Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Reading More Papers!

These past two weeks have consisted of me reading many more papers for background research. I have also been thinking long and hard about a question that Anthony and I are to answer about gender and culture and the distinctions between. But that will be addressed in a later post. This post is about the papers I've been reading. (I hope I don't misinterpret any of Carol's papers!)

For those of you who do not know what Women@SCS is, it is a student organization at Carnegie Mellon for women (and men) in Computer Science. It is mentioned in many of Carol Frieze's and Lenore Blum's papers. From the Women@SCS website: "The Women@SCS mission is to create, encourage, and support academic, social, and professional opportunities for women in computer science and to promote the breadth of the field and its diverse community."

  • In a More Balanced Computer Science Environment, Similarity is the Difference and Computer Science is the Winner by Lenore Blum and Carol Frieze

    This paper cautioned against the findings of Margolis and Fisher because new research and interviews had been conducted at Carnegie Mellon which led to significantly different findings than those of Margolis and Fisher. New studies showed that women and men had similar perceptions about Computer Science and attitudes towards computers being used as tools and towards programming and applications. In addition, women were excelling because of a gender balance and the creation of Women@SCS and no longer felt so isolated.

  • Building an Effective Computer Science Student Organization: The Carnegie Mellon Women@SCS Action Plan by Carol Frieze and Lenore Blum

    This paper is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It details what the Women@SCS organization was set up to do. As a member of Women@SCS, I saw that much of what the Council was set up to do is still part of what goes on at Women@SCS.

  • Diversifying the Images of Computer Science: Undergraduate Women take on the Challenge! by Carol Frieze

    The Women@SCS Roadshow is discussed at length in this paper - why and how it was created and how effective it has been. Again, a fairly straightforward paper.

  • Culture and Environment as Determinants of Women’s Participation in Computing: Revealing the “Women-CS Fit” by Carol Frieze, Orit Hazzan, Lenore Blum, and M. Bernardine Dias

    This paper focuses on the cultural impacts on women's participation in Computer Science. The authors argue that many of the studies done in the U.S. which conclude that we need "female-friendly" curriculum are done in places where women are a significant minority. When women are better represented, women participate right along with men and the findings of past studies (studies done where women are a significant minority) do not hold. The second part of this paper focuses on Israeli Jewish and Arab high schools and the authors find that encouragement from friends, family, and teachers led to high participation of women in CS in the Arab sector as opposed to the lower participation rates in the Jewish sector associated with less encouragement from friends, family, and teachers.

  • Women in Computer Science: NO SHORTAGE HERE! by Mazliza Othman and Rodziah Latih

    This paper was based on a study of Malaysian male and female students at the University of Malaya. The study found that there were plenty of female mentors and role models for students and that while men had more prior experience with computers, women's performance did not suffer from this. Something of interest is that more women than men said that they liked math which is the opposite of some past findings in the U.S. and one of the hypotheses that we are investigating.

  • The Incredible Shrinking Pipeline by Tracy Camp

    This paper is cited in many other of the papers that I have encountered. It talks about the decreasing number of women in CS and how this number is decreasing at a steeper rate than the number of men in CS. Camp calls attention to the need to address this problem. Camp also addresses the differences in percentages of women in CS programs in Engineering colleges and non-Engineering colleges, which is definitely something that is of interest to our research. Like in Malaysia, perhaps having CS associated with math instead of Engineering will increase the number of women in CS.
I have read most of the papers in Frontiers: Volume 26, Number 1, 2005 at this point and found many of them interesting. I will be making a post similar to this one about the papers in that journal. I have also read Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Margolis and Fisher which I will devote an entire separate post to.

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