Recruiting and retaining women in undergraduate computing majors

J. McGrath Cohoon
2002 ACM SIGCSE Bulletin  
I n t r o d u c t i o n This paper recommends methods for increasing female participation in undergraduate computer science. The recommendations are based on recent and on-going research into the gender gap in computer science and related disciplines They are intended to work in tandem with the Computing Research Association's recommendations for graduate programs (see [18] in this issue) to promote a general increase in women's participation in computing professions. Most of the suggestions
more » ... the suggestions offered here could improve the educational environment for both male and female students. However, general improvements are likely to be of particular benefit to women because women in our society do not generally receive the same level of support that men receive for entering and persisting in this field. Parents, friends, and classmates seldom encourage women to choose and continue in a computing discipline. Those few women who declare a computing major tend to experience continued lack of support throughout their education. They have few female peers to call on for help. Furthermore, students in their own and other majors may consider them odd. Even faculty can discourage women with unthinking remarks or with expectations based on the assumption that men's behavior and experience are the basis for success in computing majors. This lack of support can block or weaken women's commitment to computing. Moreover, when conditions in a department are generally unfavorable, those with a weakened commitment to the discipline often leave at higher rates than those who have sufficient support to overcome the conditions.
doi:10.1145/543812.543829 fatcat:uypxee7b6bbx5alfggahnzix7a