Monday, October 9, 2017

Elaine Answers the Question: "How do I get my daughter interested in computers?"

From Elaine's Idle Mind:

I get this question a lot, especially from Silicon Valley tech VCs. Tech execs genuinely want to get more women involved in software, but many find themselves thwarted by their very own daughters.
I think I can help.

“I sent my daughter to coding class, but she just isn’t interested.”
The first mistake is in thinking that the child should have any say in the matter. Kids don’t get to have free will, okay. If your daughter announces that she has no interest in learning algebra, would you allow her to forgo maths? Of course not.

FWIW, I learned to code at the local Boys Club (free day care for poor people). This was in the 1980s; I was six and probably hated it. Was my mother concerned about whether this was a gender-sensitive learning environment? No, we were immigrants, we took what we could get.

“My daughter wants to major in photography/journalism/basket-weaving.”
The second mistake is in allowing your child to believe that a career should be fulfilling and fun. The do-what-you-love mythology has led thousands of students to load up on debt for a degree in what amounts to a hobby.

Work isn’t fun. If work was supposed to be fun, they wouldn’t pay you to do it. Software engineering is no different. Yes, we hear about cool projects like self-driving cars and rockets to Mars, but most Silicon Valley engineers are working on boring stuff like server virtualization and load balancers. My first programming job consisted of generating test vectors for network routers. Don’t get me wrong; my current job is great. But it took many years of crap jobs to get here.

The thing I don’t understand is why people keep agitating for more women to do software in the first place. Sure, we get paid well, but so do actuaries and aircraft mechanics. And those workers don’t get put out to pasture by age 35.

More confusing still, is that the people screaming most loudly about getting girls to code are not themselves coders....MORE