Stuart Reges, a principal lecturer at University of Washington’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, has revealed the problems he has been facing after publishing an article entitled, “Why Women Don’t Code.”
That happened in 2018, and the argument he made was essentially that there is little gender diversity in tech when it comes to programming because women are not interested in such careers, rather then because they face institutional obstacles.
As might have been expected, the article gained a lot of attention, causing debates, controversy, and a fair bit of outrage on Twitter at the time. Also at the time, as Reges now reveals in a new piece he penned for Quillette, he felt sure that expressing his opinion in the way he did would not harm his university job.
Unlike a professor, a lecturer’s position can be tenured, and when his three-year contract was up for review last December, Reges said he ended up “stripped of his primary teaching duties and given a highly unusual one-year probationary appointment.”
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And although the university said this was in no way linked to the controversial article that continues to have high visibility online, Reges claims this “seems highly unlikely” considering that he has now been reappointed for only one year – also something highly unlikely when it comes to regular lecturers.
He goes on to say that some graduate students in the school complained against him to their union as a reaction to the article – resulting in the university agreeing to some of their demands. These included a review of his introductory computer science classes to make sure they are “inclusive of students from all backgrounds.”
Reges also cites an unnamed colleague who revealed to him that there were voices at the meeting discussing his reappointment calling for his dismissal, and that this colleague believed the lecturer was “being fired for his political beliefs.”
In addition, Reges says faced a campaign against him in the shape of posters inviting students to go to a website allowing them to leave testimonies against his reappointment.
This lecturer now accuses the university of fostering a “mob mentality” – and says that as a gay man who in his teenage years attempted suicide unable to cope with perceptions of his sexuality – he now feels that while anti-gay sentiment has reversed, conservatives and religious people are today those who are “in the closet.”