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Breaking the Brogrammer Code: Margo Seltzer's Views on Women in Computer Science

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Harvard Professor Margo Seltzer

While no company in America would tolerate blatant racism, "we have these pockets in cultures of companies that really are very hostile towards women," says Professor Margo Seltzer of Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Credit: Harvard University

In an interview with Txchnologist, Harvard University professor and ACM Fellow Margo Seltzer discussed the role of women in computer science.

Just 25 percent of employed computer scientists are female, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and Seltzer says the biggest factor facilitating this trend is that society as a whole has done a poor job of marketing what it means to work with software. "If you look globally, there are countries where that isn't the image, and in fact, their numbers are dramatically better," she says. Seltzer also notes that there are pockets in cultures of companies that are hostile toward women. However, she says people do not find that as offensive.

Seltzer also believes the bias against female computer scientists begins at early age, as boys are assumed to want to use computers but girls are not. "And it's teachers saying stupid things without thinking about it," she says. "It's teachers expressing surprise when the top math student is a girl." She also points out that when companies look to hire programmers, they generally want to pick from the deepest applicant pool possible. If half the potential candidates are not even applying, that means some major talent is being missed.

From Txchnologist
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