Does the Status of Women Predict the Gender Ratio of Computer Science Students?
Abstract: In contrast to the experience of other professional fields, the percentage of women in computer science has decreased substantially in recent decades. This phenomenon is a significant and growing problem in a society where new technologies impact nearly every facet of life, including criminal justice and health care. This study examines whether the status of women in a state is related to the gender ratio of Advanced Placement computer science students, since these tests have been shown to be a predictor of female persistence in computer science study in college. A small but significant correlation was found between a state’s status of women (as scored by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research) and its having a higher percentage of female students taking the Computer Science A exam (but not the Computer Science Principles exam), implying that the status of women in an area is one of the factors that influences female participation rates in computer science education. This finding it important inasmuch as it suggests that a geographical area’s status of women has a small but measurable effect on participation rates; it should be one of many factors considered in the effort to increase participation of minoritized persons in the field of computer science.
Presider: Lubna Ali, RWTH Aachen University