Computer science has surpassed human biology as the most popular major for female students at Stanford University, according to preliminary declarations by upper-class students.
About 214 women are majoring in computer science, which is about 30 percent of majors in the computer science department.
Computer science is the most popular major at the university and has been for several years. "We've crossed that threshold where women feel supported and comfortable," says Stanford professor Eric Roberts. "What we need to do is not turn anyone away because they feel unsupported, and a vibrant core community with a critical mass is essential."
Roberts notes the shift at Stanford is particularly important due to its prominence in Silicon Valley and the large number of companies that have been founded by its students. Advocates say a boost in women majoring in technological fields such as computer science could help alleviate the dearth of women in engineering and related professions.
Women earn about 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees, but only about 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees, according to the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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