By Sashrika Pandey
In late June, headlines in the technology industry stated the conclusions of a recently published study: this century will not see women publishing the equivalent amount of computer science research as men, based on the most optimistic analysis of past trends. With an apparent increase in the representation of female scientists and coding organizations that aid underrepresented groups, it was disheartening to hear that there are still decades before parity is projected to be achieved. It appears as if this trend has been occurring for decades - women continue to face barriers to entry in technology fields, even with the advent of new products and job opportunities, but any hope for a clear solution is shrouded in years of stereotypes and deeply rooted obstacles in industry and academia alike. With both a gender gap and wage gap in STEM fields, how can incoming computer scientists counter a system that seems to be built against them?
On a social scale, it appears that young women exposed to computer science may shy away from the field based on the stereotypes around it. A study conducted through Microsoft found that 91% of girls and 80% of young women would describe themselves as creative, which conflicts with the traditional description of programming as a purely logical occupation. Placing all of the different aspects of STEM under a specific label inhibits people from making connections with the other parts of the field that may not all fall in that category. Many students may not explore STEM fields because of the traditional descriptions of tech, and without having introductory courses or direct experiences with the field, they may never be able to ignite their interest in STEM. According to BBC, a report from the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment found that girls were often uncomfortable with studying computer-related disciplines and felt a pressure to perform better if they did end up pursuing computing.