How can we encourage women to study computer science?


It’s unlikely any of you would be surprised, sadly, to hear that only 17.6% of computer science undergraduates were women in 2011.

What might surprise you, is that that number is less than half of what it was in 1983/4 – when 37.1% of undergrads were women.

Computer science is the only field in mathematics, engineering and science where the percentage of women on the course has decreased since 2002.

After leaving university, women made up 26% of the computing workforce in 2013, but still only earned 84cents for every dollar a man earned.

17% of Google’s technical employees are women, and at Facebook it’s a measly 15%. But these statistics are as unsurprising as they are unfortunate, as if only 18% of the people with the qualifications are women, that’s how many women are likely to get hired for the jobs that require that qualification.

However, some universities are taking steps to tackle this trend.

Universities in America are offering courses to train secondary school teachers to teach computer science to their students before, and have started using photos of women in their prospectuses.

The President of Harvey Mudd college, Maria Klawe, said in a speech at George Washington University:

“We made it very clear that being a female scientist, that’s normal.”


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