Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing

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MIT Press, 2003 - Computers - 172 pages
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The information technology revolution is transforming almost every aspect of society, but girls and women are largely out of the loop. Although women surf the Web in equal numbers to men and make a majority of online purchases, few are involved in the design and creation of new technology. It is mostly men whose perspectives and priorities inform the development of computing innovations and who reap the lion's share of the financial rewards. As only a small fraction of high school and college computer science students are female, the field is likely to remain a "male clubhouse," absent major changes.

In Unlocking the Clubhouse, social scientist Jane Margolis and computer scientist and educator Allan Fisher examine the many influences contributing to the gender gap in computing. The book is based on interviews with more than 100 computer science students of both sexes from Carnegie Mellon University, a major center of computer science research, over a period of four years, as well as classroom observations and conversations with hundreds of college and high school faculty. The interviews capture the dynamic details of the female computing experience, from the family computer kept in a brother's bedroom to women's feelings of alienation in college computing classes. The authors investigate the familial, educational, and institutional origins of the computing gender gap. They also describe educational reforms that have made a dramatic difference at Carnegie Mellon -- where the percentage of women entering the School of Computer Science rose from 7% in 1995 to 42% in 2000 -- and at high schools around the country.

 

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Contents

Women out of the Loop
1
The Magnetic Attraction
15
Middle and High School A Room of His Own
33
Computing With a Purpose
49
Geek Mythology
61
Living among the Programming Gods The Nexus of Confidence and Interest
77
Persistence and Resistance Staying in Computer Science
93
A Tale of 240 Teachers
109
Changing the University
129
Changing the Conversation in Computer Science
143
Research Methodology
145
Sources and Further Reading
155
Index
165
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About the author (2003)

Allan Fisher, former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, is President and CEO of Carnegie Technology Education, a Carnegie Mellon education company.

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