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posted by janrinok on Saturday June 07 2014, @05:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the food-for-thought dept.

A huge nationwide push is underway, funded by the nonprofit Code.org's corporate and billionaire donors, from Amazon and Google to Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, to introduce American schoolchildren to coding and to redefine it as a basic skill to be learned alongside the three R's.

Code.org's curriculum has been adopted by 20,000 teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade. But if coding is the new lingua franca, literacy rates for girls are dropping: Last year, girls made up 18.5 percent of A.P. computer science test-takers nationwide, a slight decrease from the year before. In three states, no girls took the test at all. An abysmal 0.4 percent of girls entering college intend to major in computer science [PDF]. And in 2013, women made up 14 percent of all computer science graduates down from 36 percent in 1984. The imbalance persists in the tech industry. Just this week, Google released data showing that women account for just 17 percent of its tech employees.

The problem is not only getting girls to computer class, but keeping them there.

See also girlswhocode.com.

 
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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by kevinl on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:44PM

    by kevinl (3951) on Saturday June 07 2014, @06:44PM (#52697)

    You obviously missed the bit where there were more women entering the field in 1984 than now. Since evolution doesn't work that quickly, this cannot be reduced to gender essentialism.

    Something has changed in the last 35 years such that fewer women are entering the field. That IS a problem for the field, losing 50%+ of a major demographic indicates a serious institutional issue at work. There are several potential reasons for this, perhaps a combination of reasons. Maybe we (the collection of computing professionals and educators) have developed a woman-repelling (or man-attracting) feature in the technology itself; or possibly we've developed a woman-repelling work and study culture; or maybe the tech sector is actually a dead-end career and women have somehow disproportionately noticed. Can you come up with any others?

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  • (Score: 1) by frojack on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:42PM

    by frojack (1554) on Saturday June 07 2014, @07:42PM (#52736) Journal

    Losing 50% of the demographic is NOT a serious institutional issue.
    It is the free exercise of choice.

    As long as you persist in this unspoken, but clearly implied assumption that all careers are equally attractive to all types of people, you will continue to make such faulty pronouncements that women preferring other lines of work is some how a problem that has to be fixed.

    Women don't like plumbing jobs, (1.8%) or diesel mechanics (.8%) work either. What DEEPER issues do you think prevail there, and don't you think those should be addressed first? Its far "worse" than the IT industry.

    Dept of Labor [dol.gov] has a listing of these non-traditional or jobs and the percent of women employed.

    There is no problem here. Stop trying to make one up. People are free to make their choices.

    --
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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @01:27AM (#52815)

      Your ability to remain steadfastly ignorant in the face of your own evidence is stunning.

      For example, that list shows women only make up 17.2% of the clergy. By your own proclamation, women are simply freely choosing not to be priests. The fact that at least a third of the jobs in the clergy are simply not an option for women because of the rules of the catholic church does not have anything to do with it. No, they are just exercising their freedom to choose.

      If you can't figure that one out you don't have a chance in hell of ever groking the more subtle ways society pressures different classes of people to conform. You are like a Marie Antoinette of social science, "let them just take the jobs!"

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @04:37AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08 2014, @04:37AM (#52856)

        Because IT and clergy are synonyms. Idiot.

    • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday June 09 2014, @11:10PM

      by urza9814 (3954) on Monday June 09 2014, @11:10PM (#53452) Journal

      Did you miss the point where he's not comparing different careers, but a single career over only thirty years? If losing 50% of the demographic was merely them exercising choice, why are they exercising that choice now when they apparently didn't in the 80s?

      There are only two possible explanations I can think of:
      One is that the techology changed and women don't like it anymore. Perhaps now that we program systems instead of individual machines, that's the reason. But women are supposedly better at multi-tasking, so you'd think that would make them better at parallel or system programming. Maybe not; perhaps that makes it harder to just focus on your own part of the spec.

      The second possibility is that when we realized how important programmers were becoming, it stopped being thought of as essentially a form of secretarial work and existing prejudices took over. Perhaps the growing demand for a college education? My grandfather never allowed my mother to attend college because to him that wasn't something women were supposed to do. That would have only been about 40 years ago.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by deimtee on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:10AM

    by deimtee (3272) on Sunday June 08 2014, @02:10AM (#52825) Journal

    Rather than IT repelling women more now than in 1984, it may be that women now have much more opportunity in other fields.
    It's possible that IT was ahead on equality, but now technically inclined women have more choice, and choose to go elsewhere.

    --
    If you cough while drinking cheap red wine it really cleans out your sinuses.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by evilviper on Sunday June 08 2014, @12:28PM

    by evilviper (1760) on Sunday June 08 2014, @12:28PM (#52928) Homepage Journal

    Something has changed in the last 35 years such that fewer women are entering the field.

    I wouldn't be surprised if hours, vacation, and stress are what has changed. 30 years ago, IT was vastly more of a 9-5 job. Expanding operating hours, the internet, and more, has made it far more of a round-the-clock job, where the vast majority of people are required to accept on-call rotations.

    The job has also gotten vastly more expansive and complex than it was 30 years ago. More men might be willing to invest the increasingly greater time and effort, before getting a payoff.

    --
    Hydrogen cyanide is a delicious and necessary part of the human diet.