A recent article in a popular online think tank attempted to show that there is a gender gap in computer science. The piece contends that attempts to enroll more women into computer science major programs are doomed to be unsuccessful, in large measure due to what the writer views as simple personality differences between women and men, and also depending on women’s personal choices. This article examines whether or not these criticisms are valid whether there are any underlying biological causes, or if this is simply a case of poor representation. Is there an actual problem with computer science majors being a bunch of testosterone-driven, hyper-sensitive, emotional children? And if so, how do we fix the problem?
It is hard to say exactly what the problems are in computer science. In part, the piece discusses the problem of representation, but the author takes a very broad view at the problem, viewing it from a broad range of angles. I think the problem of representation goes beyond mere color coding of names in computer books, because I believe it goes much deeper than that, especially in the case of programming. Women in the computing field experience many forms of bias, such as physical, social, cultural and even neurological factors. These factors can lead to discrimination, and that, in turn, can create serious problems for women in the field, including women computer programmers.
The article goes on to make some generalizations about programming and gaming, discussing only the last decade or so. What I would like to see done now is a concerted effort by both researchers and developers to address the issues of representation and cultural diversity. Otherwise, the problem of the gender gaps in computing will continue unabated, with women suffering from extreme levels of harassment because they are seen as non-serious competitors for computer science jobs in the twenty-first century.