Free Essays on the Gender Divide in Computer Science

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The Gender Divide in Computer Science Abstract: This paper examines the gender divide in computer science. Computer science is a relatively new field, but still has few females involved in it. Numbers seemed to be on the climb for a while only to dwindle back down. Stereotypes and media play a large role in discouraging women, but some universities are trying to change this by encouraging women. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has made some significant increases in women enrolled in computer science. A change of some kind is needed so we can create a more diverse group of programmers. That may be the key to the next big breakthrough in the field. 1. Brief History: contributions from women This paper analyzes the reason behind the gender gap in computer science. Although there is a low number of women in computer science and related fields, women have made some important contributions. An early contribution came from Augusta Ada Byron back in the early to mid 1800's. She is best known for her contributions to theoretical work. Her work, along with others at that time, is believed to be the foundation for modern computers. She developed the idea of loops and subroutines long before electronic computing existed. In honor of her, the Department of Defense named the high-level programming language Ada after her [11]. Some other notable contributions in the past came in the 40's while most men were off in WWII and women were forced to hold many of the jobs left behind. Grace Hopper made one of the biggest breakthroughs: inventing the first English-based programming language, which was later used to develop COBOL. Today terms she was remembered for are also still used like bug and debug [2]. Men, however, returned from the war and took back these positions and the gender gap became more prevalent as time went on. It seems, though, that this shouldn't have happened quite so easily since contributions like Hopper's are the beginning of what became the backbone of digital computing as we know it today [6]. Hopper's contributions really marked the beginning of computing as we know it, so in that sense computer science is a relatively new field. One would think the newer technologies like computers would have been easier to break into, since men didn't have as many years of advantage in computing as they did in many other areas; areas where the number of women is much more even[2].

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