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Harvey Mudd CompSci Majors are 55% Female

Roger_DooleyRoger_Dooley Founder 6083 replies100309 threads Senior Member
edited January 2017 in Harvey Mudd College
Giant tech companies like Google and Facebook have struggled to achieve any kind of gender balance in their technical staff, in part because computer science programs at top universities skew heavily male. Most of these schools talk about outreach to female students and other measures, but one has actually done something about it. Harvey Mudd's CompSci majors are now 55% female, according to this article in the LA Times by Rosanna Xia:

That number compares to a mere 10% ten years ago and a current national average of 16%. The article describes a host of changes at Harvey Mudd, including a curriculum revamp and recruitment of new profs.

There's a lesson here beyond gender parity, too. The curriculum changes seem to have produced a different attitude toward CompSci among the entire student body:
"The introductory course is now one of the most popular across the Claremont campuses. More than 40% of non-computer science majors, hooked after the first class, go on to take at least two more programming courses."

[Image credit: LA Times]
edited January 2017
29 replies
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Replies to: Harvey Mudd CompSci Majors are 55% Female

  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    However "popular" courses do not make a strong computer scientist. Harvey Mudd has some female students rejected for PhD programs in CS because they are on the light side for a CS degree. Harvey Mudd is more liberal artsy and very hard on grading too. So Harvey Mudd graduates, girls or boys, are often disappointed and get rejected for PhD programs at UW Seattle, MIT, and Berkeley , the top PhD programs in the world for CS. Compare the CS programs at Georgia Tech and Harvey Mudd College and you will see that Harvey Mudd is not as strong.
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  • sbballersbballer 554 replies33 threads Member
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82767 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Re: #4

    That article also mentions that "women comprise just 30 percent of computer science majors at Stanford". Meaning that even more men than women choose to major in CS, although 30% is higher than the national percentage of 18%.
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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Harvey Mudd College needs to have a class about Tina Huang, MIT class of 1993's lawsuit against Twitter.
    And then ask themselves is a tiny technical school , smaller than a high school making a dent? NO. UCLA, Berkeley, are the big guns out there for computer sciences, with UC San Diego, San Jose State, Cal Poly in both locations and UC Davis educating the BULK of CS majors along with MIT, and UIUC and UT Austin and Georgia Tech, as well as UW Seattle. What Harvey Mudd says or does is a blip on the graph and changes nothing.
    Look at Facebook carefully and ask yourself why would technical women just say NO? Its run by two Harvard econ majors with banking knowledge who write books to tell younger women to LEAN IN while they rake in the dough! PLEASE Harvey Mudd understand that taking more and more girls only makes the problem more compelling as these girls land at Twitter and are the only girl in the room and do not know how to talk to boys. We need a lot more education across gender boundaries NOW at all schools including Harvey Mudd College. We need to understand male environments if we are to work in one, so gender balancing may not really help at all. How many Mudders take the highest jobs of the land in CS? The $200,000 plus jobs teaching discrete math at Georgia Tech or Any very high up Silicon Valley job? Harvey Mudd education or MIT does not matter, getting along with men is the only skill that matters in Silicon Valley right now. LIGHTEN UP on hard grading and teach girls to talk and get along with boys, whatever it takes. Ask the likes of Carley Fiorina and other female high tech formers to WRITE THE CLASS. OK, choose a more successful manager we have a lot now. Academics need to GET IN THE FIELD, aka Facebook and Twitter and then teach girls how to cope. Off soap box.

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  • ColoradomamaColoradomama 2779 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Back on Soap Box: Its not about which school on learns CS . look at who makes big dollars in Silicon Valley. They are men who often dropped out of Carnegie Mellon, I know three at least! . They are men who are freshman at Georgia Tech and work all night long on start ups . they are men who graduated Stanford, and coded on the side since their days at a Palo Alto high school, OR They are Harvard and Warton B school grads, (Men plus the Lean in Girl) who run the place. Women need a class about how to do it. They do not need sugar coating classes suitable for Claremont McKenna kiddos! They do not need to be given a line of goods by academics who want so badly the numbers to improve. Women in high tech need both a backbone and they need some help about how to deal with a roomful of men. May I suggest good perfume and knowledge of the meeting content and goals both? A solid technical grasp and a sense of humor so you can roll with sexual inuendo? A balancing hobby like YOGA and impecable standards, as sleeping to the top may not work anymore?! And a public speaking class to avoid a whining female voice? The biggest inhibitor to female success is lack of knowledge of how the system works. We have written books in the 1970s on this, have we forgotten all we learned?
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threads Senior Member
    Yeah, I wondered about the CMC comment, too. My kid has taken a few classes there (mostly lit classes, which is her secondary concentration) and has found them challenging and interesting.
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  • AgentXJPAgentXJP 71 replies3 threads Junior Member
    edited January 2017
    And conservatives and right-wingers everywhere wept. How dare those women!
    edited January 2017
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  • hebegebehebegebe 2854 replies39 threads Senior Member
    And conservatives and right-wingers everywhere wept. How dare those women!
    Well that was a dysfunctional statement @AgentXJP, in more ways than one.
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  • LKnomadLKnomad 1247 replies8 threads Senior Member
    @Coloradomama Using Swarthmore's data pulled from the NSF, since they have no stake in the results. They analyze the top undergrad PhD producers in STEM and other areas. If you scroll down the pages you will see PDFs of undergrad to PhD success rates for numerous disciplines. This is done by percentage. Harvey Mudd comes out at the top, well #2. So you are waaaaaay off. Look closely at the actual schools that send people on to succeed at PhDs and you may be surprised.


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  • dustypigdustypig 910 replies17 threads Member
    May I suggest good perfume and knowledge of the meeting content and goals both? A solid technical grasp and a sense of humor so you can roll with sexual inuendo? A balancing hobby like YOGA and impecable standards, as sleeping to the top may not work anymore?! And a public speaking class to avoid a whining female voice?

    Are you freaking KIDDING ME???? This is the most rampant sexist BS I have read in a LONG time. I sincerely hope you are NOT teaching your children this attitude. Are you really suggesting that, unlike for men, it's not enough for women to be smart and competent and experienced -- that they also have to wear "good perfume" and take yoga classes? So basically, it's a woman's job to make herself attractive to men in order to succeed in her career? And I find your comment about "sleeping to the top" to be incredibly offensive.

    Back to the topic under discussion -- I have a daughter who is very strong in math, and at one point I thought she might go into CS. I signed her up for some summer programming camps, where she felt "meh" about the subject matter, made a few good friends among the other girls, and pretty much universally disliked the boys. A lot of the boys were pretty socially clueless (hey, maybe they should take classes in how to talk to girls!) and a lot of them suffered from the problem mentioned in the article, where they were so eager to talk about what they knew that they came across as show-offs to the other students. I have a lot of sympathy with kids like that, so I don't happen to think that they're the problem here (in fact I think it's good that they have a field to go into where their lack of social aptitude isn't a career-killer; my older brother has Asperger's and it has seriously limited his career advancement). But it does mean that teenage girls aren't likely to want to major in something where they don't really like most of the other students in their classes.

    And of course this carries over to the workplace, which is why women who do graduate with degrees in CS often end up moving into other fields. I know a couple of women who started out as programmers and are now working in the communications-related part of the field -- writing user guides and documentation, writing research papers, grant proposals, etc.
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