High school women speak at an open forum during the National Center for Women and Information Technology conference Feb. 7, 2015, about their concerns of studying computer science in the future.

Technology is a field with so much growth and projections for future employment. However jobs are going unfilled and lack many women applicants. 

It is estimated by the year 2020, 1.2 million jobs will be unfilled in the computer industry. Microsoft gathered this information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This information is based off the statistics that only 40,000 Americans graduate each year with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Microsoft points to its own company hiring more than 3,000 people in research, development and engineering in the year 2012, and the numbers will keep growing, says Daniel Costa from the Economic Policy Institute on STEM labor shortages.

When it comes to earning a bachelor’s degree, women are more likely than men to graduate with one. But when it is broken down into degree type, not even 20 percent will get a degree in computer science, says Heather R. Huhman from Forbes magazine for ForbesWoman. Less than a third of the women graduating are studying in a field that would greatly benefit from their different perspective.

Women in the tech industry face challenges, explains college and business women at the National Center for Women and Information Technology conference Feb. 7, 2015. 

“Computing is working more than 40 hours a week, it is something you have to love,” says Dawn Fosman a Software Architect from Cerner.

A stigma that hovers around like a gloomy cloud is one reason why women are not jumping to be computer scientists.  

Dr. Carol Spradling, a computer science professor at Northwest, says this stereotype has negatively impacted the field.

 “They developed in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s about how tech people were nerds, and the field was competitive,”  Spradling says.

She says how times are changing, but stereotypes still linger.

One problem is females are not encouraged to go into sciences when they are young. When watching TV, not many famous characters are female hackers or computer geniuses. They are detectives or reality stars. This is what young girls are looking up to,  Huhman said. 

Niki Justice, a senior IDM: Computer Science major, was one of four females in her freshman class. She explained the challenges of being “the only girl” in classes. Justice goes to conferences to encourage women to join fields like computer science.  

“Get to know your classmates, boys or girls; they will become your closest friends after your college years together and they will also be your biggest supporters,” she says.

When looking at applicants for tech jobs, Jodi Kennedy, a director of Talent Sourcing at Gallup, says there is a massive difference between male and female applicants. 

“I believe the reason more men go into technology stems from elementary school and middle school,” Kennedy says.  “This is when girls decide if they like math or science and if they do, then they may continue this passion into high school. 

“When they get to college, though, it’s a whole different world. When they see they are one of very few girls in their classes, many will change their major. There could be many reason, but I think the social aspect is one of them.  Women are much more social and looking for that college experience.”

The women at NCWIT hinted at this same opinion; they were the only girls in their class, and it was something they had to overcome.

“Paving the way, I had to fight for where I wanted to go,” said Wendy Bohnenkamp a Software Development Architect from Perceptive Software.

Lynn Miskell  a Software Development Manager of NetApp spoke of the importance of not comparing oneself to other women or men. 

“You have something to offer, and it has not been done yet unless you have done it,” Miskell said.

It may seem sexist, but all the women interviewed talked about confidence being a woman’s issue. They spoke about how you must not compare yourself to others.

“You must convince yourself, if you do it enough eventually you will believe it,” Spradling says.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.