Girls Who Code

CODE MIND — From left, Angie, 11, and Taylor, 15, work with teen librarian Rosalie Abbott during a 2018 Girls Who Code class at the Sebastopol Library.

Men’s advocate files a complaint against the Sebastopol Library over program that teaches girls computer programming

Joe Manthey, Petaluma’s busy men’s rights advocate, has been harrying Sonoma State about its STEM programs for young women, and now he’s set his sights on a Sebastopol Library program called Girls Who Code.

He has filed a complaint against the library with the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division and has also filed a complaint against Analy High School for merely advertising the library’s program.

What could be so wrong about teaching seventh to 12th grade girls how to do elementary computer programming, hoping to give them a leg up in the lucrative and predominantly male world of software development?

Joe Manthey

Joe Manthey

By not including boys, Manthey said, “It violates every local, state and federal anti-discrimination law. And it also violates Title IX, which states that ‘No person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity, receiving federal financial assistance.’”

Manthey has already gotten his first response to his complaint: Analy High School Principal Shauna Ferdinandson replied, “that we will not advertise Girls Who Code again.”

The library isn’t folding so quickly.

“Girls Who Code is a reputable, well-known and respected program,” said Sonoma County Library’s Community Relations Manager Ray Holley. “There’s a well-established gender gap in technology fields, and there is a national effort to address that. We would like to be part of that.”

“While he may object to the title of the class, his assertion that it’s discriminatory is simply untrue,” Holley said.

According to Holley, “Girls Who Code is not open only to girls. Boys are welcome to come and in fact, we’ve had boys in the class in the past,” though he clarified that no one went up to all the participants to clarify their gender.

Although the library offers many specialized programs aimed at particular groups, Holley said all classes are open to everyone.

“We offer a wide diversity of programs, and we do not discriminate in any of them. If we offer a yoga class for seniors and a younger person shows up, they’re welcome. If we’re offering a class in Spanish, and an English-speaking parent brings their child, they’re welcome.”

And, according to Holley, if a boy wants to attend the Girls Who Code class, he’s welcome to do so.

Manthey laughed out loud when he heard this.

“This is a common response that public agencies use,” Manthey said. “It’s nothing new. Everything (about this class) is for girls — the name of the class, every announcement from the Analy Bulletin to their Facebook page, it’s for girls. This class is a part of an international organization for girls. According to their website, ‘Girls Who Code is on a mission to close the gender gap in technology.’”

“A Boys Who Code program would never be allowed at a university or public library, and would never be excused by the argument that if an occasional girl wanted to participate, she wouldn’t be turned down,” Manthey wrote in an email to Sonoma West.

Manthey’s complaint derives from a worldview that sees men (and particularly boys) as victims of a feminist-fueled philosophy of female empowerment that runs counter to biological realities.

“The fact is that there are biological and neurological differences between boys and girls (and men and women), and that’s why there will always be more boys and men in computer science, and there will always be an advantage for females in literacy,” Manthey said.

He said that Girls Who Code is an example of what he called the “women are wonderful” syndrome or WOW.

“When women are behind men (or girls behind boys), then it must be due to discrimination,” he said. “But when men are behind women (or boys are behind girls), it’s because ‘women are wonderful’ and boys are stupid.”

According to Manthey, “The library is engaged in what’s called identity politics,” he said. “And while they say ‘We’re for diversity and inclusion’ — that’s pretty much their mantra — their behavior says otherwise. They’re very gynocentric.”

Manthey’s ire seems particularly focused on popular teen librarian Rosalie Abbott, who he said was liable to start pleading for “safe spaces” at any moment.

Manthey wrote in a press release, “It should be noted that Ms. Abbott sees herself as ‘empowering’ the ‘brave’ girls. Please note that there is nothing ‘brave’ about attending a coding class.”

Because of the threat of legal action, Abbott declined to comment.

At the end of his complaint to the library, Manthey wrote, “Quite frankly, it is in your best interest to get out of the social engineering business and instead focus on literacy. Indeed, you might want to focus on the largest gender gap of all: literacy, where the average eighth grade boy is 1.5 years behind the average eighth grade girl.”

Alternatively, Manthey wrote to Sonoma West, “All the library needs to do is also offer a Boys Who Code program, and they’re legal regarding Title IX, and Joe is happy. I am not against a Girls Who Code program as long as boys are offered a Boys Who Code program. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Manthey said that he’s not anti-woman (or girl). He is simply opposed to discriminatory preferences and government agencies with political agendas.

‘They seem to be more interested in indoctrinating people,” he said. “They don’t seem to get that men and women, boys and girls, are related by blood and partnership. So when one sex suffers both sexes suffer. This is not a zero sum game … We’re all in this together. It’s time to celebrate our differences, stop this gender war and start to listen to each other.”

The library in the meantime has turned his complaint over to its attorney.

There is still room in the Girls Who Code class, which starts on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. and runs weekly through April 22. Students must agree to attend all classes. Girls (or boys) interested in attending Girls Who Code can register online or email Rosalie Abbott at rabbott@sonomalibrary.org. In addition, the library has also opened up another beginning coding class called, “Curious about coding,” which meets on the first Friday of the month at 3:30 p.m., starting Feb. 7. Both classes are open to everyone.

(9) comments

rrnelson

Girls Who Code does not violate Title IX. As Ray Holley said, they welcome boys as well and thus Manthey's legal action is unjustified. Manthey mentions "biological and neurological" reasons as to why males dominate computer science which is, of course, nonsense and not supported by any legitimate scientific evidence.

SebGirl1

This is ludicrous! If Mr. Manthys claiming discrimination with the use of Title funds,,, let's look at the after school sports, do you see a girls rugby team?... Does he suggest a better use of funding? Because there are not a lot of options for after school activities.

I have seen the library and librarian Abbott educating and helping many children, teens and anyone interested in S.T.E.M.

Theres currently Music, Gardening and Self Defense classes available through the Libraries as well.

The most archaic form of male chauvinism and control is to attempt to squander a woman's education. Bravo for Library programs that extend beyond the boundaries of sexism. Time to evolve and modernize, besides giving birth theres not much that both genders can’t equally experience. Should we request a presentation about seahorses?..,don't worry, youre invited Joe!

kei2thehwy

Mr. Manthey is nearly a lone voice in this "progressive " County. It doesnt matter "how many," it matters that equal opportunity is presented to ALL of our children. Same with "Girls OnThe Run." It's exclusionary at best, discrimination at least. Great data on male student literacy, truly aconcern, and not a "made up" issue. MOST boys wb boys, and most girls, as well. Are these the same "progressives" that advocate for hormone treatments for their children under 18 think they want to "be" the opposite of their birth gender? Title IX was a giant mistake, and we men made it possible.

Dazer

Clearly, this immature man-boy was not chosen first to play in games! This is nothing but an attention grabber and totally unnecessary it serves no-one. Ah, a question...... does this mean woman’s groups can’t meet in a governmentally supported setting?

I certainly, don’t feel that if my son wanted to attend the class he would not be welcomed.

MKH

Men's Advocate? Isn't that an oxymoron? Women's March, anyone? Or is that discriminatory, too?

SebGirl1

Lol! well said.

LEJ

Soapbox indeed, or better yet, a tempest in a teapot. Mr. Manthny may have a point about the potential claim of gender discrimination. But I’d like to point out that gender discrimination against women is a long held tradition. There is plenty of discrimination to go around for women in the tech field. If this little class can help address this disparity, so be it. Perhaps simply changing the name might calm Mr. Manthny’s nerves.

dsupchurch

Oh, good lord, get off your soapbox Joe! Clearly, tech is a man’s world...ask my daughter...she thrives in tech only because of her acumen and her ability...but faces discrimination every freaking day.

gmarcy

Excellent article. Any program that excludes one gender, or one race, or any sub-group, constitutes the definition of the word, "discriminatory". MLK: Judge people on basis of their character.

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