About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1445 |
8 min read
Published: Sep 4, 2018
Words: 1445|Pages: 3|8 min read
Currently women represent over half of the workforce, but this is not true for women in the computer science careers. Women only earn 28% of computer science undergraduate degrees (Cech). Even after half a century after the Civil Rights Act, women and minorities continue to earn less than white males in the workforce. The addition of more women in the computer science field would add creativity and new ideas to the field yet the percentage of both entering and current women in the field is extremely low compared to men. The factors that turn women away from computer science start both in the early educational years and continue onto their adult and working life. Women are not studying computer science because they don’t receive enough encouragement from their teachers, schools and jobs, and a strong gender bias exists in those settings.
The biggest question now is how do we attract more women into the computer science field. Women need more encouragement, especially from teachers of both sexes and fellow students. Mentoring is a definite means to attract and keep women more interested in the field. Even just the support of other females present in a classroom setting can help boost the confidence in each other. Multiple studies have shown that the lack of women in computer science is very likely to start before college (Cohoon). They need this encouragement not only while taking college courses but also early on in their education. Females tend to be just as interested in science as men when they are young but their teachers and schools, who would have the most influence on them, aren’t doing their job in nurturing and identifying these women (Gurian). A possible solution to improving their confidence would be to have more mentors who can help attract and keep women interested in the field. The shortage of women in the computer science field has made it more difficult to have women in high positions. This makes it important for women who are in high positions to be mentors to all women interested. According to Joanne Cohoon a professor at the University of Virginia “CS departments generally retained women at comparable rates to men when the faculty included at least one woman; was mentored, and supervised female students; enjoyed teaching; and shared responsibility for success with their students”. It is also found that departments with no female faculty lost female students at high rates relative to men (Cohoon). Seeing other women in computer science can definitely raise confidence in women to continue or begin studying the subject. “In a new survey, 40 percent of women in the STEM fields… report that they were discouraged from their career choices, typically in college and often by their professors” (Downey). This data shows how we need more mentors willing to support women and that we are lacking teachers to help inspire young women into entering the field.
Since the beginning of computing most software and programs have been male-oriented. Video games were originally targeted at males with sport and violent themes with mostly male lead characters and limiting female roles like women who need to be rescued (Lynn). Early experiences with computers are important in shaping someone’s willingness to explore technology. “Playing with computer, console, and arcade games and educational ware can provide an introduction to computer literacy, creating familiarity and building confidence in skills” (Lynn, 145). Because computer science is so dominated by men, the software tends to be more male- friendly. To make software more appealing to girls, it should have low frustration levels, be challenging and be interactive (Lynn). By having more women in the field, women can create much more women-friendly software. Girls tend to prefer games where they can make things, rather than destroy them(Lynn). Recently more and more games have been produced that are more girl-friendly, like simulation games. The Sims is a video game where you create humans, animals and homes and has proved to be a big success with a female audience. A strategy to get more women to break outside the stereotype of women being less competitive than men would be to take games designed for boys and demand comparable female characters to empower them to be more competitive and assertive. Video games often become involved with computing as a byproduct of wanting to master gaming (Lynn).
Many boys tend to have more experience with computers at a younger age because of video games, when boys and girls are put together in a class to learn about computers the boys are already at a higher level, which is not encouraging to the women beginning at a lower level in the same class. Making more computer classes mandatory both in high school and at the college level will not only help women because of the increasing number of other female peers, but it can spark interest in women early on, helping teachers to identify students with aptitude. Another way to help keep women in the field would be to have different levels of computer classes so women or really anyone who hasn’t had much experience in the field will not feel intimidated in a class full of people who have already had experience with computers. At Gonzaga University there is a course called “Information to Technology”. This course is not considered a computer science class but rather an introduction to technology. You learn the very basics; from the parts of a computer, understanding programs like excel to understanding and reading binary code. If classes like this were encouraged both in high school and in colleges, all students would get the basic understanding of technology and could even encourage them to pursue a career in technology.
There is a definite stereotype of the hacker or gamer being a male. The fact that this stereotype exists can make women feel less comfortable with computers. Starting in elementary school there was a lot of emphasis on boys being better at math and sciences than girls. This leads to women being filtered out of math and sciences early on and leads to their lack of encouragement being in classes with males at a higher level (Marder). “Women might certainly study the art of healing, and be physicians as well as nurses” (Wollstonecraft, 664). Women stereotypically follow certain job paths, whether they want to be healers, study beauty, or receptionist. The US is much different now then it used to be but there is a strong presence of women in certain fields, keeping these stereotypes present.
Another possible reason that women haven’t been pursuing computer science careers is because women generally look for a career that enables them to work with other people and has flexible hours while men search for a career that would allow them to make a lot of money (Marder). A starting salary for a major in computer science is $59,800, ranked in the top ten of the best paying college majors, hence why it attracts so many new graduates, majority males (Bednarz). Another challenge is for women who want to have a family. There is a strong perception that in the computer science career you work long hours and are thus not mother friendly (Marder). Yet women embrace careers in medicine and law.
According to The Harvard Business Review “52% of women in science, engineering and technology end up leaving the field never to return”(Cohoon). This can be because of a mix of factors such as the decision to start a family, being paid less than the men, gender bias present in the work setting or even due to the competition against male counterparts. Women are stereotyped to be less competitive and aggressive compared to males. Men generally feel more comfortable asking for a higher position and fighting for that position than females. If more males are in the career field already then they are more men in the higher positions whom both hire and reward the employees.
We need more women entering the computer science field because that is one of the fields that has many job openings and not enough people with the skill sets. No career field should be closed to women because then society loses. Cyber security is an example of a career that is in desperate need of more employees. Because this is such a male dominated career, a lot of the programs made are male oriented. Having more females’ can help make programs more female friendly and bring a totally new perspective to the computing field. We need to identify talented girls, encourage them, and train them all the way through school and companies need to recognize when they are allowing gender bias in the workplace.
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