Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What's the big deal with women in Computer Science?

As I sit here at my friend's windowsill staring out at Ithaca Commons, I realized that I haven't posted to the blog in quite a while. It's not that I don't have thousands of ideas in my head waiting to be written down, but rather that the past month has been difficult for me to overcome, very difficult. Looking back on it I feel that I just wasted away that time, but now I'm back and I have many plans for the future. First, however, I'd like to address the issue I've raised in this post title: so, what's the big deal about women in CS anyways?

At its inception, Computer Science wasn't the "man" thing to do. In fact there were many prominent women figures in the early days working alongside men. If you don't believe me, check this site out http://www.cs.bris.ac.uk/admissions/what_is_cs/FamousWomen.html (admittedly, some of the women on this site are more recent additions to our circle, but nonetheless they are amazing). As I continued the unfortunate month slump, I began to wonder why we were so desperate for more women in CS. I'd like to clarify before delving further into the matter: I am not against women in Computer Science or engineering, in fact I am an active member in Association of Computer Science Undergraduates promoting women in these fields.

On that note, I would like to point out that Computer Science consists of problem solving and mathematics, not exclusively but definitely as a basis of understanding. If encouraging women to do CS at an earlier age is such an urgency, then why don't we teach them the basics as well: math, programming, logic, etc? Why is it that we've constrained ourselves to encouraging one subject when there are many parts to a Computer Science education? In my former involvement in college programs like the Society of Women Engineers, I kept hearing that women didn't understand that CS was more than just about programming in a dark corner of the room (though this is also valid). So then, why don't we show instead of tell?

I guess I'm just saying that if getting women into the CS field is a priority, then let's do it the right way, not just the half-hearted attempt we're giving right now. Let's get women (and men) to see what computer science is really about and encourage young people to involve themselves in technological development.

Until another time,