C. Kröhn, I. Groher, B. Sabitzer, L. Kuka: Female Computer Scientists Needed: Approaches For Closing The Gender Gap, IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE 2020), Uppsala, Sweden, virtual event, October 21-24, 2020. doi:10.1109/FIE44824.2020.9273933 

Despite great effort in research and teaching as well as women’s quota in the public sector and enterprises, a gender gap in computer science can still be observed. The reasons are manifold and reach from missing interest of girls over still existing stereotypes of male nerds or misconceptions of the field of computer science to concrete differences in students’ self-concept and performance. Girls do not choose schools or studies in the field of computer science because working on computers or coding is not attractive for them. Research still shows a poorer performance, missing interest and lower self-concept of girls in secondary computing education as well as a high drop-out rate of female students in computer science courses at bachelor level. Software development exams contribute to those high drop-out rates and often women choose a different subject or even stop their university education. This leads to less female employees in the field of computer science, who still have to fight against stereotypes. The situation calls for special measures on several levels. The current paper gives an overview of special initiatives of our university that try to cover several aspects of the gender-gap. The programs we offer aim at (1) increasing interest for computer science and recruiting (highly) gifted girls for our talents programs, (2) recruiting and supporting female bachelor and master students in computer science as well as (3) redesigning programming courses and teaching materials in order to reduce the gender gap in performance and support especially female students. It further describes the program “cyber tutoring”, where highly gifted girls between 13 and 16 years collaborate with and are supervised by female role models in higher positions in STEM. The evaluation results gained in the first year of this case study, which we present in this paper, are promising and suggest an extension and further development of the program.

Female Computer Scientists Needed: Approaches For Closing The Gender Gap