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Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing

Margolis, Jane; Fisher, Allan

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ISBN 10: 0262133989 / ISBN 13: 9780262133982
Verlag: The MIT Press, 2001
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Winner of the 2002 Frandson Award for Literature in the Field of Continuing Higher Education

The information technology revolution is transforming almost every aspect of society, but girls and women are largely out of the loop. Although women surf the Web in equal numbers to men and make a majority of online purchases, few are involved in the design and creation of new technology. It is mostly men whose perspectives and priorities inform the development of computing innovations and who reap the lion's share of the financial rewards. As only a small fraction of high school and college computer science students are female, the field is likely to remain a "male clubhouse," absent major changes.

In Unlocking the Clubhouse, social scientist Jane Margolis and computer scientist and educator Allan Fisher examine the many influences contributing to the gender gap in computing. The book is based on interviews with more than 100 computer science students of both sexes from Carnegie Mellon University, a major center of computer science research, over a period of four years, as well as classroom observations and conversations with hundreds of college and high school faculty. The interviews capture the dynamic details of the female computing experience, from the family computer kept in a brother's bedroom to women's feelings of alienation in college computing classes. The authors investigate the familial, educational, and institutional origins of the computing gender gap. They also describe educational reforms that have made a dramatic difference at Carnegie Mellon?where the percentage of women entering the School of Computer Science rose from 7% in 1995 to 42% in 2000?and at high schools around the country.

Rezension: When there were no opportunities for women in the sciences, it was assumed they had no aptitude for the work. Even today, our tendency is to explain the gender gap by pointing out cognitive differences between men and women, overlooking the powerful societal pressures that guide young people into--and away from--certain careers. Convinced that "women must know more than how to use technology; they must know how to design and create it," Jane Margolis, a social scientist, and Allan Fisher, a computer scientist and college dean, devised a four-year study (involving some 230 interviews) at Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. They found that the seven percent of female undergraduates at the college started out with as much excitement and talent as their male counterparts, but often wilted early on, perceiving that male students had come to college far better prepared than they had. "The study of computer science education can be seen as a microcosm of how a realm of power can be claimed by one group of people," the authors argue, "relegating others to outsiders." Happily, thanks to their efforts, female enrollment is up at Carnegie Mellon, and more women are remaining in the field. The racial divide in computer science is as pronounced as the gender gap, however, and would benefit from studies like the one described in Unlocking the Clubhouse. Surely the door can be pried open for blacks and Hispanics as well. --Regina Marler

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing

Verlag: The MIT Press

Erscheinungsdatum: 2001

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand: New


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