Posts tagged ‘NCWIT’
In the context of David Notkin’s receipt of the 2013 Computing Research Association A. Nico Habermann Award for outstanding contributions to supporting underrepresented groups in the computing research community, Lecia Barker of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (we hosted their Washington State Awards for Aspirations in Computing last weekend) sent us the chart to the right, comparing UW CSE’s performance to the national average in granting bachelors degrees to women.
It was really great to see these results in the U. Washington CSE News, but it got me to wondering: Did all the big R1 institutions rise like this, or was this unusual at UW? I decided to generate the GT data, too.
I went to the GT Self-Service Institutional Research page and downloaded the degrees granted by college and gender in each of 2005, 2006, and on up to 2011. (All separate spreadsheets.) I added up Fall, Spring, and Summer graduates for each year, and computed the female percentage. Here’s all three data sets graphed. While GT hasn’t risen as dramatically as UW in the last two years (so UW really has done something remarkable!), but GT’s rise from 2005 far below the national average to above the national average in 2009 is quite interesting.
Why is UW having such great results? Ed Lazowska claimed at SIGCSE 2013 that it’s because they have only a single course sequence (“one course does fit all,” he insisted) and because they have a large number of female TAs. I don’t believe that. I predict that more courses would attract more students (see the “alternative paths” recommendation from Margolis and Fisher), and that female TA’s support retention, not recruitment. I suspect that UW’s better results have more to do with the fact that GT’s students declare their major on their application form, while UW students have to apply to enter the CSE program. Thus, (a) UW has the chance to attract students on-campus and (b) they have more applications than slots, so they can tune their acceptances to get the demographics that they value.
An interesting excursion into the history of computing. One of the first two PhD’s in Computer Science in the United States went to a female and a member of a religious order! I would never have guessed.
But at virtually the same time in June 1965, two other degrees were completed: Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, BVM, earned a Ph.D. from the Computer Sciences Department at the University of Wisconsin, and Irving C. Tang earned a D.Sc. from the Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Washington University in St. Louis. The purpose of this article is to show that in the United States, Keller and Tang were not just earlier but also first, thereby providing a more accurate historical record.
Beki Grinter does a great job in her blog giving a personal account of why MOOCs won’t help address the lack of diversity in computing. Beki’s account (linked below) is a personal one, but it is an instance of a larger story that Joanne Cohoon has been telling for years now, based on a large scale survey of students, faculty, and department chairs. If you want women to persist in graduate computer science, encourage them. The gender of the encourager is not important, but the one-to-one connection is important. As Beki asks, how can you do that in a 50-100K MOOC?
Given the lack of women in academia, particularly in STEM, I wonder whether the pattern of male dominance repeats itself in who offers the MOOC and I wonder what in turn that does to the student population. Perhaps some would say, offer a MOOC, redress it. But, my route into the field was not about volume encounters, but about those that were very personal. Its only maybe four people who made enough of a difference that I got through, but how can any person be that when they have 50,000 students? Also, how can you achieve these intimacies at a distance, across the network as opposed to face-to-face.
How Can We Get More Boys Into Ballet? Response to an argument against getting more women into computing
Do we have a desperate need for more ballet dancers? Has ballet dancing become the lifeblood of our society? If so, then we really should try to get more boys into ballet. Or maybe ballet dancers made much more than average. Then getting more boys into ballet (or figuring out, at least, why they weren’t there) would be about being fair, giving everyone a chance at the high-paying jobs by making sure that there weren’t any accidental barriers or implicit bias.
Fortunately, we’re talking computing, not ballet, and we know the answers to many of those questions for computing. Computing is ubiquitous in our society and is critical to our economy. We face a labor shortage of skilled computing professionals. Computing professionals are rarely female. There are forms of bias that prevent many women from engaging and persisting in computing. Finally, when there are more diverse teams, design gets better. For all these reasons, we need more women in computing. There are answers beyond a “positive discrimination policy.” Changing what we do can making computing education more attractive and engaging for women, and make it better for men, too. Curb cuts help everyone.
I have a great amount of respect for the efforts of others in doing what they can to try to redress these outmoded stereotypes. I’m just not sure that I agree completely that a positive discrimination policy is an effective solution. This issue is not confined to just this sector of tech and computing but applies in many others. In our school there is one boy in the GCSE Textiles class and 3 boys in the GCSE Food class. I wonder if as a society we should question whether we celebrate the differences between male and female or seek to remove and reduce them. When I stand up on the bus to offer my seat to a lady or hold the door open for a female colleague, am I being courteous, chivalrous or disrespectful to men?
My colleague Tucker Balch posted on his blog the detailed demographics of his Coursera MOOC (the first at Georgia Tech), “Computational Investing.” He got 41% of the completers to respond to his survey, but only 2.6% of those who enrolled but did not complete. That’s a remarkable response rate, so it’s a great snapshot into who completes a course like this.
A big caveat up-front: This is “Computational Investing.” It’s clearly an elective subject, so we would expect demographics to shift from what we might hope to see in a required course (like CS1 or data structures) or a common upper-level course (like AI).
Some of the results that I found intriguing:
- I predicted that CS course MOOC completers would be 80% white or Asian and 90% male. I underestimated. Tucker’s course was 88.6% white or Asian and 91% male.
- 73.3% of completers came from OECD countries (as a measure of “developed”), and half of those were from the US. So, were the completers people who couldn’t get access to higher education otherwise? Nope. Over 10% had their PhD’s, and over 40% had their Master’s degree. Less than 10% of the completers only had a high school degree.
- The discussion forums were not how most students asked questions. Everyone reads (over 95%), but only 33% post — which is pretty similar to the lack of participation that we documented years ago in engineering courses using Wikis. That doesn’t mean that the collaboration forums aren’t contributing to learning, but it does mean that it’s not substituting for discussion in the classroom.
Interesting piece from Forbes, an interview with several female technical leaders about why there are too few women in technology.
In the past, technology jobs were viewed by women as populated by men in basements, working alone, as an organ of the computer. Harvey Mudd’s President, Maria Klawe compiled her own research and offered a more substantive explanation, “We’ve done lots of research on why young women don’t choose tech careers and number one is they think it’s not interesting. Number two, they think they wouldn’t be good at it. Number three, they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.”
But, in today’s world, those views are officially over. Technology careers are interesting, women are great at it, and they get to work alongside extraordinary men and women. Being technology illiterate just doesn’t cut it anymore. It can’t when so many more job functions require so much more technical know-how.
That’s my point. It’s not just that we have to encourage more women into technology related jobs; it’s that we need to show all women as Intel’s CIO Kim Stevenson put it to me, “the impact a technical background can have on a woman’s career, and the economic potential that accompanies it.” Stevenson, agreeing with Bates adds, “Often women don’t understand what options are available in tech fields – and that stops them.”
Ian raises a really important issue that I don’t think is being discussed enough. I predict that computer science MOOC completers are even more white and male than in existing computing education. Replacing more face-to-face CS courses with MOOCs may be reversing the hard-fought gains we’ve made through NCWIT and NSF BPC efforts. I’ve asked both Udacity and Coursera about the demographics of their completers. Coursera said that they don’t know yet because they simply haven’t looked. Udacity said that it’s “about the same” as in existing face-to-face CS classes.
To address issues of inequality, we will have to do something different than what we are doing now, but we want to do something different that has better results. We need to be careful that we don’t make choices that lead us to a worse place than we are now.
Here’s a concrete proposal: Any institution that belongs to NCWIT (or more significantly, the NCWIT Pacesetters program) that runs a MOOC for computer science and does not check demographics should have its membership revoked. (See Note.) We should not be promoting computer science education that is even more exclusive. We need new forms of computer science education that broaden participation. At the very least, we ought to be checking — are we doing no harm? Are we advancing our agenda of broadening participation, or making it more exclusionary?
I wonder if the responsibility to check is even greater for public institutions. Public institutions have a responsibility to the citizens of their state to be inclusive. Readers of this blog have argued that Title IX does not apply to academic programs, suggesting that there is no legal requirement for CS departments to try to draw in more women and minorities. We in public universities still have a moral responsibility to make our courses and programs accessible. If we choose to offer instruction via MOOCs, particularly as a replacement for face-to-face courses, don’t we have a responsibility to make sure that we are not driving away women and minorities?
The SJSU test will be run on “remedial” courses at one of the country’s most ethnically diverse universities, of which only 25 percent of the student population is white, and which is primarily comprised of minorities, first-generation college students, and commuting students. This is a population that has more likely been subject to underfunded primary and secondary schools and, generally speaking, a whole regime of distress, neglect, and bias compared to California residents who would attend Berkeley or UCLA. Put differently, the conditions that produced the situation that the Udacity deal is meant to solve, at least in part, was first caused by a lack of sufficient investment in and attention to early- and mid-childhood education.
In response, California could reinvest in public schools and the profession of secondary teaching. But instead, the state has decided to go the private paved surface and illumination services route — siphoning California taxpayer receipts and student tuition directly into a for-profit startup created, like all startups, with the purpose of producing rapid financial value for its investors. Just how much of those proceeds Udacity will hold onto is unclear. While the company has reportedly paid instructors in the past, it’s unclear if its new institutional relationships will support paid teaching or not. Coursera, Udacity’s primary competitor in the private MOOC marketplace, has managed to get faculty from prestigious institutions to provide courses for free, in exchange for the glory of a large audience and the marketing benefit of the host institution.
Note: While I sit on the NCWIT Leadership Team, the opinions in this blog are my own. They do not represent NCWIT’s policy. I shared this blog post with Lucy Sanders, CEO of NCWIT, and she made an interesting suggestion. Some NCWIT Pacesetters are departments who may have little control over what their college, school, or university does. If they must use MOOCs, because of decisions made higher in the administrative chain, then perhaps measuring the demographics of the completers might be a way of being a Pacesetter.
What is the current state of high school computer science professional development? The results of the UChicago Landscape Study
I am at the meeting in Portland of all the awardees from the NSF programs in Broadening Participation in Computing (BPC-A, like ECEP), Computing Education in the 21st Century (CE21, like our CSLearning4U project), and all the funded projects related to CS10K, sponsored by NCWIT.
You may recall that I invited people to participate in the Landscape Study on the capacity of our computing community’s professional development efforts. The results of that survey are being presented here at this meeting, and a summary is available at the URL below.
I find the results a little depressing. The folks at UChicago who do the study compare us to professional development in Science or Mathematics, and we don’t much look like that. We have such a long way to go.
What is the current state of high school computer science professional development?
THIS STRAND OF WORK FOCUSED ON DESCRIBING THE CURRENT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES
that are available for high school computer science (CS) teachers. The primary data collection for this strand took place through a survey administered to providers of high school computer science teacher professional development (PD).
This article from TechCrunch seems mis-named, “No women in CS? Well, not for long!” The intro course at Stanford now has gender parity, which is terrific. But the article talks about how that isn’t translating into gender parity in the degree. Optimistic thinking is great, but ignoring the data isn’t.
Many students continue from 106A to further develop their skills in CS 106B. But those who want to major in computer science must continue from 106B to the daunting 107, often considered a “weeding” class to separate the wheat from the chaff before students can take upper-level courses.
Women do just as well as men in CS 106A and 106B but continue on to 107 in far fewer numbers. While many students, regardless of gender, drop the class, several students say that stereotypes, misconceptions, and lack of confidence cause women to drop the class in large numbers. The often anti-social, male-dominated culture is characterized by 107’s unofficial mantra of “dump your girlfriend before this class.”
I just learned about book The Computer Boys Take Over (and immediately ordered a copy for my Kindle), and have been digging through the associated blog. (Thanks, Lauren Klein!) It’s a look at the politics of computing (including gender issues), from a historical perspective. I thought that this graph and blog post were particularly interesting. It’s markedly different from the Scaffidi, Shaw, and Myers prediction about 2012 that they made in 2005, but in part, that’s because Scaffidi et al. actually looked at what people did, where the BLS has been messing with the categories, as described below.
The chart above shows the Bureau of Labor statistics on programmer employment. I am not convinced that these numbers are at all accurate. Getting reliable data on programmer employment is surprisingly difficult.
To begin with, programmer is a vague category, and it is by no means clear that everyone who worked on “programming” defined themselves primarily as a “programmer.” Secondly, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not beginning tracking programmers until 1972, and in 1983 and again in 2000 they adjusted their categories and methodologies. For the first ten years, three broad categories (“computer specialists”, “computer programmer”, and “computer analysts”) encompassed everyone working in computing.
In the last three weeks, I was asked several times at MIT and Stanford about what questions I would like answered about MOOCs. I didn’t get any answers, but folks at Georgia Tech were asking me about the questions, so I thought I’d share some of them here. This is the evidence I’m looking for.
It’s an interesting set of claims in Australia to explain the lack of women in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in this article. I’m wondering about the notion of “role model” and how it plays a role in this story. Do you think that young women see the senior management in ICT companies? Do high school or college students know what the gender split is in the companies that might employ them?
When we introduced Media Computation, I thought that it would play a role in recruitment. Over 50% of students in Liberal Arts, Architecture, and Business would withdraw or fail the required CS course before we created Media Computation. Now that we have a CS course that 85% of those students pass each semester, that should draw in more students, shouldn’t it? We looked, but never saw evidence of that. There’s just not much of a feedback mechanism from undergraduate back to high school.
I do believe that the lack of women in upper management can be a deterrent to other women. “Unlocking the Clubhouse” talked about the phenomenon of women entering CS classes, seeing no other women, and wondering, “Do I belong here?” I expect that the lack of women in ICT management sends a signal to other women, “People like you don’t belong.” But I wonder if that signal reaches all the way down to high school or college.
The pay gap between women and men in IT and the lack of senior female role models are the main reasons why young women are not taking up a career in ICT, according to Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).
Speaking ahead of an address to the VMWare Women in IT event in Sydney today, EOWA director Helen Conway used the research from the 2012 Remuneration Survey conducted by the Australian Computer Society to show how serious an issue the gender pay gap is in the industry. She said the research found that men in ICT earn, on average, 9.8 per cent more than women, even though women entering the industry start on comparable or slightly higher salaries.
With not enough women entering the industry, Conway said this has resulted in a lack of senior role models for young women to look up to, which further contributes to the problem of young women not thinking of IT as a suitable career choice.
Information science and computer science are both in the top five best-paying jobs for women, says Forbes. Yet, the percentage of women in computing remains dismally in the low-teens percent at most schools. Why is that? Do women not know that computing pays well for them, or is that not a factor in their choice of majors?
It’s a complicated question of how one chooses a career. I ran another half marathon on Thanksgiving, and noticed the same observation in the results that I did when I ran the DisneyWorld half marathon in January: Women are the majority of the runners, but the men (on average) run faster. Ambition to be “the best” is not what’s motivating all those women to run. In Education, there’s the Eccles Model of Achievement-Related Choices that speaks to choice of major. Expectation of success is a primary factor (for the student’s definition of success), but just as large is the value that the student has for the choice, and that’s influence by a variety of factors, including affect and social milieu. High pay might not be one of the critical values for women in choosing careers.
Due to the continuing gender difference in pay, researchers at the CEW analyzed 171 undergraduate majors by how well they pay off for women. Perhaps not surprisingly, the top 10 best-paying college majors for women closely align with the most recent list of the best-paying jobs for women, with pharmacy reigning supreme. The list is also dominated by engineering and computer science majors, areas where men are highly concentrated.
The basic story here is one we’ve heard before. What I liked about this one was who is talking. These aren’t just interviews with the academics and others working with NCWIT. These are interviews with corporations and engineers, and even our Georgia Tech Dean of Engineering, Gary May. This is a broader base for the argument for getting more women into computing.
Despite an influx of females among Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ranks, the computer-science field remains dominated by men. According to the National Science Foundation, women have plummeted from 28% of the graduates in computer sciences at U.S. schools in 2000 to 17% in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.
“There should be more female engineers,” says Rani Borkar, general manager for Intel’s Architecture Development Group. She came to the U.S. from India in 1985 and has seen steady, if slow, progress.
The field’s stunted growth, especially for women, is rooted in education. There just aren’t enough kids weaned on the topic in high school and, before that, elementary school, says Gary May, dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.
Computer science is taught in a fraction of U.S. high schools. Only 2,100 of 42,000 were certified to teach advanced-placement computer science courses in 2011,and just 21,139 students took the AP exam.
Nice new infographic from NCWIT making the case for engaging more women in computing, and giving tips on how to do it.
Just 9 states allow computer science to count towards high school graduation requirements.
If technology is designed mostly by the half of our population that’s male, we’re missing out on the innovations, solutions, and creations that 50% of the population could bring.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2020 there will be more than 1.4 million computing-related job openings. At current rates, however, we can only fill about 30% of those jobs with U.S. computing bachelor’s grads. Girls represent a valuable, mostly untapped talent pool.
With computing jobs among the fastest-growing and highest-paying, more women should benefit from these occupations.