Advancing Gender Equity in Undergraduate Computer Science (CS) Education

By Shelby Slotter

This report examines the US's failure to address women's underrepresentation in undergraduate computer science (CS) education and concludes with recommendations for academia, industry, and government to promote gender parity.

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This paper aims to investigate the lack of progress made at the national level in the United States for addressing the long-studied, well-documented issue of women’s underrepresentation in undergraduate computer science (CS) education. While not a new problem, the negative implications of this issue continually expand with the emergence of novel technological advancements and challenges. Technological innovation relies on a contribution of diverse perspectives, experiences, and mindsets, making gender diversity an important component of technological progress. By analyzing the factors that limit women’s participation in undergraduate CS education and examining the success stories of Carnegie Mellon University and Harvey Mudd College, five core strategies for increasing women’s participation in CS education emerge. Further, this research reveals the barriers to adoption of these strategies faced by academic institutions that have constrained their efforts to reduce the gender gap more broadly. Finally, this paper provides actionable recommendations for three primary stakeholder groups—academia, industry, and government—to support the advancement of gender equity in undergraduate CS education.