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Introduction

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

Is There Gender Bias?

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

Conclusion &Recommendations

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

Sources

Females Masters Students

1. Do you have a spouse/kids?
no

2. What is the occupational and/or education background of your parents?
Non-technical backgrounds

3. Were your parents supportive of your CS pursuit?
yes

4. What is your perceived % of women faculty in the Stanford Computer Science Department?
Very low

5. What is your perceived % of women graduate students, masters and PhDs, in the Stanford Computer Science Department?
PhD: 20%, MS: 30%

6. What is your perceived % of women in the computer science industry (technical positions)?
1/3, sysadmins, 1/4th

7. What motivated you to pursue CS?
Was terrified of computers, but I loved CS106A . . . I liked it so much that it lead to the rest of the degree.

8. What challenges/struggles have you faced in your pursuit of computer science? (specific instances would be helpful)
Networking Projects. Also, since I had no computer background, I felt like I was at a disadvantage.

8a. Why didn't you have a compute background?
It wasn't intriguing, there as no push towards it. I think it's different for male students, guys, "grow up as hackers."

9. Through the whole process, do you perceive graduate school to be easier for males or females?
What I see is that women are not nearly as confident or aggressive in pursuing opportunities.

9a. Why aren't they as aggressive on pursuing?
My own case: I didn't have a computer background and I felt unqualified. But, others? It's just the way we work.

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?
It's a legacy thing. Historically there were less women, so the balance now reflects what happened 10 years ago. Also, there is that confidence problem, women don't pursue that far.

11. How do you feel about shortage of women faculty in CS?
Personally, it would be nice if: There were more role models. Since my long term goal is to be an academic, it'd be nice to have someone to talk about this stuff with. There were more women teaching classes at the undergrad level. Easier to talk to female faculty members. I'm sometimes intimidated by male faculty.

12. Why do you think there are more males than females among the Stanford Computer Science graduate students? Or, what do you think keep women out?
With grad students? I think the number one problem is confidence, "I'm not good enough to get in, versus 'I want to get in.' and then not enough nerve to ask for recs"

13. How do you feel about shortage of women in the CS graduate program?
Two people I know socially in the grad program. There are lots more guys. It's not so much an issue, I think it's nice to be unusual. However, sometimes it's uncomfortable being the only female. For example, I had once class with fifteen students where I was the only female.

14. Why would you pick academia over Industry or vice versa?
I'm not a software eveloper, I Like research. I like to solve problems, not just "get it done." Also, I don't have any profit motive. Academia seems to be more flexible in the hours you work, and there is more vacation time.

15. Why do think women would choose academia over Industry or vice versa?
Confidence. To be in acacdemia, you have to be much more persistestent, you have to ask. It's much easier to take a job. In academia there is a risk of rejection. It's easier just to go to a job fair and pass out resumes.

16. Do you perceive discrimination against women faculty in funding practices?
[didn't ask this one, it's clear she doesn't]

17. Do you think professors are inclined to seek out female graduate students for research?
Unknown.

17a. Then, what is important to you?
While I would be more comfortable with a female, I care much more about the project than gender.

1. Do you have a spouse/kids?
No

2. What is the occupational and/or educational background of your parents?
Father: Undergrad degree in Econ, businessman; Mother: Undergraduate degree, MS in History, bank supervisor

3. Were your parents supportive of your CS pursuit?
Yes, they were very adamant about me studying CS and sticking to it when I wanted to quit. But they have always been more supportive of my brother - this could be a cultural issue.

4. What is your perceived % of women faculty in the Stanford Computer Science Department?
4/44

5. What is your perceived % of women graduate students, masters and PhDs, in the Stanford Computer Science Department?
PhD- 10%; Masters - 25%

6. What is your perceived % of women in the computer science industry (technical positions)?
30%

7. What motivated you to pursue CS?
I audited an intro level CS course and fell in love with its focus on math and logic.

8. What challenges/struggles have you faced in your pursuit of computer science? We want specific instances.
For me personally, it has been my lack of self-confidence, which I do not find among my comparable male-counterparts. No matter how hard I try, I just feel that I am never fully prepared, that I should have done better, and that I am just not good enough for CS.

9. Through the whole process, do you perceive graduate school to be easier for males or females?
Easier for males. Socially, I just find myself in awkward situations. Guys hit on me all the time, including a TA. My friendliness gets mistaken for flirtation or romantic interest. Why can't a girl just kick back and hang out with a guy without him and everyone else thinking that there is a romantic involvement! I had lunch with a male peer and everyone regarded it as a date. It's ridiculous. Just this past year, three CS peers/friends mistook my friendliness for romantic interest, resulting in things becoming awkward between us. I feel like I have to change my behavior so I don't send mixed signals.

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?
Historical inertia. Also, just in general, it seems that males are more inclined to pursue science and math oriented fields than women, but I think things are changing now.

11. How do you feel about shortage of women faculty in CS?
I wish I had more female role-models.

12. Why do you think there are more males than females among the Stanford Computer Science graduate students?
Or, what do you think keep women out? Most women I knew from undergrad CS just wanted to get jobs and start families while their male counter-parts wanted to establish themselves and their careers.

13. How do you feel about shortage of women in the CS graduate program?
I wish there were more so it wouldn't be such a big deal to be a woman in CS.

14. Why would you pick academia over Industry or vice versa?
Academia is more exciting and independent research but it's a long road from getting started to getting tenured. Industry gets you started right away and it's more consistently stable - most people tend to get promoted on a yearly basis. So, you're constantly receiving positive feedback which encourages you to stay in industry. Also, industry is doing a lot to meet the needs of the modern-day woman -- e.g. offering daycare, extended leave-of-absence for childbirth, work from home,

15. Why do think women would choose academia over Industry or vice versa?
See above.

16. Do you perceive discrimination against women faculty in funding practices or in general?
I have no basis to comment on this.

17. Do you think professors are inclined to seek out female graduate students for research?
No - I think it's a pure match of research interests.

18. For grad students, would you prefer to have male/female advisor?
It does not really matter but it is nice to have a female role-model acting as an advisor.

19. juggling family and careers:
I do think it's harder for women to balance family and careers. I often see women sacrifice one for the other and I think it is because of the societal expectation that women have more of burden to balance their family and careers.

20. hostile environment:
Well, I do get things like "you're only here because you're a chick" but I'm hoping that people who make such comments are truly joking.

 

 1. Do you have a spouse/kids?

no

2. What is the occupational and/or education background of your
parents?

Mom – has a college degree and worked as a schoolteacher until she had her first kid and hasn’t worked outside the home since then.

Dad – has a college degree and an mba and half of a phd in german lit. he’s a business executive.

3. Were your parents supportive of your CS pursuit?

yeah

4. What is your perceived % of women faculty in the Stanford Computer
Science Department?

5%? I don’t know. I’ve only had 2 female teachers.

5. What is your perceived % of women graduate students, masters and
PhDs, in the Stanford Computer Science Department?

Of the masters students, maybe 30%. Phd, I’d say less, maybe 20%. I might be under-guessing, but I don’t think so. There are hardly any women in my classes, and most of them are asian and Indian. Once you hit the phd students there’s a good eastern European contingency. That’s just what it feels like.

6. What is your perceived % of women in the computer science industry
(technical positions)?

Much worse, I would guess, in terms of engineers. In industry I would guess it’s more like 10%. I have correspondence with people at code warrior, and nuance and different companies we work with. Nuance has more women than usual. In correspondence with companies, I definitely notice the female names. There are women working there, but not coding, not in engineering jobs.

7. What motivated you to pursue CS?

Basically through sym sys. I think I liked the thought process involved in solving problems in the basic programming classes, and I always felt like I wanted to do some sort of engineering, but after my 1st quarter I didn’t want to do any. So I went into sym sys, and I noticed that the thin Iiked best about sym sys was the computer science. Sym sys is too broad to just stop at sym sys, you have to focus on one of the four [cs, linguistics, psych, or philosophy].

7a. Why not engineering?

There was an Engineering at Stanford lecture series, once a week… I guess a lot of them just seemed completely uninteresting. Mechanical engineering seemed interesting, but he was like, “oh I guess when you’re finished you can go make small important parts. You could start your own company, but no one does that.” why would I want to spend four years learning it and then not really do what I want to do? I also remember, at the end of the series, when they had us filling out our evals, I remember writing “gee, are there any women engineers at this school?” There was not a single woman lecturer… I remember thinking “what a poor job of appealing to women engineers.” That’s not why I didn’t do it, but it did put me off. ‘Cause Stanford’s usually good at at least feigning equality.

I think mostly I didn’t want to take 2 more years of math and science before I figured out if I wanted to do it. Seemed like more of high school, and I wanted to do something different, but CS was different.

8. What challenges/struggles have you faced in your pursuit of
computer science? We want specific instances.

Well one problem for me is that I’m coming in as a master student with no undergrad background, so I feel like I’m playing catch-up. And I feel like I lack an intuition that others have, namely the guys. I didn’t grow up with computers, they’re not that familiar to me … a lot of the architecture doesn’t really interest me, so I feel like I have a lot to catch up to on the subject. I’ve definitely questioned my abilities and thought “what the hell am I doing getting a masters degree in computer science?” Sometimes I feel like a poser, like I don’t really know anything about computers.

9. Through the whole process, do you perceive graduate school to be
easier for males or females?

For master students it’s more equal than for phd students, I would guess. B/c masters students are sort of a continuation of undergrad. Socially it’s easier for guys, you’re in classes that are just primarily men.

Sometimes its definitely weird, in networking. If for some reason I was looking good that day, I’d walk into a room that was 90% men and I could just see people noticing me walk in. If I look good and dress well, they’re less inclined to think I’m intelligent. If I’m grubby one day, they might think I know about CS, then if I’m dolled up another day they might think “or not.” There’s sort of a typical woman doing CS, and she’s just very no nonsense – hard studier. Relatively low maintenance as far as appearance goes. If you don’t fit that mold you feel like you stick out even more.

In groups I feel like I have to work a little harder to prove I’m valuable. That usually proves to be unnecessary paranoia on my part.

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?

It’s probably a couple things,. To become tenured you have to work your butt of for 7 years. Society has structured it so that a guy can work his butt off and have a “fulfilling” home life. It’s not that easy for women, especially if they have kids. It’s also a generational thing. You would have had to be in college 20 years ago, and it’s only recently it’s been acceptable for women to be in the techy fields. I don’t think there’s a conspiracy at all… I know people who are trying desperately to hire women and minorities, but there are so fewer of them to pick from… if you set a number you’re skewing your selection process.

I’ve had Daphne Kohler, who just seems like a maniac worker, and Maggie [Johnson] who has a normal life. Daphne’s getting tenure, and Maggie will be a senior lecturer forever, but you see her walking on campus with her kids. She has a more well-rounded life and I think that’s more appealing to a lot of women.

Also I think becoming a faculty person or an academic, there’s not as much room to leave for a couple years, as there is in industry. They’d be reluctant to hire someone behind on research in their field, but industry won’t care. There’s not that many women who are never going to have kids. That’s not to say you have to stay home, but some women want to.

11. How do you feel about shortage of women faculty in CS?

I wish there were more. I’ve very much enjoyed classes taught by women, especially when I see that they’re respected and holding their own. They’re definitely role models to me, maybe my future isn’t just graduating this university and then leaving. I was in one class where there were 80 people in the class, 5 women, and one was the teacher. That made a big difference in how I felt just walking in. Also I was a senior and there were a lot of grad students, so I was already intimidated. In some classes, I’ve definitely thought “this must be how black people feel at Stanford”

12. Why do you think there are more males than females among the
Stanford Computer Science graduate students? Or, what do you think keep
women out?

It’s just going to take a while before there are equal numbers of men and women in faculty positions. It’s a generational thing. It’s the same thing in med school now… right not they’re 50 percent women or more. It’s not like 50% of doctors are women, but maybe in 50 years.

13. How do you feel about shortage of women in the CS graduate
program?

I don’t feel like that’s affected me much actually. My friend base isn’t from my dept. I don’t feel like I’m socially alienated or it’s hard for my to find friends. And there’s lot’s of cool women I’ve met in the CS dept, even if I were dependent on my dept I don’t think it would be that bleak. There’s probably the same number of cool men and cool women in the dept, and a whole lot of geeks.

14. Why would you pick academia over Industry or vice versa?

I’m applying to phd programs, but I don’t picture myself in a career in academia, I picture myself doing research. I’m not going straight to business, I still want an academic environment of papers and research, but academia doesn’t really call to me. Certainly silicon valley doesn’t either.

I really like doing the research I’ve been doing [at CSLI], I like working in a group of people who are attacking difficult questions and coming up with new ways of solving things. I think participating in a greater academic community is attractive to me, things we’re working on is affecting the field and people who are doing similar work. I like the idea of academic exchange. But I think the flexibility of working in industry is appealing, and academia is not appealing to me. I think it would be a rat race, that I’m constantly trying to prove myself, having to work almost out of paranoia and wanting to make it. I’d rather just pursue my interests. I’d rather not be in a position where I need a career drive that’s greater than my intellectual drive.

15. Why do think women would choose academia over Industry or vice
versa?

Women would probably choose industry b/c it’s more forgiving of a flexible time schedule, taking a year off or working part time. I just don’t want to feel like I have to work 60 hr/week for 10 years before I consider myself in a safe place in terms of job security. You have to work your butt off to get tenure.

15a. So do you think you’ll ever decide you do want to go into academia?

I don’t. Maybe I will, but I really don’t expect to. The politics of it just seem overwhelming. Maybe with more focus and more confidence I wd realize academia is the perfect place to be, because if you prove yourself you get to do what you want more than anywhere else. But I don’t think I’m in the business of proving myself.

I’m getting the phd because I’ve found and area I want to pursue. I like the work I’m doing right now and I like being in an academic environment. I’d rather do the work and get a phd than just make money for it. I don’t think I know enough right now, I feel like I need an academic mentor.

16. Do you perceive discrimination against women faculty in funding
practices?

I don’t have any idea, I would expect not, actually. It seems like the women who are faculty have had to work their butt of to get there, I’d be surprised if people are questioning the worth of full time faculty members if they’ve come that far. I have a data set of one, and Daphne’s hot shit.

17. Do you think professors are inclined to seek out female graduate
students for research?

I don’t know. I can tell you this I’ve never had a hard time getting hired by profs. I’ve have a very warm welcome both working and from advisors. I’ve had excellent experiences working for profs that have been respectful and not treated me differently from guys working for them. And my advisor has shown me a lot of attention, and taken my interest in the phd almost more seriously than I have. His support is one of the main reasons I’m actually going out and applying. If I had a less active advisor, I might have let it slide. He really pushed me in the right direction, at the very smallest sign that I was potentially interested in doing that. That was surprising actually. When you tell a prof you’re interested in getting a phd, it’s like lowering yourself into a pool of ravenous sharks. He didn’t seem to care one way or the other that I was female. Though I do think I confused him a little bit, I got the sense from him that he was like, wait a minute, you’re female and socially competent and you really want to get a phd?

18. For grad students, would you prefer to have male/female advisor?

(things being equal)

I don’t think it really matters.. I’ve gone to get advice from Daphne anyway, but mostly because back then she was one of my most immediate profs. In my trying to figure out what phd programs to apply for, I specifically went and found a linguistics prof to speak with, and she was female, but I was more concerned with her being a linguist than female.

I had a good work environment at CSLI, my boss and his boss were both very supportive of me as a woman specifically. There was a guy in our project, but out of state, and he was pretty tactless. And he’d send out emails, and once in a while they’d be a little on the sexist side and they pulled me aside and asked “is this bothering you?.. if you’re feeling personally attacked or alienated, we’ll talk to him if you want us to.” It had really never occurred to me that I was being personally assaulted by his emails. He was just your quintessential computer geek with no social skills, so I didn’t feel personally involved or even that it was about anything but him. I felt like it bothered them more than me, like they wanted to make sure the environment was one where I felt comfortable.