Schools find ways to get more women into computer science courses

Technology giants like Apple and Google are frequently dominated by men, in part because relatively few women pursue computer science degrees; just 18 percent of American comp sci grads are female. However, at least a few schools have found ways to get more women into these programs. Carnegie Mellon University saw female enrollment jump to 40 percent after it both scrapped a programming experience requirement and created a tutoring system, giving women a support network they didn't have as a minority. Harvey Mudd College and the University of Washington, meanwhile, saw greater uptake (40 and 30 percent) after they reworked courses to portray coding as a solution to real-world problems, rather than something to study out of personal interest. Harvey Mudd's recruiters also made an effort to be more inclusive in advertising and campus tours.

Whether or not course changes are necessary is up for debate. Carnegie Mellon notes that it didn't have to change the curriculum at all, and points to studies which suggest that it's the perception of computer science that discourages women; they're as capable as men in the same courses. Given the results at other institutions, it's at least clear that there's more than one solution to these classroom imbalances. The higher ratio of female students won't necessarily lead to increased diversity in tech, but it shows that the industry's gender ratios aren't set in stone.

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