What exactly am I trying to save?

The world, of course!  Or at least, that part of it that doesn’t have enough women & minorities in computer science.

I found some really excellent data about women in STEM and software engineering, from an NCWIT report that was published years ago.  The updated 2016 version of that report can be found here:

Not only do far fewer women study computer science than men; the percentage of women in computing has been declining for decades.


This is not just a symptom of women avoiding STEM.  During the same time period, the percentage of women in other STEM fields has been increasing (though there is still work to go there, too!).


Among those few graduates who do get STEM degrees, there is a high attrition rate, especially in technology fields.  (YES!  That does say that 56% of women eventually leave their field!)

NCWIT_WomenQuitRateThis isn’t a statement about women, it’s a statement about women in STEM.  If you compare this against non-STEM jobs, the quit rate is drastically different.  (Note: I’m not going to post another figure about it, but if you read the NCWIT report, you’ll find that about 50% of these women who leave their private-sector careers keep using their training in other sectors: nonprofits, government, startups; 30% leave their field for other kinds of work; and only 20% completely leave the workforce.)


It’s a bit harder to find statistics about underrepresented minorities in computer science, but I did find some, and they are similarly dismal.

Despite the fact that 50% of the students in California are Hispanic, only 7% of AP Computer Science students are Hispanic.


Over time the percentages of minorities in computer science have been very low and remained flat.


I tried looking for some statistics about LGBT status in the software workforce, but didn’t find any.

I would like to give some credit to the top software companies for taking steps to be more open about their numbers; you can find them here (scan for the “EEO-1” report links to get a standardized format):

Even forgetting about women and minorities for a moment, the United States is not producing enough software engineers to meet demand.

The number of students studying computer science in high school has been flat for years.


Meanwhile computing jobs are the fastest growing among STEM majors.


So in other words, anything we can do to get more students into computer science will benefit those people, our economy, and the software industry immensely.  Anything we can do to bring more women and minorities into the industry will help boost those numbers.

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