Computers have always been mostly men, right?
In 1987, 42% of
American software developers were women. And 34% of
system analysts, too. Computer science began to attract women in the mid-60s
, at the dawn of the computer age. At that time, men already dominated other technical specialties, but not in the computer environment. For nearly two decades, the percentage of women with a degree in computer science has steadily increased and peaked at 37%
In fact, in the second half of the 60s, the mass media presented programming as women's work. Look at the scan of the article Girls at Computers, published in the April 1967 issue of Cosmopolitan
magazine. The article was placed between the articles "Japanese graduates" and "Dog advises: Why every girl should have a dog."
Do not worry, ladies. Grace Hopper
herself said programming was “how to plan dinner.”
There were many reasons for such an unusual influx of women in computer science. In part, this was the result of an increase in the number of computers in the business. There was a tremendous need to hire any people with appropriate abilities, including women. Also, by that time, it was not yet fully determined whether programming belongs to a scientific or engineering specialty. In fact, many programs for scientific research were initially created in a wide variety of colleges and universities, including those where humanities were studied. And in the humanities women were already enough. And one more important moment - you knew that I would say this - women quickly noticed that in some cases programming could be done from home, while the children were snuffling in their cradles.
And then the women left the computer areas. In droves.
From 1984 to 2006, the number of women graduating with a degree in computer science fell from 37
percent to 20
percent. Given that at this time the percentage of women grew steadily in all other areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Well, maybe with the exception of physics. The reasons for which women left the computer field are as ambiguous and numerous as the reasons for which they generally came there initially. The most frequent explanation is the following: an increase in the number of personal computers has led to an eccentric, asocial hacker, and a man, becoming the stereotype of the geek. And women began to perceive computer science less attractive in professional terms.
What do we have to say that once at the dawn of the computer era, the number of women in this area was so great?
Yes, just seems to be women returning to the ranks of computer scientists.
Last year, among Harvard graduates, the percentage of women with a degree in computer science almost doubled
, from 13 percent to 25 percent. This, of course, is not at all those 37% in 1984. And also, since Harvard, in general, is not the center of the universe, it would be interesting to find out if a similar trend is noticed in other places. Over the past three years, the number of women graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a specialization in computer science has increased by 28 percent
. At Carnegie Mellon University in 2007, every fifth graduate with a similar specialization was a female, while every fourth last year
Why are women interested in computer science again? Maybe because of Facebook, the most active users of which are girls
? And by the way, Google + girls have not yet tasted
. Or maybe the recent economic crisis has helped young American women see where a lot of money is spinning
. Oh no! This was certainly influenced by the recent call
by Google’s Vice President, Marissa Mayer, to follow in her footsteps and join the computer programmers.Marissa Mayer, vice president of Google: “People often ask me what it is like to be a woman in a Google company. I do not think about my position like that. I feel like a computer geek in Google. ”
Translator’s note: the
original is not fully translated, since the second part deals with issues specific to the author’s company.