The lack of women in computer science is undercutting U.S. economic strength and national security, according to futurist Nancy Ramsey. An August report from the U.S. Commerce Department found that less than a quarter of jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math fields are filled by women, while female representation in the computer science and math sector has fallen from 30 percent to 27 percent between 2000 and 2009.
Girls are being sent a message at a young age that careers in math and science are marked by social isolation and will make them seem less attractive. The pressures women face as girls often continue in the technology workforce, where they can become acutely aware of a lack of women as well as female mentors around them.
However, peer pressure and cultural expectations of femininity can be overcome by slight adjustments in attitude, and Carnegie Mellon professor Lenore Blum cites a 2006 study comparing female enrollment in Advanced Placement-level computer science courses at Arabic-speaking and Hebrew-speaking schools. The Arabic-speaking schools had significantly more female involvement because girls in the Arab community faced less peer pressure against tech careers and more encouragement from parents and teachers.
From The Washington Post
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