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?

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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