Introduction. The battle to bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) has been a hot topic for several years. Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 per- cent of STEM jobs (see Figure1). This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college- educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce. This issue is worse in computer-related fields and technology, “By 2020, there will be 1.4 million jobs in computing-related fields—but women are on track to fill only 3 percent of them.”
Reasons. Some people such as Stuart Reges, a principal lecturer at the university’s Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering, argue that main reason for this gap are the fundamental differences between men and woman and the consequent choice. “Our community must face the difficult truth that we aren’t likely to make further progress in attracting women to computer science. Women can code, but often they don’t want to. We will never reach gender parity.” wrote Reges. “It’s time for everyone to be honest, and my honest view is that having 20 percent women in tech is probably the best we are likely to achieve. Accepting that idea doesn’t mean that women should feel unwelcome. Recognizing that women will be in the minority makes me even more appreciative of the women who choose to join us.”
On the other hand, there are many evidences showing that women are achieving the same level of excellence in science fields as men. For example, last year for the first time women outnumbered men in medical school enrollments, which were men-dominated before. Furthermore, while Reges interprets the national data correctly that women fall behind men in computer science enrollments, his assertion that sexism in the tech industry is not an obstacle for women who are competent to enter the industry is questionable.
Author’s Opinion. I believe that thriving in computer science is regardless of the gender. If you are interested in this field, go for it! Similar to any other purpose in your life, it is hard to reach to the summit of success especially when the route is full of crumbling rocks and you are not fairly treated. However, summit worth fighting for!
As one of the successful role models in Computer Science, Grace Hopper was a United States Navy rear admiral and also a female pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first compiler related tools. Nowadays, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists with around 20,000 attendees this year in Houston, TX. Here is a famous quote from her: “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.“