Daniel Lemire's blog

, 2 min read

Why don´t women study Computer Science?

It is the fault of TV shows!!! Who knew?

Princeton University Dean of Engineering and Applied Science, Maria Klawe, said so.

In contrast, Klawe said the number of women in law and medicine has reached parity with men. Why? “I think there is a correlation with TV shows,” that even when Klawe was a teenager, showed women happily at work in those fields. “I think computer science is a lot more creative than the jobs doctors and lawyers have,” she said, asking why Hollywood doesn’t do more with the IT field.

Of course, some will want to distinguish Computer Science and IT. I won’t go there because a large number of Computer Science graduates (as well as other fields such as Physics for that matter) go into IT. It stands to reason that if you have no interest for IT, you might consider a law or medicine major.

Ok. But I still don’t buy the TV show explanation. What about relatively modest salaries, long hours, and the macho caffeine-induced buzz? I’m sure several women don’t mind working 90 hours a week, but if you are to attract women to the IT profession, you better come up with better working conditions: higher salaries, lesser outsourcing threats, more flexible hours and so on. Maybe having fewer graduates might help the working conditions. Of course, we could always object that outsourcing will quickly compensate and keep wages low. Maybe. It is hard to predict where Information Technology will take us.

However, it is true that Information Technology and Computer Science is really the current driver, or as Bill Gates said it:

Computer science is the change agent of the time.

It is simply not the case, currently, that the profession is very appealing for women.

Thanks to Fred for pointing out the article.

Update: Scott vouched for Maria, so maybe the TV show idea is not so silly. Still, higher salaries would help!