9 reasons for women to study compsci

January 13, 2012 - Women in Computing

The gender imbalance in computing is awful. I think this should be better, and here’s why – 9 reasons for women to study computer science

1. Computer science is a very interesting subject.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to combine logical thinking and creativity, computing is great. It’s full of puzzle solving, systematic thinking, lateral thinking… If you sometimes look at a design or a puzzle and think “ooh, that’s elegant” you’ll find that, too. In school, my favourite subjects were Maths, Art and Psychology; the work I’m doing now involves something of all three. Yes, it’s got its dull bits; every subject has dull bits. I’d hazard that every compsci lecturer finds some part of their subject boring (I find a the business focussed stuff doesn’t interest me – however, some people love that). But I’d imagine that every philosopher, or English lecturer finds some part of their subject dull (“Plato? BORING” … “I can’t stand that Pinter bloke, he really goes on”).

2. There’s loads of support for women and girls in computing

Because we’re a minority there’s actually quite a lot going on targetted at us. This might seem a bit counter-intuitive to begin with, but it’s true. I run the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium for women undergrads, a one-day conference. There are various women “hackspace” groups, girl geek dinners, and a very supportive online community including BCSWomen. Lots of unis have their own women in tech or women in science groups, too.

3. There are jobs in computing.

The market for people with good technical skills is growing. The government is currently changing the ICT curriculum to improve the technical skills of future generations just this week – it’s a hot topic, and there’s a projected skills shortage.

4. These jobs want women to apply

Research shows that diverse teams work better – it’s not just a question of people being happier when they work with a mix of people, they actually are more efficient at what they do (whether that’s making money, discovering scientific breakthroughs, or building stuff). It seems that having a range of learning styles, opinions, working practices and so on is a good thing in a team for many many reasons. So employers are really keen to employ women for their technical teams.

5. Women have an advantage at the recruitment stage

This is a direct result of the previous point – it makes good business sense for technical teams to be balanced. This doesn’t mean that women in tech are going to get all the jobs, but it does mean that women are being targetted now by recruiters. Check out www.womenintechnology.co.uk.

6. ROBOTS

Do I need to say more?

7. It’d be a better place for me to work

I’d like to work in a department with more women in it please.

8. Hot Nerds

(OK this one isn’t true.)

9. Computing is too important to be left to men.

That’s what Karen Spärck Jones said. And it’s true – computing is everywhere; in your phone, in your car, in your washing machine… We don’t want to leave the creative job of using these computers to one half of the population; its something we should all be getting involved in.

This is my entry in the BCSWomen Blog Carnival.

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