When you think about famous coders, programmers and computer science graduates, who springs to mind? Bill Gates, owner of Microsoft. Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook. All of the male owners of Twitter, Google, Yahoo… It’s pretty hard to think of just one female in the industry, who has the coding and computer science knowledge that these guys do. So, what is it about this subject and the lack of women studying it?
We always find gender gaps in certain subjects, across the world. For example, you’re far more likely to find females on a nursing course as opposed to males. Engineering tends to be filled with male students, instead of females. With computer science, the gender gap has been steadily increasing since 2002 – and it’s baffling experts everywhere. Although there has been a slight increase of women applying for these courses over time, there has also been a massive increase in the number of men. This has made the gender gap in computer science quite a significant one, with just 18% of women graduating from this subject at an average college. Top research and computer science colleges only see 14% of women taking computer science courses… So, what is causing this gap?
A Man’s Machine
One of the reasons behind this could be something that spans as far back as the 1980s. When personal computers were first introduced into households, it was typically the man that used them. It was dubbed a man’s machine. While young girls were encouraged to play with dolls and ‘make home’, boys were persuaded to play around with robots and cars. It seems as though, despite society’s efforts to get rid of gender stereotyping, it has had a knock on effect on subject choices for the next generation.
More Fulfilling Jobs
Another gender stereotype that may be a cause for a lack of women in computer science is quite an interesting one. It is often thought that women opt for lower-paying jobs that are more fulfilling. Things such as journalism, nursing and teaching are prime examples. As men are seen as the ‘breadwinners’ they tend to opt for higher-paying and more stressful jobs. Coding being one of them. Again, despite society pushing out gender stereotypes, this seems to be something that is almost ingrained in us from an early age.
Pushing for More Women
Many of the reasons experts have given as to why there are less girls in computer science classes seem a little outdated. It could simply be that now these courses are so filled with men it becomes almost second nature for us to assume it’s a male job. After all, would you want to be the only woman in a male dominated class? Luckily, there are plenty of initiatives now pushing for more women to get involved. Girls Who Code is a non-profit organisation who have been working on closing the gender gap for quite some time now. And they’re not the only one. Why should men make all the money, when women are just as good at coding? Programming and computer science related careers are now some of the highest paid in the world, so it only makes sense that girls jump on board.
While the gender gap is still very much prevalent now, it’s unlikely to be that way forever. As more and more women get behind initiatives like Girls Who Code, we’ll find more females in computer science classes. This will then encourage those who were too afraid of a sitting in a male-dominated classroom, meaning the gender gap will close down even further. So girls, grab your laptops and get coding.