Posted by: levenstein14 | February 7, 2018

Women in the Computer Field

Hey everyone! I was just doing some thinking about the absence of females in the computer industry. Here at CNU, there are hardly any females in the PCSE department. In my computer engineering capstone class there are only 3 women. Specifically at my internship at NASA, I have only seen 2 other female interns in my department. Is this due to the computer industry not being inviting/accepting of females? Or is it simply because women tend to not be as talented in the technical fields? In one example, my fellow colleagues at NASA invited the new girl to eat lunch with us. She denied the offer. Perhaps she didn’t feel comfortable enough to attend a luncheon with all males. Even in the office she tended to ignore us and remain in her cubicle. I believe that even competent women in computer engineering/computer science are threatened/scared of the high male to female ratio. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think we should do more to motivate women to participate in the computer industry? On a broader scope, how can we be equally inclusive of all genders in every situation/job? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Responses

  1. Hello! I don’t know a whole lot about the computer world, but I’ll give it a shot. I think the main reason that women don’t belong to some fields because they are stereotypically male fields. Earlier in this class, we talked about how activities are genderized. Computer science, I think, has always seemed to be a masculine field of study. I think in order to change this, you would have to start early. Teach children about computer science, boys and girls, and encourage them to pursue whatever field they wish. I think we should encourage this in general.
    I’m not sure if women aren’t as talented technically, it just might be that there’s not the same number. If you have one hundred women computer scientists, you’re probably going to have a range of abilities. If you have one thousand male computer scientists, you’re going to have more skilled people than the female population did, just on the basis of numbers. I wonder if comfort has more to do with it. We talked about tokenism, and the pressure that comes along with being the only woman computer scientist. If you’re representing an entire gender, you have quite a lot riding on your performance in addition to any individual pressures.

  2. I find this an interesting perspective and take of woman leadership in male dominant fields. First, I the computer industry has not really explored much of the same balance that other departments strive for, and on this note I believe that it is also a known fact that computer science is a male dominant field. On another note, I don’t believe it has to do with the gender’s talent or lack thereof; it pertains to the sheer lack of women who are pursuing a career in this industry. The individual is just as capable no matter the gender, but many of these issues are deeply engrained into stereotypes. Young girls pick up on these stereotypes and for the most part stay away from the masculine stereotypes. If there was a way to change this, it would be by educating young boys and girls in computer sciences so they themselves can navigate their own stereotypes. Second, women in the computer science field or any field where they are a small minority feel much greater pressure to do well than men. Women in these field are often put up on a pedestal and are knocked down for small mistake whereas the majority don’t feel these effects. If there was a way to avoid this, it would again be through a long-term process of educating boys and girls in computer science so when that generation hits the work force they do not feel these effects (as much).

  3. I think this just goes back to gender stereotypes and illustrates how deeply ingrained they are in us. As children we are constantly surrounded by these societal expectations, the expectation to wear pink or blue or the expectation to pick up the barbie doll or pick up the legos. This influences every child from very early on and is part of why there is now a push to make engineering toys specifically intended for girls. This has lasting effects, because if, as a child, you never play with legos (or something similar) you may never have the opportunity to develop a passion for engineering. This concept can be applied to any male dominated field and applies to men in fields like teaching and nursing. I believe that as we as a society break down these standards, we will see more gender diversity in all fields.

  4. Hi there! While I myself do not have a lot of experience in the PCSE field, I have a couple of female friends who do! One of my closest friends is one of the only girls in her major here at CNU and she often feels excluded by her male classmates. Despite her strong abilities and talent in the field, she has told me stories of how the men in her classes have poked fun at her and directed inappropriate comments toward her. I don’t think that the lack of females in the PCSE field has as much to do with a lack of talent or the females feeling intimidated as it does the general association of the field with males. For this reason, I agree with Maddie in that it is important to encourage children early on to pursue careers in any field that they are interested in. If society dedicates the time and effort to breaking down the stereotypes surrounding certain career fields, I think that we would start to see more equality and inclusion in all majors and job industries. Until then, I think it is important that both genders make the conscious and continuous effort to recognize and appreciate the efforts, interests, and talent of the other. Encouraging leaders is important in any field, regardless of gender!

  5. While it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of women in your field of study, sometimes it takes certain fields longer to gain a more equalized representation of sexes. I think that’s really nice you invited your colleague to lunch! I don’t know much of what she is like, but even if she says no to lunch, maybe start more passive conversations in your workplace, that way she can build trust with you. Sometimes people are more shy than others and it takes getting to know them on a different level before they’d be willing to step out of their comfort zone. I don’t know what she may be thinking, but it could be challenging for her being one of few female colleagues, so she may feel pressured to act a certain way (sort of like what we’ve studied in class. Definitely keep reaching out to her to make her feel welcome though! That’s really encouraging to hear you’re wanting to make sure she feels connected!

  6. Hello, and thank you for bringing this area of study into focus! I’ve looked up some jobs someone can get from being in the computer science major. Aside from the typical, IT and data analyzing jobs, I noticed that this website included SEO Specialist, Web Designer, Web Developer, Social Media Manager, and Web Content Manager. Personally, I’m a business major with a concentration in marketing, and I’ve noticed that I have learned a lot about these topics. It may not be that females are not interested in computer science but rather just a different path to similar jobs. (https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-advice/what-can-i-do-with-my-degree/computer-science)

    While growing up, I remember my teachers telling us to make a hypothetical life path. This included determining college, major, job, and future at a young age. I was not exposed to any other jobs besides what my parents did. My mother is a teacher and my father works in business with banks, credit cards, and sales. So, those were my two options in my head. To fix this problem, I believe an approach would be to introduce this field, and many other fields, to children, so that they understand that gender doesn’t define job choices or excellence. If children could go on field trips to learn more about different industries, I think that would help with exposure. It may lead them to having a role model in a new field.

    Another approach may be through media. If commercials for computer science companies included more females, then it may not be as dominated by males since media is so influential.

    For your example, I’d suggest telling her to invite a friend if she wants, or just having a couple of guys, like 3 or so. Sometimes a large group of guys can be intimidating, coming from a female perspective. Everyone likes to feel included, regardless of gender. You could also suggest letting her pick the place to eat for lunch.


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