Have you ever looked around in any of your computer science classes or your engineering classes and noticed the number of females in the classroom? You probably haven’t because the number of females are so small, you most likely don’t notice them. This semester, the amount of girls that are in my classes are so few.
Studies show that women earn only eighteen percent of undergraduate degrees for computer science. The number has been slowly increasing, but why are there still more men than women who study computer science? Is it because the field of study looks intimidating, so women should stay away from it and study something more female friendly, like elementary education? I believe that there are a lot of reasons as to why the gender gap is so wide.
One big reason for the widening gender gap is because in the past, men were considered the providers for the family, and so they needed to choose careers that paid well, such as engineering and computer science. And women would choose lower paying jobs, such as education and social work.
The arrival of the home computer in the 1980s may be another reason for the gender gap in computer science. When the home personal computer came out in the eighties, studies showed that men mostly used it. Men would use it for more hours and for more days in a week than women ever did, according to scientific studies.
I don’t know if all women in computer science or any STEM field feel a sense of isolation, but at times, I know I do. The feelings of impostor syndrome or feeling like you don’t belong because of the dominance of the male presence are prevalent.
Universities can only do so much when it comes to recruiting females to pursue a degree in computer science. Society is the real issue. The gender gap won’t close until we closely examine the traditional views of men and women and the culture that we live in. Today’s society believes that programmers are young twenty something year old white males. I do believe that some girls, especially ones from minority groups, feel discouraged at times to pursue a degree in computer science, and it really has to do with the culture that we live in. In all reality, many people of all colors and all genders can and do and should study computer science, if they truly love and are intrigued by the subject.
Computer science isn’t for everybody, I understand that. But if one has an interest in technology as well as logical problem solving and working in teams to develop new things, then there should not be any kinds of restrictions, whether those restrictions may be visible or not. Trying to improve the gender gap should start in the classroom. Getting people to acknowledge the gap and working together to form a sense of community are some steps that people in this field could take. Closing the gender gap is something that isn’t going to happen tomorrow, but with time, I do believe that there will be an equal balance in computer science and in all STEM fields.