Somebody on Twitter linked this article about “brogrammers”, which is pretty much exactly as horrible as that godawful neologism suggests. In between descriptions of some fairly appalling behavior, though, they throw some stats at you, and that’s where it gets weird:
As it is, women remain acutely underrepresented in the coding and engineering professions. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, in 2011 just 20 percent of all programmers were women. A smaller percentage of women are earning undergraduate computer science degrees today than they did in 1985, according to the National Center for Women in Technology, and between 2000 and 2011 the percentage of women in the computing workforce dropped 8 percent, while men’s share increased by 16 percent.
Specifically, that last sentence. How is that even possible? The only way I can see for that number to make sense is if at least 8% of the workforce in 2000 didn’t provide gender data, but if that’s the case, you can’t really say anything sensible about changes in those numbers. You could probably arrange some distribution in which those figures are percentages of percentages (that is, the fraction of women started at some value, and decreased to 92% of that original value), but it would require the initial fraction of women to be higher than the initial fraction of men (so that the same decrease in absolute terms is a larger percentage for men than women), which is obviously not the case.
Of course, being traditional journalists, they don’t make it easy to find the source. They sorta-kinda attribute it to the National Center for Women in Technology, whose scorecard makes a similar claim for 2000-2009, though the disparity is smaller (11% and 13%). They source it to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the relevant-seeming tables don’t break out men and women separately, so I can’t see how you would get a bizarre claim like the quoted bit. If you want to know the male participation in these industries from those BLS tables, the only thing you can do is subtract the women’s percentage from 100, which obviously cannot give you a different change in the fraction of men than the fraction of women. Unless they’re working from some more complete data set with more fine-grained demographic information, but if so, it’s not obvious where you would find that.
I have too much other stuff to do to keep trying to track this weirdness down, but this is going to bug me all day, so I’ll throw it out to my readership in hopes that one of you either knows how you would get such an obviously weird result, or can track down an explanation with superior Google-fu.