When I first started studying computer science at Victoria University here in Melbourne I was hard pressed to spot one female in the entire engineering/science faculty, not to mention just looking for any female even studying computer science. It was a tall order. The field of computer science has (basically since the conception of modern computing in the 1970’s) been a male dominated field of science, where other areas such as health and life sciences have attracted the larger female audience.
So why has computer science for so long been ruled by males and why have females just instinctively been drawn away from the field? I have no idea, but it has been the notion that females don’t study computer science is probably the main motivation behind female students not picking up the course.
I wouldn’t blame them. The stereotype of computer scientists have either been a quite heavy set male programmer who smells a little weird and sits around all day coding and consuming copious amounts of pizza and coke or only possible to be studied if you’re a genius Asian kid!
As we move further and further into this decade I’ve personally noticed a slow increase in females taking part in this course of study which is really great to see, and in more recent times I’ve seen the culmination of this in my first lecture back this year where there were 10 females students in the class of 35. That’s really amazing to see, and feels really good as a fellow computer scientist that the field is finally losing its male only stigma and becoming more and more accessible (and interesting) to female students. The science in general will grow much more having the input and skills from both sexes and maybe better ways of doing things will be found with new eyes on existing problems facing computer scientists of today.