Women in Computing . Netiva Caftori Northeastern Illinois University 2004. The reality. There are less women in computer science programs in universities and high schools. There are less women in industry working in development and design of software, for example
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Northeastern Illinois University
There are less women in computer science programs in universities and high schools.
There are less women in industry working in development and design of software, for example
The numbers are actually dropping, from already low numbers, throughout the country and the world.
Male claim to the field of computing and the erosion of girls’ and women’s interest can be understood by looking back to the roots of gender socialization.
e.g., Kindergarten boys’ and girls’ behavior; a parent who seeds the budding interest; boys’ early success in science; parents’ and teachers’ expectations; boys are raised to take risks; girls to be cautious.
Computer science curricula don’t offer what women are interested in or concerned with.
The “geek culture” alienates women who resist it. Some find it repulsive. Many see the geek culture as the norm.
As a consequence, women’s confidence and interest are extinguished in the college years.
Some men also resist a narrow orientation but do not question their ability to become computer scientists because their gender has not rendered them suspect.
The social history and culture of computing contribute to boys’ sense of belonging and girls’ sense of “outsidership” in computer science.
The model of a successful CS student is viewed through a male prism.
Drops in confidence precede drops in interest.
The computing field can hold much promise and pleasures for women.
At Carnegie Melon University: In 5 years a big rise in numbers of women:
7 women (7%) out of 96 in 1995 to
54 women (42%) out of 130 in 2000
Concluding that what prevailed before the study is that:
One group of people can claim a realm of power, delegating others to outsiders.
Teachers and parents need to engage and protect girls’ interests and change computer science into a field that is engaging and interesting for a much larger and more diverse group of students.
The goal should not be to fit women into computer science, as it is currently taught and conceived. Rather, a curricular and cultural revolution is required to change computer science so that the valuable contributions and perspectives of women are respected within the discipline.
Contextualizing computer science:
Promote a different and diverse culture. Change the image of a computer person from a hacker (which may be repulsive or discouraging to some) necessarily to maybe something else, just as favorable if not appealing to women.
We hope that teachers of all levels, parents, students, computer people of all walks will begin conversations about these findings, and will ask themselves why so few women and girls study computer science, how early gender socialization and schooling restrict the options of many girls, and what women can add to the world of computing.