Thursday, October 06, 2005

Computer Science Woes

Thanks to my Professor for showing me this interesting study from UCLA about Computer Science.

Executive Summary:
  • There were two big surges in CS popularity: peaks at 1983 and 1999 (the latter obviously being the dot-com boom and later crash).
  • During the first surge, lots of women expressed interest, and the fraction of CS degrees given to women nearly reached a whopping 36% (oooh 36%; it's sad when I can look at such a ratio and actually admire it, but 10% was the sad reality of my computer engineering undergrad).
  • During the second surge, women didn't so much as blink. Total overall degrees granted to women in CS is actually falling, as opposed to practically every other field (including engineering as a whole) where it has traditionally steadily increased.
So, if you take their data to be representative and predictive, CS is going to wither to nothing over the next few years, and the few left will suffer knowing they're the only place on campus without living breathing women in their ranks.

We're obviously doing something wrong. Are computers really perceived to be so horrible that only the promise of unthinkable levels of fame and fortune can get people to even try it over a "Would You Like Fries With That?" degree? So bad that less than one in two hundred women in post-secondary education will even enroll?

Can we make computers cool to youths again? What will happen if we don't?

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