HP International Women's Week: Women in Computer Science dropping since 1980s

Editor's Note: Yesterday, March 8, was International Women's Day. To recognize and honor the contributions of women in society and technology, HP has expanded the day into an entire International Women's Week.

Nothing shows the structural challenge that women face in Computer Science better than college graduation data.

In 2013 Randy Olson at the National Center for Education Statistics compiled a chart (below with emphasis added) showing the percentage of Bachelor's degrees earned by women in the United States between 1970 and 2012.  Across all disciplines, women have taken their place beside men in university classes...except for Computer Science.

Women were powering up in Computer Science programs through the 1970s and early 1980s. Then – just about the time home computers became popular – women started picking other majors. Regardless of the cause, technology companies need to recognize that smart, talented women – the next Grace Hopper or Margaret Hamilton – are going elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this data doesn't lie.

The Questions

  1. What do you think caused the drop?
  2. What will bring women back into Computer Science?

Sign in and submit a comment with your thoughts and stories.

HP's International Women's Week

Inside HP, at sites around the world, women are being appreciated for their contributions.

  • Day 1: International Women's Week kick-off
  • Day 2: International Women's Day Gender Partnerships
  • Day 3: Recognition of HP women's contributions and male ally support
  • Day 4: Day of Service
  • Day 5: The Future of Women in Innovation 
Author : TheSkipper

Of course there is more than one reason for this. 1) The very first personal computers were way too expensive. For sure richer people could afford to buy them. Men are generally richer. 2) Learning computer at 80’ needed some leisure time at home. Men had more free time at home compared to women. 3) Men already had more mathematics and engineering background, which was the main necessity for computer sciences. 4) Computer science was a booming industry. Usually men have a privileges to occupy high income and fast growing jobs. 5) without any specific reason, computers assumed as a boyish toy, just like guns, cars and PlayStation. Boys were playing with the new machine when girls had other toys available.