This morning I read this article, citing that geeks and geekiness may be the reason there are less women than men in Computer Science. Here is my open response to the author.
I recently read your article on MSNBC about how geeks may be the reason girls don’t get into computer science, citing among other things a flawed study placing women in a stereotypically “geeky” environment.
If we ignore the fact that the studies didn’t have nearly enough participants to make a valid sample size (generally 1,000 is a good number for the American population), this story still overlooks that the streotypical geek isn’t as sterotypical as he was in the 1970’s, when there was a higher percentage of women in CS. The low number of females isn’t unique to CS either, but in all of the hard sciences. Is being a doctor also streotypically geeky?
As a Software Engineering graduate, my friends, professors, and I would often speculate on why the numbers are so low as we have nothing against female CS students (we would actually welcome them). As informal as these discussions were, I think we hit on one very important aspect not mentioned in your article: being a programmer or computer scientist is often viewed as a desk jockey job devoid of social interaction, which could defer women (this, by the way, is not true).
Also, while it might be true that men are more interested in video games, which could peak interest in CS for them, video games are not streotypically geeky, as all kinds of guys (geeks, jocks, professionals, etc.) play video games (nor is coke-a-cola….).
Finally, it’s not just female numbers that are down in CS. We’ve actually seen a decline in both males and females.
If you’d like to get a Computer Scientist’s perspecive on this, I’d love to talk to you more about this topic as it is a big one in CS circles.
Read Geeks drive girls out of computer science