When asked to mention the most famous people in the field of computers, people usually come up with names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. But can you think of even one woman who is a worldwide household name such as these guys? Probably not.
The gender gap is a phenomenon seen in many subjects and professions learned and practiced around the world. If for example, you visit a nursing course – you’re far more likely to see a majority of females, as opposed to males. In engineering, things are the exact opposite. While in many subjects and professions we now see a welcomed shift towards equality in recent years, in computer science the gender gap has been continuously increasing since 2002, leaving experts all over the world completely puzzled. In fact, in an average college today only 14-18% of those graduating from computer science are female. What is it about this field that insists on preserving the gender gap, and even increasing it?
One possible reason for this has to do with the era in which computers were first introduced into households. Back then in the 1980s, it was mostly men that used computers, as they were the main providers and the women took care of the house and kids. The result? Computers were perceived as manly machines, much like robots and cars with which boys were encouraged to play. Although times have dramatically changed since we still have a long way to go in terms of releasing society from this misconception that still holds an effect on the way young people make career choices these days.
A second explanation has to do with the type of jobs men and women usually tend to choose. Research indicates that women often opt for jobs that are more fulfilling and involve more inter-personal relationships, such as teaching, nursing, and journalism. These jobs also pay significantly less than the ones men tend to go for, which are usually much more stressful but also pay well. Computers and coding is one such field, which can also explain why, despite society’s battle against gender stereotypes, there are still a lot more men in it than women.
What Can Be Done?
The aforementioned reasons for the increasing gender gap in computer sciences might sound a bit outdated, but sadly the numbers speak for themselves. So what can actually be done in order to work things towards a balance between men and women?
Gladly, some things are already being done. Check out the non-profit organization called Girls Who Code, who has been active on the subject for some time now – and apparently is not the only one. The more efforts invested in this direction, the more women would be able to enjoy the same lucrative and high-paid jobs and careers. The gender gap, it seems, will not be around forever.