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Women in Computing Netiva Caftori Netiva Caftori Northeastern Illinois University 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Women in Computing Netiva Caftori Netiva Caftori Northeastern Illinois University 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Women in Computing Netiva Caftori Netiva Caftori Northeastern Illinois University 2004

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3 The reality There are less women in computer science and engineering programs in universities and high schools. There are less women in industry working in development and design of software, for example The numbers are actually dropping, from already low numbers, throughout the country and the world. Why? What can be done about it?

4 Some numbers & terminology >2002: 21% of computer science PhD degrees were earned by women, but had only about half that share of assistant professor slots in the field. 16% of PhDs in engineering were earned by women but less than 10% are full professors >2002: 21% of computer science PhD degrees were earned by women, but had only about half that share of assistant professor slots in the field. 16% of PhDs in engineering were earned by women but less than 10% are full professors. 21% of bachelors today in engineering are women (only 1% in 1972). 21% of bachelors today in engineering are women (only 1% in 1972). Critical mass, glass ceiling, shrinking pipeline. Critical mass, glass ceiling, shrinking pipeline.

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6 A bit of history Women were maybe more numerous than men in earlier days (see those early pictures), but were considered “part of the furniture” (J. Lee) Women were maybe more numerous than men in earlier days (see those early pictures), but were considered “part of the furniture” (J. Lee) Ada Lovelace Ada Lovelace Grace Hopper Grace Hopper

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8 Computing with a purpose Men narrowly focused on the machine Men narrowly focused on the machine Hacking for hacking’s sake Hacking for hacking’s sake Women have multiple interests They desire to link computer science to social concerns and caring for people

9 Gender Socialization Male claim to the field of computing and engineering and the erosion of girls’ and women’s interest can be understood by looking back to the roots of gender socialization. e.g., Kindergarten boys’ and girls’ behavior; a parent who seeds the budding interest; boys’ early success in science; parents’ and teachers’ expectations; boys are raised to take risks; girls to be cautious; earlier puberty for girls.

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11 What helps further boys’ claim and women’s retreat from computing: Childhood: kids observe their parents. Girls write stories; boys play games and tinker. Girls limit their involvement. Childhood: kids observe their parents. Girls write stories; boys play games and tinker. Girls limit their involvement. Adolescence: who has a computer? Where is it located? Adolescence: who has a computer? Where is it located? Peer relationship Peer relationship Computer game design Computer game design Secondary schooling->critical time for girls Secondary schooling->critical time for girls

12 Adolescence Girls Boys Underestimate math abilities Underestimate math abilities Little or no computing experience Little or no computing experience Anxiety about machines Anxiety about machines Like “real-life” settings for games with a strong story and everyday people Like “real-life” settings for games with a strong story and everyday people with nonviolent feedback with nonviolent feedback Overestimate math abilities Much computing experience Anxiety about people No clear sense of intrinsic maleness To “be a man” constant competition to prove invulnerability & un- femaleness.

13 Critical high school years Girls who choose computing in college got interested because of a high-school course. Girls who choose computing in college got interested because of a high-school course. Boys get turned on to computing earlier, usually at home or with friends. Boys get turned on to computing earlier, usually at home or with friends. Teachers are essential in identifying students and pushing them to take programming classes and not just typing. Teachers are essential in identifying students and pushing them to take programming classes and not just typing. Many HS counselors look for boys or for girls whose interest mimics boys. Many HS counselors look for boys or for girls whose interest mimics boys. Girls’ motivations are different than boys’. Girls’ motivations are different than boys’.

14 Public school teachers (1998 national survey) 42% of schools said the majority (40% or more) of their teachers were at the intermediate level 42% of schools said the majority (40% or more) of their teachers were at the intermediate level 38% of schools characterized the majority of their teachers as beginners 38% of schools characterized the majority of their teachers as beginners Only 7% of schools said the majority of their teachers were at an advanced level (use technology in curriculum) Only 7% of schools said the majority of their teachers were at an advanced level (use technology in curriculum) 1% of schools placed the majority of teachers at the innovator or instructor level. 1% of schools placed the majority of teachers at the innovator or instructor level.

15 Gender Generalization Too easy to generalize and simplify the categories Too easy to generalize and simplify the categories But also misleading to say women share no unifying experiences But also misleading to say women share no unifying experiences Going too far in either direction may lead to indifference Going too far in either direction may lead to indifference

16 In universities Computer science and software engineering curricula Computer science & SW engineering curricula don’t offer what women are interested in or concerned with. The “geek culture” alienates women who resist it. Some find it repulsive. Many see the geek culture as the norm. As a consequence, women’s confidence and interest are extinguished in the college years.

17 Factors in decisions to major Women --- Men Enjoyment 63% Enjoyment 63% Versatile, broad 42% Versatile, broad 42% Math/Science related 38% Math/Science related 38% Secure employment Secure employment Encouraged by others 32% Encouraged by others 32% Best dept CMU 22% Best dept CMU 22% Exciting, changing field Exciting, changing field Enjoyment 70% Encouraged by others 26% Math/science related 15% Secure employment Best dept CMU 15% Versatile 4% Exciting, changing field

18 Myopic focus on computers Some men also resist a narrow orientation but do not question their ability to become computer scientists because their gender has not rendered them suspect. The social history and culture of computing and engineering contribute to boys’ sense of belonging and girls’ sense of “outsidership” in computer science and engineering. The model of a successful CS or engineering student is viewed through a male prism.

19 Women and Minorities

20 Confidence and Promise Drops in confidence precede drops in interest. However: The computing field can hold much promise and pleasures for women: problem solving, creation, interaction.

21 Results of a study At Carnegie Melon University: In 5 years a big rise in numbers of women: 7 women (7%) out of 96 in 1995 to 54 women (42%) out of 130 in 2000 Concluding that what prevailed before the study is that: One group of people can claim a realm of power, delegating others to outsiders.

22 Suggestions: Teachers and parents need to engage and protect girls’ interests and change computer science and engineering into fields that are engaging and interesting for a much larger and more diverse group of students. Maybe the name “engineering” should be changed or at least its image.

23 The goal The goal should not be to fit women into computer science and engineering, as they are currently taught and conceived. Rather, a curricular and cultural revolution is required to change computer science and engineering so that the valuable contributions and perspectives of women are respected within the discipline.

24 What was done at Carnegie Melon Curricula: Different levels of entering the curriculum depending on level of experience Curricula: Different levels of entering the curriculum depending on level of experience Admission: Experience is not a prerequisite Admission: Experience is not a prerequisite Good teaching is especially important to women: e.g., better more experienced teachers in earlier courses; a unit on diversity, particularly gender equity in TA training classes Good teaching is especially important to women: e.g., better more experienced teachers in earlier courses; a unit on diversity, particularly gender equity in TA training classes

25 Carnegie Melon: (Cont.) Contextualizing computer science: Realistic settings: more applications Interdisciplinary courses: art, business, ethics, education, gender, language, visual design, organizational skills Promote diverse teaching methods

26 Culture Promote a different and diverse culture. Change the image of a computer person from a hacker (which may be repulsive or discouraging to some) necessarily to maybe something else, just as favorable if not appealing to women.

27 Summary The absence of women in computer science and sw engineering has large societal implications and is a social justice issue. The absence of women in computer science and sw engineering has large societal implications and is a social justice issue. The social conditioning that many girls receive runs very deep. It takes a lot to uproot it. The social conditioning that many girls receive runs very deep. It takes a lot to uproot it. Since everything is affected by the onslaught of technology and since men invent and women use what men invent, a cyberspace society will inevitably reflect the desires of men to the exclusion and often denigration of women. Since everything is affected by the onslaught of technology and since men invent and women use what men invent, a cyberspace society will inevitably reflect the desires of men to the exclusion and often denigration of women. Something has to be done to change the situation. Something has to be done to change the situation.

28 Hopes We hope that teachers of all levels, parents, students, computer people of all walks will begin conversations about these findings, and will ask themselves why so few women and girls study computer science and software engineering, how early gender socialization and schooling restrict the options of many girls, and what women can add to the world of technology.

29 References J. Margolis & A Fisher: Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. MIT press, 2003 J. Margolis & A Fisher: Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing. MIT press, 2003 R. Lander & A. Adam (editors): Women in Computing, Intellect, 1997 R. Lander & A. Adam (editors): Women in Computing, Intellect, 1997 SIGCSE Bulletin: Inroads, paving the way towards Excellence in computing education. Special issue: Women & Computing, ACM, June 2002, v34 #2 SIGCSE Bulletin: Inroads, paving the way towards Excellence in computing education. Special issue: Women & Computing, ACM, June 2002, v34 #2

30 Discussion topics: Diversity: Let’s be selfish Diversity: Let’s be selfish Feminism: minimal, optimal, drastic Feminism: minimal, optimal, drastic Senior faculty: are they a model? Senior faculty: are they a model? Equal access: at home, middle school Equal access: at home, middle school Minorities: School resources are inadequate Minorities: School resources are inadequate Tenure clock versus biological clock Tenure clock versus biological clock

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