Innovation

Top 5: Things to know about women in college computer science classes

In 2017, TechRepublic published an investigative report examining the state of women in college computer science programs. Here are five of the most important points from that report.

Women are essential to computer science for many reasons including the fact that half the people using technology are women.

But how are colleges doing in training women in computer science?

TechRepublic's Alison DeNisco Rayome looked into it in a thorough investigative report. Here are five things she found that you should know about women in college computer science classes.

1. Intro to computer science in many colleges has an even split between men and women.

At Berkeley it's been 50-50 since 2013. At Stanford, it's close to 50-50. At MIT it's also 50-50. At Harvard it's 38% women.

2. Women don't stay in the CS courses.

At Berkeley 28% of CS graduates were women. At Stanford it's 32%. At Harvard, 29%. And these are above average. Women earn 18% of the CS degrees awarded in the US.

3. College computer classes often call for experience in programming that women don't have.

Men often skip intro classes and go straight into advanced placement. When admissions are based on math and science combined with broader interests, more women sign up and do well. User experience and user interface courses do tend to get a more balanced enrollment.

4. A survey of MIT computer science and engineering students found women tend to have more doubts about their abilities than men, and feel more negative bias.

Women often express less confidence in their abilities than men, despite getting better grades.

5. Women have lack of exposure to computer science earlier in life.

Young women in middle and high school are often steered away from technology-focused classes by parents and teachers. There's a general lack of role models and career awareness among young women as well. Professors in CS are most often men. Only 15% of tenure-track computer science faculty members in North America are women.

So what should colleges do? How do they walk the line between encouraging more women to enter computer science while maintaining a qualified and talented pool of students?

Good news. It can be done.

You can find out more in this deep dive into the topic: The state of women in computer science: An investigative report.


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About Tom Merritt

Tom is an award-winning independent tech podcaster and host of regular tech news and information shows. Tom hosts Sword and Laser, a science fiction and fantasy podcast, and book club with Veronica Belmont. He also hosts Daily Tech News Show, coverin...

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