Women aspiring to careers in technology now have another reason to smile.
Forty percent of the incoming class of undergraduates to Carnegie Mellon University’s prestigious school of computer science, are, for the first time, women. This marks a small but seismic shift because CMU said women have long been underrepresented for those pursuing computer science degrees in the U.S.
Randal E. Bryant, SCS dean and a professor of computer science at CMU, put it this way:
“Like many programs, we’re seeing unprecedented interest from students in computer science. We’re gratified to see that women increasingly are choosing computer science as a discipline and that they are choosing Carnegie Mellon.”
While CMU’s computer science program has long encouraged female applicants, and women successfully graduating with degrees in the field at the school have been higher than the national average, the milestone of 40 percent represents a new chapter for the Pittsburgh-based university and its 11,000 students.
In fact, CMU’s female enrollment numbers have been increasing for years. For example, in 2012 the number of female students in the CS programs was 29 percent, while that number climbed to 34 percent in 2013. Many female CS graduates enter the IT workforce right out of CMU.
Despite the endearing news, women in tech still have strides to make.
Indeed, CMU cited a recent study by the Computer Research Association that showed women receiving bachelor’s degrees nationwide in computer science in the 2012-2013 school year was a measly 14 percent. However, in that same time frame at CMU, that number was 22 percent.
Interestingly, CMU noted that the last time the number of female students studying CS came close to the new 40 percent number, was during the first dot-com boom. The number dropped, not surprisingly, after the ensuing bubble burst nationwide, CMU said.
Carol Frieze, the director of CMU’s group Women@SCS, put it this way:
“We don’t do anything ‘pink.’ We try to make sure that women don’t miss out on opportunities. We provide leadership, networking and professional programs to build a dynamic community on campus.”
Women rock. But the numbers can still be better.