For the first time in its history, Berkeley saw an introductory computer science course with predominantly female students – 106 women vs. 104 men. This slight turnaround signals a promising trend in the male-dominated STEM world.
To be sure, Berkeley is an exception: according to the National Science Foundation, just 18.4% of computer science degrees were given to women (as of 2010), a trend that has been steadily decreasing since 1991, when it was a more impressive 29.6%.
In an email, Professor Dan Garcia, who taught the Berkeley course last spring, tells us that he attributes the gender flip to a drastic transformation in the curriculum, including team-based project learning, opened-sourced materials, and opportunities to become research assistants. “The course & curriculum really does capture the “Beauty and Joy” of computing; learning can be a lot of fun,” he writes.
There is still a long way to go. Worldwide trends…
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