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CS Programs Changing to Attract Women Students 596

Posted by Zonk
from the too-much-y-already dept.
Magnifico writes "The New York times is running an article about a push by American universities to actively recruit women into Computer Science courses. The story, 'Computer Science Takes Steps to Bring Women to the Fold', explains that the number of women in CS is shrinking: 'Women received about 38 percent of the computer science bachelor's degrees awarded in the United States in 1985, the peak year, but in 2003, the figure was only about 28 percent, according to the National Science Foundation.' One of the largest barriers to recruiting women to the field is the nerd factor. To attract women students to the CS field, 'Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science.' Changes at CMU increased women students in the CS program from 8 percent to nearly 40 percent."
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CS Programs Changing to Attract Women Students

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  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:50AM (#18767465) Homepage Journal


    1) Geek woman get CS degrees & jobs.
    2) Geek woman meets geek man.
    3) ???
    4) Aspergers!!!

    • by bigtomrodney (993427) * on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:00AM (#18767643)
      Its funny you should mention geeks meeting up. Is that the best reason to actively recruit women?
      What I'm trying to say is if women don't want to enroll, so be it. Why force this 'positive discrimination'? Now if it was said that there was an overall drop in students enrolling then I would understand some concern but I just don't understand why we should force equality.

      Personally I have no interest in signing up for a degree in Fashion Design. Some men may and more power to them but if there are more women signing up than men I don't think they should spend time or money trying to make fashion design more butch.
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:41PM (#18768845) Homepage
        What I'm trying to say is if women don't want to enroll, so be it. Why force this 'positive discrimination'?

        Because of the negative discrimination that is artificially limiting the number of women in the field in the first place. Discrimination in the form of men assuming that women "don't want to enroll", simply because they're women and thus less interested in our manly computer engineering/sciences.

        Look at this thread. I guarantee (in part because a lot has already shown up) that you'll see men in computer fields stating as fact that women don't really want to be in computer science. You'll see them state as fact that women aren't as good in computers as men. That it's an obvious "natural difference" that means that there really shouldn't be as many women in CS, only those rare few that have what it takes to match up with the men, and thus recruiting more is futile or even counter-productive. And then they'll say that all this proves that there isn't any discrimination against women in CS. Despite the fact that the real reason there are few women in CS -- men in the field discriminating against women -- is put blatantly before them every time they look in the mirror.

        It's the same thing that went on in the 70s and 80s with women in the fields of law, business, and medicine. Fields dominated by men, and those men said that clearly women neither wanted nor were capable of succeeding in these fields, and hence would continue to be minorities. Well time passed and the women proved both that they wanted to and that they could, and you'd look like an archaic dinosaur with severe damage to the tact centers of the brain if you said otherwise. Computers, a field that has been dominated by a particularly anti-social breed of men even more prone to insulation than lawyers or MBAS, is the next stop. Encouraging women, letting them know that there are people in the field who welcome them, that the ones telling them what they want to do with their own lives are dinosaurs on the way out, that's helpful.

        It may be that once we have gotten rid of all the sex discrimination in the computer field that there will still be fewer women in the field. It may be that there is in fact natural tendency that affects the ratio of men vs women. There's nothing wrong with that. The problem is that if you think that we are at that point, today, where sex discrimination doesn't exist? Then you're 1) male and 2) delusional.

        • by Doctor Faustus (127273) <Slashdot@@@WilliamCleveland...Org> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:47PM (#18768943) Homepage
          Did you read the article? It was about changing computer science to be what they think women want. That strikes me as far more stereotyping than letting the field be what it is.

          Yes, there can be discrimination, and yes it should be opposed. That's not what this is about.
          • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:10PM (#18770471) Homepage
            Yeah I read the article, and I don't know where you're getting that. I see them de-emphasizing programming experience for acceptance to the program, and I see them talking more about uses and applications for computers than just the programming of them. No mention of actually changing the curriculum. Maybe adjusting teaching styles, but what's wrong with that? The difference between what these people think women want and the men I described in my post thinking they know what women want is that the people at CMU actually talked to women to get an idea of what they wanted, and have shown success as a result.
          • by Shadowlore (10860) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:29PM (#18770801) Journal
            Did you read the article? It was about changing computer science to be what they think women want.

            And guess what, they say it worked! Sounds rather scientific ...

            Theory:
                Women do not enroll in CS because they are not interested in it.

            Test method:
                Change CS to mean/teach what you believe women want to learn, observe results.

            So you change it and get dramatic results that indicate you were right. Conclusive proof it is not, but it's damned good evidence that you may be right.

            Our culture is suffering from a sever case of MPD. We claim that diversity - that enjoying and celebrating the differences between different races/nationalities/cultures/sexes - is a good thing, but then are not allowed to even contemplate that there ARE differences. It is shown through many studies over many decades that the brains of men and women are wired differently. Not inherently better or worse, just different. In some cases the differences will give one a bias toward things or an advantage, but it is not universal.

            There is nothing wrong with women not wanting to be programmers. People whining about women not being as common in the field as men are pretty much either:

            1) Men looking to pick up on women, so they want more around without the effort of looking outside their little realm
            2) People looking to absolve themselves for some perceived or actual social crime, or looking to make themselves "look better/compassionate/caring" by "fighting for the little guy"

            A prior poster got it spot on. We don't see organizations saying that men are not represented well enough in fields that women dominate, or fields such as fashion design, hairdressing, etc..

            It's got nothing to do with "being macho" or "manly'. Seriously, it's amazing that someone would post to slashdot (the grandparent to this post) that programming and CS are "manly sciences". Sure, tell that to the jocks bashing the nerds in high school. Yes, men and women are different. Get over it and quit trying to make us all the same. It is damaging to everyone. The human race are not Borg drones. We are each different with our advantages and disadvantages. This is true between races, cultures, nationalities, and pretty much any other group you can arrive at.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by xENoLocO (773565) *
          Right... and the excuse for this is that CS is "too nerdy"?

          Because guys don't get called nerdy? The degree should be about the education. They shouldn't alter the education to suit a "balanced" audience. Period.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nacturation (646836)
          Normally I'd agree with you, but look at the summary "Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key..." How is this different from attracting women to become math majors by moving emphasis away from being able to do math problems?
           
          • by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:16PM (#18770585) Journal
            For fucks sake, I think a lot of people here in slashdot should go and study Computer Science to realize that CS is NOT all about programming, there are countless branches of Computer Science were programming has *nothing* to do. I am making my PhD in Comp.Science right now, and if it wasnt for the fact that I am doing simulations (which in some circumstances it might be possible to do *without* programming like using RepastPy) I would not be using programming.

            You people are confusing Computer Science with Software Engineering. Software Engineering is what most of slashdotters would *need* to study in order to be "professional" developers (this is, learn the theory and background behind that PHP, Python, Java, C++, C, Visual Basic, etc etc /coding/ you do).

            It is completely possible to study in a subfield of Computer Science (in fact in many of them) without knowing how to program (in fact, many of my fellow PhD students do exactly that, oh, and my own supervisor [a Prof. in Comp. Science] does not /code/).

            Several slashdotters will find this last comment offending: I believe that removing Programming will indeed attract more women, basically because this fat-dirty-geek-egocentric-smelly person idea is specifically centered on programmers, coders, etc, not on Computer Scientists overall. Gosh, there are really intelligent Women in Computer Scientists, one that comes to mind now is the cryptoanalyst women that sometimes has been featured in slashdot.
            • by linguae (763922) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @05:40PM (#18773895)

              One problem with your last comment. There are many fields within computer science that require programming; in fact, the only field that doesn't require coding is theoretical computer science and its relatives (such as algorithm complexity), and even those fields can benefit from coding skills to provide some real world measurements that complement the theoretical ones. For example, systems research (my personal favorite area of computer science, which consists of operating systems, networking, databases, file systems, etc.) is heavily dependent on programming, because systems research is quite experimental. You make a hypothesis, design your system, implement your system (which involves coding), and do performance analysis. Most other fields in computer science work very similarly.

              Yes, it is true that once you become a professor, you don't have to code; you can just hire some graduate students to code for you ;). However, all computer scientists should know how to program. Do you have to be the best programmer in the world? No. However, programming is very important in computer science, even in the theoretical fields. Programming is one of the tools in a computer scientist's toolbox. A good computer scientist knows how to program well, even if they aren't the best in the world.

              Removing programming removes a key component of the computer science curriculum and limits the choices to theoretical computer science (and that requires good algorithmic and mathematical skills, which is related to programming skills). Programming isn't rocket science. Perhaps we can encourage society that programming isn't something to be intimidated by, just like we have encouraged society over the past 40 years that mathematics and science are nothing to be intimidated by, either. In order to succeed in computer science, you have to learn how to program. Sorry, but it's the truth.

            • CS is NOT all about programming, there are countless branches of Computer Science were programming has *nothing* to do

              Name one. I bet there's some programming involved in there.

              When I was going through, the major CS areas I studied were Computer Vision, AI, Cognitive Science, Security, Compiler Theory, Language Theory, and OS Design.

              There wasn't a single one of those that didn't involve writing code. You *can* do those things without writing code, but that's not as useful. You advance the field by showing that you've got a new approach that works better than previous approaches. You write a paper with theoretical and empirical evidence. You get your empirical evidence by running your code.

              Sure, you need the theory as well. If you've got an algorithm that you think is always more clever than the currently accepted best - or that breaks something currently thought of as unbreakable, etc, you need to prove it mathematically. But a lot of people will think that you're probably pulling a fast one if you don't have actual data to back it up, so you probably should implement it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ciggieposeur (715798)
          Damn, I wish I had mod points to raise this up.

          And in the time I took to hit reply you've already got two other responses trying to change the subject rather than acknowledge the discrimination.
        • Earning Power (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dareth (47614)
          Currently there is probably more earning power and demand in traditional fields for women such as nursing than Computer Science. As our population ages, more and more nurses will be needed. Why so much effort to attract women to a career path that many feel is in decline?

          I changed majors from Radiological Technologies to Computer Science. I enjoyed the science and theory behind Rad Tech, but not the actual practice of it. I really enjoy being a System Administrator. There are still times when I wonder
      • by hobbesmaster (592205) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:44PM (#18768889)
        The real question is why are all the women in engineering (at my school) signing up for Civil, Mechanical and Chemical (more women than men in CME from what I can tell) instead of Electrical, Computer and CS? (CS is in the College of Engineering here)

        If I had to pull numbers out of thin air, I'd say that approximately 1/3 of MEs and around 1/2 of CEs are female. This compares with 1/20 or so in EE and maybe 1/10 to 1/5 in CS. (again, at my school - and I may be wrong on the CE/ME numbers)

        Why? I bet the women learning about building bridges are capable of learning control theory or algorithms if they were interested - why aren't they interested?

        Of course, most engineers on /. will take exception to the lumping in of CS with all the engineering disciplines (ie, ones that you can be a PE in), I generally do as well, but I think its interesting because it takes the same "kind" of person to declare any one of these majors - you have to like math, and thats the same for a real CS curriculum.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MjrTom (68324)
      Yeah, You know I initially saw the headline here as "CS Students Changing Programs to Attract Women."

      Oh well.
  • Just not in the USA; they are in China & India -- you know -- where all the job *aren't* going?..
    • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:04AM (#18767711)

      And there is widespread misunderstanding about jobs moving abroad, said Ed Lazowska, a computer scientist at the University of Washington. Companies may establish installations overseas to meet local licensing requirements or in hopes of influencing regulations, he said, "but the truth is when companies offshore they are more or less doing it for access to talent."

      "Cheap labor is not high on the list," Dr. Lazowska said. "It is access to talent."

      Bullshit.

      If there was that big of a demand over here then more people would be getting into it to take advantage of the high salaries.

      There's demand, but there's also a limit to how much will be paid. So it is all about the "cheap labor".
    • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:15AM (#18767851) Journal
      They are in small to medium size companies. The large companies will play with hiring contractors, but few are moving their work overseas. The only companies really moving the jobs overseas are monster companies that have enormous IT operations or those that are pure IT companies. MS, IBM, HP, ATT, QWEST, Verizon, etc. are all moving jobs overseas. The reasons vary, and the results more so. Where the large companies have found is that hiring in India is difficult due to the fact that the good ones have already been hired on. Now, the majority are those coming from starter schools and 2 year schools. In addition, Indian law makes firing somebody difficult (as hard as in much of europe). At this time, India is actually worse then hiring in America.
      That is why Argentina is catching on. If and when Russia ever gets their act together and create better laws for a business world (and enforces them), then that will be THE place to be.

      But even with all that, we will still have plenty of good CS jobs here. But I maintain, that we CSers are better off starting our own companies. Even if you have to do a dozen of them before succeeding.
  • Nerd factor? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:54AM (#18767515) Homepage

    One of the largest barriers to recruiting women to the field is the nerd factor.

    If someone, male or female, is put off entering a particular study path because they're concerned about how other people will view them then they simply aren't passionate enough about it. Hell, they're not even interested in it. They're better off leaving the place open to someone a little less vacuous.

    Maybe it's just me, but I see no reason why people need to be recruited into compsci. There's plenty of interest in it already. Should there be more men going to beauty school just to balance out the demographics a bit?

    Let people decide what they want to do and stuff the perceived lack of equality.
    • by bhsurfer (539137)
      That's absolutely true - people should do what they WANT to do rather than be coerced into a career they may not like.

      Also, I think that attracting women to these programs could have the unfortunate side effect of attracting more men...

    • by AGMW (594303)
      Maybe it's just me, but I see no reason why people need to be recruited into compsci.

      and there's always the big whooha about there's too few women in CompSci, but you don't get film-at-eleven about there being too few men teaching in primary schools, or entering the Nursing profession? It all seems a bit one sided!

      But don't get me wrong, I'd love there to be more women in CompSci, as an office full of blokes can be a boorish place to work, and variety is the spice of life and all that!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by NMerriam (15122)

        but you don't get film-at-eleven about there being too few men teaching in primary schools, or entering the Nursing profession? It all seems a bit one sided!

        Actually nursing schools and health care facilities are aggressively trying to recruit men to nursing -- there's a nursing shortage and likely to be one for decades, so making it less of a "woman's" job is an obvious way to attract a lot of very qualified candidates who otherwise may not have considered it.

      • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dog-Cow (21281) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:11PM (#18768289)
        You don't see it reported on slashdot, but there is actually a push to get more men into nursing. This is not because of a perceived idea of gender-equality, though. It is because there are instances in nursing where men would be better. For example, the average man is stronger than the average woman, and that comes into play with moving patients, or even just moving equipment. Having more men around to do those things is useful. Also, there's the issue of modesty. Many male patients are uncomfortable with the idea of females examing certain portions of their anatomy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by richdun (672214)

      Should there be more men going to beauty school just to balance out the demographics a bit?

      But, in grade school, teacher said everyone is equal, so shouldn't there be equal numbers of everyone in everything?

      Chalk this one up to another "politically correct" falsehood. People aren't equal - don't keep someone from doing something they like, but don't change an entire system of educational thought simply because there isn't a 1:1 ratio in all categories. Do change it, however, because it doesn't work, or

      • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cultrhetor (961872) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#18767767) Journal
        What does equality as in ability have to do with equality as in quantity? Absolutely nothing: try again.
      • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrbooze (49713) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:42PM (#18768861)
        But no reasonable people are expecting perfect 1:1 ratios. We're talking about a 1:2 ratio in a situation where there is no identified genetic reason one gender would dominate over another so much, and that ratio is not consistent in other countries. That leads to reasonably suspect that the reasons are cultural and can be improved. If they can be improved through reasonable attempts to recognize the needs and desires of different groups, there's no good reason not to. A diversity of backgrounds, both gender, ethnic, and class, are good for any team, as it provides more perspectives to look at a problem. That doesn't take the place of skill and competence, but if you can have skill and competence *and* diversity, that's a great place to be.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shadowlore (10860)
          We're talking about a 1:2 ratio in a situation where there is no identified genetic reason one gender would dominate over another so much, and that ratio is not consistent in other countries. That leads to reasonably suspect that the reasons are cultural and can be improved. If they can be improved through reasonable attempts to recognize the needs and desires of different groups, there's no good reason not to.

          What scientifically analyzed and credible research has shown that the more "equal" the ratio of me
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Stradivarius (7490)
            The claim that the field would be better off with a more balanced gender mix does not truly depend on a belief in women being superior to men.

            One argument is the general pro-diversity argument. Basically it claims that women have a different experiences and perspectives than men, and that having computer scientists with a mix of different backgrounds can better stimulate solutions/creativity/etc than a more homogeneous mix would. Thus balancing out the gender discrepancy in computer science would benefit
    • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by freemywrld (821105) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:05AM (#18767717) Homepage
      Maybe it's just me, but I see no reason why people need to be recruited into compsci.

      I agree. I am woman in the IT field, and am very passionate about it. I have a degree in Biology -it turns out I am also passionate about science. I understand that universities care about demographics across programs, but you rarely hear about programs trying to attract more men for Women's Studies, do you? Anyway, my main point is, attracting women to CS can be all fine and good, but what I would really like to see is a job market that is more gender balanced. There still exists a school of thought that women are less suited to IT. More women with CS degrees may help this some, but in the end, not everyone who is interested in IT work necessarily gets a CS degree.
      • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash@omnif ... g minus math_god> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:34AM (#18768039) Homepage Journal

        I've been on the interviewer side of the table more than once when a woman showed up to be interviewed. In general, the reaction (not in front of her of course) has been to be flabbergasted and pleased that we might actually end up with a girl who was working in the tech side of the business.

        We did apply the same standards of hiring both (yes, I said both, it only happened twice, and both times the girl was Asian) times and she made it. Once just scraping by (she didn't care a lot about quality and took criticism very poorly, but she did know how to program fairly well) and the other doing pretty well.

        I find this rather depressing. When I worked at Amazon, the only women who were ever hired as programmers were from Asia (most from India). There is some strong cultural force at work here that discourages women from becoming programmers.

        I wish I understand what it is that convinces US born women to not become programmers. I don't think it's a harassment issue. That's not something I've especially noticed. Though, since I'm a guy, it's possible it just passed me by.

        But, I haven't noticed the bias you speak of. As I said, the places where I've been an interviewer people were really happy that a woman was interviewing. And it wasn't because they wanted to hit on her either. :-)

        • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:30PM (#18768623) Homepage
          There is some strong cultural force at work here that discourages women from becoming programmers.

          Yes! It's called "higher pay" and it applies to fields of law, medicine, and business. With women generally being smarter and in other fields not needing to interact with as many social retardates, it is clear that there is a cultural imperative to discourage women from programming.

          Or maybe it's nonsense like this [feministe.us] or this [bbc.co.uk] coming from the IT world that keeps them out. Who knows?

        • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shalla (642644) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @06:54PM (#18775139)
          I wish I understand what it is that convinces US born women to not become programmers. I don't think it's a harassment issue. That's not something I've especially noticed. Though, since I'm a guy, it's possible it just passed me by.

          Actually, it's often a very subtle thing--not harassment, but a definite bias against women in certain fields. Most people don't even realize they're doing it. In high school, I had the best grades in my honors math and science classes and was willing to help classmates with questions. When awards time came at the end of the year, the math and science awards went to the guys I'd helped (and outscored), and I got the English and Social Studies awards. Looking at the years ahead of me and behind me, the same thing was true. The girls might be just as good as the guys, but the perception by the generation in charge was that the guys were better at math and science and the girls at languages and humanities.

          If you listen carefully, it comes out in little things people say, and in the toys people buy children. Thank God my parents watched me play with all my brother's cool stuff and bought me building sets and used computer magazines (for the TI 99, baybee!) to help offset the insipid Barbies and tea sets I got almost exclusively from other people. (I mean, I support kids getting dolls and tea sets, too, but not JUST that.)

          If you want an enlightening experience, go to a computer show with a woman that you know knows something about computers and see how many of the vendors there address her versus how many address you when speaking, regardless of who asked the question. I once had one vendor answer all my questions to my husband. At the end of the conversation, I pointed out that he'd overlooked me, and that was a poor way to treat a customer. He asked me what gave me that impression, as though I were overreacting. We actually had to explain that he was ending his sentences with "sir," which pretty obviously excluded me from the conversation. (Boy, was he embarrassed.) That's not unusual at computer shows. Heck, when we went car shopping, even car salespeople picked up more quickly that I was the one they wanted to focus on and talk to or they were going to lose the sale.

          If you aren't with a woman, or if you aren't with a woman who is trying to ask questions and get an answer, you might never see these things, but added up over a lifetime, it's enough of a subtle deterrent to influence some women who are good at several different fields. Why go for one like comp sci when you can choose another one that is as lucrative and more accepting?

          Just something to keep in mind as you go about your day. You might be surprised what you catch yourself thinking (we're all culturally brainwashed to some degree), or your coworker buying for his new daughter without a second thought... And that, of course, is ignoring the people who specifically raise their daughters to be wives and mothers and nothing else.
    • Should there be more men going to beauty school just to balance out the demographics a bit?

      Equal Rights doesn't work in that direction. There are even laws on the book the prevent men from doing jobs. For example a Male Day Care teacher in New York State cannot change a Baby's Diper. If they did it would be against the law. But that law will probably never get off the books or chalanged mostly because Day Care Teachers get paid so little that it isn't worth changing the laws for. The same with beauty sc
    • Re:Nerd factor? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:30PM (#18768635) Homepage

      Maybe it's just me, but I see no reason why people need to be recruited into compsci. There's plenty of interest in it already. Should there be more men going to beauty school just to balance out the demographics a bit?
      From an idealistic point of view you are 100% right. Why should we care what the demographics are, if people are free to choose what they want? And why should we care more about CS than about beauty school? So, in theory, you are right. But in practice you are wrong, I am afraid.

      Human beings do care about demographics. If you live in a country with red-haired and brown-haired people, and all the red-haired people do menial labor, whereas all the brown-haired people have cushy desk jobs with salaries 100x higher, you have a problem. Even if there is no discrimination, you still have a problem. People aren't rational creatures, they will perceive such a situation as discriminatory, and you will quickly have social unrest, and worse. Furthermore, such a situation also breeds some forms of discrimination - not intentional ones, but ones just as effective. Brown-haired people won't have the contacts to get into desk-job schools, and will probably feel quite odd even if they do get in. This is a self-perpetuating system, in other words. Yes, it might 'right' itself in time, but meanwhile you have, as I said, social unrest. It is just better, from a practical point of view, to nudge the system in the more balanced direction.

      This is a realistic, not an idealistic point of view. In fact, it even violates some ethical decrees: nudging red-haired people into desk-job school means that some brown-haired people will not get in, who otherwise would have. This is not fair to them, no doubt. But no social policy is fair towards everyone. Helping red-haired people get into desk-job school is probably the fairest overall.
  • nerd factor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Visaris (553352) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:55AM (#18767527) Journal
    Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science.

    I realize that there is more to CS than programming, but I would be surprised if theoretical computer science, which is more math intensive, would be that much more appealing. . . . Any way you go, I don't see how to remove the nerd factor from CS.
    • Re:nerd factor (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#18767759) Homepage
      Exactly. While programming is not the only aspect of computer science, it is easily the most important. De-emphasizing it amounts to lowering the bar, and that isn't acceptable in any field. Diversity is nice, but it's not worth compromising standards of excellence.

      Surely there is a better way to attract women to CS. Surely the issue of women not being interested isn't just a "Programming is haaaaaaaard" thing; women are not Barbie dolls. If we assume that there's a genuine problem, then we need to be spending more effort figuring out why, rather than using this as a convenient excuse to lower the bar.
      • Re:nerd factor (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The_Wilschon (782534) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:21AM (#18767927) Homepage
        Programming is to computer science what engineering is to physics. Programming isn't science, it is an application of science. You wouldn't say that engineering is the most important aspect of physics, and you wouldn't say that de-emphasizing the engineering aspects of physics amounts to lowering the bar. Rather, the opposite. Emphasizing the engineering aspects of physics amounts to lowering the bar in a physics program.

        Really, the fields of programming and computer science ought to be separated. Most people studying computer science are doing so because they want to learn programming. Conflating the two means that people wanting to study computer science itself have a hard time finding a program which meets their desires. If de-emphasizing the programming aspects of computer science in a conflated program causes more women to enter and complete that program, then separating the two ought to achieve a similar effect, and would still provide a program for those who wish to learn computer engineering more than computer science.
        • Re:nerd factor (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Millennium (2451) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:46AM (#18768083) Homepage
          Programming is to computer science what engineering is to physics.

          I'd argue that it's more like what math is to physics (and to computer science).

          Programming isn't science, it is an application of science.

          It's also the means of expressing that science, which is ultimately why they're as inseparable as math and physics. Take away the ability to record knowledge and it dies.

          You wouldn't say that engineering is the most important aspect of physics, and you wouldn't say that de-emphasizing the engineering aspects of physics amounts to lowering the bar.

          No, but I might say these things if a school were to de-emphasize mathematics in its physics programs. In fact, this is why I made the Barbie reference in my previous post.
      • by Lockejaw (955650)

        Surely the issue of women not being interested isn't just a "Programming is haaaaaaaard" thing; women are not Barbie dolls.
        Also, if that were the problem, you'd have as much trouble getting men into CS as you would women.
        The real problem is that certain professions are seen as belonging to males or females, so people somehow feel that it's improper to go against these trends.
      • by jmorris42 (1458) *
        > De-emphasizing it amounts to lowering the bar, and that isn't acceptable in any field.

        More importantly, since EVERY school isn't likely to redefince what CS is you will end up with with a two tiered system of degrees, "Real CS" and "Women's Studies CS" and employers will weight them accordingly while swearing as loudly as they can they aren't. Which one do YOU want to spend a crapload of cash aquiring? If your CS Dept is becoming feminized, transfer NOW lest you get stuck with a worthless piece of pa
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by DriveDog (822962)
      Wouldn't shifting the emphasis away from programming skills in the CS program begin to crowd the MIS program?
    • Re:nerd factor (Score:4, Interesting)

      by deanc (2214) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:11PM (#18768281) Homepage
      I realize that there is more to CS than programming, but I would be surprised if theoretical computer science, which is more math intensive, would be that much more appealing

      In my experience, women in computer science lean heavily towards theory, where they are over-represented compared to their numbers in CS departments overall. Men in graduate programs tend to heavily dominate the "systems" groups.

      I always figured this was because boys grow up "playing with computers" and already have interest in programming, while equally-capable women get into computer science later and, with less already-established interest in programming, get excited about theory.
      • As a CS major, I found out quickly that a LOT of the boys had more programming know-how than I did -- and I swept the floor with the idiots I put up with in AP CS! In both classes I was the 'Odd Girl Out', but I quickly went from one of the smarter students to the midrange once the pool widened.

        I CAN program, I just sort of prefer to program when I can instantly see what I'm doing; i.e. interfaces and website programming as opposed to engines and threads. Admittedly I've got a hard liberal arts slant going
      • Re: play factor (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mackyrae (999347)
        I'll agree on that. We're taught to play with Barbies. I know I was. I had a fake kitchen thing. What did my brother have? A toy work bench. Who was encouraged to tinker and who was encouraged to be ladylike? I'd say this is probably a common thing in families. The boys are taught that they are supposed to tinker and be "Mr. Fix-It." The girls are taught that that's "for boys." Having your formative years being spent being told not to be interested in those things can certainly have an effect.

        Th
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They're moving away from letting people into the program based upon their previous programming experience, which is different from moving the entire program.

      On a second note, this is not a bad idea, as you've probably noticed that a good deal of software out there, while written by what appear to be otherwise skillful people, is virtually unusuable. Undocumented, hostile interface, brittle, difficult to modify/extend/repair, and otherwise apparently written by sociopaths on a caffeine hangover. What t
  • Bad idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:55AM (#18767531)
    I think dumbing the program down to attract women is ultimately a bad idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      It's not only a bad idea, it's insulting. They think that dumbing down the programming component is necessary to attract women? What does that say about the women that are already in CS? Are they to be applauded for working so hard to overcome the inherent deficiencies of their sex? Are women in CS just talking dogs (no one cares if they're good at what they do, people are just amazed they can do it at all)?

      If some people find CS too hard to do, then fine. Let them either do something else or, if they'
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nightlily (140378)
        I agree it is insulting. I think programming is essential to a good computer science education. I think maybe the approach should be (and this would help all students) is show that writing code is just part of the process. I'm a programmer and yes I write a lot of code. However I read a lot of design specs, spend a lot time in design meetings, spend time talking to potential users, spend time talking to testers, debugging, etc...

        The very idea that somehow I overcome some inherent deficiency to become a
      • Re:Bad idea (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nSignIfikaNt (732122) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:08PM (#18768245)
        This is America. If you can't measure up to the standards then we lower the standards so no one's feelings get hurt.
    • by akheron01 (637033)
      Seriously, what's next? Affirmative action to get more whites and asians into being olympic sprinters and basketball players? People of different genders/races/make-ups are good at different things IN GENERAL (although anyone can do whatever they WISH to) so why force things to work differently?
    • Re:Bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:11AM (#18767793) Journal
      They aren't dumbing down the program. RTFA.

      Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science. At one time, she said, admission to the program depended on high overall achievement and programming experience. The criteria now, she said, are high overall achievement and broad interests, diverse perspectives and whether applicants seem to have potential to be future leaders.
      They are talking about admissions criteria, in the context of high school computing backgrounds. Attracting talent that may or may not have extensive programming experience, rather than focusing just on the people who enter college with a lot of programming under their belt -- those people are overwhelmingly male.

      Might they have some catching up to do? Sure. But at least they won't have bad programming habits to unlearn, which can be just as bad as inexperience.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Upon entering my Software Engineering program, I had almost 0 programming experience. Some HTML and some QBasic. That was it. I don't think I was any worse off than most of the other students. I know students who had a lot more programming experience than I did, and who were much worse programmers in the end, or even after the first semester.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bluesman (104513)
        broad interests, diverse perspectives and whether applicants seem to have potential to be future leaders

        You can't measure this, which means it's shorthand for "whoever we feel like picking."

        Which means they'll take a woman with no programming experience over someone with a history of interest in computers specifically, just because she's a woman.

        More power to them. The competition in the field just got that much easier for those of us who had a real education.

        As much as I hate political correctness, I sure
      • Re:Bad idea (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jtheletter (686279) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:43PM (#18768883)
        They are talking about admissions criteria, in the context of high school computing backgrounds. Attracting talent that may or may not have extensive programming experience, rather than focusing just on the people who enter college with a lot of programming under their belt

        It sounds all well and good when you put it like that, but as an undergrad at CMU in the ECE program (which shares a lot of classes with CS kids, and I had a lot of CS friends) what we witnessed in reality was: the program was dumbed down for girls to get in. This was reflected in many more incoming students not having a clue about how to use a computer, let alone program it, and a lot of female CS majors changing majors by sophomore year. I'm not being mysogenistic here, trust me, CS guys were THRILLED at the prospect of more girls in the program, but it didn't pan out that way. Caveat being this was 1999-2002, I have no knowledge of how it's working now, but in the first 3 years we witnessed lower quality students and more CS degree program dropouts.
    • They claim that it is NOT dumbing it down.

      But I cannot find a comparison between their graduates and the graduates of any other school.

      Who really cares how many X you graduate if they're the lowest scoring graduates in the industry?

      Now, if they can increase enrollment (and graduation) while maintaining scores that are at least average for all the other schools, that's good.

      I don't see how focusing on getting more X into the field would result in that, though.
    • by Mike1024 (184871)
      I think dumbing the program down to attract women is ultimately a bad idea.

      Isn't it possible changes could be made that did not constitute 'dumbing down'?

      For example, 2003 was the first year that female medical school applicants [aamc.org] outnumbered male. This doesn't implicitly mean medical courses have been dumbed down for women; it could mean opinions in society have been changed, and/or courses have been modified to appeal to both genders instead of just one.

      Perhaps similar modifications could be made to compute
  • by bconway (63464) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:56AM (#18767547) Homepage
    This past year, I was accepted into Carnegie Mellon's [cmu.edu] School of Computer Science [cmu.edu]. It has been a remarkable experience that I would like to share with the community. Here's an account of my experience.

    Week 1, Sunday: I moved in today. My roommate, a sophomore CS student, had already moved in two days before me. The floor is already completely covered with garbage. He also smells. I think he might be gay too. He's already asked me if I like the color he painted his toenails. This should be interesting. I am almost completely settled in. Techno music is playing in every room in every floor of my dorm. There are computers and other types of trash out in the common areas. What a mess. Tomorrow, I am going to go sign up to get my network connection.

    Week 1, Monday: I got hooked up to the CMU network today! I jacked into the network, only to find that the hostname and address assigned to me were colliding with another system. I'll just increment the network numbers a few times. I am really eager to get on.

    Week 1, Tuesday: I am still looking for a free IP address. Can't anybody here properly configure their systems?

    Week 1, Friday: I finally found a free IP! It's mine! You sons of bitches can't have it, I found it, I keep it, it's mine! To hell with all of you! Head hurts really bad. I've slowly been developing a headache since I first arrived. Everywhere I look there are these Lucent Technologies wireless access points. I wonder if that's the problem.

    Week 1, Saturday: I sat down at my computer today. My desktop wall paper is now the goatse.cx guy. Pleasant. Scattered over every directory on my C: drive are thousands, possibly millions, of files titled "J00AR30WN3DBITCH-phj33r-" and then some random hacker's name. Don't these people have lives? Maybe they need laid or something. It'd take days to clean this out. I mentioned to my roommate that I needed to reinstall Windows, and immediately he jumped up and shouted: "NO! Do NOT use Windows!" Suddenly, two dozen other guys (all of them possibly homosexuals) appeared at the door, each touting an operating system called Linux. Half of them got into a fight over which was better, Debian, RedHat, Slackware, and a bunch of others I couldn't recognize. Some kid who appeared to not have showered since he was born was touting "Linux From Scratch," saying that only losers used pre-made distros. A crowd of people in the back kept quiet about how I'd be sorry if I used Linux instead of BSD on the network. Who the fuck are these people? Classes start next week. Hope I have my computer working so I can do my assignments.

    Week 3, Friday: People are still trying to get Linux to work on my system. They keep telling my that my hardware sucks. We go through about four or five distributions a day. Every now and then, I notice a little devil on my screen. Stickers for every of these distributions have been plastered on my case. Suddenly, my room stinks a lot more with these people in here. I ask them why they never shower, and the usual response is something along the lines of "showering is like rebooting" and "I don't want to lose my uptime."

    Week 3, Saturday: There's a troop of men running naked in a circle around McGill Hall. I am not even going to ask.

    Week 4, Wednesday: Linux is FINALLY working on my computer! I have a pretty slick desktop too. I think I might like this. I can finally work in my room instead of the labs, although considering the every increasing layer of garbage on the floor...

    Week 4, Thursday: My computer flashes messages about how I am "0WNX0RED" and how I should "PHJ33R" whoever and how "L4MEX0R" I am for having an insecure box. A kid suggests we reinstall Linux after discovering about 17 rootkits.

    Week 5, Friday: Someone got BSD working on my computer. I wonder if this will last. The stress has been building and I forgot to
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by torokun (148213)
      LOL.

      Not too far from the truth, at least as far as I'm concerned. I went there from 94-98. There were about 10 girls out of 110 students in CS. By the time we graduated, there were about 6, I think. A bunch of people (not just girls) switched out to ECE for something easier. It was hard.

      We had our share of smelly people. One was really bad and only slept like every 3rd night. I slept very little, but did shower. I hacked an asshole's machine and messed with his head a bunch. I also messed with my f
  • by Neil Watson (60859) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:58AM (#18767571) Homepage
    Why should it matter who is getting comp-sci degrees. Shouldn't we care that the candidates are good and not what colour, race or sex they are?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GospelHead821 (466923)
      In theory, anyways, the demographic should be closer to 50/50. The fact that it is not suggests that something about existing CS programs is hostile to women entrants. The "nerd factor" mentioned in the article may not just be a matter of self-image, but rather self-perpetuating discrimination. If the stereotype of an unpleasant and misogynistic CS major is even a little bit accurate, then it serves as a discriminatory barrier to entry for women interested in the field.
  • by Digitalia (127982) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:58AM (#18767579) Homepage
    They intend to attract more CS students by eliminating the need for programming skills? I have heard time and time again from recruiters that more and more CS graduates are completely incapable of programming, so why exacerbate the problem by graduating even more students who are unable to perform adequately?

    CS is more than just programming, but a CS student incapable of programming is about as useful as a physicist who cannot do math. To suggest that the standards of a program should be relaxed to achieve parity between the genders is ridiculous. What are we to do in other fields, where the number of women exceeds that of men? In the field of education, are we supposed to graduate students who don't know how to teach? Are art majors supposed to leave school without learning any technique?
  • Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cabalamat3 (1089523) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @10:59AM (#18767589) Homepage
    Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs

    This is a good idea and I think it could equally be applied to boosting the numbers of under-represented groups in other areas. For example, proficiency at flying should no longer be a requirement for airline pilots. And surgeons shouldn't have to be good at doing operations. To say otherwise is elitist and divisive.

  • Or even reduced ?

    are these missing the point that even the smallest piece of crap that operates in anything computer related has programming involved in it ?

    are they giving a computer science education, or running a matchmaker service ?
  • Work at home Moms? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LoverOfJoy (820058) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:00AM (#18767613) Homepage
    When I went to BYU around the start of the dot com boom, there was a lot of talk about how the women graduates were in demand and (from our school at least) they made more on average than their male counterparts. A big recruiting bullet point was the possibility that women could have kids and work from home. From what I'd heard, that didn't pan out as well as hoped and while at-home jobs ARE possible they are still far from a given and most still need to go into the office regularly. Has the ability to work from home improved significantly since those days?
  • Shouldn't CS programs be changing to adapt to business needs ( like a real networking degree )? Or how about a CS program that changes to better educate the students?

    Seems somehow wrong to be cattering to a gender.
  • Don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ObiWanStevobi (1030352) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:00AM (#18767627) Journal

    "The nerd factor is huge," Dr. Cuny said. According to a 2005 report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology, an academic-industry collaborative formed to address the issue, when high school girls think of computer scientists they think of geeks, pocket protectors, isolated cubicles and a lifetime of staring into a screen writing computer code.

    Well, the pocket protectors, and I'd imagine think black glasses with white tape on them, are obviously not true, the rest of it is pretty accurate.

    "They think of it as programming," Dr. Cuny said. "They don't think of it as revolutionizing the way we are going to do medicine or create synthetic molecules or study our impact on the climate of the earth."

    Yeah, doing all sorts of cools stuff, through programming.

    Maybe the problem isn't with computer science being nerdy or writing code, just maybe the problem is with assholes spouting off to media trying to make being nerdy into a negative stereotype, and trying to make sound as if writing code is somehow uninteresting.

  • ' One of the largest barriers to recruiting women to the field is the nerd factor. To attract women students to the CS field, 'Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science.'

    Does she not see how this might be considered offensive to male students (i.e. 'guys in CS are nerds') and women (i.e. 'we have to dumb down the curriculum.') What are these people thinking?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Billosaur (927319) *

      Indeed. If they want to attract women to CS, it needs to start not at the college level, but at the junior high school and high school level, where girls are discouraged from becoming proficient at math and science by mainly male teachers.

  • To attract women students to the CS field, 'Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs

    You mean that there might have been something to what Larry Summers said about women in science and engineering, that resulted in feminists getting the vapors? At my alma mater, we had some professors who were great on the "science" of Computer Science, and light on the actual application through programming, and guess what? They were the most useless professors we had at teach

  • Moving emphasis away from Patient Care proficiency will draw more men into Nursing! We must address the gender imbalance in nursing!
  • by lbmouse (473316) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:04AM (#18767707) Homepage
    Why couldn't they have done this when I was in school? It was a regular sausage fest in my FORTRAN 77 class.
  • This is hardly new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#18767747) Homepage Journal
    I went to college between 1995 and 2000 (co-oped for a couple of semesters) and this was already a big issue with our local administrators, especially the only female professor on the staff. She was always going on trips to high schools around the area trying to get women interested in computer science. She organized (with the help of the ACM) computer science events that were marketed towards girls (especially in high school) to try to convince them to enter the field. They most certainly did not reduce the math, programming, and other "nerdy" parts of the curriculum to try to attract more girls.

    On the other hand, all of that work was apparently for naught because my graduating class of around 50 students had exactly 1 female graduate (who was already married). While our year was especially bad, the numbers for the other years weren't much better. We did start with considerably more girls freshman year, but almost all of them dropped out when they realized that the large amount of homework and projects would cut into their evenings and weekends a lot, and when they realized they were literally one class away from a Math minor.
  • CS without programming is just a math degree, right? Why not call it that and be done?

    Also, 28%?! It's more like 8% here.

  • So it is sexist to let women naturally enter into a field. But it is _not_ sexist to dumb down a field with the intention of drawing in women?
  • Women received about 38 percent of the computer science bachelor's degrees awarded in the United States in 1985, the peak year, but in 2003, the figure was only about 28 percent, according to the National Science Foundation.

    I graduated in the late 80s from the University of California, I expect my class offers some insights into that 38%. 38% in 1985 is highly misleading. While I recall 30'something percent nearly all were foreign students, only a handful were US citizens. Before we start trying to addr
  • What?

    'Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science.'

    Given that the computer "science" program at many colleges (at least the ones I've been exposed to) is mostly just a vocational technology program for programmers, how is it going to help anybody to turn out graduates that are even less proficient at programming?

    "They think of it as programming," Dr. Cuny said. "T

  • FEMALE students... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KenAndCorey (581410)

    Not WOMEN students! I don't know why the media has started using WOMEN as an adjective. You don't see them using the word MEN instead of MALE (e.g., "CS Programs Changing to Attract Men Students").

    Sorry... just a pet peeve of mine.

  • Growing Pains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bluesman (104513) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:42AM (#18768069) Homepage
    This is all part of the growing pains of a relatively new, hot field. This too shall pass.

    If you can't handle the political correctness, you guys should hop on over to the Electrical Engineering department. There's absolutely no effort to dumb things down to recruit girls here -- the math is about 20 dB more difficult, and there's no way around that.

    Besides that, if you do encounter a girl, odds are about 2 to 1 she doesn't even speak English.

    So come on over to EE. Nobody cares how socially inept you are here. The nerd factor has been converted to the frequency domain, where it's just lost in the noise.
  • by butterflysrage (1066514) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @11:43AM (#18768073)
    let me say this... you can change up the university degree all you want and you will not radically change the gender makeup of the student body as that is not where the problem is... it's in the highschools.

    The number of girls that are presured by friends, family and even teachers to get out of maths and into the arts and social sciences is crazy. "Math just isn't a good choice for you... how about law? or history?", if this was just from other girls it wouldnt be as bad, but that quote was from my algebra teacher (a course which I got a 90% in dispite his dislike of me). Young girls are actively presured by teachers and adminsistration to avoid maths and science.

    If you really want to get more girls into comp sci, stop highschool teachers from telling us what we can and can not do.
  • by zelphie (678912) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:09PM (#18768261)
    I'd be overjoyed to see the percentage of women in my courses get above 10%. But I don't think that changing course content should be the answer, since I don't think it's the problem. Instead, I'd blame:

    1.) Lack of any experience of CS in high school. Even in schools that offer AP CS (which mine didn't), isn't it usually an elective that could just as well be filled with a language or second science course or music, etc? Since it's not a required class like math or chemistry, it's pretty easy to graduate from high school without ever even realizing computer science exists... or that you're good at it or like it.
    2.) And when you get to college, who wants to have all their courses with just guys? Especially when everyone knows that CS majors are nerds? So why bother seeing if you like it? If everyone there already is a guy, then they must be better at or it something, right? Why else would it be so unbalanced?
    3.) Bad advising. When I told mine I wanted to take intro to CS, because I was planning on majoring in chem and thought it might be useful, she told me I should take a humanities course instead, because I'd probably get a better grade. Luckily I decided to take it anyway and liked it enough to change my major.

    And now when I try to convince friends to take the intro course (because I thought it was fun... and it could be good to know anyway), my guy friends tend to say that it sounds interesting, while my girl friends usually say something about how they'd probably fail. I think until the perception of who can take CS classes and do well in them changes, changing the curriculum or appearance of the program won't do much.
  • OMG Ponies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:14PM (#18768339) Homepage Journal
    One of the largest barriers to recruiting women to the field is the nerd factor. To attract women students to the CS field, 'Moving emphasis away from programming proficiency was a key to the success of programs Dr. Blum and her colleagues at Carnegie Mellon instituted to draw more women into computer science.' - how do we really know that those 28-38% are not the number of women who would go into this field anyway, whatever the stigma is?

    "Women are the canaries in the coal mine," Lenore Blum, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, told an audience at Harvard University in March, in a talk on this "crisis" in computer science. Factors driving women away will eventually drive men away as well, she and others say. - there is a crisis in computer science, really? That is fascinating. Let's paint it pink, maybe the crisis will go away? Seriously though, I do not believe in crisis in computer science, I also do not believe that trying to show comsci off as something it is not will not help the issue (too few beautiful females in the software cubicles.)

    And there is widespread misunderstanding about jobs moving abroad, said Ed Lazowska, a computer scientist at the University of Washington. Companies may establish installations overseas to meet local licensing requirements or in hopes of influencing regulations, he said, "but the truth is when companies offshore they are more or less doing it for access to talent." - isn't that the MS line, that they cannot find enough talent in North America? What, with about a third of a billion people here the tallent is excruciatingly hard to come by.

    "Cheap labor is not high on the list," Dr. Lazowska said. "It is access to talent." - bullshit. I am a contractor working mostly in GTA (Canada,) all the outsourcing that I have witnessed within multiple companies is justified by 'low cost' argument, none is justified by 'we cannot find talent' bs.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for computer scientists in the United States will only increase in coming years, Dr. Cuny said. "If you look at the demographics of the country, if we are not
    going to get our new professionals from women and minorities and persons with disabilities, we are not going to have enough."
    - yep. We need the women and the crippled (do emotionally crippled count?) don't forget about minorities. Excuse me? There are PLENTY of so-called minorities in this field. In many firms the software dep's are dominated by minorities (well on my experience, and I've been around, by the way is it just Toronto, or do whites come off as visible minority in the US as well?) By the way in the Chinese 'minorities' who are in comsci the % of women is much higher than in the white folks.

    "The nerd factor is huge," Dr. Cuny said. According to a 2005 report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology, an academic-industry collaborative formed to address the issue, when high school girls think of computer scientists they think of geeks, pocket protectors, isolated cubicles and a lifetime of staring into a screen writing computer code. - <sarcasm>Oh, no, in this field you will be surrounded by beautiful socially apt people, with great personalities. You will become a celebrity and will be stalked by paparazzi, who will fight each other just to take your picture and post it on the cover of Glamour.</sarcasm> Ok, not everything in this field is about pocket protectors, isolated cubicles and computer screens, but a lot of it is. A
    LOT.

    This image discourages members of both sexes, but the problem seems to be more prevalent among women. "They think of it as programming," Dr. Cuny said. "They don't think of it as revolutionizing the way we are going to do
    medicine or create synthetic molecules or study our impact on the climate of the earth."
    - they should through more buzzwords into this. Think about it as not of programming software for whatever purpose, think about
    it as of rev
  • Why the desire? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tweekster (949766) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @12:58PM (#18769145)
    Why is there a desire to get women into CS programs, Men and women are different, they gravitate towards different fields. that is human nature. It might just be time to accept that.
  • by linguae (763922) on Tuesday April 17, 2007 @02:33PM (#18770907)

    Some select quotes from the article (boldface font is emphasis by me):

    This image discourages members of both sexes, but the problem seems to be more prevalent among women. "They think of it as programming," Dr. Cuny said. "They don't think of it as revolutionizing the way we are going to do medicine or create synthetic molecules or study our impact on the climate of the earth."

    Like others in the field, Dr. Cuny speaks almost lyrically about the intellectual challenge of applying the study of cognition and the tools of computation to medicine, ecology, law, chemistry -- virtually any kind of human endeavor.

    He and his colleagues at the University of Washington (which never had a programming requirement, he said) have produced a Web page for prospective students with an explicit goal of breaking stereotypes about computer science and demonstrating that computer scientists "work in a broad range of interesting fields" -- everything from designing prosthetics to devising new ways to fight forest fires.

    The emphasis on scientific computing and other applications of computers to scientific and medical fields sounds interesting, but it is not computer science. That is called computational science or scientific computing. Computer science is about the study of computation and computers and has different subfields, which includes theoretical CS, algorithms, programming languages, systems (a wide range of topics such as OSes, file systems, networks, databases, compilers, etc.), graphics, and AI. Most computer scientists could care less about designing prosthetics or studying climate changes; they are generally interested in whatever subfield they specialize in.

    There is a big difference between computer science and scientific computing. Scientific computing applies computer science skills to other disciplines, but it isn't computer science itself. When you are studying computer science, you study the aforementioned subdivisions above. When you study scientific computing, you know just enough CS to apply it to other disciplines, but it shouldn't be called CS.

    I have no problem with attracting women to computing disciplines. I, for one, would strongly support such an effort. However, what is proposed by CMU is not computer science, and it shouldn't be called such. There should be no changes in the standard computer science curriculum. CMU's undergraduate computer science program is one of the best in the country, and if it isn't broken, then it shouldn't be fixed. Instead, CMU should start a scientific computing major inside of the School of Computer Science.

"The pyramid is opening!" "Which one?" "The one with the ever-widening hole in it!" -- The Firesign Theatre

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