Female Enrollment in Computer Science Majors Plummets

Posted on June 17, 2005

Enrollment in computer science majors has been falling for both sexes, but for women the reduction in computer science majors has been especially large. The Baltimore Sun reports on a study which found that women's enrollment in computer science majors fell by an alarming 80% from 1998 to 2004 compared to a 32% decrease among men. Both are significant decreases but the 80% fall for women is huge. Plus, the drop follows a 20% rise in female enrollment in math and science doctoral programs that occured during the late 80s and 90s.

The United States has seen a reversal in a long-term trend that saw women increase involvement in technical fields such as math and science. From the mid-1980s to 2001, female enrollment in math and science doctoral programs in the United States jumped 20 percent, according to research cited by Rosser.

But in a more recent study, enrollment of women in computer science between 1998 and 2004 fell 80 percent, compared with a 32 percent drop for men and women combined. While the dot-com bust explains part of the retreat, Rosser and other researchers believe the disproportionate drop underscores the frustration women feel over cultures that are often less than welcoming to women in technical fields.

The Baltimore Sun article also discusses a group of women in Baltimore that are organizing to promote their role in information technology.

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