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Why Aren't Women Interested in Computer Science?

Wall Street Journal, September 25
Growth in the share of women entering science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields has slowed down, according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau. One of the main problems, say experts, is getting women interested in computer science. While women are working toward parity with men in other technical fields, the share of women pursuing computer jobs has been declining. In 2011, women made up 27% of computer occupations, but the number has dropped since 1990 when it was 34%. There has been an increase in women employed in STEM occupations, but they are still underrepresented in engineering and computer occupations that make up more than 80% of STEM employment.
The main fault for the gender gap in IT lies with the media, says researchers, who point to a recent academic paper showing how negative media portrayals of computer science professionals impact how women view the profession. In general, women are less likely to have interest in majoring in computer science if they have negative perceptions about the types of people involved in the field. The stereotypes communicate to women that there's no place for them in the field. While math is taught early on, which diminishes some of the false stereotypes generated about workers in the field, computer science isn't even part of typical high school curricula.

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