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  • Trends: Fewer Women in Computer Sciences

    May 18, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Trends & Predictions
    A woman programmer works at her computer.

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    Women currently account for more than half of all degrees conferred at every level, but are poorly represented in the engineering and computer sciences fields.

    At the bachelor’s degree level, women earn approximately 57 percent of all degrees, but account for just 18.4 percent of engineering degrees and 18 percent of computer sciences degrees.

    Women have held their ground in the engineering field; the percent of bachelor’s degrees in engineering earned by women has hovered in the mid to high teens since the 1990s.

    In the computer sciences fields, however, the trend is away from women. The high-water mark was in 1983-84, when women accounted for 37.1 percent of bachelor’s-level computer sciences degrees; the percent has been dropping since then. (See Figure 1.)

    Moreover, the gender gap extends to starting salaries, with women in engineering and computer science receiving average lower starting salary offers than their male counterparts. (See Figure 2.) The differential between men and women studying engineering hovers around 3 percent, but is 22 percent between men and women in computer sciences.

    Figure 1: Number of Bachelor’s Degrees Conferred in Computer Science (Selected Years)

    Year Total Male Female Percent Female
    1983-84 32,439 20,416 12,023 37.1%
    1993-94 24,527 17,528 6,999 28.5%
    2003-04 59,488 44,585 14,903 25.1%
    2013-14 55,367 45,393 9,974 18.0%
    Source: 2015 Digest of Education Statistics, National Center for Education Statistics

    Figure 2: Average Starting Salary Offer, by Gender

    Field of Study Average Offer - Men Average Offer - Women Percent Difference
    Computer Sciences $60,000 $49,167 22.0%
    Engineering $60,742 $59,000 2.9%
    Source: Class of 2016 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers. All data are for starting salary offers to bachelor’s degree graduates