University of Washington lecturer says he was demoted over article on why women don’t code

University of Washington lecturer says he was demoted over article on why women don’t code

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Stuart Reges, a principal lecturer at the University of Washington's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, sparked widespread outrage in 2018 when he published a controversial article for the online magazine Quillette giving the reasons he believed women don't code.

What Reges essentially argued in the article is that the lack of gender diversity in careers related to coding and programming is because women are simply not interested in those disciplines and not because they face institutional discrimination.

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In a new piece for Quillette, Reges says his troubles started the moment the outlet published his article and it was shared on Twitter by famed, and controversial, Canadian author and psychologist Jordan Peterson.

Reges notes that contrary to his belief, Peterson warned him that the article would significantly impact his career.

"As it turns out, Peterson was right," Reges writes.

He says when his three-year contract was up for review last month, the university stripped him of his "primary teaching duties and [I was] given a highly unusual one-year probationary appointment."

The school claimed their decision was had nothing to do with his controversial article, but, he argues,  "that seems highly unlikely," citing a colleague who warned him that "an 'angry mob' has been after me ever since my article came out."

In response to his article, a group of graduate students filed a grievance with their union, and the school complied with several of their demands including a group of faculty members to "review the introductory programming courses to ensure that they are inclusive of students from all backgrounds."

After the working group was formed, they provided a list of recommendations that included a "relaxation of grading on coding style," and even a " reduction in the amount of effort expended pursuing cheating cases by 50 percent even though there has been no reduction in cheating cases."

Some of the other recommended changes to his courses included "the use of gender-neutral names like Alex and Jun instead of Alice and Bob," not saying “you guys,” and avoiding "references that depend on cultural knowledge of sports, pop culture, theater, literature, or games."

Reges argues that most of these recommendations indicate that undergraduate students are delicate and that while he wanted to ensure that all students feel welcome and respected, he also wants to help them "become antifragile."

He also said he would oppose some of the suggestions.

"I will maintain high standards for grading, and I will continue to pursue cheating cases vigorously. I will continue to say “you guys” and to make occasional cultural references," Reges writes.

To read his full article, click here.

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