Boys will be Boys – How to Level the Playing Field

Grace Hopper (1906-1992)
Famous for inventing the compiler

Although Computer Science is taught largely by male professors, I feel that females are left behind because they feel intimidation from their male peers. Every other boy in the class it seems already has developed their own website or programmed a video game. Without a system to help favor those who may not already be familiar with the programming domain as many of their die-hard-gamer computer-nerd classmates, they give up and stop asking for help. Women in computer science need a system to help them succeed along with more role models women to achieve success.

Harvey Mudd College leads in awarding forty percent of their Computer Science Degrees to women. Here women are nurtured early on. For example, the introductory classes are divided into two different sections: black and gold. Those who have no prior experience attend the gold section. This class also focuses on teaching how computer science is not only about programming, but applicable to science as well. The president of Harvey Mudd, Maria Klawe, has a PhD in Computer Science. Her inspiration as a role model becomes infectious to women around her in the major. This leads more women to finish the major and to graduate.

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3 thoughts on “Boys will be Boys – How to Level the Playing Field

  1. I think a big reason while there are few girls in the CS program is because of social perceptions: girls aren’t expected to like computers, thus they shy away from it. It is the same reason there are very few men in the Elementary Education or Nursing programs. Girls may take lower-level CS classes because of an interest in programming/computers, but after a class or two they realize that there aren’t too many other girls for them to associate with in the program. Nobody likes to feel like they don’t belong, so many of the girls leave in hopes of finding a program where they naturally fit in.

  2. I definitely agree. When I started Computer Science I felt like I didn’t know anything because all of the smart nerds who had been programming since they could talk answered all the questions and I wasn’t able to learn anything. I’m sure this is how women feel also as they start their Computer Science careers.

  3. I really like that you pulled Harvey Mudd as an excellent example of attracting women to cs. They are an excellent demonstration that I presented in the proper light, computer science is appealing to women. Sending their freshmen to the Grace Hopper Celebration definitely helps them retain more women.

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