Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Claus D. Volko, B.Sc. was born in 1983 in Vienna, Austria, Europe. He began to teach himself how to program at the age of eight. He started editing an electronic magazine at the age of 12: Hugi Magazine. After high school, he studied computer science and medicine at the same time.
Eventually, he became a software developer with some work, on leisure time, spent on medical research projects. Now, he maintains the website entitled 21st Century Headlines and founded, recently, Web Portal on Computational Biology. Here we talk about men and women in computer science from his personal experience.
Volko and I talked about the reasons for the sex split in the computer sciences. Volko made an opening guess that women tend to have less interest in computers for programming and software development.
“Another reason may be that they are not so self-confident about their computer science skills. Maybe they also think that computer programmers are somewhat lonely and they would rather prefer to work in a team of
people,” Volko said.
Then I asked further about the split with women liking graphic arts and music composition with computers more than programming, where men prefer the programming far more. Volko remarked women tend to have little interest in code optimization.
Volko stated, “In the demoscene, code optimization is one of the most important skills because one of the categories of artworks demosceners create is heavily size-optimized intros sized 64 kbytes or even 4 kbytes or less. This requires far more than being just able to write working code.”
He continued to say that a perfectionist attitude is necessary. It is something that requires someone to code for as many hours as possible. The purpose of which is to keep the code as small as possible. Volko commented on a woman programmer he knows from Hungary interested in this form of software development.
When he reflected on men, they tend to be far more attracted to programming “because men are supposed to be smart, and programming is a way to prove that you are. And apparently, programming is more fun for men than for women.”
Women may find programming as more of a chore needing doing and will try to avoid it if at all possible. However, and by contrast, “many male programmers I know, including myself, actually seem to be enjoying what they are doing.”
Volko knows the psychometric data and statistics around IQs for men and women. For example, the average or mean IQs of men and women are about the same. However, when the detailed data is analyzed, there are differences, more in some areas than others.
“Some people consider it politically incorrect to talk about sex differences in IQ but there are some scientists who have done research into that field. Richard Lynn, for example, published about it,” Volko explained, “He
stated that while the average IQ of both sexes is about the same, the standard deviation is different – it is smaller for women, which means that there are (by proportion) fewer women who would have to be considered mentally retarded, but also fewer women who would have to be considered highly gifted.”
Volko notes that if Lynn is correct then this may describe how women tend to have less interest in the computer sciences than men. The average intelligence quotient of computer scientists is very high compared to other professions, according to Volko.
He noted that the average computer science student had an IQ of about 125. “It can, therefore, be assumed that the average computer science graduate has an even higher IQ, of 130 or higher. That makes 50% of all computer science graduates fall at least into the “gifted” range,” Volko described.
He continued to state that Lynn describes how there are fewer women than men in the “gifted” range, which may explain the difference in enrolment in the computer sciences for men and women. “Likewise, it may be that graphic design and music composition are less related to IQ than programming, and that might also explain the sex differences in the preference for activities regarding creative use of computers,” Volko stated.
Volko, as a medical graduate, did comment on the genetics of general intelligence as measured by IQ tests. He noted the genetics of intelligence is not a trait defined by an individual gene, but, rather, something researchers find correlated with many genes on the X chromosome.
The special feature of the X chromosome is that healthy women have two of them, while healthy men have only one of them. This may explain the difference in the standard deviation of IQ between the sexes: Apparently a gene variant that would increase the intelligence of a male person already if this male person had only one copy of this gene variant needs to be present in both X chromosomes of the woman to have the same effect. Of course, the probability that both X chromosomes have the same gene variant is lower than the probability that the single X chromosome of the male has the gene variant in question.
Within this framework of an expert in computer science, and who has deep knowledge of medical sciences and intelligence testing, these may provide the basis for an explanation of all, most, or some of the differences in the different interests and enrolment in the computer sciences. It is not a vantage that I hear often.
Volko earned a score at an intelligence test score of 172, on the Equally Normed Numerical Derivation Tests (ENNDT) by Marco Ripà and Gaetano Morelli. It was on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of 4.80 for Claus, which is a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 1,258,887.
Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.
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Image Credits: Getty Images