Sunday, April 18, 2010

Girls and Computer Science

There is a really interesting article in the New York Times today on why their are so few women in technology and engineering.
Girls begin to turn away from math and science in elementary school, because of discouragement from parents, underresourced teachers and their own lack of interest and exposure, according to a recent report by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and the Computer Science Teachers Association.

Just 1 percent of girls taking the SAT in 2009 said they wanted to major in computer or information sciences, compared with 5 percent of boys, according to the College Board.

Only 18 percent of college students graduating with computer science degrees in 2008 were women, down from 37 percent in 1985, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

One reason is that engineering has a serious image problem, many women in the field say.

“There’s a really strong image of what a computer scientist is — male, skinny, no social life, eats junk food, plays video games, likes science fiction,” says Sapna Cheryan, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington who has researched why few women choose computer-science careers. “It makes it hard for people who don’t fit that image to think of it as an option for them.”

This is exactly why Sep and I are starting CodeEd, a program that teaches low-income middle school aged girls computer science. We launch our pilot program in less than a month at an all girls Charter School on the lower east side of Manhattan.

We're really excited to get into the classroom and start trying to break the cycle described above.