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Alison Gowling/The Gauntlet

Pesky boys out of the question

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Ovaries do not prevent females from being competent computer programmers. However, this fall, "a section [of Computer Programming 20] for females only may be offered if there are sufficient numbers." This quote is straight from the Calgary Board of Education's registration and course information guide for high schools. As well, if there is sufficient need, other computer programming classes may be offered.

The idea for female-only computer programming classes came from the teachers who tried for many years to encourage females to join classes with very little success. The females were apparently intimidated by their male counterparts but without the female-only classes they had to overcome that.

I understand there are fewer female computer programmers than male ones. I also understand there's a need to equal out those numbers. Guys and gals bring different skills to a job. In order to succeed, you need all sorts of people. But where are the female-only math and physics classes? Should the CBE go farther? You need more than computer programming to make it in the tech world. I guess women need to suck it up and learn Newton and polynomials among the unwashed testosterone-laden masses.

So when they arrive at university, are there going to be female-only computer science courses? Will the University of Calgary add to the mishmash of buildings and construct a female-only building? After they graduate, is the CBE hoping that years of female-only computer classes will cultivate droves of computer experts such that companies will hire them on the basis of their skills and not gender?

However, the saddest thing about this affair is the CBE's assumptions regarding the lack of female computer programmers. It is not men that make women shy away from computer programming or technical vocations but society's attitudes. Why face "bitch" and "ball-buster" stereotypes when it's easier to avoid them? It's just not feminine to know Java and HTML.

Female computer programmers are full of confidence because of their families and parents' teachings. They grew up knowing it was fine to aspire towards engineering or palaeontology--unlike their mothers. It's a fact that society is a bit more forgiving to those who step outside of traditional gender roles. It's a fact that religion is not as dominant as it was. Things change.

So the CBE is trying to make sure females are equally represented in all industries. It's going to take more than female-only classes.

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