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StackExchange is a question-and-answer site with multiple sub-sites about all kinds of topics from chess to literature to Christianity and Hinduism. But it is most well-known for the sub-site StackOverflow, which is basically a lifeline for programmers. There, detailed explanations and solutions for all kinds of errors you might receive while programming in any language can be found. Any of you who are software developers or programmers in any capacity know all about SO.

So naturally it is a sausage fest. The other sites are populated by the same misogynistic programmer types who flocked to SO in the first place.

The site has long had a problem with culture, and they have worked to make it a less openly hostile place to newcomers. Considering female socialization and how male-dominated programming is, it’s obvious that a lot of these shy newcomers who were scared away were probably women.

Then there was the infamous Monica Cellio situation in which a female user who had moderated several sites for quite some time was immediately banned unceremoniously for asking if she could avoid using pronouns in writing and still be adhering to the site’s rules on forcing users to use chosen pronouns of other users. She did receive a lot of support from the user base, most of whom are typical males who are anti-trans when it suits them and anti-woman the rest of the time.

I myself received a temporary ban from one of the sites for persistently calling out sexism. Can’t have that! The males were all mad that I took issue with an unnecessary porn reference in a post that didn’t need it and had to flex their power.

Then today I see this question on the philosophy site, which clearly implies women aren’t biologically suited to STEM. Of course the accepted answer is standard male thesaurus word-vomit that ends with, no, women aren’t biologically suited to STEM (but don’t worry only at the highest level! Like sports!). This of course is a question we can never actually know the answer to as we don’t have any evidence of pink and blue brains, and there are so many man-made barriers to women in STEM that we will never be able to actually tell if there is a biological difference. However, the rate at which girls have overtaken boys in school despite all the barriers girls still face that boys don’t even in the US might tell you something…

And of course you have males crying about diversity quotas.

All this to say that ironically the question above is an example of the very thing they’re claiming never happens. Hordes of men on a core gatekeeping site for computer science making it a hostile place for women, clearly telling women, “You don’t belong here and never will. It’s biology.” Things like THAT, in combination with our crippling socialization from fetushood, are what keep us underrepresented. Not our lady brains. Or maybe it IS our lady brains but we literally cannot know because you won’t. Get. Out. Of. The. Way.

It’s almost like they’re terrified to actually test their theory. Because they’ve seen what happened in education, what strides women have already made in STEM with both hands and feet tied behind us and babies hanging off of us, and it terrifies them.

StackExchange is a question-and-answer site with multiple sub-sites about all kinds of topics from chess to literature to Christianity and Hinduism. But it is most well-known for the sub-site StackOverflow, which is basically a lifeline for programmers. There, detailed explanations and solutions for all kinds of errors you might receive while programming in any language can be found. Any of you who are software developers or programmers in any capacity know all about SO. So naturally it is a sausage fest. The other sites are populated by the same misogynistic programmer types who flocked to SO in the first place. The site has long had a problem with culture, and they have worked to make it a less openly hostile place to newcomers. Considering female socialization and how male-dominated programming is, it’s obvious that a lot of these shy newcomers who were scared away were probably women. Then there was the infamous Monica Cellio situation in which a female user who had moderated several sites for quite some time was immediately banned unceremoniously for asking if she could avoid using pronouns in writing and still be adhering to the site’s rules on forcing users to use chosen pronouns of other users. She did receive a lot of support from the user base, most of whom are typical males who are anti-trans when it suits them and anti-woman the rest of the time. I myself received a temporary ban from one of the sites for persistently calling out sexism. Can’t have that! The males were all mad that I took issue with an unnecessary porn reference in a post that didn’t need it and had to flex their power. Then today I see [this question](https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/q/91373/43472) on the philosophy site, which clearly implies women aren’t biologically suited to STEM. Of course the accepted answer is standard male thesaurus word-vomit that ends with, no, women aren’t biologically suited to STEM (but don’t worry only at the highest level! Like sports!). This of course is a question we can never actually know the answer to as we don’t have any evidence of pink and blue brains, and there are so many man-made barriers to women in STEM that we will never be able to actually tell if there is a biological difference. However, the rate at which girls have overtaken boys in school despite all the barriers girls still face that boys don’t even in the US might tell you something… And of course you have males crying about diversity quotas. All this to say that ironically the question above is an example of the very thing they’re claiming never happens. Hordes of men on a core gatekeeping site for computer science making it a hostile place for women, clearly telling women, “You don’t belong here and never will. It’s biology.” Things like THAT, in combination with our crippling socialization from fetushood, are what keep us underrepresented. Not our lady brains. Or maybe it IS our lady brains but we literally cannot know because you won’t. Get. Out. Of. The. Way. It’s almost like they’re terrified to actually test their theory. Because they’ve seen what happened in education, what strides women have already made in STEM with both hands and feet tied behind us and babies hanging off of us, and it terrifies them.

12 comments

A sexist answer to something like that is a stupid one as they don't have the science to back them. Besides, what used to be called nature and nurture are now found to intertwine in complicated ways, and some of the tests we thought were testing innate skills (such as three-dimensional mental rotation) have been found to be very affected by practice, and boys' games train those skills while girls' traditional games do not. Also, computer games train them, depending on the game.

On that 'different statistical tails argument': It's true that more men than women score in the extreme upper tail in math tests, but there's no real evidence that the proportion differences in that tail are constant over time; rather, the evidence suggests that they are changing so that more girls have started scoring higher in that upper tail than in the past. Also, different countries differ in how those distributions look by sex.

There's also little evidence that those who enter STEM fields come from the group which scored in that extreme upper tail. Some do, but there are men who didn't score that high yet have had good STEM careers.

It's seldom pointed out that when we look at verbal tests women outnumber men in that extreme upper tail of the score distribution. If we used the same arguments as are commonly used in STEM (i.e., that there are many more exceptional men than women), then we would expect to find almost all authors and so on to be female. This is not the case.

I would not listen to the no-sayers, because they want you to listen and then to be discouraged. If you enjoy STEM stuff, keep enjoying it! The world needs your input. Anecdote: When I first played a particular computer game (the three-dimensional mental rotation thingy again), I didn't do well at all. But I liked the game for relaxation so continued playing it, and after a couple of months I scored very high in it. Whoever said that the outcome is 10% inspiration or talent and 90% perspiration does have a point, though the percentages might be slightly different.

I was honestly so excited when I learned that you could improve spatial reasoning because I used to be so bad at it. I’m already improving super fast at that game where you fold papers and punch holes in them and then predict where the holes will be when you unfold. I used to do terribly on those tests and cry at how stupid I was and doomed. I am going to give my niece so many spatial toys.

I am so glad! It really does work. Interior designers (a female-dominated occupation) ace the 3-dim mental rotation tests because that's what they do all day long. Could be that they were great at it to begin with, but I suspect that they just got good at it.

I have a poll question for you all.

Should I make a gender neutral name for Stack Overflow and for when I'm participating in open source communities?

I'd like to have my questions taken on merit, and not be an opportunity for a dude to feel powerful over me.

A lot of guys love explaining things to women just because it gives them a little thrill and I'd rather just avoid that.

I'm fine with getting less help if it means its less patronizing.

I'm always going with stupid usernames on the internet (things like 'walnut48') and so far as a rule I get referred to by default with male pronouns and receive either reasonable advice or mean-spiritedness that doesn't upset me because I didn't give enough personal information to receive sexism.

As a rule, as much as possible, lying on the internet is the safe thing to do. Especially when it comes to marginalised status. There are people out there who are truly mean and feel no shame about it when they're behind a screen. Don't hesitate to give false info if needed, too. That way, you'll be harder to doxx and any meanness against you won't feel personal; we really need that protective screen when interacting on the internet because it can get nasty.

Or you could just use a manly man's name and see what happens. (Biff might be too sarcastic.)

But yeah, definitely go for a name that isn't coded female.

I'd go with yes.

Also, I don't know what sorts of things you need help with but I'm happy to help if its in my wheelhouse.

I dabble in all sorts of electronics projects; my next little foray is going to be in PCB creation (just got a reflow oven!)

It's the sort of thing where I should probs establish an account there so I can ask questions as they arise.

I keep meaning to get back into coding but I don't have a good idea at the moment.

It's not the ladybrains. Null hypothesis is that our brains our the same. This has not been overturned.

I wasn't aware StackOverflow had other sub-sites.

The question of nature versus nurture really bugs me. In psychology it's been both-with-interactions for a long long time. Like, it shouldn't even be debated like this at this point. But the complexity of both-with-interactions is really hard for young adults to get. You really need to study each component separately before you can see how they fit together dynamically.* So you get one side going Biology! and the other going Learning!, and you're all wrong. Fewer women than men are interested in STEM to begin with, and the environment is really sexist, driving out the ones who are good at it. If there were more women, that would probably drive out the sexism and lower the pay. I think the answer is for women to work with each other as much as possible.

*It's the same with other both-plus-interactions things, just more loaded. For example, mixed-methods research integrates quantitative and qualitative methods. I took a grad-level course on it, and it was obvious the 20-somethings in the class were only comfortable with either quan or qual but not both (depending on whether they were STEM types or language-arts types), while those of us over 40 had no problems combining them as needed.