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The Changing World of Women, Computing and Higher Education

by Jennifer Dillon | August 4 2020

The conversation around women in the tech world has exploded in the past few years. One topic that has garnered particular attention is women’s experience in computing and tech programs in higher education.


According to a new study from Grand Canyon University, after a peak of about 37% in the 1980s, the ratio of women to men studying computer science dipped back down to a mere 20% in 2017. Many factors may have contributed to this drop including poor classroom culture, lack of female representation in professional networks, and lower salary offerings, according to a report from The University of Colorado at Boulder. By looking at solutions to these concerns, we can see how the number of women studying computing may rise back up.


First, in response to negative classroom culture, a number of student organizations have sprung up created by and for young women. Groups like the collegiate chapter of the Association of Women in Computing at Penn State University plan campus events, provide tutoring and look to forge bonds of female friendship that can be taken into the classroom, making its members’ college experience less lonely.


Similar networking groups have been formed outside the classroom to address the lack of professional role models for female computing students. The Association for Women in Computing and similar groups like Ada’s List and Black Girl’s Code provide opportunities for mentorship, digital training and major Hackathon events to connect females in computing at all ages and encourage young girls to study computing and technology.


Finally, in regards to the low salaries, fights for equal wages are being won for women every day. According to TechCrunch, the gender wage gap in programming has dropped from a 28% gap to an 11.6% gap in three years. This progress results from a combination of legal wins like the Paycheck Fairness Act as well as private efforts from groups like the National Center for Women in Information Technology. 

Overall, changes are certainly being made to meet the needs of women pursuing computing in higher education.  You can read a full analysis of women in computing from Grand Canyon University here

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