Education

UW Professor Wants Students To ‘Avoid Becoming Fragile’ After Reaction To Women In Tech Op-Ed

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Grace Carr Reporter
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A University of Washington professor wrote an op-ed explaining why there aren’t more women in the field of coding, and he’s facing harsh criticism from students and colleagues.

Computer science professor Stuart Reges wrote a June 19 essay alleging that it’s unlikely the percentage of women in the tech industry will surpass 20 percent because women are simply less interested in the profession than men.

“The idea that men drove women from the field is not supported by the data,” Reges wrote in “Why Women Don’t Code.” “There has been no period of time when men have been increasing while women have been decreasing.” (RELATED: University Of Washington Prof’s ‘Why Women Don’t Code’ Essay Slammed By Colleagues)

Following the professor’s essay, the university’s Diversity Allies drafted a petition asking students how they felt after the professor’s essay came out. The group “circulate[s] news, thoughts, and experiences in order to inform ourselves more about diversity in tech.” The students asked one another on the online petition whether they thought the school should officially respond to the professor’s op-ed, Campus Reform reported.

Reges pointed to the students’ fragility reflected by their inability to handle material that could cause conflict.

“We need that discussion to allow our students to avoid becoming fragile,” Reges told The Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday, referring to the equity agenda as “a battle for the soul of the university, which is why there is so much passion on both sides of this issue.”

Reges notes in his essay that women generally avoid risk more than men, while men respond more aptly to economic incentives. While the number of female computer science majors rose from 15 percent in 1965 to 37 percent in 1984, according to the National Science Foundation, that number fell to under 20 percent in 2015. Reges explains this drop by positing that the lower percentages reflect women’s choices rather than discriminatory behavior against women in tech.

“Stories about men behaving badly in tech … will do more harm than good,” Reges wrote in his op-ed, explaining that disingenuous narratives about bad behavior meant to explain a gender quota will only hurt women. “Women will find themselves wondering if they should resent men.”

Reges’s colleagues also lambasted the professor shortly after he published the op-ed.

The University of Washington did not respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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