Monday, January 5, 2015

Day 5: Where are the Girls? Not in Computer Science classes!

Did you know that NOT a single girl took the AP Computer Science exam in Mississippi,  Montana, and Wyoming last year?    And in the states where girls did take the AP computer science exam, the number of females averaged to 18.5%.  In my state, Vermont,  only 6.3 % of the students taking the computer science exam were female.   Of the states that did have girls take the exam, only Utah and Nevada had fewer girls than Vermont take the exam (percentagewise).
To see a summary of recent and  historical trends, check out the work of Barbara Ericson. 

This makes me so sad!

What makes me even sadder than the low numbers is that the number of females engaged in computer science has actually DECREASED during the last 3 decades.

In a recent article, "When Women Stopped Coding" NPR made an interesting observation, which has me pondering.

"The share of women in computer science started falling at roughly the same moment when personal computers started showing up in U.S. homes in significant numbers."

NPR reporter, Steve Henn's observation that from the beginning,  personal computers  "were marketed almost entirely to men and boys. This idea that computers are for boys became a narrative. It became the story we told ourselves about the computing revolution" is certainly not the only whole story, but it is part of the story.

Looking at the narrative is important!  Looking at historical data is important!  But moving forward takes action, and thankfully this issue has caught the attention of organizations and corporations that are willing to be part of change we need to make to change the numbers, which will change the narrative.

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