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Women in theory (and CS in general)

June 25, 2018

We had last week the “Women In Theory” workshop at Harvard. Thanks to the efforts of the organizers  Tal Rabin, Shubhangi Saraf, and Lisa Zhang, as well as the hard work of our staff at Harvard, it was (in my opinion) a huge success. But there is still so much more to be done. A recent post by a CS instructor claims that “we have harvested the low-hanging fruit by eliminating overt discrimination and revamping policies and procedures that favored men” and that “having 20 percent women in tech is probably the best we are likely to achieve”. I think this is deeply misguided. Unfortunately, as I’ve heard even during last week’s workshop, there is plenty of both overt and less overt discrimination that is still going around. For some examples see the blogs of Margo Seltzer and  Alice Silverberg (the latter of which I accidentally discovered while looking for some information about trilinear maps).

I don’t think this is only about percentages. Regardless of ratios, I will personally be happy when I hear from my female colleagues and students that they feel fully included and respected. But we still have a long way to go to get there.

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