sally Ride science, named for the former astronaut, holds dozens of street fairs each year.
˲ The proportion of women employed in math and CS occupations in
the work force declined from 33% in
1984 to 27% in 2004.25
˲ The proportion of technology-industry women in top leadership
positions is quite low—for example,
only 5% of chief technology officers in
Fortune 100 IT companies are women.
Their representation on technology-company boards remains low as well,
with 13% of board seats of Fortune 100
IT companies going to women, com-
pared to 17% for Fortune 100 organizations across sectors.
˲The wage differential between
men and women holding computer
science degrees persists. Women with
undergraduate CS degrees earn a median of $44K compared to $46K for
men and $40K for underrepresented
taking action: Issues
and exemplary Initiatives
Many initiatives are currently under
way to counter such negative trends,
and they have shown promise in helping to turn the tide. While it is not possible to review all such efforts in one
article, we do highlight some encouraging programs at the K– 12 level, in
academia (undergraduate, graduate,
and faculty levels), and in industry.
K–12: Appealing to Girls and Their
Influencers. It is widely recognized that
declining interest in technical disciplines among female students starts at
a young age. Therefore early-interven-tion efforts are important to ensure future increases in representation.
Successful approaches at the K– 12
˲ Expose girls to positive role models in the technology sphere, given
that the absence of such models has
proven to be a deterrent.
˲Dispel computing-career myths
and stereotypes; for example, the notion that computing is a “white male
profession” discourages girls and minorities from entering the field.
Image of Computing Task Force (www.
of global technology companies, professional associations, nonprofit organizations, and others, focuses its
efforts on creating and disseminating positive images of computing designed to appeal to girls.
˲ Provide accurate information to
key influencers of girls. Because parents and teachers with unconscious
biases will subtly discourage girls
from pursuing computer-related activities,
16 providing these influencers
with information and resources is vital not only to igniting their daughters’
and students’ interest in technology at
a young age but also to retaining it. Resources include the Girls Scouts’ Girls
Go Tech initiative booklet “It’s Her Future.” One educational program that
touches on multiple audiences (girls,
parents, and teachers) is Computer
Mania Day—hosted by the Center for
Women and Information Technology
at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County—during which participants learn about pertinent issues and
explore technology career for girls.
This effort helps to create or strengthen positive attitudes about women’s
involvement in technology.
˲ Provide girls with age-appropri-ate, hands-on technology activities;
examples can be found at the Girls Go
70 CommunICatIons of the aCm | feBRuaRY 2009 | vol. 52 | No. 2