When I was in graduate school (back before the earth cooled) I remember thinking the following thoughts:
- Quantum computing is a new field filled with two types of people: young people dumb enough to not know they weren’t supposed to be studying quantum computing, and old, tenured people who understood that tenure meant that they could work on what interested them, even when their colleagues thought they were crazy.
- Younger people are less likely to have overt biases against woman. By this kind of bias I mean that like the math professor at Caltech who told one of my friends that woman were bad at spatial reasoning (a.k.a. Jerks). Maybe these youngsters even had less hidden bias?
- Maybe, then, because the field was new, quantum computing would be a discipline in which the proportion of woman was higher than the typical rates of their parent disciplines, physics and in computer science?
In retrospect, like most of the things I have thought in my life, this line of reasoning was naive.
Reading Why Are There So Few Women In Science in the New York Times reminded me about these thoughts of my halcyon youth, and made me dig through the last few QIP conferences to get one snapshot (note that I just say one, internet comment troll) of the state of woman in the quantum computing (theory) world:
Personally, it’s hard to read these numbers and not feel a little disheartened.