Monday, 17 March 2014

Can Early Computer Science Education Increase Women Involvement In Technology?

Women have definitely made quite a mark in the world of medicine or law, but why are they lagging behind when it comes to Computer Science, which is definitely one of the most lucrative industries of the future? One primary reason could be the conception or rather misconception of many about how women are “no substance and only flash”. It becomes quite easy for the male dominated industry to presume so, without much of research, so we would rather begin with some excerpts from the most successful women in the business.

Hear ‘The’ Women Speak 
According to Cindy Bates, Vice President of Microsoft’s Small and Medium Sized Business, “Technology is woven into everything. You can’t talk about anything these days without technology as one of the ingredients,” further adding why women should be more eager to join any technology diversion she says “and we need to do a better job of exposing women to technology related jobs.”
Earlier even women were not much keen to join the technology field, as it was looked upon as a “man thing”, though scenarios are changing but still women have a long way to go.
Harvey Mudd’s President, Maria Klawe gives us a clearer picture as she draws her research and gives a rather substantial description “We’ve done lots of research on why young women don’t choose tech careers and number one is they think it’s not interesting. Number two, they think they wouldn’t be good at it. Number three, they think they will be working with a number of people that they just wouldn’t feel comfortable or happy working alongside.”
Women should be more proactive to learn new technologies to catch up with the other sex and visualize “the impact a technical background can have on a woman’s career, and the economic potential that accompanies it.” as suggested by Intel’s CIO Kim Stevenson, she further adds women shy away from the IT industry as they are not fully aware of all available options in this field.

Why Do Women Avoid This Field? 
Let’s look at a case. Sofia Westwood has been facing the odds ever since she bargained for Computer Science at Stanford as a freshman. She was the only woman in a class of 8, and would be familiar to all instructors not for mettle but gender. She was vivaciously outnumbered in all sessions and classes by the other gender, in spite of the university raising percentage of women being awarded CS degree from 16.
Both Stanford and Cal have been working on improving the women count graduating, but are yet to see significant improved statistics.
The absence of women as software engineers, system analysts, database administrators, computer research scientists is not only frustrating but also infuriating, as they miss out on a hefty package and expertise in these fields, which should not be the case.

Reality Behind Fewer Women
It is not true that women are clumsy for the role of a software developer, when given technology related tasks they excelled at it. Then why such a gap in tech related positions? Here is the real reason why.
Women do not choose a career in technology, they seem happier in other fields.
According to a research by Girls Scouts and Guides a mere 13% teens who are girls are interested in a career in computers. If we take a look at the girl vs. boy career graph it stands such that girls right from the beginning of their career opt out of technology related studies.

How To Bridge The Gap And Get More Women?
It has been cited that for an individual to be inclined towards computers, indulgence in maths is an absolute necessity. Taking up computer science early in one’s career and interests in analyzing and music are also relevant to a career in IT. 80% business leaders believe that exposure to computer science classes can bring more women into the field of technology. Around 60% of the experts suggest breaking the myth of technology being a male dominated industry and encourage a better vision on technical path.
Apart from that a good mentor, a worthy guidance is all that would see women soaring high in the skies of technology. Wrapping it up with a speech by Bill Gates in the Gulf “Any country where half their population is not allowed to reach their full potential is not going to be competitive.”. Thus it is we the common people who are responsible for the underutilization of talent and narrowing our own possibilities to embark on a flourishing career in computers.
It is certain we can achieve if we believe

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