Girls and Computer Careers

A new study from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) found that only 10% of girls thought majoring in computer science was a good idea versus 45% of boys. The study also found boys were more comfortable than girls doing things like learning a new software program, setting up a wireless network or even editing music or video on a computer.

The fact that fewer girls are pursuing careers in math, science, and technology isn’t news, but I still found these statistics surprising. So what is it about girls and computers that makes girls less likely to focus on technology in their learning? Is it lack of interest? Fear over being pegged a “nerd?”


The study found that girls don’t think computers are as “cool” as boys. They think of words like “boring,” “hard,” and “nerd” as being associated with computers, versus words like “design,” “games,” and “video” for boys.

“As long as teenagers believe that computer science is boring, difficult, anti-social, or doesn’t have much impact on solving the world’s problems, they’re unlikely to choose it for their future,” the study says.

The problem here is that more and more careers are going to be technology focused as we move into the future, and these shocking statistics are going to translate into a serious and growing gap in the opportunities women and men have in their careers down the road.

And I have to question whether or not girls really do think computers are boring and hard, or they’re just concerned about the way they are perceived by others, especially boys.

When I interviewed Kelly McCarthy, a female video game designer, for my book In Their Shoes, she explained that she was nervous about majoring in computer science mainly because there were so few women doing it at the time.

What are your thoughts? Do you like learning about technology or avoid it like the plague? Do you label other students who are into technology as computer nerds? And finally, what do you think is the way to get more girls interested in math, science, and technology careers?

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