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Women and Computing

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Women and Computing

Gender Pages Index

Welcome to the Gender Pages of CPSR!

For several years, the Palo Alto chapter of CPSR hosted a working group on women and computing. CPSR continues to host this electronic archive on women and computing.

It is critical that women get involved in all aspects of computing, if they are not to be left out of the information age. As of just a couple of years ago, the number of women entering computer science and related fields was very small.

According to a study by the Research Foundation for Improving the Representation of Women in the Technology Workforce, the declining number of women obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in computer science since 1996. They report:

" With the overall production of IT graduates stable or declining, we need to investigate the demographics related to the graduates. Again, using computer science as a representative discipline, the percentage of women has declined since 1986. For bachelor's degrees, the number peaked in 1986 when women represented approximately 36% of the total number of graduates.

In 1996, approximately 27% of the bachelors and masters degree were earned by women while only 15% of Ph.D. degrees were earned by women. When we consider that women represent approximately 51% of the total population, these percentages cause concern. It is crucial that we understand why the percentage of women in IT is so low and why the numbers have in fact been declining since 1986.” 

One area where the number of women has been increasing isonline. There had been a gender gap online in years past, though as of 2001, the population of the Internet mirrors that of U.S. society, in terms of gender:



“The gender breakdown of the US Internet audience is an exact mirror of the breakdown of the general population for the first time.

This is according to Nielsen NetRatings, who says that 51.7 percent of active US Internet users are women.

Male users still go online more often, spend more time online, and view more pages than female users do.

Last month, on average, men went online 20 times, spent 10 hours and 24 minutes online in total, and viewed 760 pages. The comparative figures for women were 18 sessions, 8 hours and 56 minutes online, and 580 pages.

Nielsen NetRatings vice-president of ecommerce, Sean Kaldor, attributes the difference in usage patterns to the popularity of adult Internet sites among male users.”   (USA Today, Jun 15, 2001).


The number of women online outside the U.S. continues to grow as well:

In the United Kingdom, the women outnumber men as  AOL users.

Women Internet users in Asia also continue to increase:

Women in South Korea make up 45 percent of the online population there.

Hong Kong follows at 44 percent, while Singapore and Taiwan are next with 42 percent and 41 percent, respectively. (South China Morning Post, Jul 04 2001).


Though more women are going online,

They tend to have less years of experience online.


Female Internet users in the US are also less likely to have years of online experience. Fifty-one percent of online women have used the Internet for less than three years, in comparison with 35 percent of men. Internet users with over seven years online experience are over a third more likely to be men. 

Despite this, women are three to six times more likely than men to become frequent Internet users within two years. In the first two years online, women are much more likely to go online 10 or more times a day. (Content Intelligence, 2001).

Many authors addressing the paucity of women in computer science and related fields have noted the need for a mentoring system to help support other women who want to enter into computer-related fields.

These Gender Pages at CPSR are meant to be a resource which can play a part in this mentoring process. I hope you will find the information here informative, useful and interesting. I do my best to include links to the most current information and scholarship on gender and computing available online. I have also begun a page for job leads in the areas of women's studies, computer science, or any other jobs which I come across which seem to relate to our theme of gender and computing which you also might find helpful.

In most cases, the resources listed on these pages are maintained by other individuals and organizations, and you should contact them for more information.

Web Whisper

Web Whisper will focus on current issues and events concerning gender and computing. If you have any information that you would like to see featured in Web Whisper, please mail them to me.

Here's the latest from the United Kingdom:

January 2002


  A £1 million fund has been  established in the UK to help bring more women into the  technology and telecommunications industry. Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt, announced the fund at a Women in IT conference in London this week. The fund will be available to any technology or telecoms company to help make working hours more flexible for women returning to work after having a family. "It is a high priority to get more women to take up IT careers. It is an issue for the wider economy. When [tech] firms are forced to recruit from half the talent pool it is not surprising that there are skills shortages," said Hewitt. The conference on Wednesday also looked at why younger girls avoid the subject in the first place. To this end, a scheme to run computer clubs for girls has been set up by the e-skills NTO (National Training Organisation) - a not-for-profit firm that works with business, government and educators to ensure the UK stays competitive. The club-in-a-box - which has been designed with the help of teenage girls - will be distributed to schools across the UK and has been devised to be girl-friendly by delivering key computer skills in a way teenage girls can relate to.

BBC    (

Keep those notices of events and papers coming folks, and I will continue to highlight the best and the brightest on this page!

This Web page was maintained by Dr. Julie M. Albright. Dr. Albright is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California in the Department of Sociology and works as a Research Associate at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC.   Her current research focuses on interpersonal relationships online and health communication online. If you have any links or information that you would like to see included on the Gender pages, please send an e-mail by

Last modified on January 18, 2002 by Dr. Julie M. Albright.


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