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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

Women Band Together, Make Inroads Into Tech

Jeanine Swatton

Jeanine Swatton employs an all-female engineering team at her software start-up.


Despite inroads into certain executive positions in Silicon Valley, the computer science field remains dominated by men. The U.S. National Science Foundation says the number of women graduating with computer science degrees has fallen from 28 percent in 2000 to 17 percent in 2010. The field's slow growth, especially for women, can be linked to education. Of the 42,000 U.S. high schools, only 2,100 are certified to teach Advanced Placement (AP) computer science courses, and just 21,139 students took the AP exam.

However, grass-roots programs such as and are targeting young students for computer science education. "We've got to get kids interested in math [in grade school], and think about how we teach math to girls," says Amazon vice president Dorothy Nicholls.

There also are several growth areas within the tech industry for women that do not require computer science degrees, such as project managers, business analysts, and Web developers, notes Atrium Technology recruiting director Matthew Caruso. Others say the most direct path to a career in engineering may start at home. "The earlier you get in, the more confidence and experience you have in [college and the job market]," says Facebook software engineer Sophia Chung.

From USA Today
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