Bridging the Computer Science Gender Gap

Over the course of the past 40 years, computer science has exploded as an exciting new field of innovation that has utterly changed the way we move through the world. The field has bred a host of new positions that were the stuff of science fiction just a few short decades ago. Throughout its history, however, one disturbing trend has remained a constant in the world of computer science; namely, the conspicuous absence of female professionals in the industry. According to the journal Inside Hire Ed, about nine percent of male college students in 2000 were pursuing majors in computer science. Conversely, only two percent of females surveyed at the same time were in computer science programs.

Statisticians and educators used to attribute the gender gap to a discrepancy in math confidence, but even as more and more women have entered math-driven fields, computer science programs have still struggled to recruit female talent. Fortunately, a number of higher education institutions and organizations are taking steps to make sure this trend doesn’t continue for much longer.

One such organization, Harvard Women in Computer Science, has begun hosting conferences intended to bring established women in the field together with interested prospective students from all over the country. Last year’s conference featured rousing keynote speeches from industry leaders, as well as an eight-hour hackathon at the Harvard Innovation Lab.

Amy Yin, co-founder of the organization, described the motivation to form Harvard Women in Computer Science in an interview with the Harvard Gazette. “The biases may be more subtle now, but the statistics are not,” said Yin. “There’s a saying that ‘if you can’t see it, you can’t be it,’ which is why we wanted to develop a community of women in computer science.”

But these women at Harvard aren’t the only ones trying to put an end to the gender gap in computer science. Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization founded in 2012 that aims to educate young women about computer science and give them access to the skills and resources they need to pursue careers in the field. A seven-week summer immersion program gives high school junior and senior girls the opportunity to learn and work at companies and universities with strong focuses on computer science. Girls Who Code also sponsors clubs for sixth to 12th grade girls that offer extracurricular instruction in computer science throughout the academic year.

Here at CSS, we’re thrilled to hear that these educators and entrepreneurs are working hard to encourage women to take part in the fascinating world of computer science. We have developed relationships with career development offices in colleges and universities around the country to learn about recent trends in computer science graduates. Call us today to learn how these type of workforce changes can be working for or against you in your hiring procedures.