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Join us in the MakerSpace for a screening of CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap

Thu., Mar. 2, 2017 7:00 p.m.

Location: University of Regina, RC040, MAP MakerSpace

CODE examines why more girls and people of color are not seeking educational opportunities in computer science and explains how cultural mindsets, stereotypes, educational hurdles, unconscious biases and sexism play a role in this national crisis.

“In 1843, Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century mathematician, wrote the first series of instructions designed for a machine to carry out, creating what was, in essence, the first computer program. A century later, in 1944, it was another woman, United States Navy Rear Admiral and computer scientist Grace Hopper, who became one of the first programmers of the gro...undbreaking Harvard Mark 1 computer. Hopper coined the now-ubiquitous term “debugging” to refer to fixing a coding error.

But despite these landmark accomplishments, both Lovelace and Hopper are often overlooked in our country’s popular knowledge of computer science’s origins. Gloria Steinem has said that, “Women have always been an equal part of the past—just not an equal part of history.” The computer science and technology industry is a powerful example of this observation.

In fact, it was not uncommon for women in the 1940s and 1950s to work in the nation’s earliest computer science and coding jobs. Recruiters indeed targeted women for these positions, as they were considered clerical and administrative. It was not until the 1980s that a culture shift in computing occurred. With the advent of the personal computer, a “computer hacker” and “nerd” stereotype emerged, and this caricature was almost always a white male. At the same time, the percentage of women in computer science began to decrease dramatically.

Even now, in an age when more women attend college than men, and when gender parity has been achieved in some previously segregated fields, a gaping gender divide still characterizes computer science education and industry. The gap begins in middle school and continues through college and graduate education and into the professional sphere.

According to a 2014 report by the National Center for Women and Information Technology, less than 20% of all computer science degrees are now earned by women—down from about 36% in the mid-’80s.1, 2 Not only is the gender gap not getting better; it’s getting worse.

And for African American and Hispanic women, the numbers are even lower. In 2013, only 3% of the computing workforce were African American women, and only 2% were Hispanic women.

In CODE, we see the ways in which the gender and racial gap in computer science holds the industry back, and how a few pioneering women in coding, and some major tech companies and universities, are working to address the issue.”