Photo by Thought Catalog
Computer science is a very promising field. The internet of things (IoT) along with its many vestiges has a bright future and tight grasp on how our world functions. Despite the recent growth and exciting career prospects, you still do not find a lot of women in this industry. Some wonder why is there such a difference in the ratio of men and women in computer science. Do you?
Some attribute this deficit to the lack of awareness among women regarding comp science. Therefore, considerable measures are being made to bridge this gap by alerting women to the possibilities of a career in computer science. There are also an increasing number of initiatives specific to women to help them in their pursuit of a computer science job. Speaking of numbers, let’s consider some worth mentioning.
If you look at the numbers, you will find that the bureau of labor statistics estimates that by 2020, there would be as many as 1.4 million new jobs in the computer science sector. Despite this high amount, the number of women who are choosing to build a career in computer science has taken a dip since the 1980s.
Another survey showed that 55% of females report not using a computer on a weekly basis. Compared to this, there were just 27% men reporting the same. For women to take advantage of the growth in computer science, this trend needs to change fast.
Reasons for the Disparity
To remedy this problem, it is first important to understand why is there such a huge gender disparity in women opting for computer science. Once the reasons are clear, it will be a whole lot easier to offer the right solutions.
Shy of Technology
Some people suggest that women are still not competent enough to make smart use of technology. But, this doesn’t quite seem to be a good enough logic because there are so many other technology-based fields wherein women had shown their prowess and come out on top. In fact, regardless of which field you are working in, you would need basic firsthand knowledge of computers and other technological products as well.
So, even if some women have this stereotype that they may not be competent to handle this modern day technological gadgets and products, it is time to break the stereotype. All it takes is a little effort and things should be all set to roll the right way.
The Gender Dominance
While most fields have become clear of this gender dominance bias, maybe, computer science is still one stream which is men-dominated even today. One has to understand that none of the career or education aspects can be governed on the basis of gender. It is the talent and capabilities of people that makes them suited for pursuing a job or a career and there is nothing to do with gender in this case.
So, it is important to get rid of the gender dominance bias as this thinking is nothing but a product of your own belief.
Lack of Awareness
Maybe, there isn’t enough awareness about the kind of scope computer science has among women. It is mostly the lack of awareness which creates the problems. So, those who want to cut down this disparity that exists should try to spread the right kind of awareness among women.
These are some of the possible reasons which may have led to fewer women choosing computer science as their career. Of course, the right action has to be taken in order to remedy the situation. Women are competent and fully capable of emerging ahead in the race to the top. This is the generation of computers and if women lag behind, they will never be able to take the center stage and will start to lag in other spheres too. This can be a dangerous situation and certainly not something which you would like to see in world bestowed with the feeling of equality.
So, without ado, let us take a look at some of the possible steps which can be implemented die-hard encourage more and more women to choose careers in computer science.
Familiarity With Computers
It is important to make women familiar with the use of computers. If more and more women get addicted to the use of computers; the interest and passion that gets kindled will force them to pursue a career in the same stream.
When choosing a career, it is the kind of interest which one has that plays a pivotal role. This is why it is important to encourage women to use computers. When they are familiar with the use and different operations and functions as well, they would be more inclined to passionately pursue a career in the same field.
Ideally, introducing computers at a very early age and letting them use it thoroughly at a tender age should spark the right change. Do not force them to stay away from the computer. The interest, when kindled at an early age, should serve the need when it is desired.
Kindling the interest at an early age
It is important to kindle the right interest for computers at a very tender age. There are a lot of ways by which the right kind of interest can be generated. Without the interest, it will be hard for women to pursue a career in the field. While there are endless ways of rekindling the interest, here are some of the methods which can be used.
When the onus is on having more women take up computer science, the work needs to start at the ground level itself. This is why care has to be taken to come up with interactive classes wherein women will take interest and actively be a part of it.
Ideally, classes shouldn’t focus too much on the theoretical or even programming aspects because unless someone is interested in the topic, this will kill the kind of passion which one may otherwise have. Care should be taken to deal with practical aspects of computers and you can showcase games, applications and more.
With these aspects or by catering to women specific interest points, it will be a lot more likely that women too would actively participate and pursue a career in the field of computers.
Of course, you can organize little competitions and give some great incentives to participants. Women are known to show a fierce competitive spirit and this is why they are a whole lot more likely to be a part of such events. This, in turn, can generate the interest and give them the impetus to pursue a career in the field too.
You can also hold a different kind of workshops wherein women will be made familiar with the use of computers. These workshops should focus on the different ways by which they can benefit with the help of computers and it can help in boosting the popularity of the stream in a lot of ways.
These are some of the methods by which interest can be generated. Of course, you have other options at hand too and you can check out the different methods by which you will be able to rekindle the interest. Once the right interest is generated, it should help in pushing the numbers up and more and more women will be able to pursue computer science and level the number game.
The kind of stream which people choose has a lot to do with the career prospect which it has to offer. There are so many women who don’t even know the kind of benefits which computer science stream has. This is why it is important to have the right kind of career coaching imparted to women. When women don’t know as to what pursuing this stream could help them achieve, it would kill the kind of interest which would otherwise be generated.
So, at the right age, care should be taken to set up the different coaching event as it is with the help of these events that women will realize that choosing computers as a career option can reap them a lot of dividends too. There are so many different jobs which are available in the IT sector and until and unless one is efficient in the use of computers how would they work on those jobs? So, the right kind of care and attention needs to be put to advertise these positions and show to women fraternity that computers are definitely one of the promising fields at the moment.
The cost of education is on the rise. If you take a look at the number of college dropouts, you will find that a lot of people do so mainly because they cannot afford to pay the fees. So, if you wish to change the gender disparity that exists when it comes to people pursuing computer science as a career option, they need to come up with different scholarship programs.
With ample scholarship programs, more women will be encouraged to take up this program and this can improve the numbers significantly. While there are ample programs which are already available, they need to be advertised in an apt manner. Until and unless, people have the right idea about the scholarship programs, they won’t be able to make the most out of it.
Sometimes, owing to the kind of lifestyle which people live, they are unable to go to colleges/universities and attend classes. There are plenty of women who are already working odd jobs to handle their cost of living. In such cases, going to university and even paying the high fees tend to get very difficult and they choose to skip it entirely.
This is why more and more online classes and programs should be held. Some of them can be exclusively for women so that it would give them the incentive to participate in it. It has been seen that sometimes online classes spark the right interest and a lot of people end up enrolling for degree courses later on. So, this could play a great starter and might just give women the incentive to pursue a career in computer science. Well planned online programs could do a lot of good.
It has also been seen that women tend to lose out on the confidence which they have. When you are not confident, it can be very hard to pursue a career choice which so far seems to be men dominated. The need has been felt to improve the kind of confidence which women have.
There is a lot of confidence building exercises which one can use. But, before implementing these exercises, women themselves need to believe that they have it in them to take up computer science courses and build a good career out of it. The inspiration to come ahead and to become a whole lot more confident is largely upon them and until and unless, the first step is taken, the rest won’t fall in place.
So, women need to broaden their horizon and they should take this as a challenge and then participate in different confidence building activities. Here are some possible ways by which you can work on your confidence.
• Read self-help books. There are a lot of self-help books in the market which when read can do wonders to your confidence. However, you shouldn’t simply read the books as the focus should be on actually implementing the points which you come across in the books.
• One on one session: there are a lot of confidence building sessions and pep talks that are held from time to time. By attending such sessions, women can broaden the horizon and work on the kind of confidence they have. Make it a point to check out the different sessions that are held and enroll for few of them. This will serve the need sooner rather than later.
• Workshops: you are sure to come across plenty of confidence building workshops as well. These workshops will teach you a lot of techniques which when implemented should help you become a much more confident version of you.
• Journaling: it has been seen that journaling and making small to do notes of what you wish to achieve every day is by far one of the most effective techniques for improving your confidence. So, put in your best efforts and start your journaling. This, in turn, will improve your confidence levels for sure.
Now that you know the different details pertaining to how to increase the interest among women in pursuing a career in computer science, you should try and implement these and it should rev the numbers.
Why consider a career in Computer Science?
The next thing which you need to know is women are all getting career oriented these days. Career has become one of the key concerns for everyone. When women choose a career stream, they want to first weigh the kind of promising prospects it has.
By letting women know the kind of prospects which computer science has, it will surely spark the right interest. So, let us give you some key reasons as to why you should consider building a career in CS.
Challenges keep you going
Every challenge should be taken up sportingly. As the numbers show that women lag way behind than men when it comes to computer science, it is important to take it as a challenge and then keep going. Women need to perceive this as a challenge. They should take this incentive and start taking up computer science as a career option.
Increase in IT jobs
When it comes to IT jobs, there are a lot of companies that have plenty of job opportunities. Even if you go by the numbers, you will find that there is a huge growth in the number of job offers in the IT sector. So, women looking to make a great career and all those who want to find good job opportunities so that they can be independent and live the life they want should make it a point to explore computer stream as a career option.
With the right knowledge of computers and a good academic background, women have a better chance of securing the right job. While there are a lot of career options at hand and we do not infer that computer science is the only promising stream at the moment, but it surely is a booming field. Most of the big firms deal with the IT sector and this means that there is a growing need for computer professionals. Technology is progressing at a rapid speed and with more and more jobs becoming computerized; the scope for IT jobs is only going to be on the rise.
So, when it comes to the computer point of thinking, it is surely a good option.
Computers are the new generation trend
In the coming years, the popularity of computers is going to increase further. Even today, most of the task and activities require the use of computers. The world is so dominated by the internet that most of us need to access our computers at multiple points every single day.
In such cases, if you are not proficient in its use, you are sure to lag behind. So, the onus should always be on learning the different utilities of computers and then making the most out of it. By choosing to build a career in computer science, you can give yourself the best chance of knowing the different ways by which computers can be used in different walks of life.
The corporate computer culture
If you take a look at the kind of leave and benefits which people working in corporate companies get, this is surely going to give women the incentive to take up CS as a career option.
Facebook has been setting some of the top trends when it comes to work balance. Any new father, mother or even adoptive parents working at Facebook get 4 months of paid leave. Along with this, the company also offers $4000 of baby cash as well which could come in handy for the expenses that will be incurred.
Now, as a working woman, think of how beneficial it can be. Isn’t it the best kind of scheme one can think of?
Not going to stay behind, Google offers expecting mothers 18 weeks of paid leave. This number could very well rise to 22 should the expecting mom face any kind of complications. There are also different kinds of assistance programs which are available too and even discount codes for companies that offer nannies. There are special rooms that are set up for mothers so that they cold breastfeed their baby and give them a good growing environment as well.
Apple too leads the chart and gives its employees 18 weeks off work. They also offer four weeks of leave before delivery as well. Contrary to this, fathers and parents who adopt are given 6 weeks of paid leave. There are a lot of fertility teams and even adoption programs that the company offers too.
SAs have often topped the list for the best places to work owing to the kind of harmonious atmosphere that it has it offer. SAS is known for setting the right kind of trends when it comes to helping women live the kind of life they deserve. They have an extremely generous paid leave program. Along with this, the company also offers the best benefits to growing children too.
There are onsite child care centers which offer the best services at subsidized rates. Parents can visit their child all throughout the day. Further, women do not need to stay on the campus all the time. Once they have completed their work, they are free to leave the office and attend their children.
Competition and summer camps
There are plenty of different competitions and summer camps which are held. Care has to be taken to popularize these programs so that women can participate in it and this should encourage them to take up CS as a career choice.
Project CS Girls
This non-profit organization was found back in 2013 and they have been helping women get the right interest for pursuing computers as a choice for their profession. They work by trying their best to instill the love of computers in middle school girls.
Middle school is the age where students start thinking about their career and decide the streams they would like to pursue. This is why this NGO aims at targeting women at that age group. By instilling the love for computers at that age, women can be molded and influenced to take up computer science as a career option. This, in turn, would benefit their job and career prospects.
Aspirations in computing
The NCWIT aspirations in computing are mainly a long term community which is targeted to help females take up computers as a career option. They target women from K-12 to higher education and even beyond and encourage them to actively take up computer science as a career option.
There are a lot of different computing related activities and opportunities which are offered to ensure that women become interested and start to take this as a career option. There are a lot of outreach programs that are held as well so that women at large could be targeted. Further, women are informed about the different scholarship programs and even internships and job opportunities too.
This program is widely popular and such is it prolific popularity that it has found support by some of the top names which include the likes of Apple, AT&T, Google, HP Enterprise, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Intel and more.
Girls who code
This is yet another program which seems to be growing immensely in popularity. It is extremely popular and is mainly for computer enthusiasts who are looking to make it big in the IT world with their proficient coding skills.
There are programs wherein girls from the 10th and 11th grade can register too. There are so many big firms that often partner with girls who are a part of this institute and this, in turn, bring them some exciting prospects too.
The kind of training which is offered to such girls gives them an upper edge. Of course, those who participate in these programs need to have the right interest and a little pre-foundation as well. The training imparted subsequently helps them reach new heights and they can carve a great career for themselves which can pay great monetary rewards as well.
This organization was founded as a partnership between the association of science-technology centers, the Miami science museum and the SECME Inc with the key aim of strengthening the educators in the science stream. The highlight of the platform is to focus on giving girls more ideas and resources for taking up technology and computers as a course which they wanted to specialize in.
More and more girls need to take up careers in science and engineering so as to create the right balance which in turn can help them in ways more than one. By having the right balanced ratio, everyone will benefit and so the institute wants to achieve that.
This is yet another organization that aims at helping women take the center stage and emerge as a good candidate for technology-oriented jobs. Every year, Technovation makes it a point to invite a team of girls from all across the globe so that they can make use of their skills and solve some of the toughest and brain-wrecking problems with the application of technology.
It is a community which aims at promoting girls for a change. They want girls to make smart use of technology, solve the different problems and prove to the world that they are as capable as men, if not better.
The platform also offers women the chance to imbibe the right lessons and to actually work it out. Girls in the age group of 10 to 18 can learn from the community and imbibe the right skills which they can further develop subsequently. When the skills are learned early in their career, they can work on it professionally and carve a great career for themselves.
Such has been the prolific response which this platform has achieved; that they are launching their 2017 season in collaboration with Google’s made with code and also UN Women. You can see the kind of far-reaching impact which they already have and how they are bound to help women generate the right interest in pursuing CS as a stream which can bring them great professional rewards.
Carnegie Science Center
The Chevron Centre for STEM Education and Career Development has a lot of different programs which is mainly aimed at encouraging girls to take up STEM topics so that they can actively participate in it and make a career for themselves.
Some of their key programs include:
• Tour your future: this is mainly a career exploration program targeted towards girls in the age group of 11 to 17 wherein girls are made familiar with the varied STEM career options that they can choose.
• Click! Spy school: this program caters to girls in the age group of 10 to 14 wherein they are made to solve different mysteries and problems by applying some of the key STEM concepts. This helps in generating their interest at an early age, thereby setting the foundation for the rest of their career path.
• CanTEEN: this program is mainly a set of resources wherein girls are encouraged to take up stem careers. They are pursued with the help of gaming and a wide range of other online activates it has proved to be quite successful so far.
Apart from these programs and institutes; there are a lot of different MOOCS that are available too. With the smart use of these MOOCS, women all over the world can benefit at large. Once again, the key here is to know about these programs because until and unless one is aware of the details of the program, how would they ever benefit from it?
The Stanford University has a ‘design of computer programs’ MOOC available for everyone who is interested to learn more about the working mechanism and other related details pertaining to the use of computers. It also offers a program called the human-computer interaction which is also becoming increasingly popular.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia offers an MOOC called the ‘intro to computer science’ and it is great for all novices looking to test what having a career in CS would look like. For anyone to carve a good career, it is really important that you set the right foundation and it is with these basic MOOCS that you can work on your foundation and have it well-set.
Further, there is another program called introduction to algorithms and you can choose that too for clearing your basic coding skills. It has been seen that in order to be proficient in coding, you first of all need to be thoroughly proficient in algorithms and flowcharts as they are the preliminary steps that precede coding. So, enroll for this basic program and then get the ball rolling to become a professional coder.
Google HTML 5 game development
For all the die-hard coder enthusiasts, Google too has an MOOC called the HTML5 game development program. This is mainly designed to inspire even more women to take up game development. In today’s times, there are a lot of game developers that have been doing phenomenally well and the demand and craze for games are on the rise.
This is not all as you would find a lot of other government programs as well where the focus is on inspiring more girls to take up technology related courses and fare well. It is important to keep an eye out on all these details and find out what seems to be the finest options as far as building your career is concerned.
If money is a cause of concern, women should target scholarships. There is no dearth of scholarship programs and until and unless, you are willing to put in the right research, go resource hunting and check out the available options, it is going to be terribly hard to look for success.
Technology is the face of tomorrow
One need to understand that technology is surely the face of tomorrow and the earlier you understand this, the better it is for you. Women are walking at par with men in almost all sphere of life. Then, why should they lag behind in the field of technology?
In the years to come, technology is going to dominate all parts of your life and so it is important to stay ahead in this rat race. Merely letting the numbers govern your fate is a wrong thing to do. Rather than being intimidated by the numbers, women should take it as a challenge and aspire to work on it so that they can remedy the gap and come at par with men even when it comes to computers and technology.
Computer science is surely one of the promising career fields at the moment and it is merely the lack of right understanding, knowledge, and resources that have led to such a widening gap between the number of men and women pursuing the course. When we have women leading from the front in so many other areas, then there is no reason to believe that computer science is a male dominated field.
It is high time that women come to the center stage and start showing their prowess in the CS field. With so many different resources at your fingertips, spend some time absorbing the details and studying them to decide the career option.
We do not insist on picking CS as a career stream even when you are not interested in it. But do not skip it merely because you think it is a male dominated stream. We need to break this stereotype more than ever now and the quicker we do it; the smaller will be the gap to fill.
With so many companies, institutes and platforms coming together to promote women in the CS stream, it is time women to take a collective effort and rev up the numbers. Do not let your confidence break. Look at all those women who have achieved so many difficult things in their career. You need to know where to take the inspiration from.
From scholarship programs to financial aids, help from IT firms and more, women have so many resources to seek aid. If you are still looking for a systematic way of approach, read what follows.
The Action Plan
Here is a consolidated action plan for all those who are wondering the right method and/or approach to follow to get the confidence to build a career in Computer Science.
1. Research: Start the research in the formative years itself. As there are a lot of institutes that cater to women in the age group of 11 to 14, you need to start your research well in advance so that you can be in touch with these groups.
Your formative years are very crucial and they help in ensuring which career choice you will be more comfortable in. So, do not let the fear of CS trouble you and be in touch with these programs that work on your intellectual level right in the formative schooling years.
2. Scholarships: the next step is to look for scholarship programs. With the cost of education rising incessantly, not everyone can afford to bear the expenses. So, when you have a scholarship program to see you through your college fees, it is definitely going to eradicate a lot of unwanted hurdles and barriers.
There is no dearth of scholarships especially targeted for women and once again, research well in advance. When you research in advance, it gives you ample time to put in the right preparation and can give you an upper edge.
3. MOOCS: in the end, you should also keep an eye on the MOOCS because they too are a good way of attaining the much-needed knowledge. There are a lot of top and reputed universities that offer the best MOOCS for computer science and you should keep an eye out on those. Try to enroll for the MOOCS which you find to be best for your career choice. Of course, make it a point to thoroughly check what each MOOC is offering before you decide to register for them.
4. Job prospects: last but not the least, we all need a job so that we can pay the bills. While I assure you that the IT industry has a lot of promising job opportunities to offer, but you should draw a chart of the career prospects which pursuing CS has to offer. This way you will be better prepared and a whole lot more focused on knowing what you want to get from your life, from a professional point of view.
This is the action plan to be used. Now that you have all the information, resources, details and reasoning, we hope that this situation is likely to change shortly. Women in particular need to understand that it is the time they break this stereotype and start pursuing CS as a career choice.
In the coming years, they need to prove to the world that it was just a matter of time until women became the forerunners even when it came to computer science. Technology is the face of tomorrow and if you are not proficient in its use and application, you will definitely lag behind in the rat race and this can spark a wide array of problems for you.
Start the groundwork today because the kind of effort which you put today can effect the change that is all set to come tomorrow. Women can do it, men know it; it is merely the women who need to believe in themselves.
So, conquer the stream and prove your prowess one more time. The internet is wide and vast and has a lot of resources to come to your aid. Explore the details and pick what seem to be the best options for you.
Your career is important. Go make a good one!