Generation CS: The Mixed News on Diversity and the Enrollment Surge
We acknowledge everyone who has assisted with the survey, data, analysis, or report
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and Zweben, S., Generation CS: The Growth of Computer Science, ACM Inroads, 8, 2
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Department of Computer Science
Colorado School of Mines, 1500 Illinois Street, Golden, CO 80401 USA
W. Richards Adrion
College of Information and Computer Sciences
University of Massachusetts Amherst, 140 Governors Drive, Amherst, MA 01003 USA
Computing Research Association
1828 L Street NW, Suite 800, Washington DC 20036 USA
Department of Computer and Information Science
University of Pennsylvania, 3330 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 USA
School of Computing
University of Utah, 50 S. Central Campus Drive, Salt Lake City, U T 84112 USA
Department of Computer Science
Purdue University, 305 N. University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA
Computer Science Department
Hiram College, 11730 Garfield Road, Hiram, OH 44234 USA
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
The Ohio State University, 2015 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210 USA
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consider diversity impacts when choosing actions, very few
( 14.9%) chose actions to reduce impact on diversity and
even fewer ( 11.4%) decided against possible actions out of
concern for diversity. In addition, only one-third of units
believe their existing diversity initiatives will compensate
for any concerns with increasing enrollments, and only
one-fifth of units are monitoring for diversity effects at
This article considers the impact of the recent enrollment
surge in computer science on the diversity of the field. While
units want to increase the diversity of their students, unit
leaders need to be aware that enrollment management can
impact the students they want to retain and attract. In other words, there is concern that the actions departments take
to manage increased enrollments might have a side effect of
reducing diversity. At this point, we see substantial increases
in the number of women and underrepresented minorities enrolling in computer science courses, and median percentages
of both groups at all course levels has also grown. This result
holds for all courses for which there is sufficient data from
our survey, and in both doctoral-granting and non-doctoral-granting units. In other words, growth in female and URM
students appears to be greater than the overall growth in students. Yet, we must continue our efforts to attract and retain
these populations, as the percentages are still nowhere near
where they should be. Our course data for both female and
URM students show, in any given year, decreased representation as the course level increases. Further study is needed to
determine whether a leaky pipeline exists, or whether there is
another explanation for this trend.
This period of unprecedented growth in the field may be
an opportunity to increase the diversity of computer science
undergraduates. The CRA data shows that very few units are
specifically choosing or rejecting actions due to diversity, but
those that do have a higher percentage of female and URM
students. It is likely that many of these units have been considering diversity in their actions over the long term, not just
with respect to the enrollment surge. We strongly encourage
units to track the diversity of their majors, minors, and non-majors and to consider the effect of the actions that they take
on the diversity of their programs. We need to ensure that the
diversity gains we have recently seen can bring the computing
community closer to representing the population that uses the
technology we create.
Units with an increase in minors
have an increase in the percentage
of female students in
mid- and upper-level courses.