About that Manifesto and Diversity Programs
Beth Crocker
777

The response to this google memo is so depressing. I teach computer science and also cognitive psychology. My computer science course is predominately male, cognitive psychology predominately female. I teach the same programming on both courses (programming is part of cognitive psychology, which based on a computational model of cognition). The women in these courses learn to program just as well as the men (of course! everyone can learn to program!). Differences in participation arise purely from differences in preferences: exactly the issue the google memo addressed. And he gets fired for what’s described as an ‘anti-diversity screed’? How is that helpful? I would love to have more women students applying for computer science (I’d get a broader pool of good students, for one thing), but no amount of diversity policy is going to achieve that without addressing this difference in preferences between men and women. This is exactly the point that the Google memo was making: that we have to address diversity by addressing differences in preferences. The author even has some good suggestions for making computer science more attractive to women (stress its collaborative nature, focus on team programming, etc.); suggestions that have worked in increasing women’s participation in computer science at, for example, Harvey Mudd. I really can’t fathom why he was fired for discussing this and offering some helpful suggestions that seem to have worked elsewhere, and I don’t see why he is being vilified. It is divisive and counter-productive.