Revamped computer science classes attracting more girls: Maybe, or maybe they just want CS

March 26, 2014 at 1:05 am 1 comment

Great to see Dan Garcia and his class getting this kind of press!  I’m not sure I buy the argument that SFGate is making, though.  Do female students at Berkeley find out about this terrific class and then decide to take it?  Or are they deciding to take some CS and end up in this class?  Based on Mike Hewner’s work, I don’t think that students know much about the content of even great classes like Dan’s before they get there.

It is a predictable college scene, but this Berkeley computer science class is at the vanguard of a tech world shift. The class has 106 women and 104 men.

The gender flip first occurred last spring. It was the first time since at least 1993 – as far back as university enrollment records are digitized – that more women enrolled in an introductory computer science course. It was likely the first time ever.

It’s a small but a significant benchmark. Male computer science majors still far outnumber female, but Prof. Dan Garcia’s class is a sign that efforts to attract more women to a field where they have always been vastly underrepresented are working.

“We are starting to see a shift,” said Telle Whitney, president of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

via Revamped computer science classes attracting more girls – SFGate.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Mike Zamansky  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I wonder who’s asking questions about what happens after these pre-major courses.

    CS10 is not part of the CS major, which starts with CS61A and uses SICP – at least according to the web site.

    I’m curious:

    How many kids jump right into CS61A without taking CS10 and how many of those stay in the major?

    How many kids (guys and girls) went from the old CS10, assuming there was one to CS61A and again, how many stayed in the major?

    And finally, we’ll have to see what happens in this case.

    If a school’s CS culture isn’t inviting to under-represented groups, I’d imagine that no matter how wonderful your pre-major intro is and no matter how amazing the professor or teacher, the needle won’t be moved much without changing the culture of the major as a whole.


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