Guest post: Gender is a huge deal in this field

Originally a comment by MrFancyPants on Yes that’s right, exactly like this.

I wonder if the people (mainly men?) complaining about “why is gender even an issue” are even professionals in a computer science field. If they are, they’re stunningly unobservant.

I am a computer science professional (formerly academic, now in the private sector) and I can confidently state that gender is a huge deal in this field. As an academic, I repeatedly saw promising female grad students drop out of the computer science program or switch to a different field, and it was apparent that this was happening due to the boys’ club nature of the research labs at that time (and at that university).

Now, as a private sector professional, I’m dealing with the effects of that: a depressingly small pool of qualified candidates for jobs, which is altogether unsurprising since society is basically turning away half of the potential graduates before they even really get started. Some of the positions that we are trying to fill at my firm (a tiny startup with excellent wages, benefits, and profit sharing) have been unfilled for five years or longer.

There are real reasons why women are not taking part in this field in greater numbers. We need to understand them if we’re going to change it. So for my part, at least, I think that it’s not only just “an issue” that women in engineering/computer science bring up gender, but it’s actually vitally important. So bravo to Elena Glassman, Neha Narula and Jean Yang.


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