Women in Computer Science
Women were prominent amongst the computing pioneers: Grace Hopper wrote one of the first compilers and her language designs were developed into the COBOL business processing language; Lois Habt was one of the ten-person team that developed FORTRAN; Jean Sammet also worked on early languages and became president of the Association for Computing Machinery.
Although today women are in senior positions in academia or industry, the gender gap in Computer Science is still a worldwide concern, especially in the more advanced economies.
Why Women in Computer Science?
Computer Science is an excellent subject for both women and men to study. Here’s why.
Our Computer Science degrees give you practical and solidly useful professional expertise that you can carry into nearly any career, whether technical or non-technical. About half our graduates go on to technical careers, and about half do something completely different.
Anywhere you work, any organisation you join – whether it is a company, the Government, an NGO, or social enterprise – runs on computers. Its information and records are be held in databases; the face it shows to the world will be an interactive web-based system. Without their computer systems, most organisations would disappear. As a graduate computer scientist, you will understand these systems in a deeper way that other people do. This depth of understanding of how information systems actually work is useful in many roles.
Many graduates become programmers: this can give the satisfaction of making something that other people will use, and which (in some small way) changes the world.
There are many other technical careers besides programming.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of the most highly paid technical roles are mostly about talking to people.
For example, to design the information systems of a company, you have to understand what they actually need. To understand what they need, you have to understand what the company actually does, and to understand the company, you have to talk to people at all levels, and find out what they really do, and what they need the system for. To do this, you need both technical expertise and communication skills. Jobs like this have many names such as 'Enterprise Architect', or 'Management Consultant'.
Conversely, a company that wants an information system needs someone who knows what to buy. There are vital jobs that involve making sure that technical suppliers and programmers do the right thing and produce something useful. These jobs have names such as 'Project Manager', 'Information Strategy Manager', 'Procurement Manager', and so on.
Paradoxically, the less technical your career path, the more valuable your Computer Science expertise can sometimes be. For example if you work for an arts organisation, you might find that nobody else understands how to connect a live website to the databases...