Yesterday, with sadness, I read this article in the New York Times which wondered, where are all the women in computer science?
I must say, it made me both sad and confused. Apparently, while women have largely achieved parity (in terms of undergraduate degrees) when you take science and engineering as a whole, women in computer science has been dropping steadily. In fact, latest estimates for the most recent classes of undergraduates place women as numbering less than 10%. For undergrad. If you continue to lose with each higher degree, which is the norm for women, you wonder if I am one of the last of my kind. I mean, shit.
10....measly....percent. Why is this? I cannot figure it out, exactly, because figuring it out would require that I determine what it is that makes me extremely unusual. I know I'm unusual, I'm ok with that, but I have a hard time thinking that I am *extremely* unusual because I view the world as a big bell curve for everything and just by principle I am unlikely to lie at the extreme end of any of them. But apparently I do.
It has been wonderful for me to find this community of lady science bloggers online, but at the same time I feel like I don't totally belong in this group, because I have never worked with proteins, used a pipette, or worked with anything remotely alive or cellular in my work. All the hot, sexy science discussions are outside of the reaches of my comprehension. I can take a big picture idea, but that's IT.
In somewhat loneliness the other day, I actually went into google reader, which has a nice search function to find blogs that interest you, and typed in "female computer science."
Guess how many bona fide blogs came up? TWO. I subscribed to them both.
I have divulged extremely little information on this blog (I think) regarding what I do specifically, because I fear that just that little information could make it pretty easy to pick me out. How sad is that? I know people in biomedical or medical research, and the labs are FILLED with women. I know that doesn't make it easy, it's still a patriarchal sausagefest at the top, but like...I went through all of graduate school being the only girl in journal club. The first time I went, I was late, and I felt soooooo self conscious when I walked into the room with 30 men, late. I wanted to crawl under a table and die. I just felt so out of place. Also, I go to conferences, and when there are 20 women there out of 300, people say, "wow, there are a lot of women here." Can you believe that?
One of my advisors (not the one I discussed the other day - I am co-advised), has been a full professor for many years, we're talking he achieved full professorship sometime when I was in elementary school. He's no spring chicken. And he has NEVER graduated a female PhD student. Ever. I will be the first. Can you imagine?
I desperately, desperately want to know why this is.
I have a few theories but that will be another post. Back to work.
5 months ago