Women hold more college degrees, but still elusive in tech

I continue to ponder the issue of women in technology as I plan the WIT job fair.  Several things have happened recently that have added to this mystery.

1.  I searched Meetup.com for female tech groups in DC and found 5 out of several hundred that specifically target women.

2.  I was recently networking with a female computer engineer who said that she was one of a few women in her program and was also one of the few that wanted a life outside of computer science.  She socialized while her fellow classmates did the extra credit or personal programming projects on weekends.

3. I asked my husband, who has 20+ years of software development experience how many female techies he knows and he said that he has known 2 in his entire career.  When I shared the statistic that approximately 1/3 of techies in DC are women, he asked if that included technical project managers, database administrators or technical writers.  These are all questions for which I do not know the answer.

4.  I have been reading the “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women” by Hannah Rosen.  There are definitely some interesting perspectives in this book that have me thinking if these are the reasons there are not more women in tech. (statistics and speculations come from the book.)

  • Women earn more than 60% of all bachelor’s degrees
  • Of women 65 and over, women make up 23% of degrees in science and engineering while those 25 to 39 account for 45.9%

There begins to be speculation about why girls are more successful at graduating from college.  One theory is that boys and girls are wired differently and boys as a general rule prefer systems and movement while learning.  Girls are most successful because of their self-discipline and delayed gratification.  Boys are more likely to spend their time playing video games, rather than doing schoolwork.

Now I feel like all I’m left with is questions.

Does this mean that girls focusing on school and going off in college getting degrees, while boys are playing with video games, and leaning towards computer skills and programming?

Are women who get science and engineering degrees getting them specialties other than computer science and programming?

Are women dissuaded by the perceived culture of techies sustaining on pizza and beer in a dark office cave?

I know that I’m not the first one to raise the question, but these are the questions that come to mind as I focus on my most immediate projects.

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