The Secretary of Education recently announced an initiative on Girls in Math and Science. My first reaction: "Hooray!" My second reaction: "Too bad there's still a need for this."
As we all know, there is.
Though, while women are still significantly under-represented in the technical workforce, the story is quite different in elementary school. In 4th grade fully two-thirds of girls (the same fraction as boys) say they "like" science. What happens to all those girls? The answer, of course, is complicated, but we start to lose them in about 5th grade.
On Friday, Microsoft announced that it had donated $1 million to the National Center for Women & Information Technology. I was at Seattle University at the Future Potential in IT seminar where this was announced and got to say a few words on behalf of NCWIT to the 500 people(mostly students - about 25% women) that were there.
The number of women who are starting IT companies, taking out patents in the IT field, or transferring ideas for development is very small. Exact numbers are not easy to come by, but there is a belief that perhaps fewer than 10 percent of IT entrepreneurs are women. What are the causes of this low representation of women and what can be done about it?
Our approach at Georgia Tech's College of Computing focuses on the needs that Dr. William Aspray emphasized in his blog here, based on the recent ACM Globalization report: the need to prepare undergraduates to have "flexible knowledge," and for curricula to take "an interdisciplinary approach."
The last week has been a blur -- full of what can only be called a mosaic of contrasting experiences, like the light REM sleep one goes through early in the morning hours. I must tell you about it. Perhaps you can help.
In 1991, the year I turned forty, I came out of the closet as an artist. I'd been painting as long as I could remember but I had hidden it from my professional colleagues except for a few close friends.
I was very pleased when NCWIT asked me to share some of my experiences in starting an IT business in a primarily male-oriented landscape. When my business partner, Char, and I started Solidware, our intent was to make a difference – a big difference.
Last week, 1,200 of my colleagues and I attended the 37th annual ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education -- sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group in Computer Science Education, or SIGCSE -- in Houston, Texas. I have been attending SIGCSE for the past several years, both to disseminate my research in computer science education and to better understand the issues faced by computing educators.