% women computer users

Ellen R. Spertus erspert at athena.mit.edu
Tue Dec 15 11:32:18 EST 1992


In article <1g84pdINN237 at agate.berkeley.edu> lmk2 at garnet.berkeley.edu writes:
>I agree.  It seems everyone is just spewing their personal experiences.
>Almost every single one of my female friends is computer literate and
>enjoys computers.  They are mostly younger (<45) and mostly involved
>in the computer industry or science in some way.  Everyone has her/his
>own biased sample from which to draw conclusions.

I've been surprised by most of this thread and especially by this last
statement.  I don't think there was anything offensive about the
original poster saying that women tend to avoid computers.  It is a
fact.  I am a female computer scientist and also someone who has
researched the lack of women in computer science.  All of the
statistics indicate a gender imbalance in computer science.  For
example, for the most recent years for which statistics are available,
35.8% of the bachelor's degrees (1986), 29.9% of the master's degrees
(1986), and 13.1% of the PhDs (1991) in CS have gone to women.  (The
source of the statistics on the lower degrees is the 1990 NSF report
"Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering".  The source for the
doctorates is the annual Taulbee Survey, published in _Computing
Research News_ and _Communications of the ACM_.)

At the faculty level, women are even more of a minority.  In
PhD-granting CS departments, women are 10% of assistant and associate
professors and 4% of full professors [Taulbee Survey].  The numbers
are even lower in computer engineering (7%, 4%, and 2%, respectively).

At MIT, the percentage of women in CS at both the undergraduate and
graduate level is around 15%.  Biology is around 50% female here, at
least at the undergraduate level.  That is why I was surprised to hear
biologists say that CS is balanced.

For more information, some good articles on women and computer science
can be found in the November 1990 _Communications of the ACM_ or the
August 1992 _IEEE Expert_ (both of which should be available in your
CS reading room or equivalent).  The IEEE article and my report are
available electronically.  Here is the info:

My report is available electronically from ftp.ai.mit.edu:pub/ellens
in the following formats:

        format          file name(s)                            size
        -----           ------------                            ----
        Postscript      womcs1.ps, womcs2.ps, ... womcs8.ps     1384K
        DVI             whole-paper.dvi                          330K
        compressed DVI  whole-paper.dvi.Z                        166K
        ASCII           whole-paper.tty                          264K

(The ASCII version is not recommended, due to its necessarily poor
formatting.)  In order to use anonymous ftp, do the following:

    1. Type: "ftp ftp.ai.mit.edu", or, if that fails, "ftp 128.52.32.11".
    2. At login prompt, type: "anonymous".
    3. For password, enter your user name (or any string).
    4. Type: "cd pub/users/ellens"
    5. If you are transferring the dvi or dvi.Z format, type "bin".
    6. Type: "mget womcs*.ps", "get whole-paper.dvi" or "get 
       whole-paper.dvi.Z" or "get whole-paper.tty"

If you have access to a Postscript printer but not ftp, send me a
request, and I will email you the Postscript version of the report.
Direct questions or comments to ellens at ai.mit.edu.

The IEEE article can be found in pub/users/ellens/ieee.{dvi,ps,txt}.

					Ellen Spertus
					ellens at ai.mit.edu



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