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International Perspective on Girls in the Sciences

The Financial Times reported recently that females are more likely to study Information Technology if it involves problem solving, team work, and creativity. One of the Israeli daily newspapers has also just published research which finds that girls studying computing get slightly better grades than boys, though not significantly higher. They aslo get higher grades in physics and math. The problem, however, is that in computer science and physics, only about a third of the high school students choosing to take these courses are girls. Approximately the same picture is seen in higher education in Israel and elsewhere. Why is it so? Have you an ideas? Any solutions?

Judith Gal-Ezer
CSTA Director for International Outreach

Comments

Yes I agree with your point of view about the Girl child.

I had a professor who addressed this once and said that it is because girls are good at a lot of stuff, so they have a lot of choices. They just aren't choosing CS, because they don't have the room for it amongst all the other activities and things they are good at. Not sure if I really believe this or not, but it is better than what I think is the real cause. I think there is still the old stereo type hanging on that women aren't supposed to be the smart ones. They are supposed to be in caring and nurturing jobs instead of scientific jobs. I'm at a loss for how to change this.

I am not sure but in some respects I suspect that the mentality is still the same that was responsible for females forming a small minority of geology students in my university many years ago.

No one would take credit for the quote regarding women should possess secretarial skills, but neither was it removed from the departmental brochure during my tenure as a student ... all the while, our professors continued to give lip service to diversity.

It took many years, but recent photos of graduating classes indicate that the department has achieved that previously stated goal ... at least with respect to gender. Grudging acceptance came as women proved themselves as capable in the field as their colleagues.

Does anyone have an idea as to how women (and other under-represented populations) can accomplish the same feat in other disciplines, i.e. computing and physics?

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