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Stanford CS Taking Steps to Reverse Female Brain Drain

Stanford is taking steps to retain "the extremely low number of female computer scientists on campus," the Stanford Daily reported. Thirteen percent of Stanford CS undergrads are female, the paper noted, down from 24 percent in the 1999/2000 school year.

Some said they believed computer technology has an image problem. Zoe Chu, a CS grad student and president of Stanford's Women in Computer Science group, told the paper that the "nerdy" stereotype of CS students "discourages young female students, who don't feel that they belong in the geeky, male-dominated field."

"We should let female students know that the CS program is not all about coding," Chu told the Daily. "Programming is the tool to help us solve problems. In fact, one of the most important characteristics for computer scientists is creativity. It is essential to break stereotypes and change the CS program in to an encouraging environment by changing perception of CS and adding more [female] perspectives."

In addition to launching WICs, the school is offering a course aimed at exposing students to role models in the computing field  and providing additional research opportunities through the Computer Science Undergraduate Research Internship. Stanford is also participating in the Academic Alliance of the National Center for Women in Information Technology to develop additional strategies.

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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