Computing is among the best-paying jobs for women, but that might not be enough

December 4, 2012 at 9:25 am 3 comments

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.

via The 10 Best-Paying College Majors For Women – Forbes.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alfredtwo  |  December 4, 2012 at 10:20 am

    People’s motives are usually more complicated than we’d like to make them. When people say that students avoid CS because it is hard I remind them that medicine is also hard and yet women are moving there in droves. If money were a prime motivator we’d have very few art and theater majors. In fact we’d have few in many of the social sciences.
    I think the way to get more people into CS is not by pushing the money aspect or hiding the hard part but by making more people aware of the difference computer science can, is and will make in the world. That is really why we need them in the first place.

    Reply
    • 2. Franklin  |  December 4, 2012 at 10:50 am

      The thing is that CS is (not just for women, of course) “hard” in a very different way from which other things are hard. Also, the example of medicine ironically illustrates my point: nothing in the world is as “easy” as medicine, in the sense that it’s all mapped out what you need to do, and all you have to do is carry through. There are guarantees, there are procedures, there are well-worn paths, systems of mentorship, assessment, etc. A career in CS is typically nothing like that.

      I agree about the importance of showing people what the heck CS is and how it makes a difference. Everyone “knows” what doctors do, to some extent. Most people who are not in CS have literally no clue what computation is actually about, the power of abstraction, of composition, of scaling, etc.

      Reply
  • […] their base interests?  I’ll bet that it has to do with more things than just interests, like Eccles model of academic achievement (how do people think about this career? can you see yourself in this career?) and values (which are […]

    Reply

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