What really helps get women a STEM college degree

November 14, 2013 at 1:15 am 3 comments

This article highlights Georgia Tech as a negative example: “Just 37% of this year’s freshman class at Georgia Tech is female. And that’s increase over previous years, thanks in part to the school’s dedicated women’s recruitment team.”

But I think that the author doesn’t really get what draws women into STEM (or any other field).  Below, the argument is that there are so many women in CS in Qatar because the government emphasizes it.  I visited Qatar, and spoke to women in CS there — no one once said that they were there because their government encouraged them.  It had far more to do with values and family concerns.  I’ll bet that Georgia Tech has a far larger recruitment effort than at Harvey Mudd, even though Harvey Mudd is getting more success drawing women into computing.  It’s way more complicated than recruiting and emphasizing.

Getting young women interested and immersed in computer science programs comes at a time when one million new jobs in tech-related fields will be created in the next decade.

But fewer women are going into these fields. Just about 2% of women have a degree in a high-tech field, according to Catalyst.

Currently, a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women, compare that figure to countries like Oman and Qatar, whose governments emphasize girls’ education and STEM fields.

via Wanted: Women who want a college degree in a STEM field.

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Why Flipping Classrooms Might Not Make Much Difference Data typing might be important for someone

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. thinkingwiththings  |  November 14, 2013 at 8:14 am

    I wish I could remember the name of the scholar who gave a paper on women programmers in Malaysia. One of her findings is that programming there is considered a suitable job for a woman because it allows them to stay home and not work in a more public place where they would be alongside men who are not family members. It does serve to get the numbers of women programmers up, but doesn’t do much to lift oppressive limitations on women’s movements and associations.

  • 3. Cecily Heiner  |  November 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Brigham Young University did something new last Saturday– they had a women in science day. What started out as 50 girls coming to campus quickly blossomed into 250. I went up to serve on a panel since there are not a lot of female CS faculty in southern Utah- I think if I get tenure I might be the first to do so south of Salt Lake County, which is kind of scary, since we educate 75000+ kids a year at the college level! The questions the girls asked were fascinating. One wanted to know how science could be used at home, and which discipline would be most useful at home. Another wanted to know what our favorite experiment was. There were lots of questions about experiments– for many of the girls, science was a “project” or “experiment” not an “identity”. I’ve never done anything like this with this age group (middle school and high school) anywhere else, but I couldn’t help but wonder if girls elsewhere (where they have more role models) ask better questions. The questions were quite a bit different than the ones at the Colorado Celebration of Women in Computing Panel I was on 5 years ago. I think one challenge is to figure out how to talk about science and science careers in culturally appropriate ways.


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