Sina-cism: A computer science ‘gap’ that doesn’t exist

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Are women underrepresented when it comes to earning computer science degrees from U.S. colleges and universities? If so, is that a problem? And what should be done about it?

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

By most accounts, and according to the conventional wisdom, women are vastly underrepresented in computer science.

Kristin Tichenor, senior vice president at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, makes a straightforward case in the latest Worcester Business Journal.

Tichenor cites a 2001 study by Tracy Camp of the Colorado School of Mines which traced a long decline in the percentage of computer science degrees awarded by U.S. colleges and universities to women, from a high of 36.8 percent in the 1984-85 academic year to just 26.7 percent in 1997-98, according to figures compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Since then, Tichenor notes, the decline has continued. Today only 18 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women.

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