Every conversation of the tech industry these days centres around the appalling patriarchy inherent in the system, the manner in which women just don’t get a chance and the proof is that not many women do this sort of work. Explanations range from that insistence upon it all being the patriarchy through it being a simple result of capitalism to James Damore’s point that maybe women just don’t like doing sums very much. Given the scientific support for that last from the likes of Simon Baron Cohen we’re inclined to the Damore view, most unfashionably.
Our own rather more detailed answer would rely upon the fact that the borderline autistic types – see Baron Cohen’s work – that inhabit the tech industry are, by definition, the social inadequates. That might be a little too harsh, perhaps not quite as other humans in social interactions. So, pile up all the nerds in the universe into one mountain out West and you’re going to end up with a socially awkward place which is our explanation for Silicon Valley and we’re sticking with it.
But to Dr Nancy Grace Roman. If there were direct discrimination against women then this stalwart of the Nasa system would have suffered it. As it happens the BBC tells us she didn’t:
Tributes are being paid to Dr Nancy Grace Roman, the first woman to hold an executive position at the US space agency Nasa. Dr Roman was known as “Mother of the Hubble” for her work on the early stages of the Hubble Space Telescope. Nasa said her most important legacy was the advancement of women in the sciences and the generations of young scientists she inspired. She died in Maryland on Wednesday at the age of 93.
OK, excellent, but that must have been tough, fighting the patriarchy?
In a video released by Nasa in February, Dr Roman said she never had problems with her male Nasa colleagues. “I was accepted very readily as a scientist in my job,” she said. “The men were very co-operative, and I felt that the men treated me as one of the team without a problem.”
That’s actually how it tends to be. When there’s a hard system of measurement – like being able to do sums – then the ranking system tends to be based upon that system of measurement, not gender.