Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Building Strength in Computer Science: A new study from AAAS

28.06.2005


Employment in computer- and internet-related fields is notoriously volatile, but recent developments have raised concerns about the long-term future: The number of undergraduates seeking computer science degrees is down sharply since 2000. The number of women seeking such degrees has plunged. And few minority students are winning advanced degrees in the field.



Now a new study from AAAS has concluded that recruitment of "non-traditional" students into computer science studies and jobs will be critical in keeping the U.S. workforce strong. And yet, the report says, this growing pool of students often is overlooked and underserved by higher education, government and industry.

Traditional students fit a familiar mold: They start college at 18 or 19, and they leave four or five years later with a bachelor’s degree. Others, however, defy the stereotype: They’re older. They may have children. While working full-time, they’re seeking new skills or advancement. And many are women and minorities.


"Our workplaces are becoming more technologically dependent, not less so," said report co-author Shirley Malcom, AAAS director of Education and Human Resources. "If you accept that for economic and national security reasons we need people with skills in these areas, then how can you be sanguine with the idea that we’re not getting the people we need?"

With funding from the National Science Foundation, the authors conducted surveys, visited colleges and universities and interviewed students, instructors and employers from 2000 to 2004. Their report is entitled "Preparing Women and Minorities for the IT Workforce: The Role of Nontraditional Educational Pathways."

Tanya Gunn, today a high-ranking computer technology executive, embodies the trend.

Gunn studied psychology at Howard University for three years, but then, driven by a desire for financial independence, she left school and went to work as a secretary at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. She showed a flair for computers; though she won promotions, she knew that she needed more training and a degree to make the most of her potential.

By that time she was married and had two daughters. And so, in the early 1980s, she began taking night classes at the University of Maryland, University College.

She was older, she’s black, she’s a woman—and in those early years, she wasn’t always welcome in the world of computer geeks. "There weren’t that many women majoring in computer sciences," Gunn said in an interview. "I kind of struggled because a lot of the guys in the class, including the instructors, really were stand-offish. It was like I had the plague, and they didn’t know what I was doing there. ’She’s a girl—let’s don’t talk to her. This is a boys’ club’."

But semester by semester, she won respect; in time, fellow students and faculty members came to see her as a leader.

After 17 years of part-time study, Gunn graduated in 2001. Today, after a series of promotions, she is manager of change and problem management at the American Chemical Society, overseeing centralized communication and tracking of IT upgrades to promote better understanding of the changes across the organization.

The new report found such themes common among non-traditional students. Even now, the authors report, traditional four-year schools often are not structured to meet their needs. Instructors are not always sensitive. And the financial aid system gives advantages to traditional students.

One result: For-profit schools such as Strayer University and DeVry Institute of Technology were the top U.S. producers of computer science bachelor’s degrees in 2001.

Another result: Few women and minorities are getting advanced degrees in computer science. In remarks at a Capitol Hill briefing in May, Malcom said that of 866 computer science doctorates issued by U.S. universities in 2003, 20.2 percent went to women. She said 17 such degrees went to African Americans; three to Mexican Americans, two to American Indians; and two to Puerto Ricans.

Though the report was begun during the dot-com boom, its findings remain important for the future, the authors say.

Eleanor Babco, executive director of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST), said a recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles showed the percentage of incoming undergraduates who planned to major in computer science declined over 60 percent between 2000 and 2004.

"Alarmingly," she added, "the proportion of women who thought that they might major in computer science has fallen to levels unseen since the early 1970s…. It is difficult to see how computer sciences can match expected future demand for IT workers without raising women’s participation at the undergraduate level.

The report recommends more effort to accommodate non-traditional students at traditional schools; more faculty diversity; more public and private investment in schools that serve non-traditional students; and expanded financial aid to encourage internet technology students to study part-time in areas of "national need."

"Preparing Women and Minorities for the IT Workforce" was written by Malcom; Babco; Albert H. Teich, AAAS director of Science and Policy; Jolene Kay Jesse, formerly a senior research associate at AAAS who is now with the U.S. National Science Foundation; Lara Campbell, a senior program associate at AAAS; and Nathan E. Bell, a CPST research associate.

Earl Lane | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aaas.org
http://www.aaas.org/publications/books_reports/ITW/

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>