This is the end.

Hold your breath, and count to ten.

Feel the Earth move, and then...

...I'll stop ripping Bond songs for my posts. This one is appropriate because this week marks the end of the final project. The class is over. (there's a final exam and a few quizzes, but the exam's only an hour, the quizzes are in-class and there's only two more classes)

In contrast to the last project, which was an exercise in designing good programs, this final project ("Life") was simply an exercise in working around C++ to write good code.

I will not belabor this point, because this week's readings were about women in computer science, which is much more interesting topic.

This class being "Object Oriented Programming", I would have thought we would treat women as objects, and we would study child objects and how they inherit from their parent objects.

The first article was about Sheryl Sandberg, famous as the poster child for women in Silicon Valley. The second article was about stereotypes of women trying to enter tech fields.

There's a large movement going in the tech field at multiple levels to get more women into the field. You hear this in the government, the private sector, and education - so why isn't it happening?

The general consensus seems to be that a lot of the "sexism in the workplace" we see is at least partially due to women being timid - In the words of Sheryl Sandberg describing her environment at Google, "the men were getting ahead. The men were banging down the door for new assignments, promotions, the next thing to do, the next thing that stretches them. And the women—not all, most—you talked them into it."

The in-class assigned articles appeared to be targeted at the tech-savvy crowd, but they are not the issue. The issue is that women hold themselves back.

Before I get assassinated by any one of my female friends (all of whom are strong, smart, self-empowered women who are totally capable of killing me and getting away with it), I realize that it would be naive to say "the issue is that women aren't pushy enough" and stop. The issue is deeper than that. The issue is when we raise our daughters and sons.

Raising children is a tricky thing, and I can't say I've done it (I do claim some experience with my siblings, though).

At a middle-school showcase for my sister, my mother had the opportunity to observe an obliviously sexist parent. There was a young girl who was interested in the robotics program at the school, and wanted more information. Her father derisively said "yeah, because that'll get you a prom date."

(For the record, every girl at my high school robotics club attended prom with a date.)

Imagine that same girl in three years, going to high school. She wants to write an application to get into a prestigious science and technology magnet that will give her the education she needs, but needs some help with her application essay. Will her father help with her application essay? Absolutely, but he probably won't take it seriously. Probably he will half-heartedly proofread it without thinking she has a chance, or perhaps thinking that it won't be good for her. She'll inevitably make some mistake, we all do, and he will miss it because he isn't fully invested.

She doesn't get in, of course, even though she's certainly qualified but her essay wasn't as good as the boy's whose father tutored him on the essay. For the rest of her life she will be haunted by the thought that she wasn't good enough to be an engineer, she's only good as decoration on the arm of an engineer at prom.

You might say this is an isolated example. A single girl with a single sexist parent. And perhaps you say that sexism in a single example is okay, or at least bearable. I mean, there's nothing we can do about that one guy, right?

Read this quote from advertising material from a store:

The Boys' Toy Store showcases all the best in action figures, hobbies, construction, blasters, and outdoor play. The Girls' Toy Store is perfect if you're looking for dolls, plush, dollhouses, and pretend play.

Is it just me, or is there a slight gender bias there?

So you argue, hey, that's just one company, it's not like they're the largest Internet-based retailer in the United States or anything.

Oh, wait, they are. Nevermind.

Gender equality will not be solved by telling programmers to put women on equal footing with men, either by raising them up or by taking off of their pedestal [1]. I've met lots of programmers, and I have found in general that they put women on an equal footing [2].

The issue is with society.

To be fair, there is some positive motion occurring. "Skyfall" recently had MI6 put a woman behind a sniper rifle in the field, something that would never have happened 50 years ago.

Barbie has an adorable commercial, which I thought was adorable up to the last few seconds where they said "...therefore, buy Barbie!"

The Barbie commercial seems to say something like "girls who play with Barbie dolls are not required to imagine themselves in traditional (50s) gender roles." Which is fine. But the common argument is that girls are still being imprinted with the idea that they must be flawlessly beautiful models in order to be successful, whether as a housewife or as a doctor or as a programmer [3].

Which really isn't the ultimate goal. But then do we ban beautiful people in the media and move to a Harrison Bergeron-esque dystopia? Society likes beautiful people that fits it's mold. I comb my hair and wear nice clothes for job interviews. This sets me apart from people who don't. Is this discrimination against people who don't like ties?

I don't know what the right answer to society's problems are. Until I find out, I'm just going to sit here and tweet "#femalecareersmatter" and feel good about me.

Tip of the Week: Take the Implicit Association Test. It's a test design to measure subconscious (sexist/racist/etc.) biases.

You never know when you might make a sexist implication without even realizing it, and it's all we can do to try to head off that possibility before it happens.

Maybe I'm just paranoid because I read Malcolm Galdwell's Blink, which is a scary book if nothing else. Certainly worth a read, though.

Another Tip of the Week: Never ever try to edit a blog post (or anything) on a single-spaced printout. Also never try to edit anything using a printer that prints streaks on the paper.

Yes, I am old school and edit using paper. It's better that way.

[1] Gender identity in ancient Roman literature is interesting if you're into women on pedestals.

[2] Except maybe for the ones that rape 1 in 5 college women? I've never understood how that worked. Are there a few individuals that rape a lot of people and never get caught, or is it more distributed? I've always assumed the former, but I don't know. I thought of a joke involving college fraternities and ISIS, but I won't say it.

Yet women outnumber men in degree-granting 4-year programs by 30%? Something isn't adding up. If I thought there was a 20% chance of me being physically assaulted by going to UT, I can tell you what career I would have and it would involve me cooking french fries (I've never had much aptitude for flipping burgers). Or I would wait until I'm 21 and can get my concealed carry license, since that's legal now.

[3] The Mattel corporation has other issues, but that has fun side effects:

This is an image of me doing what I do when I'm not at a computer.