Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Computer programming once had much better gender balance than it does today. What went wrong?

1246719

Replies to: Computer programming once had much better gender balance than it does today. What went wrong?

  • Cardinal FangCardinal Fang Registered User Posts: 17,971 Senior Member
  • HamurtleHamurtle Registered User Posts: 1,926 Senior Member
    Interesting debate-my son’s pressure cooker high school in California had 3 MIT acceptances in the last 2 years. All girls who participated in multiple math contests nationally and internationally.

    My son said that his Calc BC Class was probably 60/40 males/females and that the girls were probably the best students in the class. It might have not been the norm, but the AB/BC and AP Stats teachers in his school were all women. As well as the AP CompSci teacher.
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 673 Member
    edited February 17
    MIT sends three times as many acceptance offers to girls as to boys because yields among girls is very low. At my kids school that always seems to be the case.
    For girls who have some math/CS awards like AIME, there is over 90% chance they are admitted to MIT/HarveyMudd, according to my local math club teacher who tracked stats for the last ten years.
    The problem is that for top math/CS girls who can get in both MIT/HM/CMU and HYP, they are more likely to choose the latter by my observation.
    And girls who are top performer in CS/Math seem more multi-dimensional than boys, less likely to be the nerdy type. People with both strong verbal and CS/Math skills tend to find professions outside being a career coder more lucrative and attractive.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 75,393 Senior Member
    Hamurtle wrote:
    My son said that his Calc BC Class was probably 60/40 males/females and that the girls were probably the best students in the class.

    The confidence level suggested in the article linked in reply #40 may be related here -- the girls who are confident enough to choose calculus BC in high school may be stronger on average than the boys who are confident enough to choose calculus BC in high school. I.e. the girls who are as good in math as the bottom third of the boys in calculus BC may not be confident enough to choose calculus BC, while the boys of similar math achievement are confident enough.
  • HamurtleHamurtle Registered User Posts: 1,926 Senior Member
    I would agree with post #48-one of the girls from son’s high school who went to MIT could have easily been a history major-she was in the same AP Euro class as he was and was also in the school History Bowl team and was captain her senior year.

    Very well rounded student who was also accepted by CalTech, but was rejected by Stanford and waitlisted by Harvard, but that’s another story.
  • Data10Data10 Registered User Posts: 2,776 Senior Member
    edited February 17
    MIT sends three times as many acceptance offers to girls as to boys because yields among girls is very low.
    In 2017-18 women admitted to MIT had a 70% yield. This is a higher yield than occurred at Yale, Princeton, or just about any other highly selective college in the US besides Stanford and Harvard. It's not a "very low" yield. However, men generally do have a higher yield than women at MIT, Caltech, Mudd, and similar highly selective schools with a tech emphasis. Specific numbers from the latest CDS are below.

    MIT
    Men -- 5.2% Admitted, 81% yield
    Women -- 11.4% Admitted, 70% yield

    Caltech
    Men -- 4.9% Admitted, 48% yield
    Women -- 15.6% Admitted, 35% yield
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    edited February 17
    We see the same thing: girls are better students in Calc BC/MVC and sometimes even Linear Algebra. Often higher class grades, although the advantage seems to be much more based on process grades (doing the homework) rather than test scores.

    Nevertheless, when going into contests at the state level (say, MAO state finals) they tend to underperform the boys quite dramatically, even from the exact same classroom (so, there are no school effects at play). Obviously, there are huge disparities in things like the AMC contests and Putnam, and these widen systematically with difficulty and required creativity.

    I think boys and girls have different characteristics in their approaches to learning the material and then abstracting and applying the knowledge in novel ways.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    edited February 17
    when girls start hearing the “math is for boys” messages
    Consider that there may be systematic differences in the way boys and girls respond to environmental conditions. Girls might hear a negative message and be discouraged while boys may look at it as a challenge. In my limited exposure to gifted math students, both boys and girls, I have been struck by their different approaches. Girls look for affirmation from their peers - "support" - while boys "compete" with each other.

    Sometimes they all seem to be speaking different languages. Boys often appear not to understand the issue as to whether they are "supported" or not. Females - sensitive to the issue to social belonging - intuit that boys must be getting their "affirmation" from the fact that there are a lot of males around them. Males - not looking for affirmation - might rather intuit the plethora of males as a competitive obstacle rather than a support structure (and that's not necessarily a bad thing if boys are inherently more competitive).

    Obviously, we are only talking about the margins here. There is of course plenty of overlap between boys and girls on most behavioral characteristics.
  • 1NJParent1NJParent Registered User Posts: 872 Member
    edited February 17
    The world is diverse, not just by gender or race, but also by natural abilities, skills in different tasks, etc. Some of these attributes become clear almost right after birth. We should respect this ultimate diversity of nature while confronting and eliminating discrimination of all kinds, rather than trying to enforce uniformity and diversity in the form of equal representation in every area based on a few physical attributes. If we don't, we will just impede the advancements in our society, and indeed of the entire human race.
  • TanbikoTanbiko Registered User Posts: 316 Member
    "We are not culturally set up in this country to well support working parents. IMO we need to do a better job with maternity and paternity leave, along with childcare. This shouldn’t be a “women’s” issue, it’s society’s issue."

    I can assure you that in the societies where both men and women were expected to work with free kindergarten and medical care and paid medical leave for the mother whenever the child got sick and doctors doing house visits the ratio of boys to girls in the magnet math high schools was still 4-5:1.
  • damon30damon30 Registered User Posts: 786 Member
    The world is diverse, not just by gender or race, but also by natural abilities, skills in different tasks, etc.

    "Achievement gap" -> "diversity of achievement levels". Yeah, it sounds a lot nicer if you say it like that.
  • SatchelSFSatchelSF Registered User Posts: 1,385 Senior Member
    "We are not culturally set up in this country to well support working parents. IMO we need to do a better job with maternity and paternity leave, along with childcare. This shouldn’t be a “women’s” issue, it’s society’s issue."

    I just heard a lecture in which the speaker noted that the ratio of male to female engineers in Sweden is on the order of 20 to 1, and exactly reversed for nurses, 1 to 20. Can anyone confirm that?
  • roycroftmomroycroftmom Registered User Posts: 2,108 Senior Member
    Interestingly, there is an article by Margolis that you can find if you Google international female stem majors. It concludes that women in more gender equal countries with better social benefits are less likely to study stem, despite equal ability, because they feel able to pursue other alternatives. Many of the countries with the highest percentage of stem majors are less equal or developed, where there is a strong financial incentive to study stem. CMU also did a study of their international female CS students and why they succeeded when US women dropped out. Most had not heard that math was a make field until they came to the US.
Sign In or Register to comment.