Many computer science departments say women now make up less than 10 percent of the newest undergraduates, reports the New York Times, and why this is so remains a matter of dispute. Ellen Spertus, a graduate student at MIT, wondered why the computer camp she had attended as a girl had a boy-girl ratio of six to one. And why were only 20 percent of computer science undergraduates at MIT female? In 1991, she published a 124-page paper, "Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists?," that catalogued different cultural biases that discouraged girls and women from pursuing a career in the field. Computer science has changed considerably since then: Now, there are even fewer women entering the field. What’s particularly puzzling is that the explanations for under-representation of women that were assembled back in 1991 applied to all technical fields. Yet women have achieved broad parity with men in almost every other technical pursuit. When all science and engineering fields are considered, the percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients who are women has improved to 51 percent in 2004-5 from 39 percent in 1984-85, according to National Science Foundation surveys. Jonathan Kane, a professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, recalls the mid-1980s, when women made up 40 percent of the students who majored in management computer systems. But soon after, that number fell. "I asked at a department meeting," he says, "‘Where have the women gone?’ It wasn’t clear." His theory is that young women earlier had felt comfortable pursing the major because the male subculture of action gaming had yet to appear…

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