Why More Women Should Take On Computer Science


Lillian Finnen, Reporter

It’s no secret that women have always been underrepresented in computer science fields. 

Urbana offers a few computer science courses: Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS), AP Computer Science Principles, AP Computer Science A, Advanced Computing Concepts, and IB Computer Science. 

As someone who has taken a couple of these classes, I can confirm that the ratio of men to women in the classroom is drastic.

Last semester, I was one of just five girls in Mr. Loomis’ full AP Computer Science Principles classroom.

I decided to ask Mr. Loomis why he thinks that less women enroll in computer science courses, and he responded with, “If you ask the experts, they would say that traditionally girls are more timid or afraid of the subjects… they feel like it’s not their place, but I think that’s completely the wrong mindset.”

However, both Mr. Loomis and Mr. Zimmerman (FOCS teacher) are of the opinion that women tend to excel more in writing programs for the class. 

Mr. Zimmerman explained how most of the coding tasks he keeps as examples from over the years have been the works of female students. He also stated that, “When I started teaching computer science, there were maybe 2 girls in a class, and now at least half the class, if not bigger [is girls].”

So if women are so skilled in this industry, why don’t more of them take on computer science related careers?

An article by Zippia states that “39% of surveyed women in tech said that they see gender bias as an obstacle.”

Zippia also states that “72% of women and over 50% of men in tech say women are outnumbered by men in meetings by at least a 2:1 ratio.”

Women have always been outnumbered by men in computer science fields, making it more difficult for them to get promotions.

Though these numbers are unmotivating, certain teachers at Urbana would take it upon themselves to encourage more women to get involved in computer science.

Graph from Berkeley shows the increase in girls taking AP Computing exams

Mr. Loomis suggests starting with some online tutorials to see which aspects of computer science interest you the most, whether it be programming, security, or even AI.

Dr. D (club advisor for Daughters of STEM) says that joining STEM related clubs and attending meetings would be helpful as well. 

Though historically more men take computer science classes, Mr. Loomis sees a trend that will continue to grow: “At Urbana we tend to have more girls than most other schools do, and I think as the years go on I’m starting to see more girls.”

It’s important to not be discouraged by gender inequalities, and instead persist through to take on leadership positions, which will ultimately result in personal success and eventually, more equality.