Computer science is a field that has always been dominated by men and still is today. It is crazy to think that currently, only 20% of computer science majors are women. If we look at the numbers of women enrolled in universities, there isn’t a large disparity between popular majors such as business, health, biology, or psychology. With computer science, however, the situation is completely different. In fact, there was even a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University that concluded that men and women are equally adept at computing. Why then aren’t more women becoming computer scientists? There’s likely more than one factor behind this trend. Here are some reasons why women just might be staying away from computer science.
One of the reasons why computer science remains unpopular with women is a lack of confidence. One study shows that there are a number of factors that contribute to the self-doubt many women face in these fields, including:
- The idea that women are less innately talented at math and science
- The idea that math and science require innate talent rather than hard work to master
- A sense of being “impostor syndrome” among women, who feel they do not belong in the field despite their qualifications.
Women have not had a strong presence in computer science for a long time, and this absence has created a confidence gap between men and women. People tend to model their own behavior after what they see others doing, which means that young women are unlikely to explore computer science if they don’t see other women doing it.
This is a problem because everybody benefits from having more voices participating in the conversation around technology. The people who create these technologies shape the way our society works, so it’s important that all types of people are involved in the creation process. We need more women in computer science because we need more voices at the table when these decisions are made.
One of the reasons that computer science is still unpopular among women could be society’s gender roles. The field is thought to be a “boys’ club” so girls feel intimidated and want to avoid it.
In our society, young girls are often given dolls to play with, while boys get toy cars or building blocks. This gender-role-reinforcing behavior instills in girls a tendency to be nurturing and provide care when they grow up—which leads them away from the field of computing and into fields like nursing or teaching. Boys are sometimes given toys that encourage them to develop spatial reasoning skills (like building blocks), which help in math and computer science-related learning later on in school.
One of the reasons why computer science is unpopular with women is because of the stereotypes that surround people in this field. These stereotypes create a social environment in which women do not feel comfortable pursuing computer science. Because of the stereotypes, women who pursue computer science may be thought of as nerds or geeks by their peers. Therefore, they may be less likely to become involved in computer science because they feel like they will not fit in with other students or faculty members at their university.