The University of Washington-Seattle has caved to student demands culminating after a computer science professor pointed out why efforts to close the “gender gap” in computer science may be futile.
The controversy began in June, when UW-Seattle Professor Stuart Reges published “Why Women Don’t Code” for Quillette, in which he articulated why women are less interested in computer science than men. (Hint, hint: men and women are different).
Though Reges admits the title was hyperbolic — as he has taught hundreds of women to code during his career — UW students didn’t see it as such. They circulated an internal memo of concern and lobbied UW against his “gender harassment.”
Roughly five months later, a group of graduate students have announced that they’ve negotiated with senior officials at the UW computer science school to ensure that “more will be done to address gender harassment at the Allen School.”
While it’s unclear exactly how many “grievance demands” students filed, the school agreed to at least three.
From now on, UW will provide “intersectional diversity and sexual harassment training to both [student employees] and [the professors who supervise them]” which all students and professors will be highly encouraged to attend.
Additionally, going forward, “a group of mostly senior faculty will review the introductory programming courses to ensure that they are inclusive of students from all backgrounds.” To be fair, it’s unclear what this means.
How will professors make coding classes more “inclusive of students from all backgrounds”? Will they mandate that textbooks feature more racial and gender minorities?
When asked by PJ Media, UW spokesman Victor Balta said that nearly every aspect of 100-level computer science courses will be inspected to ensure they promote inclusivity. This includes “curriculum, organization, programming language and environment, teaching methods and techniques, new devices… as well as ensuring that our gateway courses are attractive and welcoming to the broadest group of students.”
All this, it seems, simply because students were outraged at Reges’ op-ed pointing out that men simply are more interested in coding, as men tend to want to work alone and with numbers, while women are more people oriented.
In a Thursday interview with PJ Media, Reges took umbrage at the constant insinuation by students over the past few months that his Quillette memo amounts to “gender harassment.”’
“The graduate students are claiming that by merely discussing ideas they dislike that I have committed gender harassment,” Reges told PJ Media, noting that it is legally considered a “form of sexual harassment.”
“This would be an alarming precedent to establish,” he added.
Reges also finds it unfortunate that the university settled the issue without challenging students’ claim that my [writings] constitute gender harassment.”
“If we can’t have free and open discussion on topics like these, we have no hope of combating tribalism and finding common ground.”
By the way, Reges still stands behind the main points in his op-ed.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.