Problem Solving Might Attract Women to Computer Science

Women are one of the largest potential untapped resources in a field that is crumbling beneath the weight of a bad reputation. At a time where the country needs to either import talent or panic, America needs to ignite the rise of the Tech Girl.

In a 2014 poll conducted by Google, nearly 76% of girls said that they enjoyed problem solving, while only 61% claimed to enjoy math. Exploring the disparity here suggests that just answering a question and really solving a problem are not the same thing, a fact which many of us in education already know to be true.

Perhaps it has something to do with the reason that more women read crime/thriller/mystery novels than men do. Maybe it’s related to the reason that women do so much better in school. Whatever it is that makes women want to put on their sleuthing cap, they identify as problem solvers and that is an area where computer science can use all of the help that it can get.

How might this love of logic translate to computer science? Take the subcategory of programming as an example. Often, students equate programming with math. They believe that if they’re not good at math, they won’t be able to code. Truthfully, the foundation of a good programmer is rooted much more deeply in logic, which has a different profile altogether.

Logic is a way of linking ideas together to form a conclusion, based on known information. This process is often far less algorithmic than solving equations, which means that it’s thought of as being less constrained and more creative. Spreading the need for creative problem solving across the rest of the computer science spectrum into crafts like software development, user interface design, big data, and hardware engineering highlights even more areas that would benefit from the presence of more women.

Schools and organizations should remember this in their search for CS talent. It just might be that revising class descriptions and job-postings to tout the mysterious side of CS could be the key to finding females that put Sherlock to shame.


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