Women in computing

Women in computing

Global concerns about current and future roles of women in computing occupations gained more importance with the emerging information age. These concerns motivated public policy debates addressing gender equality as computer applications exerted increasing influence in society. This dialog helped to expand information technology innovations and to reduce the unintended consequences of perceived sexism.


In the United States, the number of women represented in engineering and information technology peaked in the late 1980s. Since then, the percentage of women in the computing profession declined from 35.2% in 1990 to 28.4% in 2000."Lancaster, Hal, Career Journal: Women Try to Break Tech-Glass Ceiling", Wall Street Journal, Brussels, August 14, 2001.] Particularly in computer science, there has been a dramatic drop in women earning bachelor's degrees. A report from the Computing Research Association indicated that the number recently fell below 20%, from nearly 40% in the mid 80s."Vegso", Jay, May 2005 edition of Computing Research News, Vol. 17, No. 3, May 2005.]

Research has shown that many misperceptions about computing persist and may discourage women.ref|clubhouse One of the biggest misperceptions of computing is the "geek factor". Students from high school think that computer scientists sit in cubicles and write code all day. The "geek factor" affects both male and female high school students, but it seems to have more negative effect on the female students.cite web|author=Cornelia Dean|title=Computer Science Takes Steps to Bring Women to the Fold|publisher=New York Times|date=2007-04-17|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/17/science/17comp.html?_r=2&8dpc=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin] It is important to study the force driving women away from the field of computer science because these factors might eventually drive men away.

Professor De Palma from Gonzaga University believes that we can attract girls into the study of computer science by making it more like mathematics. [De Palma, Paul "Viewpoint: Why women avoid computer science", Communications of the ACM, Volume 44 , Issue 6, June 2001.] He suggests five ways to improve the attraction of computer science to girls:
# Teach any girl with an aptitude for symbol manipulation how to program.
# When teaching girls how to program, keep things as close to pure logic as possible. Minimize reliance on other clumsy software packages, fancy graphical interfaces, and powerful IDEs.
# Teach computing without microcomputers. Microcomputers tend to attract tinkering boys more than girls.
# Keep the length of programming assignments as short as possible, at least in the early stages. One aspect of the mathematics discipline is that assignment problems are hard enough to make a person think for a while, but are not hard enough to get them frustrated and lose interest in the problem.
# Treat a programming language as the notational system and avoid adopting new languages.

Attracting women into computer science

Universities across North America are changing their computer science programs to make them more appealing to women. Companies like IBM also encourage young women to become interested in engineering, technology and science. IBM offers EX.I.T.E. (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) camps for young women from the ages of 11 to 13.

Gender theory and women in computing

A recent book titled "Athena Unbound" "Etzkowitz, Henry; Kemelgor, Carol; Uzzi, Brian, ATHENA UNBOUND - The advancement of women in science and technology", Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-511-03833-X (ISBN-13 9780511038334), 2000.] provides a life-course analysis (based on interviews and surveys) of women in the sciences from an early childhood interest, through university, to graduate school and finally into the academic workplace. The thesis of this book is that "women face a special series of gender related barriers to entry and success in scientific careers that persist, despite recent advances".

Famous women in computing

* 1842: Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), analyst of Charles Babbage's analytical engine and described as the "first computer programmer" [J. Fuegi and J. Francis, "Lovelace & Babbage and the creation of the 1843 'notes'." Annals of the History of Computing 25 #4 (Oct-Dec 2003): 18-26. [http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/MAHC.2003.1253887 Digital Object Identifier] ]
* 1942: Hedy Lamarr (1913–2000), Hollywood diva and co-inventor of an early form of spread-spectrum broadcasting
* 1946: Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Fran Bilas, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, and Ruth Lichterman, original programmers of the ENIAC
* 1949: Grace Hopper (1906–1992), first programmer for the Mark I Calculator, known as the "Mother of COBOL"
* 1962: Jean E. Sammet (1928-), mathematician and computer scientist; developed FORMAC programming language. Was the first to write extensively about history and categorisation of programming languages (1969).
* 1965: Mary Allen Wilkes computer programmer; First person to use a computer in a private home and the first developer of an operating system (LAP) for the first minicomputer (LINC)
* 1968: Barbara H. Liskov (1939-), first American female Doctorate of Computer Science (1968)
* 1972: Karen Spärck Jones (1935–2007), pioneer of information retrieval and natural language processing
* 1983: Adele Goldberg (1945-), one of the designers and developers of the Smalltalk language
* 1984: Roberta Williams (1953-), pioneering work in graphical adventure games for personal computers, particularly the King's Quest series.
* 1984: Susan Kare (1954-), created the icons and many of the interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh in the 1980s, was an original employee of NeXT, working as the Creative Director.
* 1985: Radia Perlman (1951-), invented the Spanning Tree Protocol. Has done extensive and innovative research, particularly on encryption and networking. USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award 2007, among numerous others.
* 1985: Irma Wyman (~1927-), first Honeywell CIO
* 1986: Hannah Smith "Girlie tipster" for CRASH (magazine)
* 1988: Eva Tardos (1957-), recipient of the Fulkerson Prize for her research on design and analysis of algorithms
* 1993: Shafi Goldwasser (1958-), theoretical computer scientist, two-time recipient of the Gödel Prize for research on complexity theory, cryptography and computational number theory, and the invention of zero-knowledge proofs
* 1993: Barbara Liskov together with Jeannette Wing developes the Liskov substitution principle
* 1994: Sally Floyd (~1953-), most renowned for her work on Transmission Control Protocol
* 1997: Anita Borg (1949–2003), the founding director of the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT)
* 2004: Jeri Ellsworth (1974-), self-taught computer chip designer and creator of the C64 Direct-to-TV
* 2005: Mary Lou Jepsen (1965-), Founder and chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)
* 2006: Frances E. Allen (1932-), first female recipient of the ACM's Turing Award

Organizations for women in computing

*Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Committee on Women
*Association for Women in Computing
* [http://www.awise.org.au AWISE - Australian Women in IT and Science entity]
*BCSWomen, a women-only Specialist Group of the British Computer Society
*Computing Research Association Committee on the Status of Women in Computing research
*IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE)
*Feminist Approach to Technology
*LinuxChix, a women-oriented community in the open source movement
*DevChix, group for female developers/programmers
*National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), USA

ee also

*Women in science
*Women, girls and information technology
*Declination of Women in Computer Science


External links

* [http://freeducation.co.uk/cgi-bin/index.cgi?action=viewnews&id=161 Invisible Women of Science and Technology] By Susmita Barua
* [http://www.cra.org/Activities/craw/booklist/index.php The Book List: Computer Science Books by Women Computer Scientists] compiled by Susan Landau
* [http://www.prospect.org/web/view-web.ww?id=10659 Homeward Bound] By Linda Hirshman
* [http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ibmgives/grant/education/camp.shtml IBM EX.I.T.E Camp]
*cite journal
title=Women in computing around the world
journal=ACM SIGCSE Bulletin

Women in Information Technology
* [http://www.passionit.info Doing "IT" Around the World] - Aug 11th, profiled the lives and technology loves of 36 women across the globe, discovering what they do, how they contribute to our world and their shared passion for Innovation Technology.
* [http://www.passionit.info/albums.php Doing "IT" Around the World Albums] - See women from all over the world in the IT field in this global album presentation brought to you by: "Thoughtware Australia"

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