In 2005, Harvard President Larry Summers speculated that innate gender differences may explain why fewer women than men reach top university science and engineering positions. Summers's remarks caused a firestorm of criticism that eventually cost him his job.
I'm not one to shed tears over Business Week magazine. In fact, over decades of reading it, I can't recall a single time I even got misty-eyed over it. But when I was on the plane returning from California a few weeks ago, I was finishing up the March 12th edition of the magazine and happened upon the article entitled "The Holy Cross Fraternity," by Diane Brady.
Inquiring minds often wonder: How did she get to be what she is? How do women's career pathways differ from those of men? It was questions like these, during the 2003 SIGCSE Technical Symposium in Reno, Nevada, that led to an exciting project: The Computing Educator Oral History Project (CEOHP). Projects such as CEOHP can play a key role in increasing the population of people entering and staying in computing careers, especially careers in computing education.
Recently InfoWorld did a special report on women and IT, called, "Why are Women Exiting IT Professions?" The article series discusses the advantages of gender diversity, the importance of getting girls interested at the K-12 level, and the traits of women leaders in IT. It also cites several reasons for why women are leaving IT – which I'll summarize and comment on here.
Living and spending my sabbatical in Sweden for more than six months has allowed me to gain a different perspective on a variety of issues in computer science, including those related to gender equity.
Instead of agonizing over why there aren't more women in IT, it might be more interesting and more fruitful to ask: Why are women so brilliant at IT? I ask the question because I know, have employed or interviewed, so many outstanding women in IT, and it always amazes me that no one has noticed how, or why, they are so stunningly successful.
Our fourth and last literature review for NCWIT, supported by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is now available. As in the other reviews, we examine what social science research tells us about the reasons for the small percentage of IT entrepreneurs who are women. For this review, we consider the influence that gender differences in social capital may have on IT entrepreneurship.