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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Should We Care?

To the extent that women do not choose CS because of troubling aspects of culture that could be changed, we must ask ourselves whether we ought to push for more women in CS, for instance, through educational policy. Since CS is a desirable professional field, women might benefit by enhanced opportunities to take part. Furthermore, insofar as CS is a key area for global competition, it may be beneficial for CS to become more gender-inclusive. Diversity may improve the products of computer and software teams.

Ultimately, however, the issue might go beyond any immediately measurable benefit. The inadequacies of the research at hand might actually suggest that we need to think within a different frame of mind: one that recognizes possible biological differences and a broad range of culturally determined qualities as key elements of a complex equation.

First, let us address the potential benefits to women of participating in CS. First, IT jobs pay considerably more than most female-dominated occupations [Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004]; [National Center for Education Statistics 2008]. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, starting salary offers for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science averaged $61,407 in July 2009 [Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010]. For computer systems software engineers, the median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers in May 2008 were: scientific research and development services, $102,090; ...

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