Perhaps more college women are taking Marissa Mayer’s advice on the importance of being a geek to heart. This year the number of women majoring in computer science has nearly doubled at Harvard. Last year the major was labeled as the most “gender-skewed” major by the Harvard Crimson. What a difference a year makes.
With the rough economic client of the past few years, college-aged women are realizing the opportunity that awaits them in the computer science field, even though it has been traditionally male-dominated. Demand for technology positions tends to stay consistent, even during recessions, according to career consultant Laurence Shatkin in his 2009 book “150 Best Recession-Proof Jobs.”
And with more women coming in, geek could become very chic very soon. Though Mayer considers herself to just be another geek working at Google, it is hard to take someone with a great fashion sense and Grace Kelly looks seriously when she puts herself in the same category as Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and Screech of Saved by the Bell.
Female enrollment numbers in computer science are not only up over 10% at Harvard but have jumped at MIT and Carnegie Mellon University in the last few years as well. Now, hopefully these women do have a general passion for the subject and are not only going into the field because they think they are more likely to get a job in Silicon Valley then their friend the literature major who will be delivering poetry readings in between her shifts at a coffee house. However, the fact that the financial payoff in computer science can be very lucrative, is certainly a factor. “That’s where the money is,” says Yiwei Zhao, a Harvard junior with a minor in computer science., in an interview with CSMonitor.com.
Schools are also making a concerted effort to recruit more women for computer science. At the University of California, Berkeley, the director of diversity in the department of electrical engineering and computer science is launching a campaign to attract more women to the field. The University of Texas is trying to get women at the high school level to take an interest with a free one-week camp called First Bytes.
Watch out male computer geeks. The girls are coming and we probably have a much better fashion sense.