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fewer computer science majors

Slashdot ran a thread sometime back about how enrollment in computer science (CS) departments is dropping. Someone in the thread made a comment about the lack of women in CS. In response, someone posted a link to a Linux HOWTO on ways to increase interest in Linux among women. The HOWTO doesn't have links to many of the other (IMO) good resources for women and computing, such as Systers and Ellen Spertus' collection. Jane Margolis of UCLA also did quite a bit of study on this subject.

The trend of dropping CS enrollments has been noted at several schools. You may have heard that Bill Gates has recently tried to recruit more CS majors, claiming that there are lots of interesting problems to solve (and by implication, MS is the best place to solve them). IMO, if Bill Gates is dissatisfied with declining CS enrollment, he is partially to blame, because by laying people off and offshoring work, he is sending a message to prospective CS majors that CS is not necessarily the best career choice. I certainly couldn't blame anyone from deciding to major in CS, given the lousy tech job market. In fact, I have seen many postings by students who are considering other options.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC)
Lousy tech market is one of the reasons I am not a CS major.

Are there things in CS that still interest me? Certainly. I still, on occassion, wish that I could program. Or that I could do something with databases.

But the job market, the common attitude amongst tech companies that their tech people are a dime a dozen, the constant frustrations of ending up with companies that are entirely reactive and rarely proactive... all of that figures into a job situation where I predict a high degree of mind numbing unhappiness. (And a not insignificant chance that I could go through all the hoops to get a CS degree and still end up as... customer support.) Bleah.

Aug. 25th, 2004 01:25 pm (UTC)
of course, there are many fields that don't seem to have problems attracting majors despite far worse job markets than the tech sector currently has -- say, everything across campus in the humanities -- and perhaps one question to ask is how can CS departments make themselves more appealing despite a job market rather than something people do purely with vocations in mind...

(it also makes me wonder...what job markets are good right now? i mean, computers aren't as good as they were 5-10 years ago, but they still must be one of the better sectors...aren't they?)
Aug. 26th, 2004 04:11 am (UTC)
"how can CS departments make themselves more appealing despite a job market rather than something people do purely with vocations in mind..."

Hmmm ... I'll have to think about that. CS is (arguably) a competitive major, involving difficult and time-consuming work, so it's not very appealing to people who are neither fascinated by the subject nor motivated by good career prospects. Also, a fair amount of it can be self-taught or learned outside of a college or university.

I've heard that there are nursing and teaching shortages in some parts of the US. However, I have read quite a few horror stories on teachers.net from people who paid a lot of money to get teaching degrees and can't find jobs, or who have jobs but work for horribly managed schools.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )