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The Current State of Women in Computer Science

Originally published on ComputerScience.org

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects computer science research jobs will grow 19% by 2026. Yet, women only earn 18% of computer science bachelor’s degrees in the United States. Despite the high job demand, computer science remains a male-dominated field in the United States. In response, many top colleges are making efforts to recruit female computer science students, making it an ideal time for women to pursue computer science degrees.

The computer science field has been trying to appeal more to female employees by moving toward longer maternity leave and better work-life balance for working moms. However, efforts to attract women to tech-related careers need to begin in elementary school. On this page, you can learn more about why women aren’t choosing tech careers and what can be done to change that.


Why aren’t more women involved in computer science?

Starting when computer technology first emerged during World War II and continuing into the 1960s, women made up most of the computing workforce. By 1970, however, women only accounted for 13.6% of bachelor’s in computer science graduates. In 1984 that number rose to 37%, but it has since declined to 18% — around the same time personal computers started showing up in homes. According to NPR, personal computers were marketed almost exclusively to men and families were more likely to buy computers for boys than girls.

Computers are now commonplace, especially in classrooms. While it’s hard to pinpoint a single reason for the lack of female computer science majors, researchers are finding that introductory computer science courses play a big role in discouraging women from majoring in computer science. Luckily, organizations like Building, Recruiting, and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) are researching ways to attract and support female CS students. Currently, 15 colleges partner with BRAID to create gender-inclusive learning environments.

The percentage of women working in computer science-related professions has declined since the 1990s, dropping from 35% to 26% between 1990 and 2013. According to the American Association of University Women, we can reverse this trend by removing negative connotations around women in computer science. Educators and parents must work together to help girls maintain their confidence and curiosity in STEM subjects. Professional women already in the field can become mentors, while men can help create a more inclusive workplace.

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