In making my mark in the realm of data and information visualization, it will probably do me good to become a better and more knowledgeable coder. I am now looking into pursuing a little more CS education, and am excited about diving into edX MOOCs in computer science (remember when edX was OCW?).
However, these data give me pause:
- The percentage of women (and minorities) in IT is declining. (NYTimes.com Bay Area Blog)
- Women overwhelmingly do not consider IT positions to be good jobs. (The Sacramento Bee)
- A mere 1.5% of developers involved in open source projects are women. (Datamation.com)
- The percentage of CS graduates who are women is dropping. (Computing Research Association)
- As CS enrollment declines, female enrollment drops faster than male enrollment. (Software Development News)
- The percentage of women workers as engineers, biologists, chemists, physicists, and astronomers has been increasing from 1960 – 2000; in math and computer science, it was increasing, peaked in 1990, and it is currently on the decline. (AAUW)
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that not only are women underrepresented in IT, but their percentage as programmers is even lower than the general percentage in IT jobs. (BLS)
Looking at the BLS numbers, it is interesting that these professions attract more women (as a percentage) than software engineers (20.2%):
- Bailiffs, correctional officers, jailers (26.9%)
- Chief executives (25.0%)
- Database administrators (35.3%)
- Biological scientists (45.1%)
- Chemists and materials scientists (30.0%)
- Technical writers (50.4%)
Even the professions that are said to have a glass ceiling (such as CEO) have more women in them than software development. Based on the number of science positions listed in the BLS data with substantial numbers of women in them, it is clear that the myth that women are afraid of math or science is just plain wrong (even if less than 1% of mathematicians are women). And given the bizarre outlier of DBAs at 35.3%, and technical writers at 50.4%, we can see that women certainly do not dislike computing fields in general.
IT gender gap: Where are the female programmers? by Justin James
Now I remember why I wasn’t attracted to CS at university. I would try to strike up conversations with computer geeks, and then get shut out of the weirdly intense technobabble tournament that every computer geek conversation eventually turned into. My work is now and was then a huge part of my life; but I learned very early that the people I surround myself with are at least as important as the work that I do. At the time, a choice of major seemed like a choice to surround myself with people like the people in that major for the better part of my adult life.
I can’t be the only woman who looked at the majority culture of computer programmers and thought, is this it?
guy behind me at data intensive science plenary: this session has the highest Y chromosome count at this conference #esa2013
— Sandra M. Chung (@sandramchung) August 7, 2013