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Algorithms Can't Solve CS Gender Gap

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The percentage of women in computer science (CS) is one of the lowest of all science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines across the United States, and Brown University and other schools have recently taken steps to understand and reverse this trend.

Brown's CS department strives to ensure introductory courses have female teaching assistants and examines which types of assignments are most intimidating to women. Brown's Tom Doeppner notes that a key problem is a lack of interest in CS among incoming female students rather than disenchantment with the field after they arrive. Brown professor Shriram Krishnamurthi believes a misunderstanding about the nature of CS is a bigger problem, and he largely blames high school programs.

One school that has significantly increased its cohort of female CS students is Harvey Mudd College, and college president Maria Klawe credits, among other things, the CS department for offering many summer research opportunities to female rising sophomores. In addition, Harvey Mudd has reorganized its introductory CS class, changing the concentration from Java programming to computer-based problem solving. Klawe says the college also began inviting female freshmen to a CS conference in which an overwhelming majority of attendees are women.

From Brown Daily Herald
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Abstracts Copyright © 2011 Information Inc. External Link, Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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