To be blatantly racist for a moment, a big chunk of it is outsourcing to India, and the rest is the perception of 12 hour days and living on pizza in a dorm environment until age 30 when all computer nerds are laid off en masse for younger and hotter kids who will work 12 hour days and live on pizza.

In our culture, we have the perception that women go and get the stable, earner, family-caring jobs (if women work at all after children) and men go off and get the daring, exiting, dream fulfilling jobs that do "cool things."

For a long time, women did not want to go into computer science/engineering because of the nerd club dormitory D&D playing atmosphere, regardless if that was a real perception or not. I knew plenty of women in ENGINEERING, and have always known plenty of women in ENGINEERING, but they have always gone right to Civil or Mechanical and stayed the hell away from computers, so it's clearly not the math and physics. It's the belief that they would have to go pack off to Silicon Valley to live in some apartment with 5 strangers while continuing a distinctly college lifestyle to do computer science and engineering. And you know what? They're not wrong.

The other part is looking at CS/CompEng, going "gee, if I spend 6 years in school my job is just going to get SHIPPED TO INDIA why should I bother?" and go right to something that cannot be outsourced, like nursing. Nursing pays exceptionally well right now, it can't go away, and one can have a family and be an RN. Or a doctor. Or a lawyer. Or even a different kind of engineer. Anything other than the perceived near-guarantee of being tossed out on the street for being too expensive at random.

#1, the geek house, isn't wrong. #2 is. But #2 is a real kicker, and it's a problem we created here all by ourselves. It's the law of unintended consequences -- business built up this perception that they neither wanted nor needed computer scientists in the US so ta-da! No computer scientists in the US!

#1 would totally keep me out of computer engineering but it's been way too late for many years. Sad.
Yeah. *laughs*

They mentioned the geek/nerd thing in the article, and yeah...

*sighs sadly* Ah well. Outsourcing does seem to be a big kicker now, and, definitely nursing can't be outsourced.
I am thinking about responding to the writer this evening and saying, uh, it is sort of obvious why the numbers are so very low.

If the perception is that computer science is a worthless degree that just gets outsourced and is a total waste of money, then women will go to other degree programs. It's that simple. Hell, if I was entering school today I would not have gone into engineering at all. I went engineering /because/ it had good job prospects. Once that is gone, there's no point and secondary considerations (for me probably applied mathematics at the time) become much more attractive.
Not at all racist – it's an unfortunate reality of the industry. It doesn't surprise me at all that women are less likely to enter CS. In particular, in the USA, women have other, more lucrative options, such as healthcare.
That's really interesting. I know that as a woman working in the hardware side of the industry I'm still considered a bit of a rarity; I've been thinking for years that women must be much more represented on the software side. I may need to adjust that belief now.
Yeah - my other half spent several years teaching classes on security software - primarily firewalls, but also web filtering and mail filtering - and he commented that he'd get one woman on a course about every 3 months or so. Given 8-10 students to a course, about 3 courses every month - he definitely wasn't seeing much representation there.

He was, however, amused at the behaviour change when there'd be a woman on the course. In classes about web filtering he'd ask people for URLs of X-rated sites - and the male-only classes could contribute lots, whereas a single woman in the classroom meant suddenly the men in the course seemed utterly at a loss to name a single site. :)
Yeah... I was doing hardware a lot. And it was only in the latter part of my career that I was in software.

I thought I found more women on the sw side, too. *laughs*

So, yeah, it's something of an adjustment for me.
Interesting. I notice that the article talks about the number of women in CS programs in school; I wonder how much different, if any, the numbers would be if you looked in industry. I didn't major in CS and took essentially no programming classes, but I ended up in software anyway; so you don't necessarily have to come in to the field through CS programs.

Also, I'm not convinced that "all the games are for boys" is necessarily the root cause. For one thing, it isn't true; although admittedly the games that girls might tend to favor are not as high-profile so you kind of have to be a gamer to know about them. But I think, for instance, a lot of JRPGs have fairly broad cross-gender appeal.


Yeah about the industry. It's an interesting question.

Yeah... I think in Japan it's different than here, too.

Okami players seem to mostly be girls... hm. But I can see how the overall US impression might be that way. And I know a lot more female WoW players than male.

It's just... interesting.
And once again, mainstream society makes me look like a freak. ;) I like those "man games", and D&D, and I was programming on my PCjr (don't tease me, it was so a real computer! :P) when I was 8.

I did a year and a half of Computer Science after I finished my BA before I burnt out on school and needed to not be a student anymore. This was more than ten years ago, and there were loads of female students - but no, not as many as male students. As you watched the classes advance, each higher year held fewer students overall, and what's more the proportion of female students dropped as well. At the graduate level, there were three female grad students when my husband was taking his course, compared to two or sometimes three times that many male students (it changed as people came and left in the program, but you get the gist).

I think it's important to have diversity in the workforce for many reasons, not the least of which is because variety of perspectives is extremely valuable. The opportunities are there today, now we just need to encourage the interest - that's one way in which equality hasn't quite caught up. Sure, being a woman won't hinder me from doing many things these days, but without something to motivate my interest, I'll probably never bother taking advantage of those opportunities.
Yeah... I agree with the ideal... well, and with the taste in games and code. *laughs*

It just seems the reality keeps getting further and further away... interesting...
I wonder how much of CS population numbers in general are impacted by the knowledge that since everything you learn is almost immediately obsolete, you can do any study program as your major, really, as long as your electives are geared towards CS, and you pursue the Latest and Greatest in your spare time and still come out of it as qualified (or more - depending on how you manage your electives and self-directed study) for a CS job.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

The industry may well not reflect the educational statistics.
hahahaha why yes! we were only ever in it for the money! I got into CS a couple years before the influx of females. It was a great time to be a woman in CS. We had every advantage. Hell it was a great time for anyone. We were all hired by about Jan of our 4th year so we all had jobs waiting. This was all before pcs so I wouldn't know about the gaming culture but I did get into it for the games. I played Dungeon, the precursor to Zork on the operator terminal at the university - no screen, just a paper print out. That was a real luxury because all the course work was done on punch cards.

But I digress. XD I would not recommend CS to anyone now. The working conditions suck big time.
Oh, this is the best answer to that, ever. *laughs*

I have to agree with the last. The time has passed...
My impression is that women are avoiding the field because it's no longer a particularly satisfying one, and women are less likely to get sucked into unsatisfying careers than men. I don't know how it is in the areas you worked, but almost all the firms I knew and worked for when I was in the field are either gone or struggling. Most of the small, fun firms are gone. So maybe women are showing good sense.
Yeah... it's another interesting take on it.

Yeah... satisfaction is important when one might be giving up time with family and loved ones and stuff to do it... it's an interesting mix.
This article by M.S. Mahoney that investigates why there has not been much of a feminist approach to computing may be of interest to you.

As far as (computing) gaming is concerned, I don't know that much about it, but I'd be surprised that the lack of games oriented towards women is more of a disincentive than other things like women being discouraged from pursuing science and engineering careers, or the volatility of the computer job market.
Wow... I really enjoyed that article!! Thank you.

I have to agree with your latter thoughts as well... the game part seems to... trivialize things a bit.

Anyway, thank you for the thoughtful comment!
Wow... Interesting about the proportions in your class.

YAY that you're studying computer science!!

Hee. I love your icon for this comment. *grins*