Why is computer science so unpopular amongst females?

No, having physics in the liberal arts college or the College of Arts and Sciences is pretty standard here in the States. Same for chemistry, biology, astronomy, and geology. It’s just a different organizational system, that’s all.

I second Dog80. Putting physics, math or chemistry into the college of liberal arts is an abomination!

That said, I don’t think there’s much of a difference between the physics taught in the college of arts and the physics that would be taught in a college of science. Therefore, I do not believe that there are more physicists than CS majors because “women always major in liberal arts,” and it makes no difference whether it happens to be English or physics.

mic84 and Finagle made some very good points. I know lots of women, myself included, who are analytically-minded. They might be excellent programmers, but what turns them off is the complete lack of socialising. Here, we have more women in EE than CS.

Out of curiousity, what would you want someone to major in if they were going to be making something you’ll be putting on your eyes, lips or face?

Oh, I guess ChemE’s a good major. I just thought it was silly since both of them aspired to have infomercials like the Pro-Activ gals. But it’s not any worse a reason than the guy I knew who majored in ChemE 'cause he liked explosives…

I go to Johns Hopkins University. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Our “School of Arts and Sciences” includes departments such as biology, biophysics, chemistry, mathematics, neuroscience, and psychology. Our “School of Engineering” includes statistics, computer science, and majors with engineering in the name.

It’s just a different method of interdepartmental organization.

elfbabe, I said nothing at all about a “School of Arts and Sciences,” nor did I say anything about Johns Hopkins.

Nor, in the interest of completeness, was I serious about the fact that it was an abomination.

For those claiming that there are in fact a lot of women in CS, here are some statistics

Theoretical computer science is all math, so I’d expect to see more women there, but it doesn’t seem to work out that way. If anything, I’ve heard of fewer female theoreticians than practitioners.
On the more practical side, computer science is about computing machines, how they work and what work can be accomplished with them. If you think that men are more tool-focused than women, this could provide an explanation.
From the social angle, we computer science students are pretty repulsive, but I can’t imagine this would be a terribly significant factor. It’s not like the people in math and physics are charming socialites. :wink:

This is more of an IMHO answer, for sure. But it’s a sort of new approach to this question. First, I’m going to start from the premise that men are more visually oriented than women. We usually hear this in terms of liking visual stimulation in relation to sex. I personally dunno, but definitely a lot of people believe this.

Computers (and television, which I’ll tie in in a minute) also provide visual stimulation. This next part here is based in fact (from The Overspent American, if you’re looking for a cite). The television screen is almost impossible for most people to ignore. Once you’re looking for this, it’s almost funny to what extent this happens. You can have a group of people who have every reason to want to socialize and interact with each other, but turn on the TV and even if they haven’t seen each other in 5 years, soon they’ll all be watching the game or the Emmy’s or whatnot. You can be visiting a dying relative in the hospital, but turn on the TV and all of a sudden your attention is on the set. [/citable stuff]

My next premise is that this visual attraction to the screen is perhaps stronger in men than in women. Speaking from experience, I am a woman and now that I have my own computer, I spend plenty of time with it. Sometimes with 2 computers, if I have the laptop from work going. But if there is only one computer, and me and a man are in the room, 99% of the time it will be him on the computer. I hear the voices of moms everywhere “Let your sister play.” Maybe the men are just fixated on that screen, and this results in them getting more hands on experience.

I don’t feel that men/ boys were being deliberately sexist in these situations. They just seemed to take their interaction with that machine (from Atari on into the present) much more seriously. Like if the man were in the room he would say “I was in the room with the computer and Harriet was there” and I would say “I was in the room with Mr. Spry and the computer was there.” I would be interacting with the other person/ group of people and the computer was there, but not the main thing.

Hmm, every after-school special I’ve seen that was about high-school computer students always had at least one girl in there.

Plus, she was a major babe when she took her glasses off and shook her hair loose, which she inevitably did about half-way through.

Mrs. RickJay was one of five females out of 45 students who started her CS program and the only female to graduate.

Just guessing, but the fact that all the other students played porno on thier laptops every single day in class, liberally commented on the appearance and sexual proclivities of the females, and were supported by professors who commented that women were no good at computers and math MIGHT have had something to do with the program not drawing a lot of female interest.

Never underestimate the ability of men to be pigs. That has a LOT to do with it.

  1. Theoretical Computer Science is not Math. I have taught Theory dozens of time, done research in it and published over 40 Theoretical research papers. There’s barely any Math of note in any of them. Hawking uses deeper Math in a single paper than I could ever imagine using. Using Math is not doing Math. Calling Theoretical CS Math is insulting. It’s like calling a Biologist an Organic Chemist since there’s carbon containing molecules in cells.

And the really ridiculous part: thru the 80s more women in CS were attracted to Theory than most other areas. So that’s another hole in that notion.

  1. I personally know that almost all Math departments in my area have more women undergrads than men. It is a recent, and rapid, change so not all stats you run into might be up-to-date. In general, most Sciences now have women majorities.

Sexism is quite blatant, even in CS. I had the opportunity to know well enough some CS women students who felt comfortable enought to tell me about some of the weirdo profs in our departments. One place had 2 walking sexual harrassment lawsuits running around who used their influence to suppress complaints against them. And they’re still there.

While most CS guys tend to be nerdy and not a problem for women, there’s just enough around of the other type to cause major headaches.

Quoth ftg:

Let me guess… Grace Hopper?

Of course, the logical implication is that there was a time when 100% of CS PhDs were female.

Also, I might add that the OP only gave us half of a statistic. He said there were only four females in his CS class, but he didn’t say how many males. An eight-student class isn’t completely implausible (especially in a summer class), but I’m guessing that’s not what he has, there. So just how big is the discrepancy, +MDI?

Come on now, I’m not that old! Sheesh. GMH got her PhD in Math from Yale in 1934, long before anyone dreamed of a distinct field called “Computer Science.” Keep in mind that generation lengths in advisor trees can be quite short, even negative. One famous CS prof finished his PhD after his first student got his.

But I do love logical implications. (What a surprise.)

Then again, she didn’t die until 1992, and if computer scientists are anything like physicists, she probably still had students in 1991. Old nerds never really retire, we just call ourselves “emeritus” and keep on working.

But I guess that she was too early for the field to be defined as such, and apologies if I implied that you’re old. I just figured that your grandadviser was probably well-known, and she would have been working back somewhere in the dim recesses of history (i.e., before I was born). And from “well-known female in computer science before I was born”, it’s a short jump for my brain to reach “Grace Hopper”.

Speaking as a woman with a BS in computer science and a thesis short of a MS in CS…

If you look at recent high school stats in the USA, high school girls are kicking boy’s asses in every conceivable way. So it has nothing to do with math ability… plus math in computer science is laughable. Discrete math & boolean algebra is easy compared to, say, differential equations. And I’ve not heard anyone say “programming is hard” in a while.

I think that the reason that we tend to not to see as many women in science/tech fields is because women are far more likely to choose a major because it’s “interesting”, and men are far more likely to choose a major for practical reasons (or because they perceive liberal arts as being full of BS or “gay”).

Flame suit on.