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A research on the number of women in computer science

Disturbing drop in women in computing field A new AAUW report details the sharp decline and offers some explanations. Mary Barrachief executive of GM, was an electrical engineering major.

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In some STEM fields, women have made strides. And yet, a new American Association of University Women review of more than 380 studies from academic journals, corporations, and government sources shows a big employment gap in computing and engineering.

In some fields, the gap is actually widening over the years — not shrinking. They offer a greater return on educational investment. The report suggests the following factors are at play: Even before college, there is gender bias.

The early exposure is crucial, as interest in STEM fields in general during high school is associated with the ultimate pursuit of an engineering or computing education or career.

Report: Disturbing drop in women in computing field

By the time they reach college, one out of five young men plan on majoring in engineering or computing. For young women, the number is one out of 17. The computing field has actually become unfriendly to women. However, the trend began to reverse in 1985. Part of this decline is due to the fact that computer science became a male-identified field.

For the Press

In fact, as the study notes, once employed in the field, women are more likely to leave than men. They tend to suffer from isolation.

The atmosphere in the workplace matters a lot. The dominating factor in women continuing in engineering is the work environment, the report found.

They had similar marital status, numbers of children, interest in engineering, and competence. Such strategic changes as modifying the introductory course so that it emphasized the broad application of computing, developing a dual track for those with more and less exposure to computers at the start, providing opportunities for undergraduates to participate in research, and introducing female students to role models and examples of women in the profession have made the difference, according to the report.

Progress is far slower in the workplace.

However, some companies are pushing to improve the numbers. Google and BAE Systems are among those trying to address unconscious bias through a number of techniques, including training managers, broadening recruitment efforts, strengthening maternity and paternity benefits, and stripping resumes of information that could identify gender.

  • For example, entry-level courses often assumed that students had a background in programming already;
  • What follows is a look beyond the glossy college catalogues into what female computer science majors actually experience on campus, and why changing introductory courses isn't enough to build the pipeline of women needed to fill tech jobs;
  • Google and BAE Systems are among those trying to address unconscious bias through a number of techniques, including training managers, broadening recruitment efforts, strengthening maternity and paternity benefits, and stripping resumes of information that could identify gender;
  • This should be a wake-up call.

E-commerce hosting company Etsy has taken various steps to increase the number of women on the technical staff. Broadening search methods and changing interview formats to make introverted candidates feel more relaxed helped increase the percentage of women programmers.

Etsy has even funded immersive programming retreatsincluding needs-based living expense grants, to broaden the pool of applicants.