Good intentions and promising programs are not enough; how colleges are stepping up to the women in computer science challenge

computer-science-women If there is any hope of reversing the stunning decline of women’s participation in computer science, it is going to take an effort of moonshot magnitude radiating from Washington, D.C.

The handful of promising and well-meaning programs at Stanford University, the University of California-Berkeley and elsewhere are a good start, but really only one small step for womankind. We need a window-rattling, world-beating blastoff that represents a giant leap—and which ensures that every girl in America takes a high-quality computer science course before she graduates from high school.

We need a nation that looks at the fact that only 17.6 percent of computer science degrees go to women and meets that challenge as if half the country weren’t being taught to read or to write a meaningful sentence.

Computing has seeped into every corner of the economy. It is the new literacy. A basic understanding of how computers work and what they can do is becoming increasingly important in landing a 21st century job.

The gender imbalance in computer science, threatens the U.S. economy and represents an economic injustice to women who are missing out on some of the best-paying jobs in the nation.

While there are plenty of noble initiatives underway to encourage women in computing, good intentions and promising programs are not enough. The nation needs to require that every high school student take at least one computer science class in order to graduate.

(Next page: Campaigns; how colleges are helping)

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