Research project: women’s reluctance to learn computer science

Research project: women's reluctance to learn computer science

Those who study computer science hardly have to worry about their professional future. But these good prospects are still attracting especially young guys. Women at the computer are still almost a rarity. Why is that? Do male networks hinder career opportunities in the industry?? Do women have concerns about balancing family and work demands?? Does the industry trust women less? The uni bamberg hopes to find answers to these questions.

There is a lot of speculation on the subject, says professor ute schmid. "What is missing so far is a long-term study that compares the career expectations and career paths of women and men who study and have studied computer science." this is what the university of bamberg now wants to do – in the project "alumnae tracking". In a first wave of the survey, 900 questionnaires were sent to graduates. The proportion of female computer science students in germany is around 20 percent, according to cornelia winter of the gesellschaft fur informatik (society for computer science). "It's rising – very slowly, but still." a few years ago only 14 percent of the students were female. Simone schineller belongs to this minority. She studies applied computer science in bamberg. She didn't think it was a big deal that there were only a few female students in computer science – she was always accepted in the seminars and study groups. "I have never regretted my choice of study at any time." soon she will finish her studies. But she does have a few fears. Employers may have less confidence in her than in a male applicant.

Strenuous course of study
But her professor can reassure her: "it's precisely the larger companies that are chafing at the bit for women." many companies had already set up their own programs to promote the careers of women.

"To put it cheekily: "we are a strenuous course of study", says schmid. Math skills are important, without english nothing works either. Computer science courses are hard. But schmid doesn't think that these requirements will scare off the high school graduates. Workshops and projects aim to reduce fear of contact. Schmid himself is heavily involved in recruiting the female students of tomorrow. "Many girls say: we didn't know it would be so much fun." curiosity must be awakened: it is important for schoolchildren to learn how to use computer applications. But then it had to go on: "how does the mail get on my computer?? How to store information on my computer?"

The first step is getting more girls to study computer science. But female computer scientists can have the same careers as their male colleagues? Schmid hopes the study will shed some light on the subject. Among other things, pairs are formed of male and female graduates who are as similar as possible in aspects such as final grade, internships and year of graduation. It is to be observed how differently the professional careers develop. Expectations of working life should also be investigated – perhaps women were not interested in 70-hour weeks. Internationally, there are already remarkable careers for women, says schmid. In germany, on the other hand, the industry is still very male-dominated. Schmid doesn't believe it's because of the image – many people think of computer scientists as nerds who spend several days at a time studying and programming. Not every computer scientist works like this. And that's not a negative image, after all. "It also expresses an enthusiasm for the subject."

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