The Book’s Outstanding Features – Part 2

Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.

The Book’s Outstanding Features – Part 2:

–The authors advise caution in using strategies based on the presumed interests of women, often known as “female-friendly” strategies, since they tend to be divisive and can serve to marginalize women further.

–The book pulls together some interesting case studies of cultures, micro-cultures and situations in which women are contributing to computer science. Such case studies, along with the Carnegie Mellon case studies, show that women’s low participation in CS is related to specific cultures and is not a universal situation.

–The book looks at a variety of cultural factors that impact participation in computer science including K-12 curriculum, images of computing, and the nature/nurture debates.

The Book’s Outstanding Features – Part 1

Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.

The Book’s Outstanding Features – Part 1:

–The story of the “Women-CS fit” women at Carnegie Mellon is a positive and encouraging story of women in computer science in contrast to the abundance of discouraging accounts of women’s experiences in the field in the USA and parts of the western world.

–The book presents a unique opportunity to examine changes in the micro-culture of a department. We have the opportunity to examine both a pre-1999 imbalanced environment and a post-1999 balanced environment; balanced in terms of gender, breadth of student personalities, and professional support for women. The book shows how in a balanced environment, perceived gender differences start to dissolve and we see men and women displaying a spectrum of attitudes, including many gender similarities, in how they relate to CS.

Questions for the Readers

Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.

Questions for the Readers:

Although not the norm, by any means, studies have shown that in some countries, cultures and micro-cultures women are contributing to computer science in surprising numbers. What examples can you identify?

What is also surprising is that the lowest participation for women occurs in the “western developed nations.” Why might this be the case?

Special Quotes from the Book – Part 3

Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.

Special Quotes from the Book – Part 3:

“We suggest that the different and/or similar ways in which students relate to computing, are in large part the product of a specific culture and environment, and are not produced by any intrinsic distinctions between men and women. This is good news in terms of working for change.”

“We have been able to show that a micro-culture can change; shaping and being shaped by students’ attitudes and actions. The School of Computer Science moved towards a more “balanced” environment: balanced in terms of gender (including a critical mass of women), in terms of the range of student personalities and interests, and in terms of increased opportunities for all – men and women. Most importantly we have shown that women can participate successfully in CS without resorting to traditional “female-friendly” strategies or curriculum changes to accommodate what are perceived to be the interests of women.”

Special Quotes from the Book – Part 2

Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.

Special Quotes from the Book – Part 2:

“We believe that changing the perception of CS, and of who can succeed and enjoy CS, will go a long way to determining who will participate. But, whether it is defined by its scientific aspects or by its engineering aspects or by its career potential we need to recognize that low enrollments in CS arise from cultural preconceptions that can limit anyone and changing cultural perceptions has the potential to help turn the situation around.”

“Changes at Carnegie Mellon have made the culture of computing more inclusive of a broader population of participants. Our School of Computer Science story can contribute to re-defining the understanding of who can succeed in CS without appealing to the perceived stereotypical interests of women, or men for that matter.”

Special Quotes from the Book – Part 1

Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.

Special Quotes from the Book – Part 1:

“For women to be successful in CS we needed to change the culture and environment, but, we did not need to change the curriculum to be “pink” in any way.”

“Our work thus far has shown that in some environments and cultures student attitudes to CS are not well represented when seen through the monocle of a gender-dichotomy. A fuller expression is revealed through a prism generating a spectrum of attitudes across genders.”