With the number of jobs in computer occupations on the rise, there is a greater need for computer science (CS) graduates than ever. At the same time, most CS departments across the country are only seeing 25-30% of women students in their classes, meaning that we are failing to draw interest from a large portion of the population. In this work, we explore the gender gap in CS at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, a large public R1 research university, using three data sets that span thousands of students across six academic years. Specifically, we combine these data sets to study the gender gaps in four core CS courses and explore the correlation of several factors with retention and the impact of these factors on changes to the gender gap as students proceed through the CS courses toward completing the CS major. For example, we find that a significant percentage of women students taking the introductory CS1 course for majors do not intend to major in CS, which may be a contributing factor to a large increase in the gender gap immediately after CS1. This finding implies that part of the retention task is attracting these women students to further explore the major. Results from our study include both novel findings and findings that are consistent with known challenges for increasing gender diversity in CS. In both cases, we provide extensive quantitative data in support of the findings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Computer Science(all)
- Gender diversity
- Student retention