Letter: Female CS concentrators misrepresented – The Brown Daily Herald
The below article appeared in Brown University’s Daily Herald newspaper, in response to the article I blogged about a few weeks ago (thanks to Steven Sesko for this). I don’t see “unflattering statistics” in the original article, but I’m not a female in CS at Brown — some of the statistics about under-representation might be perceived as “unflattering.”
It’s a hard place to be in. In highlighting the many who aren’t there, and bemoaning the small numbers, we may make those that are there feel diminished. I think we should highlight how male CS has become, and ask if there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. NCWIT is fighting a good and noble fight. But I understand that it’s a fight that must be fought delicately, trying hard not to be unflattering to the women in CS now.
There are fewer women than men in the CS department. Yet quantity and quality are not one and the same. The excellence of female students’ departmental contributions is in no way limited by the number of female students — nor is our love for the subject. Writing articles that broadcast the unflattering statistics regarding women in CS and fixate on the trials and tribulations they face, but that do not also mention their joys and successes, is a damaging and reactionary way to dishearten potential computer scientists. The two of us love what we do and want others to join us, not for the sake of boosting the numbers, but so that they can experience first-hand a subject that is uniquely exciting and rewarding. We sincerely hope that after reading this piece, no student — male or female — feels discouraged from exploring the fascinating field of CS.