Thursday, February 11, 2016

Women Choose To Compute 70% Less Than 1987

I was at a meeting this weekend with a number of technology start up CEOs.  As it often does, the topic of how to find more women for technology firms came up.   There was one female CEO there and we quizzed her hard on her thoughts.

At one point in the conversation, I asked her why she thought the number of women majoring in Computer Science had declined so far from 34% of all degrees to 18%.  She looked at me incredulously and insisted that the percentage had never been that high.  It so distracted the conversation that I never got an answer.

I went back to check my numbers and thought I'd share them to help plant the facts of what is happening in folks' minds.

All figures below are according to the National Center for Education Statistics:
My memory had not failed me as between 1987 and 2013 the % of degrees granted to Women had declined from 35% to 18%.

More troubling is that Women now get 57% of all degrees and instead of 27 per 1000 choosing to get a Computer Science degree, only 9 per 1000 are choosing to do so, 68% fewer.

I don't believe that this is all due to males creating a hostile environment in computer science education.  It appears to me that Women don't want to compute.

General purpose computing technology is changing the way the world works.  It is creating vast wealth.  It is overcoming ignorance around the world and leading to better lives.  We need Women to want to participate in this ongoing revolution.  Corporate leaders are seeking them out.  They are not there.  It is a shame.

Accurate Reality:  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make her drink.  If Women choose not to get the training they need to participate in the computing world, they won't be able to play.  It will not be the fault of the industry.  They used to play.  Now they choose not to.

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