I found the email with David’s question for me re the Lena image. I don’t think the Lena image had anything significant to do with the decline in the percentage of women going into CS. It was a very limited group of people that actually dealt with or even saw the image. And they were almost all male.
When I was chair of the CS dept at UNM (1985-88) about 40% of the majors were women. Two other factors were much more responsible for the decline that started around then First, pre the mid 80’s, women saw CS as closer to Math but a major that led to jobs. However, they found that CS was more like Engineering (or was becoming more like Engineering), a field which for various reasons was not appealing to women or welcoming of them. Second, more and more students were attracted to CS because they they were computer game players. They were almost 100% male, aggressive, individualistic and often obnoxious, all characteristics that were not those that women students possessed (to their credit). Consequently, beginning programming classes were terrible experiences for many women students and they left the program With the faculty almost all male and comprised of people who had been rewarded for precisely these characteristics, there wasn’t much effort to change to make the program more attractive to women. Eventually CS at UNM changed and now has a healthy percentage of women students and faculty. Ed _______________________ Ed Angel Founding Director, Art, Research, Technology and Science Laboratory (ARTS Lab) Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, University of New Mexico 1017 Sierra Pinon Santa Fe, NM 87501 505-984-0136 (home) an...@cs.unm.edu <mailto:an...@cs.unm.edu> 505-453-4944 (cell) http://www.cs.unm.edu/~angel <http://www.cs.unm.edu/~angel> > On Feb 16, 2018, at 10:41 AM, Prof David West <profw...@fastmail.fm> wrote: > > Some questions for Nick and one for Ed Angel > > Peterson's "alpha male" silliness seemed to have prompted this thread but I > wonder if a different example might advance the discussion more productively, > especially since, I suspect, most everyone on the list would dismiss Peterson > as inane. > > The example I have in mind is sexism in computing. Back in the sixties, two > psychologists (Cannon and Perry) created a "profile" or aptitude test to > determine who would be a good programmer. Their work became the de facto > standard used for hiring (and to a lesser extent for admission to grad school > in CS) up to and including today. > > Two psychological / behavioral traits dominate their profile: 1) affinity for > and proficiency at 'logical / mathematical puzzle solving';and 2) antipathy > towards people. Both of these traits are, supposedly, more prevalent in males > than females, especially the second one. This instantly marginalized women as > potential programmers. (I would argue that this work also had significant > impact, indirectly and via cultural diffusion, on the reduction of women in > all of the STEM educational paths and professions.) > > Within the last year, James Damone, former Google engineer, essentially made > the same argument and explicitly stated that the prevalence of the two > behavioral traits was "biological" in origin. > > Some questions for Nick: > > -- is any assertion of a biological origin for a psychological / behavioral > trait a naive evolutionary psychology argument? I say naive because I doubt > that any of those individuals had any knowledge of the evolutionary > psychology discipline or research. > > -- If the assertion is made that 'anti-social nerdiness' is biological > (evolutionary psychological) in origin, what criteria could / would be used > to affirm or deny? Must you show that the trait yielded reproductive > advantage? Would you need to show the trait was present in antecedent > instances of the species — e.g. would you find individuals in hunter-gatherer > tribes that exhibited the trait? Could the trait be biological in origin but > not 'continuous' in some fashion — e.g. a case of punctuated equilibrium. > > Nick has accused me of shameless reification when I use the term/concept of > "cultural evolution" but ... I was taught that the time frame required for > biological evolution is too long to be a reasonable basis for explaining or > accounting for observed psychological / behavioral changes in human beings. > E.g. psychological behaviors associated with things like social media and > cell phones are clearly observable but occur in time frames that are > generational at most, and most commonly intra-generational. > > -- Is it possible to argue for some kind of biological 'precursors' — > traits from which the observable changes are derived, and dependent? (Kind of > like the evolution of eyes being dependent on precursors like photo-sensitive > cells.) > > -- Is it possible to disprove an evolutionary psychological argument (ala > Peterson and Malone) simply by pointing out that it emerged and became > prevalent in a time frame inconsistent with biological evolution? > > The question for Ed Angel (only because he is a graphics maven): > > -- pure speculation, but what impact did the Lena image (de facto standard > for testing image compression algorithms), in 1973, have on the decline of > women in the profession? A mere six years earlier, Cosmopolitan magazine was > touting programming as a smart career path for women and around the same time > a peak of 37% of students in CS were women. > > davew > > > On Fri, Feb 16, 2018, at 1:53 AM, Pieter Steenekamp wrote: >> IMO it's going to be difficult to debunk evolutionary psychology. It is a >> valid part of the medley of components of psychology and sociology. But is >> it the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth? No, certainly not. >> There is much more to human behavior than evolutionary psychology. >> What's coming out from the #MeToo movement is just horrible. Sure, it may be >> consistent with evolutionary psychology, but we as humans should not accept >> it and root out the abhorrent behavior of some of the male of the species. >> And our society has been protecting the perpetrators and thank god that's >> changing. >> But don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Give credit to evolutionary >> psychology as part of the effort to understand human behavior. >> >> On 15 February 2018 at 22:08, uǝlƃ ☣ <geprope...@gmail.com >> <mailto:geprope...@gmail.com>> wrote: >> But your point *did* come through. Peterson's (and many people's) >> conception of the "alpha male" (or "alpha female" for Frank), has become >> second nature. It's everywhere in our culture. And it is ripe for a >> debunking that is complete enough to GRIP the populace. Dave's debunking is >> right, I think. The Adam Ruins Everything video is good, but too fluffy. >> >> Since Peterson depends on (some bastardization of) evol. psych., then it >> would be healthy to have an evol. psych. debunking. *That's* what I'm >> actually looking for. Perhaps your "Oh no" paper contains that debunking. >> I'll look. >> >> >> On 02/15/2018 11:58 AM, Nick Thompson wrote: >> > I apologize for the length of MY DESCENT and for the poor quality of the >> > Xerox. It doesn't surprise me that the main point didn't come through. >> > I think Evolutionary Psychology does provide testable hypotheses, but I >> > also think testability is not /sufficient /to make a hypothesis heuristic. >> > The hypothesis also has to be interesting. To be interesting, a >> > hypothesis has to challenge some way of thinking that has become second >> > nature, and good EP thought sometimes produces such surprising challenges. >> > Such interesting challenges do not arise from studies designed to bolster >> > social stereotypes with biological bafflegab. Here is another paper >> > <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247372033_Oh_no_Not_social_Darwinism_again >> > >> > <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247372033_Oh_no_Not_social_Darwinism_again>> >> > much shorter (only 600 wds) and better Xeroxed, which exemplifies my >> > contempt for this latter sort of evolutionary psychology. >> >> >> -- >> ☣ uǝlƃ >> >> ============================================================ >> FRIAM Applied Complexity Group listserv >> Meets Fridays 9a-11:30 at cafe at St. John's College >> to unsubscribe http://redfish.com/mailman/listinfo/friam_redfish.com >> <http://redfish.com/mailman/listinfo/friam_redfish.com> >> FRIAM-COMIC http://friam-comic.blogspot.com/ >> <http://friam-comic.blogspot.com/> by Dr. Strangelove >> ============================================================ >> FRIAM Applied Complexity Group listserv >> Meets Fridays 9a-11:30 at cafe at St. John's College >> to unsubscribe http://redfish.com/mailman/listinfo/friam_redfish.com >> <http://redfish.com/mailman/listinfo/friam_redfish.com> >> FRIAM-COMIC http://friam-comic.blogspot.com/ >> <http://friam-comic.blogspot.com/> by Dr. Strangelove > > ============================================================ > FRIAM Applied Complexity Group listserv > Meets Fridays 9a-11:30 at cafe at St. John's College > to unsubscribe http://redfish.com/mailman/listinfo/friam_redfish.com > <http://redfish.com/mailman/listinfo/friam_redfish.com> > FRIAM-COMIC http://friam-comic.blogspot.com/ > <http://friam-comic.blogspot.com/> by Dr. Strangelove
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