Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the dearth of women in technology careers, concluding that looking for scapegoats to "blame" for the problem was counterproductive.Yet people continue to do so, maybe because pointing fingers seems easier than actually solving the problem.
Some folks fault companies' expectations that IT workers will put in long hours, a potential problem for either sex, but more so for women since they tend to assume more family responsibilities than their male counterparts. But the problem begins before women enter the work force. A recent Council of Graduate Schools study found that women earned 60 percent of master's degrees and 50.4 percent of doctorate degrees in the 2008-09 academic year. Yet men far outnumbered women working toward advanced degrees in computer and information sciences, reports Computerworld.
Of the first-time graduate or doctoral students in computer and information sciences, 3,249 were women in 2009, a decline of 3.5 percent from 2008. In contrast, the number of male students held steady at 9,021. The overall growth rate for computer and information sciences students was less than 1 percent. That's a steep drop from 2004-2008, when the average annual growth rate for folks enrolled in these courses was 4.8 percent for women and 2.9 percent for men.
Another interesting statistic: Of the 12,288 students counted as first-time graduate or doctoral students, or new enrollees, in computer information sciences, 5,266 were U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and 5,996 were temporary residents or students on visas. Somewhat oddly, another 891 were categorized as "unknown." So perhaps part of the answer lies in trying to get U.S. citizens of both sexes more interested in IT careers.
The picture might be a little brighter on the undergraduate level. According to the Computing Research Association, the number of students declaring computer science as a major grew 8.1 percent in 2008.