11
   

What is your image of a woman scientist?

 
 
Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 05:50 pm
@maxdancona,
Nonsense, you obviously don't know MIT very well. Nor Photoshop. Photoshop doesn't need a lot of creators, especially now as a well-established product. On the other many if not most of MIT's students have a very real need to learn to use Photoshop for a wide variety of tasks and fields. Architecture students for instance will learn to use it to do photo-montage renderings and a wide variety of other image-related tasks. The former DEAN of MIT's college of Architecture and Planning, William J. Mitchell was so adamant about the importance and impact of programs like Photoshop on the design fields and visual culture that he wrote quite a comprehensive book on the subject:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Reconfigured-Eye-Visual-Post-Photographic/dp/0262631601
He also required all students in that college to learn to use Photoshop, as he did previously at Harvard.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 06:13 pm
@Banana Breath,
Just to be clear....

Are you actually arguing that there is no longer a need for for engineers to learn differential calculus the old fashioned way... that is solving problems using functions on paper?

For the record, I have taken courses at MIT. MIT courses have problem sets where students do solve problems using mathematical functions on paper. And, I do know what modern software engineers use for tools, having worked in the field in several companies over a couple of decades. Visualizations are cool, and sometimes useful. I favor MATLAB, but probably because this is the tool that I am familiar with (and I actually worked for the MathWorks many many years ago).

But real engineering comes down to mathematics and analysis. If you don't understand the mathematics behind the visualization, then you aren't doing engineering. You can do engineering without the visualization (but not vice versa).



0 Replies
 
Kolyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 06:19 pm
@Banana Breath,
Banana Breath wrote:

Architecture students for instance will learn to use it to do photo-montage renderings and a wide variety of other image-related tasks.


So what? Architects, who use math in their work, also use Photoshop. That doesn't mean Photoshop work IS math. You have to be able to read to become an architect, but that doesn't mean I'm doing math when I read a novel.

Also, I didn't mean to imply Photoshop required no real skill.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 06:25 pm
There is also a big difference between visual design careers (such as architecture) and careers involving hard science and engineering.

As I have said, in my field there is very little need for visual design. We are writing algorithms and running experiments to solve a very specific set of problems. We don't think about the user experience or how the final product looks. That is not our skill set. These are problems for a different set of people with different training and different interests. I wouldn't expect them to know what a Fourier transform is, they don't need to know as long as I can solve the mathematical problems to give them the functionality they need.

Again, the interesting topic is that traditionally the hard science and engineering jobs (those that involve understanding and using advanced mathematics and ideas rather than cutesy graphics and design tools) have been done mainly by men.

I would hope that women would have equal opportunity to do, and excel, at jobs that involve mathematics and abstract analysis rather than visualization and Photoshop.

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 06:30 pm
@maxdancona,
Let me clarify, I respect people who work in visual design fields. They have a set of skills that I don't possess. The people who can design a good User Interface to make a complex task be intuitive amaze me, and without them the work I do creating algorithms would be worthless.

But this skill set is very different than the advanced mathematics and abstract analysis done by engineers and people in hard sciences.

You need people with both sets of skills working together.
0 Replies
 
Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 09:10 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
There is also a big difference between visual design careers (such as architecture) and careers involving hard science and engineering.

We can add architecture to the increasingly long list of subjects you know absolutely nothing about. First, it's not a "visual" design career, its an environmental and spatial design career. Second, it does involve hard science and engineering, and calculus, statics, structural engineering for steel/trusses, concrete, etc., materials science, systems assembly, and many other technical topics. All are required subjects and often taught by engineering faculty. Funny how you claim to know a little about MIT but can't figure out why a technically oriented school like MIT would be the birthplace of the oldest architecture degree program in the USA (1865). Nor can you figure out why MIT established the Media Laboratory in 1985, NOT within the mathematics department, NOT within an engineering department, but rather under the auspices of the College of Architecture and Planning. MIT figured out what you have no clue about, that the marriage of arts and technology can bolster both and the integration of the two has existed in the field of Architecture for thousands of years. As I mentioned earlier, Steve Jobs also saw the importance of the integration of the two, and THAT is why Apple was so successful. If he had instead limited them to producing command line interpreting garage computers for gearheads like you, they'd have just been another footnote in the long list of failed computer companies.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 09:54 pm
@Banana Breath,
Yes you are absolutely correct. Architecture is something that I know almost nothing about (although I do have architect friends and I have gathered that they aren't very interested in some of the things that interest me).

That is really the point. Different people have different interests and different skills.

I do know a lot about software engineering. I know about speech recognition and signal processing and algorithms and concurrency. These are all things at the center of my professional life. And, I do know my own personal experiences as a human being, a student, a choral singer, a teenaged thespian, an educator, and a professional engineer.

And I know that in my career, which is heavily mathematical and analytical (and fulfilling and economically profitable) there happen to be relatively few women. I thought that this is what this thread was about. It would be nice if there were more women in hard science or engineering careers.

It seems like you want to argue. I am not even sure what we are arguing about any more. But you are absolutely correct about my lack of knowledge of the field of architecture... and that is my point.



maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 10:02 pm
@maxdancona,
I just checked the numbers.

About 6% of software developers are female (this is not exactly the same as software engineer... but I couldn't find a number for software engineer and this number seems about right based on my experience).

About 14% of architects are female. This number surprises me, I expected that it would be higher than that.
0 Replies
 
Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 10:18 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
It seems like you want to argue. I am not even sure what we are arguing about any more.

You've repeated several times your opinion that the arts are little more than window dressing and decoration. That view has been common among many engineering/CS nerd-types, but most of them have come around by now and realized that they missed the boat. The writing has been on the wall for decades, as the ACM's conferences on topics like compiler design dwindled in attendance while the hottest biggest conference was Siggraph... the conference on Computer graphics that integrated both the science and art of image-making. They also realized they missed the boat when Apple started hiring people with arts degrees, for instance Industrial Design, to develop their new products and refused applications from individuals with technical-only skills.

In any case, as the integration of arts and technology became mainstream in conferences like Siggraph, academic centers like Carnegie Mellon ETC and MIT's Media Lab, and companies like Apple, Facebook, Google etc., a funny thing happened... Women became far more attracted to these fields, schools and companies. It wasn't for "decorative" reasons as you might likely suggest, quite to the contrary many of the women are involved in quite technical areas, but they now work in far more robust environments that include social dimensions, technical, aesthetic, sensitivity to user needs, market requirements, and a host of other issues, whereas they more likely would have rejected spending their lives interacting only with a command line interpreter or limiting themselves to manipulation of Greek symbols on paper. Have a look at the staff directories for these places and you'll be enlightened. Someone like Neri Oxman at MIT's media Lab for instance comes from a design/creative background but you'd better believe she has technological cred. She earned her PhD from MIT in Design Computation as a presidential fellow. Oh, and she's also hot as hell, not that that has any bearing, but she is.
https://www.media.mit.edu/people/neri
http://i67.tinypic.com/2h6hs03.jpg
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 10:41 pm
@Banana Breath,
Come on Banana Breath. Do you really believe that there is no one being paid big dollars for doing compiler design? Go to any job search site and type in "compiler design" and see how wrong you are.

You are absolutely correct that there is a lot of interest now in what you call "social dimensions"... aesthetics and design and sensitivity to user needs. There are people in my company who worry about those things.

But you are wrong to think that just because there are now people working about design that there is no longer any need for people to do the hard science and engineering. Not everyone has the same interests and skills. There is still a big need for people to design compilers. There is still a need for speech scientists, and backend engineers.

Each person develops their own set of skills and interests. No one can do everything, or be an expert in anything. We specialize. Some people go into visual arts, some people focus their careers on hard science. Yes there are people who bridge the two, but not everyone does this... and you can be sure that the people who focus their entire careers on digital signal processing are going to be the premier experts on digital signal process.

There is still a need (as great as ever) for people to be developing the hard mathematical algorithms to do things like artificial intelligence, speech recognition and big data analysis. Check the resumes of the people doing the cutting edge research, and you won't find the words "user experience" or "aesthetics" on their resume.

There are different careers for different people with different resumes. And of the people doing the hard science and engineering, very few of them are women.

When you argue that there is no more need for any people doing the hard science and engineering you couldn't be more mistaken. Current problems in computer engineer include self driving cars, autonomous robots, map-reduce programs, signal processing algorithms, etc. etc. etc.

So yes, I agree with you completely when you point out that interesting people are mixing art and technology. Where you are wrong is that you are missing the equally important people who are focused on working on cutting edge problems that have nothing to do with art.
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 10:47 pm
@maxdancona,
This argument is getting silly. You are arguing that entire professions like speech scientists and backend engineers and computer designer and signal processing engineer don't exist, when clearly they do exist (and some of them work for Google).

Just look at this... Google hires compiler designers. You can see the job description here (and there is no mention of "social aspects").

http://www.compilerjobs.com/jobs/google.php

So please say something new, because this discussion is no longer interesting.

0 Replies
 
Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Thu 17 Mar, 2016 11:01 pm
@maxdancona,
Take a wild guess at how many people in the world are employed doing text-only compiler design. 30? 300? 3000? Now take a guess at how many people are using internet-connected graphical computers worldwide, for everything from watching cat videos to studying Mesopotamian history to trying to cure cancer. A reliable estimate of that number is about 3.4 Billion, nearly half the population of the planet and growing fast.
http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
That number would never have been achieved nor even suggested in a world of only command-line interpreter computers. Yes, there were computer scientists before there were graphical computers, and many of them were perfectly happy, but the REST of the world, and we're talking 99.9999%+ are attracted and affected by the graphic, social, auditory, interactive and other such aspects of modern computing that are tightly interwoven with the arts. It is NOT simply about code, algorithms, iteration. Which isn't to say that YOU can't be happy doing just these things if you choose to be.
And BTW, I nowhere suggested that there is no need for people to do hard science and engineering. But the majority of the practitioners even of these highly technical specialties will predominately use graphic power tools these days whether it's Mathematica or real-time 3D finite element models... and much of the display technology and graphic sensibility of these tools only came about through the marriage of arts and technology.
Kolyo
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 05:44 am
@Banana Breath,
Design isn't programming, but it's definitely a good way of recruiting young women into programming. My local college offers html as part of its "new media" program, and girls with no programming experience find they can code.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 06:06 am
@Banana Breath,
Sure Banabreath, let me make my points very clear, and you can tell me specifically where you disagree. If it is interesting, then we can discuss this further. a discussion where you keep insisting that hardcore engineers and scientists are no longer significant isn't interesting to me.

Here are the facts that I know to be true because I work in a hard core engineering job, and I have been in this field for decades.

1) There is a class of job that relies heavily on abstract analysis and advanced mathematics that has no need for visual design. Compiler Design is one example of such a job (which we are discussing because you mentioned as an example of a job that no longer exists). My job is another example. There are speech scientists, and backend engineers, and big data experts (who code in Hadoop), and software search designers.... this is actually a very big list.

2) The people in this class of job are well-paid and we like our work. There is also a demand for hardcore software engineers. If you look on job search sites we are being recruited pretty heavily by companies like Google and Amazon and thousands of others. (I find it amusing that you don't think that there are people at Google who focus on hardcore engineering with no visual elements).

3) Women are greatly underrepresented in these jobs. In every company that I have worked for, about 5% of the engineering workforce has been women. I have worked for a company with no women in the engineering staff.

Now please tell me what are we arguing about.

- If you are arguing that hard-core engineers no longer exist, or that the world no longer needs them... that is a ridiculous argument that's not worth having. We can argue about the numbers, but who cares? We exist, and there is a large number of jobs for us.

- If you are arguing that we don't need to care about how many women there are in this field because women now have "better" more visually centered careers available.... that might be an interesting argument, I don't know. I do know that in our field we do introspection and as an industry we are talking about how to attract and keep more women doing hardcore engineering.

So tell me, are you going to keep telling me that careers in hard science and engineering don't exist (when many of us have built just such careers and are thriving)?

Or can you better articulate an argument about why women shouldn't be in these careers that many of us find so profitable?

There is an interesting discussion in hard science and engineering about why women aren't finding these careers attractive. You seem to be skirting any discussion about the important issues in this area.
Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 09:42 am
@maxdancona,
Once again I'll point out what I already said two postings ago, and if you like, I can keep repeating it if you're unable to get it:
Quote:
And BTW, I nowhere suggested that there is no need for people to do hard science and engineering.

However the simple fact is that the MAJORITY of computing has moved on and the arts-and-graphical-technical world comprises the MAJORITY of significant computing in terms of capital, research, adoption, technical papers, and every other significant metric. Try to find ANY non-graphical non-arts computer conference with anywhere near the attendance that Siggraph has enjoyed for the past 30+ years. I have already pointed out why I think women are better represented in the areas of technology that are more arts, graphically and socially integrated. Conversely the reverse is true as to why your area has only 5% women. More socially and graphically integrated technical fields such as game development (22% women) and web development (34.3% women) have far more. And these statistics are from the International Game Developer Association (IGDA) and the National Bureau of Labor Statistics:
http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm
http://www.gamespot.com/articles/percentage-of-female-developers-has-more-than-doubled-since-2009/1100-6420680/

maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 09:53 am
@Banana Breath,
You are making a boring point BananaBreath. I think you are factually wrong, but it isn't worth arguing about your use of the term "majority".

There is an important point here that people in my industry are discussing and worrying about.

If you look at the job postings for technology companies like Google and Apple and Facebook, you will see lots of job openings for people who have nothing to do with arts and graphics. Google needs people who are designing their search algorithms, or developing the Dalvik VM, or getting better accuracy on speech recognition algorithms.

These jobs require a high degree of expertise and training, and they pay very well (compared to that of a graphic designer).

That is why many people in the industry (not just me) find it troubling that there are very few women in these jobs. The fact that there are many people, including women, that have other jobs that don't require this level of hard core engineering and analysis is irrelevant to this discussion.

Having men do the backend search algorithms and women design the user interface parts doesn't seem like what we are aiming for in the 21st century. Both of these roles are needed... but basing them on gender doesn't seem right particularly when one side requires more training and commands a higher salary.

Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 10:54 am
@maxdancona,
It might have to do with the reality that women are thought to take a break from work for birthing, so they are put on a track that allows for maternity leave, while men are put on the algorithm team track, since like building many a high tech innovation, no one can take a leave in the middle of their current team effort. It might all be market forces, rather than males conspiring to keep women down. Blame Mother Nature, and the bad, bad, bad, biological clock that makes women's eggs less fertile after late youth. The tech industry is in a zero sum game.
Banana Breath
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 12:40 pm
@Foofie,
I don't see any lag in Neri Oxman's CV (see above)
And even though Marissa Meyer has taken some time recently to drop a pair of twins, she didn't give up the reins as CEO of Yahoo.
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 01:57 pm
@Banana Breath,
Banana Breath wrote:

I don't see any lag in Neri Oxman's CV (see above)
And even though Marissa Meyer has taken some time recently to drop a pair of twins, she didn't give up the reins as CEO of Yahoo.


A sample size of two is too small to be statistically significent.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Mar, 2016 02:55 pm
@Banana Breath,
Glasses, no make-up, a bun at the top of her head that threatens to pull her eyebrows into her scalp.

Of course that's ridiculous, but so are all instantaneously formed images.
0 Replies
 
 

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