Colleges and Companies Move to Incentivize Women to Enter Coding Fields


An increasing number of universities are ramping up their recruiting efforts for women coders, the New York Times reported.

It’s common knowledge that women are underrepresented in the computer sciences. However, according to recent data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, that trend isn’t getting any better; in fact, it’s getting worse.

According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology, among computer science and engineering graduates in 2012, only 18% were women. If that sounds small, consider that in 1985, that number was more than double: 37%.

The New York Times noted that this trend is the product of several different factors. For example, some women are reluctant to enter computer science and engineering fields precisely because they are so male-dominated, creating something of a catch-22. Other women who may otherwise be attracted to the field found it difficult to find mentors.

This trend hasn’t gone unnoticed, and big companies like Google, who recently launched a $50 million initiative called Made with Code to attract more women to coding, are scrambling to incentivize women to enter technical fields.

Plenty of colleges are following suit, according to the New York Times. The University of Washington and Carnegie Mellon both hosting camps for high school students interested in technical fields, and their mentors included several women.

Likewise, Carnegie Mellon no longer requires incoming programming majors to have had previous programming experience, betting that many girls how are interested in the field may not have been exposed to it in secondary school.

Studies say these and similar efforts are having a positive impact. At Carnegie Mellon, 40% of new computer science majors are female, the largest percentage in the department’s history.

Lenore Blum, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, told The New York Times that other schools could have similar success.

“I don’t think we’re doing anything that nobody else could do,” said Blum, “but it has to be sustained and institutionalized.”

Sources:
“Google’s Helping Young Girls, But How Can We Get Wome in College To Code?” forbes.com, July 1, 2014, Yunita Ong, http://www.forbes.com/sites/yunitaong/2014/07/01/googles-helping-young-girls-but-how-can-we-get-women-in-college-to-code/
“Some Universities Crack Code in Drawing Women to Computer Science,” nytimes.com, July 17, 2014, Claire Cain Miller, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/18/upshot/some-universities-crack-code-in-drawing-women-to-computer-science.html
“Women and Information Technology: By the Numbers,” ncwit.org, 2014, http://www.ncwit.org/sites/default/files/resources/btn_02282014web.pdf

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