News Update: Gender Gap In Computer Science

SCarter (
Fri, 7 Aug 1998 10:46:53 -0400

Forwarded from National Urban League
Susan Carter

Statistics compiled by University of Alabama professor Tracy Camp point to a
shrinking supply of female computer science undergraduates. The peak year
for female graduates was 1983-84, when women earned 37.1% of computer
science bachelor's degrees (32,172 degrees). In 1993-94 that percentage had
dwindled to 28.4%. At the same time, other science and engineering fields
boosted their recruitment of women, with the percentage of physics degrees
rising 36.6% between 1980-81 and 1993-94, and those in engineering by 44.7%.

The pattern is not unique to the U.S. -- in Britain, the decline is even
more marked. A lawyer specializing in information technology issues in
London says, "The intake of women into university IT courses has declined.
It used to be a third -- it's now about 5%." According to a survey of
Association for Computing Machinery members, factors that may have
contributed to the shrinking supply of female computer scientists include
less prior experience playing computer games as children; the long work
hours common in many programming jobs; gender discrimination; the lack of
role models; and the antisocial image of the typical computer hacker.
(Scientific American Aug 98)

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