Females Who Switched Out of Computer Science
Undergraduate Female Ü prospective political science major
Why did you decide to drop CS?
One word: Recursion. I couldnÍt get it. It would take me days to write 10 lines of code, and even then IÍd barely understand what it was doing. I made it through the first few weeks of 106B, but Boggle was the end of me. I didnÍt even finish. I was at the lair and had spent hours talking to the helpers before I finally just decided to log on to axess and drop the class, right then and there. It felt good. I ended up with 13 units that quarter, and even though most of my freshmen year was wasted, I gave it my best effort. But I just couldnÍt go on. It was killing me. I loved 106A, but after that it became impossible and wasnÍt fun anymore. I had to ask for help every five minutes. The people at the Lair must have hated me and rejoiced when I was goneî
How do you feel about it?
Not too worried. I was never sure I was going to love a career in CS anyway, and even though being marketable is a huge factor for me, IÍd still rather have a job that I enjoy, even if it is harder to get and doesnÍt pay quite as well. Sometimes it bothers me when I think about it I mean, there are so many people out there who are CS majors, and I always used to think that IÍd be able to handle it since so many people do, but I canÍt. And that upsets me the most, to know that IÍm not good enough for CS. But I deal. Most of my friends are also in Poli Sci and IR anyway, so IÍm enjoying school more. And IÍm not too worried IÍm still getting a Stanford degree. I just donÍt know what IÍm going to do with it.
How did people react to it?
Most of my friends were like, ñyouÍve finally made a sane choice.î No one tried to stop me. Some people suggested Sym Sys, but I wasnÍt about to take 107. I think people were much more surprised when I told them that I WAS a CS major than when I told them that I dropped like theyÍd say ñbut youÍre not a nerdî or something.
1. Do you have a spouse/kids?
2. What is the occupational and/or education background of your
Father: graduate degree, hes a lawyer.
Mother: high school, shes an office manager.
3.Were your parents supportive of your CS pursuit?
Yes, very much, insistent, kind of disappointed that Im not doing it. However, they did tell me that I was probably not very good at it.
4. What is your perceived % of women faculty in the Stanford Computer
5. What is your perceived % of women graduate students, masters and
PhDs, in the Stanford Computer Science Department?
6. What is your perceived % of women in the computer science industry
7. What motivated you to pursue CS?
Probably being at Stanford, it was part of the culture here, so I was curious.
8. What challenges/struggles have you faced in your pursuit of
computer science? We want specific instances.
My mind just doesnt really work that way, I think. I think it was sort of one of the first things I encountered that I had no idea about. I found it challenging because it was a new way of thinking. Taking it with my boyfriend made me compare myself with a male student, and that was a challenge in itself, and made me think of the major in a way very intertwined with gender.
10. Why do you think there are more males than females among the
Stanford Computer Science faculty? Or, what do you think keep women out?
I think its because originally it started with women not being encouraged to go into higher education. But the first areas they moved into are the ones that are concerned with people. Like education. As more move into higher education I think it will even out, I think in the next ten years it will get pretty even.
11. How do you feel about shortage of women faculty in CS?
It depresses me completely. It makes me, every time I enter a CS room Im always looking around for women and minorities, and Ive yet to encounter a woman or minority in the field. If anything could have pushed me on in CS it would have been my desire to be a role model for someone else.
12. Why do you think there are more males than females among the
Stanford Computer Science graduate students? Or, what do you think keep
Id guess its for the same reason, women are just starting to penetrate at even levels now, things that are more nurturing, and its going to take even longer for them to penetrate the less nurturing fields. More women go to grad school than men in this country, it just hasnt evened out yet among disciplines.
13. What ended up turning you off of cs?
I think the fact that I was pursuing it for the wrong reason. To pursue it because there werent women in it was just sort of just a cause, and not a very good way to live your life. Maybe if I were more naturally inclined to like it it would have been different. And I think the other thin that bothered me a lot, was taking classes with my boyfriend was a bad idea and helped convince me to drop CS. Kind of made me think that maybe boys were really better at it. And my female roommate seemed to hate it too. [this was me]
14. would more approachable, possibly female Tas have made a difference?
Well, yes on both counts. For me, I tend to gravitate toward TAs who are minorities, maybe people who seemed not like they were gifted their whole lives, but more normal people. Ive never talked to tas or professors because I was totally terrified of them.