Monday, December 22, 2008

From the WISE Guy: Why should I care?

This is another guest post written by a male who supports the cause of getting more women interested in working in science and engineering: Jeff Gordon. This time he just wants us to know that there are indeed guys out there who want to help the cause.

I am not a woman.

I suppose I could go in disguise like one of the cross dressing guys from White Chicks or Mrs. Doubtfire in...what's the name of that movie? But somehow, I feel I'm better than that. Also, I’ve been told cross dressing characters always get discovered! Not a good plan.

So I come to this WISE space as a minority (1 guy) inside a group of a large majority (women). It's not unlike women in the profession of science and engineering where men make up the majority. So one guy in a group of all women about a topic specifically for women, this sounds like an episode of a sitcom or a romantic comedy waiting to happen!

So why am I here? Well ten to fifteen years ago I was a scrawny awkward teenager with a high pitched voice and lots of zits. At this time, computers were not cool like they are today. Spewing out the technical specs of my 486 were grounds for a pounding from my peers. I learned the first rule of computer club was: Don't talk about computer club! If you wanted to be popular and accepted in the 90's, computers were taboo.

Today, computers aren't taboo. They're cool for guys. They should be cool for girls too. But the number of women in computer science today suggests we aren't quite there yet. In fact, at least 4 of the 9 men out of 10 people in computer science agree with me. You women have stepped up to the plate to take the lead on this issue, but I think some guys should step up too. It's our responsibility as a community of professionals to make sure we are attracting and encouraging the best and brightest.

I've been wondering for years where all the women are in science and engineering. It's refreshing to see a group of women tackling this issue. As a guy, I hope I can help too. Guys make up such a large part of the environment of science and engineering that I think we can help out a bit too. I care about making a difference and showing that science and engineering is cool for everyone.

Geek should be the new sheek! I don't exactly know what sheek means but it rhymed with geek.