Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University by Carol Frieze, Ph.D. and Jeria Quesenberry, Ph.D.
Excerpt from Chapter 2 – “Women’s Participation in Computing Really Does Matter”:
Investigations like those carried out by Deloitte, McKinsey & Company,
Inc. and Lehman Brothers endorse the idea that diversity should be seen
as a means for finding good solutions, not a target number. Professor Orit
Hazzan uses Carnegie Mellon as an academic example along with examples
from industry to propose, and we agree, “it is in the interest of the
computing world, rather than in the interest of any specific under represented
group in this community, to enhance diversity in general” (Hazzan,
2006, p. 1). Changes in the culture of computing at Carnegie
Mellon have shown that a more diverse student body, including
increased numbers of women students, has enriched the social and academic
environment for everyone.
We have seen from the data that the number of women in CS is seriously
low; yet clearly the potential is there. In the United States we face the
mystery of why women are not taking full advantage of the opportunities
and the intellectual challenges of what is probably the fastest growing
field in the nation. Why are women apparently choosing to miss out on a
range of exciting and rewarding career opportunities? In the meantime
the field is missing out on a broad spectrum of talent that a more diverse
student body and workforce could contribute. Thus, it is generally
argued, and agreed, that women’s participation in CS really does matter.
The low representation of women in CS needs to be turned around for
the benefit of women, for the benefit of the field, and, with fears of the
United States falling behind its competitors, for the benefit of the nation
as a whole.