Poll shows computer science attitudes

A poll found that many think boys are more interested in computer science.

Tiffany Lukk

A recent Gallup poll found that students, parents and teachers think boys are more likely to be interested in and successful at computer science than girls. What’s more, the poll also found that high school-aged girls share in that lowered confidence.
 
Three-quarters of students between grades seven and 12 said they think boys are more interested than girls in learning computer science, according to the poll. 
 
And at the University of Minnesota, students say fewer women take higher-level classes in the field.
 
In fall of 2014, only a few dozen female students were enrolled in the University’s computer science program. During the same semester, about 340 male undergraduates studied alongside them.
 
Linguistics junior Jo Shoemaker said her introductory computer science class was about half men, half women.
 
“Gender distribution starts off pretty equal, but then as you get to higher and higher level computer science courses, women sort of start to filter out,” Shoemaker said. “And it becomes a much higher proportion of men.”
 
Computer science graduate students Sahar Aseeri and Peng Liu said their classes were roughly 90 percent men.
 
Aseeri said she is one of two women in a class of 12.
 
Liu said one of the reasons that women drop out of computer science may be that some people consider women working in that field to be “non-traditional.”
 
At Eden Prairie High School, the AP Computer Science course is about 90 percent male, said Jennifer Nelson, who teaches the course. However, in those classes females, tend to do better, she said.
 
“The guys don’t seem to hang out with the girls as much,” Nelson said. “But as the quarter kind of lingers on, they start to realize the girls really know what 
they’re doing, and then they go looking for help.”
 
More girls are becoming involved with robotics in Eden Prairie’s school district, Nelson said. She said she hopes robotics will encourage more female students to enter computer science when they get older.Others are working to get more women to enter and stay in the field.
 
The Grace Hopper 
 
Conference is one of the largest gatherings of women in computer science in the world. The yearly conference, held in October, had about 12,000 attendees this year, said
 
Maria Gini, University computer science professor, and GHC program co-chair.
 
Every year, the number of women who attend has increased by the thousands.
 
“And companies are recruiting women. I mean, there’s lots of jobs for computer scientists, and those are jobs for women in computer science. And they cannot find enough,” Gini said.