your dreams didn't lead you to junk. I'm not sure that sort of equality is what women had in mind though... To be clear, most men want to be lawyers, and doctors, etc. too, but we can't all be, some people have to clean up garbage.
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        Oct 7 2012: You said the junk business made the most money... I don't know what you're talking about.

        In the scenario you describe however, I would, of course, kill myself. No one who would treat people like that deserves to have anyone listen to them... I refuse to submit to slavery.
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        Oct 7 2012: "David, in the future, people like you won't exist."

        I know... and thus progress will cease. It's very entertaining to watch you all destroy yourselves though.

        You need to learn to read or write by the way, I said nothing about the junk business running your life. Just that you said junk was profitable... and obviously it's not a dream job... so people don't do it, for the sake of doing it... I'm not proposing an incredibly controversial perspective here.
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        Oct 7 2012: PS... If we ever actually got attacked, or had freedoms to protect... I'd sign up. When America had a constitution, I was very patriotic. The Republicans erased that, so I no longer feel any sense of duty or responsibility.
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        Oct 7 2012: That's called a straw man. Not a single thing I said in this conversation was demeaning to women... I think women are capable of everything that men are capable of. I just think most of them don't want to be plumbers.

        A world where "everyone will be an engineer, everyone will work"... Sounds like a much worse world than one in which half the people will work aided by automation. In fact it sounds like a dictatorial hell.

        Also, if "For a man, learning a job skill, is more valuable socially and sexually than 20 minutes of exercise, for a women, it is not, because men are idiots.", sound sexist pro men... We need to agree on word definitions.
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        Oct 7 2012: If it were just me... that would of course be true... I am nothing special. I am however representative of a dying breed. A generation of potential, which gave way to alcoholism, drug addiction, and suicide, for lack of adult male role models. A generation with the worst math scores, in American history, despite being shored up by dramatic improvement among female mathematicians... A huge portion of the population must be dragging that number down... Oh yeah, boys.

        Again, you can't read. I said running, not ruining.

        You asked me "David, where on earth did you get the idea my life was dedicated to Junk?"... I had said nothing of the sort, so responded "You said the junk business made the most money... I don't know what you're talking about.".

        You replied "You need to learn to read" To which I again insisted, that I had never claimed that junk was running your life... To which you again responded "you need to learn to read". Maybe you need a thicker prescription.

        I have a tech degree, and I always contribute as much as I take by the way, so, I'm not standing in womens way, have at it... I just think when prescription drug use, suicide, and mental illness, are through the roof... You might want to look at what kind of societal values you're creating. I know... I know... Everythings much better now.
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        Oct 7 2012: They're not that bad in California, they're that bad in America. Your generation is going to show up and vote for Mitt Romney in mass, by the way, and you're a much larger generation than mine, who votes in much higher percentages so you still run the show... nice ofiscation of responsibility though. Luckily, I will admit, most of the women will vote for Obama, and he'll probably win, certainly the lesser of two evils.

        You have no idea what I'm capable of John. If the nation of Afghanistan had attacked us, I would have happily signed up on 9/12... They didn't... Crazy people did. We should have violated their sovereignty, and killed the crazy people.

        I think you really might just need thicker glasses or reading/computer glasses. Also, I talk in circles at times, so that doesn't help, but I didn't say junk ruined your life. I said a generation of young men won't do junk work, and it's a problem. Incentivizing both sexes to do hard labor, is a good idea... It should pay better than it did 50 years ago, not worse.
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        Oct 7 2012: I care nothing for Utopia... I merely want to stop murdering muslims, and have a constitution. That wasn't much to ask 15 years ago, when your parents were still alive. Womens issues are fun to express my niche crazy perspective on... but they are not a fundamental motivation of my strike.

        I'll pay the taxes your generation refused to pay for the programs you are now entitled to, which will keep you alive longer than me... don't worry. I didn't realize your whole generation worked on the computer by the way. I thought a few brilliant men who believed in industry and individuality built them... Obviously I'm wrong about that as well.
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          Oct 7 2012: I've consistently worked on hardware and software since 1977. After my first computer project took away the jobs of 14 of my fellow workers, I became a free agent looking for alternative solutions to computers taking away more jobs. I enjoyed creating programs that augmented human skills. I became involved with the open source project at the same time we created freeware in the industry. I've written tons of freeware and scripts for people at no charge because I believe that the computer is the instrument of change and hope for our civilization. It is my weapon of choice to fight back against tyranny and dictatorships.
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        Oct 7 2012: "Men find joy in killing. Women find joy in giving life"... I love how that statement isn't sexist in todays culture. It couldn't possibly be that a few psychopaths ran the world until very recently, and men had no choices... It's all men, are evil... That's obviously the lesson we should teach all of our male children...

        Women who sleep with evil men, by free choice, on the other hand... They're victims...
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          Oct 7 2012: I suppose you could twist it around that way if you want to David, if you lack the ability to generalize the message.

          We always have a choice David.
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          Oct 8 2012: Holy cats there is so much wrong with this rant it's hard to know where to start.

          GROW UP.

          You're like a child talking all kinds of sh*t to make his parents angry. Stop.
    • Oct 7 2012: “The problem isn't that women can't do STEM work... The problem is that it's hard, and no one wants to do it, so if a woman has an attractive partner and a family, already... why would she want to work in an engineering lab or a mine?”
      Why wouldn’t she? Many women want to challenge something and pass the limit these days. Living in a comfortable place with a nice husband doesn’t satisfy her desires. It’s like saying “why bother?” to women, but I don’t think that way.
      “Someone has to do that stuff though. If it was fun, people wouldn't have to pay you to do it. That's the big lie of the womens movement... "How dare you not let us do the jobs that made you miserable?"... The universal male response "We thought we were being nice".”
      Even for me, I see some problems we should solve in the process of advocating equal rights for women. However, the one thing I’m certain of for now is that we should get rid of people’s endless biases here. Women’s equal rights at least shouldn’t be misunderstood by something irrelevant or something distorted. While trying to be rational, I’m also trying hard to find the truth, so to speak.
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        Oct 7 2012: I'm saying that the big secret, is that for all of human history, 90% of men, have been virtually enslaved, by a very small number of men... Equality, is 90% of women being virtually enlaved, by a very small number of men.

        I think we can do better than equality. Why wouldn't you want to be an electrical engineer? Most of the ones that make money, provide a service... You know what that service is? They go underground every day and manage the installation of wires, and conduits... Very, very, very few jobs, are worth doing for their own sake.

        We do them to contribute to society, so society contributes to our livelihoods and families. The fun part of life isn't work, the fun part is family and community... If women don't think that way... Men will... I'd be happy to be a housband : p
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      Oct 7 2012: Many people, both male and female, actually prefer to do things that are hard or complex and are happy to sacrifice income to do things that interest them. Many people do not fit into your stereotype of seeking out the easiest path to the highest possible income.
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        Oct 7 2012: Lucky for you, America has not yet put that philosophy to the test. Many other countries have, and it failed, miserably... We're well on our way.
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          Oct 7 2012: What philosophy? Are you saying that you do not know people who are intrinsically interested in tackling complex problems and challenging work?!

          Also, I thought I remembered that you personally do not act to maximize your income.
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        Oct 7 2012: You're talking about outliers. I'm talking about the vast majority of human beings on the planet. Do some people like tackling complex problems, yes of course. However, is all of society designed to make the best and brightest interested in tackling those problems? Yes, of course. Every aspect of society is designed for the specific purpose of encouraging, and rewarding complex solutions to problems.

        If society was not designed to provide more comfort and security for doctors, than lounge singers... many people would prefer to sing 6 hours a week for a living. If easy jobs, paid more than hard jobs, would people still prefer tackling complex problems? Of course not... At least, it obvious less people would.

        I am on strike because I refuse to support murder, and holy war... I'm an insane outlier, statistically insignificant. Still if I were to solve a major problem humanity is facing, yes, I would like compensation. I simply refuse to solve any problems or design anything until people stop stealing my money for violent insanity. I'm not a fan of lots of the other stuff people steal my money for either, but I could live with it.

        When we stop killing muslims, I'll start releasing products. At which time, yes, I would like to buy a nice little house on a river, and retire with a family at some point, just like everyone else.
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          Oct 7 2012: I think many people would prefer to provide medical services as doctors or nurses than to sing for the same number of hours, even if both jobs paid the same. There are many TED talks that underline the great value in terms of human happiness in doing meaningful work.

          For some people, inquiries in math and science provide the sort of "flow" experience Czikzsentmihalyi talks about in his TED talk, the same that a professional basketball player may feel when he is "in the zone" or that a fine actor can feel on the stage.

          If a person does not find math or science captivating in their own right, perhaps it is difficult to understand how others could.

          If a person is afraid of heights or gets airsick, it may be difficult for him to understand why others enjoy hang gliding and bungee jumping because they love the feel of flying.

          Some people, of course, prefer to sing, and many people don't enjoy science or excel enough in it to prepare for medical careers, even with the prospect of a good income.

          While each of us is unique, there is more variety in others (their interests and motivations) than some of us realize.
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        Oct 7 2012: Yes... Let's make lounge singers and doctors equal. Exactly the same number of men and women will wish to spend 8 years of their prime working on a doctorate... People who want to be cooks, or waitresses, or flight attendants, or lounge singers... They all deserve the exact same degree of respect as a neuro surgeon. And, I think to myself... What a wonderful, world.
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          Oct 7 2012: Before it was only the stream of income (net of the cost of education) that you suggested would drive occupational choice, with the inherent interest of the work making no contribution. Now I see respect is being thrown in.

          It may be hard to believe, but the universities are full of students pursuing the doctorate in one field or another because there is nothing they would rather being doing in the moment and because they envision an interesting work life thereafter.

          Obviously whether a person wants to see the world and the people in it through a narrow lens or a broad one is ultimately any individual's choice. I see there is no further purpose in this.
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        Oct 7 2012: Okay... I forgot. Stream of income, and respect, have no causal relationship, in America. Yeah... That's the world we live in. I'm partially playing devils advocate, but if you're seriously trying to pretend that no one does anything out of self interest... or to provide comfort and safety for their family, you're creating a world with no incentive to do anything... and you think it will be heaven. It boggles my mind.
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          Oct 7 2012: I have not made the claims you suggest. You are simply constructing for your convenience an extreme position, a straw man, which is easy for you to mock or refute.

          You can consider what I have actually put forward, that is, a broader view of self-interest than you assume but one consistent with what most serious students of human behavior typically find are people's motivations, or you can go on believing that maximizing income is the singular factor that drives people's occupational choices. You could even do some research on the matter which would allow you to consider the matter with an open mind.

          I will leave things at that.
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        Oct 7 2012: Okay... Did I say everyone acts out of self interest to protect and secure their family?... No... I said most human animals do that... because that's what human animals do. Yes some people do other things... and that's wonderful. Most people live their lives and provide for their children through labor they do not enjoy. Plumbers are getting paid well again, because no one wants to do it... By paying better, this low desire job becomes more secure and attracts people, because it allows them to provide for a family.

        If you really want to pretend that no one fits into categories, and this isn't something that the vast majority of mammals let alone human beings do... Aagh! I'm confused right?
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    Oct 6 2012: Here is a hypothesis. Are females of school age more likely to be perfectionists than their male peers? Preparing for work in math, physics, and engineering typically involves making lots of mistakes along the way.

    If perfectionism is an important factor in preventing young people from pursuing these fields, cultivating a more productive attitude toward trying, not doing so well, and then getting right back to work has some potential, regardless of a person's gender.
    • Oct 7 2012: "If perfectionism is an important factor in preventing young people from pursuing these fields, cultivating a more productive attitude toward trying, not doing so well, and then getting right back to work has some potential, regardless of a person's gender. "
      I see your point. And for the last part of your comment, I couldn't agree with you more.
      So you think perfectionism could be part of the problem that hinders women's pursuit of careers in STEM fields. As you say, if having perfectionism makes a person have limited way of approaching something or inflexible attitude, that's really a problem. But are you also saying that the reason why so many women are not pursuing their career goals in this field is because their unproductive approach to this field? I think quite a lot of women have more creative way of approaches than having obsessions related to perfectionism. Don't you think that the hypothesis that women are obsessed with being perfect could be a bias against women? And ultimately, wouldn't it be part of barriers that confine women's potentials to some extent?

      You might think that I’m being a little too sensitive just because I’m a woman, but I don’t want you to take it as just a mere feministic opinion.
      I just want to know. What do you think?
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        Oct 7 2012: Many people of both genders, I believe, are hampered by perfectionism and fear of failure. This includes gifted and divergent thinkers. You have used the phrase "obsession related to perfectionism," which I believe lends a connotation of psychopathology to a normal aspect of human behavior. This connotation is misplaced.

        The way of examining this matter dispassionately would be to do a search for research on whether gifted girls are more perfectionistic than gifted boys during adolescence, which is the time of life when such directions are typically established and the preparation is being laid down.

        I might add that one of my daughters has a degree in chemistry and the other in physics and math. One is a doctoral student in physics.

        Those who try to get practical at the level of the girl in developing "STEM girls" have potential to do so.
        • Oct 7 2012: "Many people of both genders, I believe, are hampered by perfectionism and fear of failure."
          Hmmm, now that reminds me of watching Brene Brown's 'The power of vulnerability' talk.
          Does it ring a bell to you? I suppose you've seen it...Have you?

          "The way of examining this matter dispassionately would be to do a search for research on whether gifted girls are more perfectionistic than gifted boys during adolescence, which is the time of life when such directions are typically established and the preparation is being laid down."
          Sounds interesting..

          Thanks for your reply :)
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    Oct 6 2012: I believe that successful women in this field should be given more publicity as role model for young girls. The media especially has created a one-sided view of what women can do and should do and how they should look.
    THere is this prevailing image of 'the successful woman', the one who turn heads because of her cat-walk-like walk, silky smooth skin and pouty smile, a woman whose success lies in being found attractive by men. It would seem more convinient to make Britney Spears a role model for women than Nobel prize winner, Marie Curie. Women are capable of working in this field, and so many young girls would have loved to work in the field if not for the overwhelming media presentation of the 'ideal woman' with all the obssession with good looks and trendy fashion.

    There are outstanding women in the STEM fields; their work needs to be promoted among young school girls so that they would be mentors and role models and sources of encouragement.
    • Oct 7 2012: "It would seem more convinient to make Britney Spears a role model for women than Nobel prize winner, Marie Curie. "

      Good point. Really cut some biased people to the quick.
      But it just crossed my mind that even that kind of efforts just contribute to generalize 'the ambition' among large number of women, which means it's basically for changing the concept that lots of women unconsciously have, right?
      Not just for women's concept of 'ideal woman', but for the sake of fundamental change, attracting more people's (including media, men, schools, politicians, experts, and so on) attention and social encouragement really needs to go hand in hand.

      What's your take on affirmative action, Feyisayo?
      Do you support it, also?
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        Oct 7 2012: I dont believe in affirmative action.
        The society should be united against gender discrimination. Not just by legislation, but also by attitudinal change. Those who are really interested in the field would make use of the opportunities that are available.
        • Oct 7 2012: Yes, affirmative action is never the anwer, it's always some bandaid used to mask the symptom of some systemic dysfunction. In the US it is used to mask the fact that tuition is really too high and there is no effective, reliable program to help children from poor families get into higher education. In Asia it would probably be used to maks problems with admission procedures: if admission was truly random, based on test scores or a combination of those, there would be no problem, but if you have (for example) admission interviews, you could run into problems. The solution would then be to get rid of the interviews or get less misogynyst interviewers, not affirmative action.