Nina’s stuff is fantastic! It’s also great to read about a woman working in games for whom the medium has been liberating rather than a psycho hell-portal to a universe of harassment and doxxing.
Let’s hope, moving forward, ‘I make games, and now I don’t need to hide anymore’ is a more common refrain than ‘I make games, and have to hide in constant fear of threats of invasion of my home and body.’ I feel like sites like Offworld are doing a great job at changing the tenor of the games sphere, the journalistic voices around it, and the community around it, to help make that happen.
Have to look for her games now.
Roger Ebert was so wrong about videogames. Though as a general principle, I dearly love reading his opinions even when I disagree.
Even his sort-of-retraction makes for an entertaining read, and how often does that happen?
More female coders. More, more, more. It will make the world a better place. Trust me, guys, they will.
Cara ellison has a fantastic piece on her:
Used to work with a very smart lady, who left my (at the time) company to pursue a PhD in EE.
After she graduated, I tried to convince her to come work for my current company doing whatever (you can find a place for smart people, regardless of the specialization on their degree), but she apparently just wanted to be a teacher at university.
Can’t begrudge her that, but it’s tragic to see someone go that path when I have seen first hand that she can build shit.
Good story! Of the 5 best programmer/statisticians I have ever known & had the pleasure to work with, 3 are women. And in the analytics courses I teach now, the majority of my top students are also women, generally by about that same ratio: 3 to 2.
But are they any good at chess?
It’s been my experience that female programmers have had to work that much harder to get to the same place and don’t have the same childishness and sense of entitlement of many of their colleagues.
You know, I don’t think I’ll ever play any of her independent games. But that’s what I love about markets. It allows people like Nina to take risks such as these and either make it big with her new ideas or serve a very niche audience living in the long tail.
One of my favourite current coders is Sarah Jane Avory - she’s the lead designer behind the AI in Frontier Developments’ Elite: Dangerous.
She’s constantly in the forums, picking up on little tidbits, promising to take care of niggles and taking notes on how the AI is being tricked and worked around by the players - all with the intent of making the NPCs all that much more fun to play with.
It’s true, it’s great to see more female coders in the industry. I studied Computer Systems & Business Studies back around 2000 - out of a class of ~30, there were two girls. Most other courses were much more balanced in their spread of applicants it seemed.
Rest assured, universities have plenty of spaces for smart people, and she wasn’t “just” being a teacher.
I have to agree with @girard here… why is working in the private sector somehow more important or better for society than working for a university as a prof? I’m not sure there is any “just” about, even if our society doesn’t value such positions as much. I’d guess that by working with students, she gets the very rewarding work of helping to build students, which can help to create a better world, which can hopefully lead to the building of better shit.
Why is it “just” being a professor?
Because she could be diversifying the tech workforce (we want more women in tech, right?). She could also be likely making much better money.
Those things would be better for the tech industry, and better for her personally. I was not suggesting that teaching is less important. I was speculating that she could have a better career using her skills, instead of teaching her skills.
Sure… but maybe she left because being a ground breaker is hard, deeply demoralizing work. When you are in a space where you are constantly having to deal with soft misogyny, it really isn’t much fun. Does it need to happen, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Money isn’t everything, though. Perhaps she’s found something far more enriching teaching?
I’m sure you mean well, but you’re making an awful lot of assumptions here. Maybe she loves what she does. Plus, as a professor, at least if your on tenure track, you are still contributing to the creation of knowledge, as you have to produce publications.
Either way, you are in a better position to know that, since you know her personally, but there might be reason she prefers teaching to working in the private sector. Maybe you should talk to her and see why she made the choices that she did (rather than assuming the choice is “tragic”, which I frankly find a little offensive, as there is NOTHING tragic about getting paid a living wage to do what you love, especially when that thing pays dividends in a million other ways that a wad of cash can never really match), see if there is something you can do on your end from her perspective to get more women in the sector. If you are keen to diversify (which I agree is an admirable goal), figure out why women aren’t as numerous as they could be and work to correct that in whatever way that you can.
I was lucky enough to work for a spell at a university under (OK, waaay under) one of the world’s top computer scientists. She’s incredibly passionate about women in STEM and has received almost as much recognition for her work in that field as her academic research.
If you’re lucky enough to have found a subject that you both love and excel at, I think that a university position is the perfect place to both pursue that subject for the love of it, and enact real social change within your field, if that’s also your goal. Even just the fact of being a senior female academic in a male dominated field can be enough to inspire other women to consider studying that area.
Agreed. I’m not aware of her having had to deal with any of that, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t part of the equation.
True enough. I am sure she will find teaching very fulfilling.
Correct. There’s more to the story here that I will share, so you can dial down your offended-ness a bit. When she was hired at my old company, she was hired at what we’ll call a Tier 1 position (bottom level). She was great at her job, because she was smart and good with people. Myself and another colleague had to recommend her for promotion when a Tier 2 position opened up (really, the job she should have been hired for in the first place), because she was content to stay where she was. When she was promoted, she got better pay and enjoyed the work more.
I don’t think I’m out of line for using the word “tragic”, because I have seen first hand that she is capable of bigger and better things than what she is aiming for, that she may not even know she wanted. Obviously, she is going to make her own decisions as to what is most satisfying for her, and I respect that. But I do want to make it clear that the door is open, and not closed.
It’s not a tragic outcome for her, because she will basically be fine doing whatever it is she decides to do. It’s a tragedy for the industry, because she would be an asset to whatever company she went to work for. I realize it’s not the usual approach on these forums, but try not to assume derision is the intended message.
And of course I am quite biased, because I work in tech and not academia, so of course the grass is greener over here. I am also selfish, because bringing her over to my current company would undoubtedly make my life easier, because I know we can work together, and she can solve some of the problems that otherwise might fall on my plate.
I know other women in tech, who I have more of a personal relationship with. Short of starting a non-profit, or speaking on career day in local schools, I gather that it mostly comes down to: taking women seriously in the workplace, not thinking of them as “catty bitches”, and not being skeezy by making sexual jokes or hitting on them. In short, treating women with the same respect I treat my male colleagues, which I think I’m doing a decent job of.
I am godfather to 2 friend’s daughters, though. When they get older, I have no doubt me and their geeky parents are going to have some projects for them. Already I have been tasked with teaching both young girls how to fish at some point.
As a teacher, she is:
Using her skills. Her teaching skills. You do realize teaching is a specialization, a skilled practice, right? Not all engineers can teach engineering.
Diversifying the number of women in academia in STEM fields, and consequently serving as a factor that will help diversify the STEM workforce as she will serve as a role model for female engineering students in a field which is noted for its alienation of potential female contributors.
Not making as much money. But unless you’re a subscriber to the “more money == better than” school of philosophy, this is hardly an objective argument for one track being “better” than another. I have several friends who got engineering degrees from an extremely competitive uni because it was the practical, money-making route for bright, technical kids to go. But most of them eventually realized that making insane amounts of dosh with a Carnegie Mellon engineering degree doesn’t really matter if that’s not what you want to do with your life, and now they “just” work as doctors, IT administrators, and high school music teachers. Professions where they are insanely more happy, even if they’re making less money than they would using their engineering degrees.
It is ludicrously presumptuous to say that not teaching would be better for the industry or for her personally. And it advances the toxic myth that “those who can, do, those who can’t, teach,” which is part of the reason education is so poorly supported in this country…
If she had a masters in Education, and was truly a gifted and passionate teacher, and decided to get a software development job, that would be a big loss to Academia. But she doesn’t have a masters in Education, she has a PhD in EE, and is a techie. I cannot speak to her teaching ability.
While a good thing, everything I’ve read suggests that what we really need is female role models much earlier in education. Middle school, high school teachers pushing girls towards STEM. I’m not suggesting that she won’t do any good as a woman in STEM Education, just that there’s more good to be done in being a confident professional female engineer in the private sector. That’s of course my bias at work, because it’s my industry, just like your bias is towards Academia because that is your field. Can we agree that we’re both biased on this count?
I don’t know what her financial situation was, and I certainly could not make any promises as to salary. However, financial security plays a big part in life satisfaction.
It is presumptive, a fact that I don’t contest. But not ludicrously so, considering I am actually familiar with this person’s skills and capabilities.
If you read through my previous post with the anecdote (replying to Mindysan), her decision itself in some way might be a casualty of the toxic myth you are mentioning. I would like to be very clear that I do not believe that myth. My best teachers, in fact, worked in the private industry gaining experience that when paired with their academic knowledge made them great teachers later on in life.
I get the feeling you think I am saying more than I actually am. I’m making a judgement call based on what I know about this person, and of course I don’t have all the facts because she is my colleague and not my BFF. I don’t know her financial situation, what her particular hopes and dreams are, whether she’s experienced issues in the workforce as a woman, or any of that. Based on what I DO know, my perspective is that my field could could make better use of her, and pay her better doing it.