How the Issue Arose
 -Is It a Problem?
 -The Role of Gender Bias
 -The Pipeline Effect

Is There Gender Bias?

Why is the Pipeline Shrinking?
 -Academia vs. Industry
 -Lack of Self-Confidence
 -Parental Support
 -Personal Life, Family and Academia
 -Social Awkwardness
 -Subtle Bias
 -Support Networks

Conclusion &Recommendations

 -Female Faculty
 -Female PhDs
 -Female Masters
 -Females Who Switched Out
 -Male faculty
 -Male PhDs
 -Male Masters
 -Males Who Switched Out


History of Women in Computer Science

The history has largely been recorded by men

While women are certainly under-represented within Computer Science, the perceived ratio may be slightly skewed. Because the field is so heavily male-dominated, it is a fact that much of the "history" of computer science has been recorded by males, who either consciously or subconsciously neglect to record many of the achievements of women:

"Women have been involved in computing since its inception, and though the proportion of women in the field (about 13%) is far less than are to be found in our society, they still have a strong impact on our industry. The column could easily be filled with just the names of the women who have contributed to the field of computing, but most of them are still unknown, overshadowed by the myriad male innovators and often by their husbands" [1].

Women in Computer History

  • Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815 - 1852)
    Ada King is widely regarded as the first woman of computer science. She translated Charles Babbage's Italian Analytical Engine into English, and then added a few notes to the translation herself. It was Ada who first came up with the notion of a "loop," which she described as a "snake biting its tail."
  • Grace Hopper (1906 - 1992)
    Grace Hopper was, in her own words, "the third programmer on the first large scale digital computer, [Harvard] Mark I" [1]. Not only is Grace Hopper the originator of the idea of a compiler, she was also the first person to use the term "debugging" in regard to computers after cleaning a moth out of the Harvard Mark I machine.
Ada King and Grace Hopper are perhaps the most widely known historical women in computer science. However, given these accounts, one can see how even their great contributions to the field can be belittled through a slight change in emphasis:
  • Ada King was the first woman in computer science because she helped translate Charles Babbage's work into English.
  • Grace Hopper, while cleaning the Harvard Mark I, found a dead moth, and, borrowing a term from Thomas Edison, was the first person to "debug" a computer.
Although these statements are not false, they convey the wrong impression - that women were subservient and only in the periphery of "real" computer science work and research.

[1] Women in Computing. IEEE Computer. Oct 1996.