Stanford Computer Science in 2 Charts

I visited Stanford the other day to talk about some of the things happening in the undergraduate department, mostly to do with CS198, which I’ve written about before (and will again!).

Mehran Sahami (my friend & a professor there, plus generally a Person To Know) gave some background on what’s going on lately, and put up this chart:

That’s the chart of the # of undergrads majoring in computer science over the years. (He almost was kind/snarky enough to include my own year — I graduated in 1993. My only solace is that Mehran definitely graduated before I did.)

But this is amazing. Nearly 350 CS majors last year, compared to just under 1,700 that matriculated starting 2014.

Some things to note:

  • Obviously we are in a boom, but I personally don’t think we will see a pullback like what happened after the 2001 dot com crash even if the tech economy cools off a little bit — we are in a permanent software revolution at this point.
  • We are heading towards 100 female CS majors (and already are at more women majors than total majors when I was there). That’s huge progress, and due to tons of effort by many in & around the program. 25% is good, but not enough, certainly.

Which brings me to the next chart:

CS106A is, more or less, the first introduction to computer science class at Stanford. (Often called CS1 at other schools.)

The first thing to note: 1,550 students in 2013/14! Out of right around 1,700 undergrads. Realistically it’s a bit bigger denominator than the 1,700 because some graduate students take the course, but it’s still amazing to me that such a high percentage of students take CS now.

But more interesting to me is that in the past 4 years the enrollment of women has moved from about 1/3 to over 40%.

That’s real progress. And gives hope that over time Stanford will be able to increase the % of women majoring in CS getting up near more representative of the student population overall.

It looks to me like they’ve achieved a critical mass of women in 106A, and I’m hopeful that will lead to a continued critical mass declaring as majors. Time will tell, but I’m optimistic.