For decades, the number of women studying computer science was growing faster than the number of men. But in 1984, something changed. The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged.

What happened?

@afarian to vaguely guess: computers became commodities and marketing/advertising executives decided they were for boys and nuclear families acquiesced and a cultural proscription based on patriarchy was inculcated.

@feld It is sad, and we're still struggling to play catch-up unfortunately. While there are definitely a lot more women in tech, it still feels like a "boys club" and can often be intimidating and unwelcoming :(


Aug 11th - RR.

We asked for a vote on our proposal granting spouses working in the home the same individual retirement right, IRA's, as spouses working outside the home. Each could save and exclude from taxation up to $2,000 a year. The House Democratic leadership said no.

Probably related

@afarian this sounds so familiar. In school for mechanical engineering, professors often assumed that we would know about cars, car engines, differentials. Not I. (They didn't make so many assumptions about HVAC units, which I was relatively familiar with, my dad having his own heat and air business)

@rubah University shouldn't assume prior knowledge if it's not taught at the high-school level. It's unfair to students who have the potential and skills to succeed, but never had the opportunity to interact with certain things prior to studying.

@afarian While I have seen this reporting before, your post gave me an excuse to go back at look at the data (it is as interesting as it is depressing). I have some questions for the NPR folks, because it look likes they are considering only Computer Science degrees, and not Math degrees or Engineering degrees holders of which often fill the same roles, particularly in the early days of computing. I plotted math vs CS degrees, and the problem is with CS and it is a problem.

@thelibrarian Wow, that's really interesting, thanks for putting that together.

I wonder if this stems from math not being as strongly depicted as as "for boys" in the same way CS seems to be. We all study mathematics at school from a very early age, which makes it familiar for many. Women may feel like they're on a more level playing field with their male classmates.

These days women graduating in CS is a lot higher, but making it in the workforce is another problem altogether...

@afarian I think it is a complex social dynamic. I think the common experience of math education lessened how much mathematics is gendered, at least perceptually. But there is still a smart isn't feminine meme in the culture (which we know is total malarkey). Excelling, or even showing an interest, in a demanding discipline like math triggers a lingering social taboo against being smart & don't think about enouncing it. Liking math is a suspicious position to take in US culture, generally.

@afarian With regards to CS, it is not only the NPR hypothesis, but also a smart!=femme meme, & a misogynistic masculinization of CS and very likely a number of other various effects.

@afarian I support

I'm always happy to see great new software, no matter who's writing it.

It would be great to have some kind of local clubs, for girls and boys, to learn about computer science, robotics, electronics and other similar things. Like boy scouts/girl scouts, but learning different things and more inclusive.

@saba have some great local events world wide! it's really encouraging, I'm actually planning to start attending a few that are near me!

@afarian the men probably didn't listen to the women
@afarian I blame the Commodore PET and IBM PC. The marketing of the time made it clear that those were for the man of the house. Because of nuclear family structure so it makes sense they would market it that way, but that was probably why.
@afarian incidentally, with advertisements that terrible, it shouldn't be surprising that Commodore went bankrupt. I mean... it doesn't really demo what the SX64 could do, which was actually a lot for it's time.

@afarian during late 1980s in SE England there were as many girls as boys in my high school computer studies class around 1985-1988 (the school that had very good IT facilities for the era too), and lots of encouragement to girls from the (female) teacher, but it didn't take long for the gender divide to affect UK as well, I noticed that of the girls who went on to sixth form they didn't take STEM subjects for A levels, which affects what University courses students can apply for.

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