Why Are Girls Not Pursuing Computer Science Degrees?

We know that there is what is called a ‘gender divide’ (or gender gap) in STEM. In short, there are more men than women in STEM careers. More young men pursue STEM fields in college than young women. So why don’t more girls pursue technology careers, become scientists, or become computer scientists? Girls get the same education in K-12 that boys do. So do they simply dislike computer science? Are they not good enough at it to pursue it as a career? 

The handy infographic below takes a look at some statistics from a few different sources to show that  it is mainly girls’ perceptions that prevent them from pursuing careers in computer science. Basically, girls are just as good at computer science as boys are, but they begin to perform differently once they begin to think that boys are better at it. Interesting, right? Keep reading to learn more.

Girls In Computer Science

  • In elementary school, girls and boys like computer science almost equally (68% boys, 66% girls)
  • Girls and boys score equally on the AP computer science exam
  • When girls are told that boys are naturally better at computer science, their test scores were 75% lower than boys. If they were not told this ahead of time, they scored the same
  • 90% of girls ‘want to help people’ in their careers, and think that ‘computer science doesn’t help people’
  • Even though women make up 57% of all college students, they only make up 18% of computer science majors
  • The % of women majoring in computer science has dropped since the 1980s

Change The Perceptions

  • Show female computer science role models
  • Introduce programming early
  • Make students aware of the stereotypes
  • Provide encouragement
  • Teach with social and hands-on learning activities


1 Comment

  1. Shanita White

    October 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    As a woman with a degree in computer science I love to read about getting more girls involved at an early age. I have a 6 year old daughter and expose her to how “cool” science can be by going to space camps, math and science camps and planetariums. She recently entered into a county science fair with her rendition of the solar system. I love the outlook she has but I am aware of the challenges ahead. Keep up the great work!!! I cant wait for the world to see my little future scientist.

    To the readers: Remember we cannot decide their future but we can “gently” guide them into a direction and introduce them to the awesome opportunities science has to offer!!!