Tag Archives: computing

gender gap in perception of computer science

“New Image for Computing” recently released a report in their first wave to understand the image of computing among youth. Funded by WGBH and ACM, this report examines both race/ethnicity and sex-based differences in perceptions of computing. What they found was that there is little race/ethnicity-based differences in how youth perceive CS but there are HUGE gender based differences in perception.

While 67% of all boys rated computer science as a “very good” or “good” career choice, only 9% of girls rated it “very good” and 17% as “good.” Digging down deeper, it is fascinating to note that there’s a gender gap between boys and girls when it comes to feeling that “being passionate about your job” is “extremely important” (F: 78%, M: 64%), “earning a high salary” is “extremely important” (F: 39%, M: 50%), and “having the power to do good and doing work that makes a difference” is “extremely important” (F: 56%, M: 47%). These all play into how these youth perceive computer science and computing-driven fields.

The summary of key findings is:

  • Most college-bound males, regardless of race/ethnicity, have a positive opinion of computing and computer science as a career or a possible major.
  • College-bound females are signi´Čücantly less interested than boys are in computing; girls associate computing with typing, math, and boredom.
  • College-bound African American and Hispanic teens, regardless of gender, are more likely than their white peers to be interested in computing, although for girls the overall interest is extremely low.
  • Teens interested in studying computer science associate computing with words like “video games,” “design,” “electronics,” “solving problems,” and “interesting.”
  • The strongest positive driver towards computer science or an openness to a career in computing is “having the power to create and discover new things.”

Computer science is still dominated by men. The computer industry is still dominated by men. In order to combat these issues, we need to get to the crux of the issue. We need to address both the perception of computing as well as the very real issues that young people raise regarding the realities of life in the computing industry. For more information, check out the full report.

(Disclosure: I am on the advisory board of New Image for Computing.)