Bethesda, MD-based SANS Institute.
Paller was pleased that 6,647 girls
from 1,000 U.S. schools participated in the competition. Participants
performed tasks including cracking
codes, plugging security gaps, and creating software tools.
Creating greater gender parity in
STEM-oriented professions will take
more than improving science education for girls and promoting overall
gender equality, according to the
2018 report “The Gender-Equality
Paradox in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education.” The study by the journal
Psychological Science looked at almost
500,000 adolescents from 67 countries in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA),
the world’s largest educational survey. It found that girls were at least
as strong in science and math as boys
in 60% of the PISA countries, and that
they were capable of college-level
Yet the gender gap in STEM fields
“The generally overlooked issue of
intraindividual differences in academic
competencies and the accompanying
influence on one’s expectancies of the
value of pursuing one type of career
versus another need to be incorporated
into approaches for encouraging more
women to enter the STEM pipeline,”
the study notes. “In particular, high-
achieving girls whose personal academic
strength is science or mathematics
might be especially responsive to S TEM-
Whether a girl has the desire to be
involved in computer science, encour-
agement and exposure to the field re-
main focal points. In a time when the
#MeToo movement has gained mo-
mentum, the push to empower young
women to feel welcome in computer
science continues as well.
These efforts have gone global. In
January, for example, a female coputer
engineer and some colleagues created
Jiggen Tech Hub, West Africa’s first
tech hub for women.
“It’s not about individual women
changing their perspectives or doing
something different,” says Dubow.
“It’s about departments and school
systems and industry and hiring prac-
tices that have to change to make a dif-
ference on this issue.”
ACM-W, ACM’s Council on Wom-
en in Computing, which advocates
internationally for the engagement
of women in all aspects of the com-
puting field, sponsors ACM Celebra-
tions of Women in Computing, pro-
viding monetary and other support
in order to connect women work-
ing/studying in technical fields and
break down feelings of isolation.
The intention of ACM-W in support-
ing these celebrations, says the orga-
nization’s chair, Jodi Tims, is to reach
the broadest possible populations of
women through an international net-
work of self-sustaining small confer-
ences, dovetailing when possible with
Tims says 87 such Celebrations
have been held since 2013, with a total
10,500 attendees through 2017. She
says attendance has grown from about
1,500 in 2013-2014 to 5,800 for the first
half of this year, and the number of
countries in which Celebrations take
place has grown from five at the outset
to 16 this year.
Tims suggested a variety of things in-
dividuals can do to make certain their
environments are inclusive, such as:
˲ Ensure everyone in a meeting, re-
gardless of gender, have thechance to
contribute to a discussion.
˲ Encourage young women to push
back against negative peer pressure
from both women and men to dissuade
them from staying in computing.
˲ Mentor a female student interest-
ed in computing.
˲ Make certain hiring, tenure, and
promotion committees, as well as
teaching faculty and managers, un-
derstand how unconscious bias can
affect their decisions, and help them
to develop mechanisms that will dis-
rupt those biases.
Tims points out that ACM “has the
potential to set the standard for what it
means to be an organization committed to solving issues of gender diversity
Stoet, G., and Geary, D.C.
The Gender-Equality Paradox in Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Education, Psychological Science, 2018.
Stout, J.G., and Blaney, J.M.
“But it doesn’t come naturally”: How
effort expenditure shapes the benefit
of growth mindset on women’s sense
of intellectual belonging in computing.
Computer Science Education (pp. 1–14),
Blaney, J.M., and Stout, J.G.
Examining the relationship between
introductory computing course experiences,
self-efficacy, and belonging among
first-generation college women.
In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCSE
Technical Symposium on Computer
Science Education (pp. 69–74).
New York, NY: ACM.
Sax, L.J., Zimmerman, H.B., Blaney, J.M.,
Toven-Lindsey, B., and Lehman, K.J.
Diversifying computer science
departments: How department chairs
become change agents for women and
underrepresented minority students.
Journal of Women and Minorities in
Science and Engineering, 23( 2), 101-119.
DuBow, W., Farmer, R. Wu, Z.,
and Fredrickson, M.
Bringing Young Women into Computing
through the NCWIT Aspirations in
Computing Program, Communications
of the ACM, December 2013.
Achieving Gender Equity: ACM-W Can’t
Do It Alone, Communications of the ACM,
Gender Diversity in Computing:
Are We Making Any Progress?
Communications of the ACM, April 2017.
Esther Shein is a freelance technology and business
writer based in the Boston area.
© 2018 ACM 0001-0782/18/8 $15.00
A study of almost
in 67 countries
found girls were
at least as strong
in science and math
as boys in 60% of
and were capable