The Shrinking Woman in Computer Science

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In spite of the prominent role of female scientists in the software programming infancy, the female computer science workforce is shrinking. Many are the strategies and efforts to change this fact, in the Netherlands and worldwide. Results, however, are often volatile, and vanish as soon as investments are stopped. Women are smart and perform well in the field. Unfortunately the percentage of female researchers becomes smaller at each step in the career ladder, and seldom reach leadership positions. CS female students excel, often choose for a PhD education, eventually continue with a postdoc. But then the story stops, the vast majority of the senior permanent staff in computer science is still male. What do we really miss? Are our strategies wrong? Should we pursue the goal of a diverse male-female CS scientific community at all?
This talk will give an overview of the recent trends in the female CS population in the two universities in Amsterdam, the VU and the UvA. We will enlist and discuss current investments meant to break the spell of the shrinking women in computer science, and opinions from colleagues will be used to draw a new path toward gender diversity.

In occasion of the Celebration of 30 Years of Informatics Education in Amsterdam, http://www.30-jaar-informatica.nl/

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The Shrinking Woman in Computer Science

  1. 1. THE SHRINKING WOMAN INCOMPUTER SCIENCEPATRICIA LAGO AND LYNDA HARDMAN
  2. 2. MY FIRST LECTURE @ AN ENGINEERING FACULTYPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  3. 3. WOMEN IN COMPUTER SCIENCE “Computer science (CS) education suffers from deep equity issues that hamper the growth of U.S. human capital.” [1] “The low numbers of women in decision making positions throughout the science and technology system is a waste of talent that European economies cannot afford.” [2] Among exact sciences, CS is clearly one of the most alarming cases of under-representations: •  In 1996-2006 the presence of women in science and engineering increased in all fields except CS •  B.Sc enrollments decreased from 37% (1985) to 18.6% (2006) [National Science Foundation, 2009][1] Addressing Core Equity Issues in K-12 Computer Science Education, Anita Borg Institutefor Women and Technology, 2010][2] [Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for research, innovation and science] Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  4. 4. SOME FIGURES IN ACADEMIAIn the United States (women)•  Nearly 50% PhD graduates à 40% in science & engineering à 28% full-time faculty•  24% full professors à 19% in science & engineeringIn the European Union (women)•  Nearly 45% PhD graduates à 33% in science & engineering à 18% in computing•  18% full professors à11% in science & engineering•  … and 58% of university degrees (students)Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  5. 5. WOMEN ACADEMICS IN SCIENCE – NETHERLANDS 7,6% more girls complete their studies [Ambitie in beeld, Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH), Nov. 2011: update Monitor Women Professors]Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  6. 6. WHEN WILL WE REACH OUR TARGETS? 13.4% in 2010Percentage women full professors (in FTE): between 1999 and 2010 with an extrapolation of the growth untilthe target of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (15%) and of the Lisbon-agreement (25% in2010)[Source: A.-M. van Gijtenbeek en W. Eefting, Ambitie in beeld, Vrouwelijkehoogleraren in Nederland, LNVH, 2011] Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  7. 7. WOMEN CS PRESENCE IN AMSTERDAM (FACULTY) Computer Science academics @ UvA 120.0% 100.0% 100.0% 86.6% 1995 man 84.8% 85.5% 90.5% 1995 women 80.0% 81.9% 2000 man 2000 women % fte 60.0% 2005 man 2005 women 2010 man 40.0% 2010 women 2011 man 18.1% 20.0% 2011 women 9.5% 15.2% 14.5% 13.4% 0.0% 0.0% PhD candidate Docent Postdoc UD/ Assist Prof UHD/ Assoc HGL/ Full Prof ProfPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  8. 8. WOMEN CS PRESENCE IN AMSTERDAM (FACULTY) Computer Science academics @ VU 120.0% 100.0% 100.0% VU 1995 men 88.5% 81.0% VU 1995 women 80.0% VU 2000 men 71.4% 65.9% VU 2000 women % fte 60.0% 69.9% VU 2005 men VU 2005 women 34.1% VU 2010 men 40.0% VU 2010 women 30.1% 28.6% VU 2011 men 20.0% VU 2011 women 0.0% 19.0% 11.5% 0.0% PhD candidate Docent Postdoc UD/ Assist Prof UHD/ Assoc HGL/ Full Prof ProfPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  9. 9. WHAT ABOUT STUDENTS IN INFORMATICS? Percentage women (higher education) in science, mathematics and computing’ Country 2007 2008 2009 The Netherlands 16,2 17,4 19 Hungary 28,2 30,8 31,6 European Union 37,5 37,5 37,7 United States 38,6 43 43 Romania 56,8 51,8 52,1 Italy 50,3 50,8 51,4 Sweden 43,2 43,4 43,1[Source: Eurostat (elaboration of VHTO), http://www.vhto.nl/cijfers-trends/internationaal.html] Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  10. 10. STUDENTS IN NETHERLANDS – BACHELOR (TECH. INFORMATICA)Percentage girls ~4% Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  11. 11. STUDENTS IN NETHERLANDS – BACHELOR (INFORMATICA)Percentages girls fluctuate between 4,5% and 5,7% Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  12. 12. OBSERVATIONS – ON CS STUDENTS IN THENETHERLANDS@HBO percentages are higher [colleague, NL]•  Multi-disciplinary programs explicitly targeting girls•  Less math, more society-relevant subjectsReasons (in NL) for girls not choosing beta/technical programs:•  Influence of the environment (parents, society lacks role models)•  Negative self-image about own performance in (beta) subjects•  Negative image of Informatics (‘risky’ in Dutch society)… and for Informatics also:•  Unclear about possible career/professions (either teacher or researcher)Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  13. 13. WOMEN CS PRESENCE IN AMSTERDAM (STUDENTS) UVA Students 2003-2010 100.0% 90.0% 80.0% 70.0%Student registrations 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 20.0% 13.4% 9.7% 10.5% 11.4% 6.3% 6.6% 7.8% 10.0% 5.2% 0.0% 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Registered students University of Amsterdam Bachelor - male 94.8% 93.8% 90.3% 93.4% 92.2% 89.5% 86.6% 88.6% Bachelor - female 5.2% 6.3% 9.7% 6.6% 7.8% 10.5% 13.4% 11.4% 6.2% Increase of girls in the BACHELOR phasePatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  14. 14. WOMEN CS PRESENCE IN AMSTERDAM (STUDENTS) VUA Students 2002-2010 100.0% 90.0% 80.0%Student registrations 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 16.9% 16.8% 18.8% 20.0% 13.2% 15.2% 11.2% 12.4% 8.5% 9.6% 10.0% 0.0% 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Registered students VU University Amsterdam Bachelor - male 86.8% 88.8% 91.5% 83.1% 90.4% 83.2% 87.6% 84.8% 81.2% Bachelor - female 13.2% 11.2% 8.5% 16.9% 9.6% 16.8% 12.4% 15.2% 18.8% Master - male 90.9% 80.0% 74.4% 83.7% 87.7% 89.4% 81.5% 88.7% 79.9% Master - female 9.1% 20.0% 25.6% 16.3% 12.3% 10.6% 18.5% 11.3% 20.1% 5.6% Increase of girls in the BACHELOR phase Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  15. 15. WOMEN CS PRESENCE IN AMSTERDAM (STUDENTS) VUA Students 2002-2010 100.0% 90.0% 80.0%Student registrations 70.0% 60.0% 50.0% 40.0% 30.0% 25.6% 20.0% 18.5% 20.1% 20.0% 16.3% 12.3% 10.6% 11.3% 9.1% 10.0% 0.0% 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Registered students VU University Amsterdam Bachelor - male 86.8% 88.8% 91.5% 83.1% 90.4% 83.2% 87.6% 84.8% 81.2% Bachelor - female 13.2% 11.2% 8.5% 16.9% 9.6% 16.8% 12.4% 15.2% 18.8% Master - male 90.9% 80.0% 74.4% 83.7% 87.7% 89.4% 81.5% 88.7% 79.9% Master - female 9.1% 20.0% 25.6% 16.3% 12.3% 10.6% 18.5% 11.3% 20.1% 11.1% Increase of girls in the MASTER phase Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  16. 16. OBSERVATIONS – ON STUDENTS IN AMSTERDAM•  (Overall) the number of girls increases (but very unstable)•  Percentages remain too low (20.1% max in 2010/MSc) •  (VUA Bachelor) Lifestyle Informatics performs slightly better than IMM & Informatics •  (VUA Master) only exception Bioinformatics (1/2 to 1.5/1 in 2011!)•  Increases in international students (+28.6% since 2002) •  Mostly Master students •  Majority of girls 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010International 3.7% 13.9% 14.1% 19.3% 16.5% 20.0% 28.9% 23.6% 32.3%students (VUA)Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  17. 17. ON THE POSITIVE SIDE … … searching for concrete actions is like opening the Pandora’s box[Source: Wikipedia, http://www.mitchellteachers.org/WorldHistory/AncientGreece/DiscoveringReferencestoGreekMythology.htm] Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  18. 18. THE WISDOM OF THE CROWDWe asked a number of women and men academics whatworks and what doesn’t… from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, China,Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Iran, and theNetherlands…Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  19. 19. PAVE THE WAY TO …Some created circumstances to enable significant genderdiversity in research and higher education•  Strong networks to attract but mostly support >  At all levels, from students to senior leaders >  “Women@SCS ensures women have opportunities for networking, mentors/mentoring, socializing, outreach, leadership and visibility” [Women@CMU] >  “Networks should proactively engage to develop a culture and environment working well for both men and women” [NICTA]Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  20. 20. PAVE THE WAY TO … (CONT.)Target new generations (high school girls), show them theycan do it, their potential >  “some years ago an intensive program in high schools to attract girls to computer science. This resulted in ~30% more freshman girls” [Norway] >  K-12 program in the U.S.Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  21. 21. … INSPIRE THEM ..•  By speaking their languagePatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  22. 22. WHEN WE GET THEM, INVEST TO KEEP THEM TOONot just attract talents!•  “Since the program stopped, the number of girls went down” [Colleague, Norway]•  “Women overall progress at many of the countrys top research universities has been slow, the gains uneven and fragile” [Lawrence H. Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University]Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  23. 23. CREATE ROLE MODELS … •  Top Female Scientists @TUDelft •  Fenna Diemer- Lindeboom @VU •  Rosalind Franklin Fellowships @ RuG •  Aspasia @NWOPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  24. 24. … AND CREATE A GENDER NEUTRAL ENVIRONMENTS“I vastly underestimated the problem. People tend to think that if there’s aproblem, it’s with a few old-fashioned people with old-fashioned ideas.That’s not true. Everybody has unconscious gender bias. It shows up inevery study.”[Professor at Princeton, from New York Times, “For Women in Sciences,Slow Progress in Academia”, April 15, 2005](After having introduced me to a female colleague) “As I am a guy, I willexcuse myself from the conversation from here on :-)” [anonymous]Good examples:•  Mentoring programs•  Automatic 1-year tenure-clock extension•  Guidelines for gender neutral nomination committees [checklist VU]: remove gender stereotypes, clone-phenomenon Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  25. 25. SOCIETY HAS A (SILENT, SUBTLE) INFLUENCE Chin Malaysia a, Ho ng K ong One of the largest IT companies in the worldPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  26. 26. CREATE INNOVATIONSome translated gender diversity into concrete inspiringactionsPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  27. 27. GENDERED INNOVATION @ STANFORDPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  28. 28. TIME FOR INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITIES•  ICT driven by- and shaped around people•  “Tackling societal challenges” first in EU research and innovation agenda, Ø  this including: health, demographic change and well-being; secure, clean and efficient energy; smart, green and integrated transport; resource efficiency and climate action, including raw materials; and inclusive, innovative and secure societies.•  Creative industry, red life sciences and ICT in the top sectors of Amsterdam areaPatricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  29. 29. WASTE OF TALENTS AND THE ‘GIRL EFFECT’ ONDEVELOPMENT“Investing in women is smart economics. Investing in girls –catching them upstream – is even smartereconomic.” [Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, WorldBank, Washington DC]Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  30. 30. FOOD FOR THOUGHTS WWW.NATURE.COM[Nature 442, 133-136 (13 July 2006) | doi:10.1038/442133a; Published online 12 July 2006] Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011
  31. 31. THANKS GO TO …Anjo Bikker, Jan Bosch, Fenny Bosse, Victor Brilleman, SaskiaEdixhoven, Jaap Heringa, Elly Lammers, Maryam Razavian, DirkjeSchinkelshoek, Peter Scholts, Babette Sluijter, Damian Tamburri… for providing data and supportDoutzen Abma, Lydia Duijvestijn, Carol Frieze, John Grundy, ChristineHofmeister, Peng Liang, Anna Liu, Eila Ovaska, Femke van Raamsdonk,Maarten de Rijke, Mary Shaw, Marjan Sirjani… for giving feedback on women computer scientists nationwide andabroadHans van Vliet and Jan Bergstra… for inviting us!Patricia Lago & Lynda Hardman @ 2011

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