Why Are There So Few Women in Computer Science?

It is widely accepted that women play a key role in our lives. Women are mothers and the modern female entrepreneur is ubiquitous, however women have made vast contributions to the IT field and yet are still underrepresented.

Women developed some of the most significant elements making IT into what it is today. The contribution of women to modern IT is outsized and begs the question as to why there are not many women in the IT workplace.

According to the Guardian, top organizations like Google and Uber have only women engineers composing 20% of their IT workforce. Unfortunately, most of the big organizations match that figure.

This brings us to the most critical question, why are there few famous women in computer science?

Let’s analyze a few of those reasons.

Why Are There So Few Women in Computer Science

Fewer Number of Women Prefer CS

It appears there is a massive difference between female and male cognitive aptitudes in America and other parts of the world. This is slowly changing in Asian countries like China and India, where both men and women are in a CS classroom.

Few women pursue careers in CS. Instead, they wish to study in fields like medicine in the West. This could be due to the “male geek” concept. Computers were sold as toys for mainly boys during the 1970s to 1990s.

It is possible that women are put off by the term “computer science.” It is probably a cultural stigma sticking in the West. The best solution would be to get rid of the stigma as soon as possible.

Fewer Opportunities for Higher Responsibilities

The IT field is extremely punishing for employees. There are many instances where women usually are not preferred for higher positions. Many women could feel unwanted and discouraged due to a lack of senior responsibilities.

Large organizations and small businesses equally fail to acknowledge the benefits of women in management.  Many skilled and talented women have no choice but to look elsewhere.

Lack of Funding

According to The Guardian, a woman entrepreneur has an 80% chance of not being funded, something that impacts motivation in the field. Men have the opposite experience.

However, ROI is greater than 60% when women lead the company. The issue does not seem to be about corporate social responsibility but a diverse range of thinking.

Sexual Harassment

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is the principle cause for women leaving IT jobs. In many cases, women are happy with the work environment, salary, and position. But in the face of harassment in the form of physical abuse and mental torture from superiors, women have no choice.

Their complaints often fall on deaf ears. Women will likely search for another career. According to The Guardian, the IT field leads in the number of sexual harassment cases.

Here is a List of Women Pioneers in IT

  • Ada Lovelace created and designed the first computer program.
  • Grace Hopper invented devices and computing methods including compilers.
  • Margaret Hamilton helped the development of programs in which today’s PCs work.
  • Stephanie Shirley developed programs studying the impact of technology on social issues.
  • Megan Smith promoted diversity throughout the IT firms.

Women Pioneers in the IT Space

Below is a list of famous women in computer science who’ve made an impact on the IT field.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg has carved out a name for herself. She is the COO of Facebook. Sandberg previously worked at the World Bank after completing her economics degree at Harvard.

Her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, is a top seller having sold several million copies around the world. Apart from being the COO of a company, she is the author of a top-seller and is active as a speaker and entrepreneur.

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was born in London during the 19th century. She had an affinity for math during her school days. This passion for the subject enabled her to develop the first computer program.

Ada also designed a method through which analytical engines perform successful computations with the help of the machine designed and invented by her friend, Charles Babbage.

Every year, on 2nd Tuesday, in the month of October, the Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated globally for recognizing talented and skilled women in the field of STEM.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper was born in America during the 1900s. She worked in the Navy, after which her scientific knowledge enabled her to develop the Harvard Mark I computer. Grace was the first woman to have invented the compiler.

Every year, women scientists from all over the world celebrate her hard work and dedication with the Grace Hopper Celebration.

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was born in West Virginia and developed and refined the use of computers for NASA. A 2014 movie, “Hidden Figures,” was based on her experiences.

Katherine performed accurate calculations for space travel during the 1940s. Johnson co-authored a research report based on spaceflight equations used on the desktop mechanical calculating machine.

She has worked on critical projects, including Apollo’s Lunar Lander, the Earth Resources Satellite, and the Space Shuttle.

Megan Smith

Megan Smith served in the White House until 2017. Smith initially worked at Google before doing federal work. It was under her watchful eye that the tech hackathon was developed for health workers.

She is currently working with Tech Job Toursand conducting job fairs throughout the country to hire talent through coding boot-camps, career fairs, and mentoring sessions.

Future of Women in IT

Unsurprisingly, women find themselves in dominant roles in the IT field. They are developing new programs, coming up with new technologies, and offering society tools allowing them to lead more comfortable lives.

You can find women in management roles in technology companies making significant decisions. Women developing advanced IT systems, designing 3D animation for box office hit movies, and enabled laptop computer developments that are suitable for work from home environments.

Karen Spärck Jones, a famous computer scientist and woman campaigner once said, “Computing is a too important field that must not be left in the hands of men.”

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