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Making Software by Greg Wilson, Andy Oram

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Conclusion

In this chapter we have provided recent evidence to help the reader navigate and explore the question of why so few women pursue CS careers, why we should care, and what, if anything, should be done about it. We have looked at areas of biological differences between males and females that are coupled with cognitive-ability differences, especially in gifted individuals; differences in career and lifestyle preferences; and the culture of the computer science milieu. Despite clear gaps in understanding about the relationship between gender and participation in CS/IT, it is worth debating the costs of acting versus not acting to encourage more women to participate in CS, within the context of the empirical literature on women in science.

In short, some in industry and business argue that the paucity of women in CS/IT-related fields is a detriment to the economic advancement of women and the economic development of our nation—and some have argued the opposite. Although some transnational comparisons of women’s underrepresentation in CS [Charles and Bradley 2006] call into question the value of interventions, on the whole it does seem wiser for policy-makers to work toward broadening both genders’ exposure to computers at an early age, when students are not so entrenched in gender identity roles. Given potential benefits to women and society, it seems advisable to consider steps that may encourage women to enter the fields of Information Technology, Computer Science, and Computer ...

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