Women are significantly underrepresented in scientific fields, especially computer science, in the United States. Women constitute 45% of the U.S. workforce and 30% of employed computer scientists. Within academia, 17% Bachelors, 26% Masters, and 15% PhD degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering are awarded to women, however women constitute only about 10% of most computer science faculties, hereby referenced as "the shrinking pipeline." Specifically within Stanford, women make up 9.75% of Computer Science professors, including tenured, associate, and assistant professors. In comparison, women constitute the following percentages of professors in other Stanford departments: 22.4% in Biology, 8.3 % in Economics, 35% in English, 9% in Physics, 25% in Political Science, and 28.9% in Psychology. This disparity between the percentages of female faculty, specifically the shortage of female Computer Science faculty, at Stanford is disturbing.
This study investigates why there is a shortage of women Computer Science faculty at Stanford. We begin by investigating how and why the issue of the shortage of women in computer science arose in the first place. Second, we investigate whether there are certain characteristics specific to the Computer Science Department that deter women from becoming faculty at Stanford as well as what factors are contributing to the shrinking pipeline (i.e., why are women leaving from the Masters to the PhD level and from the PhD level to faculty positions). Our methodology is based on interviews of (a) some male faculty members, (b) all female faculty members, and (c) a sample of both male and female Masters and PhD students. Our investigation focuses on the challenges women face in their pursuit of computer science, including: motivation, parental support, balancing family and personal life, any perceived gender biases or discrimination against women, the enticement of industry versus academia, and the views of both women and men towards women in computer science.