Re: Numbers (was:Re: Osborne response - Cyberfeminism)

Subject: Re: Numbers (was:Re: Osborne response - Cyberfeminism)
From: Katharine Norman (
Date: Mon Jan 10 2005 - 13:42:38 EST

On Jan 10, 2005, at 12:47 AM, Richard Nance wrote:

> Wondering about two possibilities:
> One, that there IS a gender bias and the field might not be that
> interesting
> to women in the same proportion as men.

hmm....I remain convinced that the kind of compositional thought, and
certainly techniques, in some e/a differs essentially from the
application of sound in much sound art. I guess I mean e/a that
inhabits the world of 'performed music' and is often university-taught.
  But why would it be 'less interesting' to women than men?

For me it's revealing to consider equating (or replacing) 'interesting'
at some level with 'available'? ( 'available' as in an available
environment that welcomes men and women equally, rather than available
technology) Because if e/a 'compositional thinking' is not gender
specific, there should be equal numbers of 'interested' males and
females, huh? So there might well sometimes be an element of pragmatism
(conscious or not) when women prefer other fields. Just wondering about
that as a possibility also.

I don't feel, or experience, that the majority of e/a
teachers/composers/male students are out there actively trying to bar
women from entering their hallowed studios, far from it - and this is
what makes it difficult to pin down what statistics don't solve, only
indicate. Women's attitudes have a role also of course, I don't think
they are or should be cast entirely as passive 'victims' in this.

> Two: Is there a bias in the way the software interfaces are written
> that
> favors a more masculine mindset? Could the tools be gender biased?

be fascinating to know of any research into that.....dangerous ground

> What are the
> gender statistics like in software engineering? seems to have quite an
interesting overview (came from a page of comprehensive links on this
area at

some of the author's research on reasons stated for women feeling
uncomfortable in programming classes - perhaps they're relevant

"Each woman reacts differently, but some may be made uneasy by
conditions such as these:

* few women assistants and faculty members to serve as role models.
* programming projects designed for male interests.
* friction between women coping by being ``one of the boys" in work
habits, socialization, and competitiveness, and those seeking an
alternative path .
* hostile attitude from a few male students.
* expectation of instructor that she will do poorly and negative
feedback from instructors .
* classes that overwhelmingly use male language (``the user ... he", or
``suppose that your wife...") and gender-stereotyped examples .

Each is just a little issue, but the cumulative effect can be
overwhelming. "

too long, I need to get back to programming now.....


> Rick
> -----Original Message-----
> I'm interested to know, have you any ideas on why there was only one
> female student in your class this year? I am continually glad that
> there are a great many people like you out there, many of whom I've had
> the privilege to teach or who have taught me by example. I'm just
> trying to probe an issue which I think is wider....
> all best
> Katharine

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