This article is published in the May 2015 issue.

Ph.D. Student’s Choice of Specialty Area Differs Among Women and Men


In 2014, CERP asked 1,035 Ph.D. students (378 women; 657 men) to report their specialty area for their graduate research. Students were able to select more than one specialty area. Although there was considerable overlap in women and men’s specialty areas, there were also notable differences. In particular, women were more likely to specialize in human-oriented research areas such as Human-Computer Interaction, Biomedical Informatics and Social Computing/Informatics. This pattern is consistent with social science research indicating that, on average, women tend to be more interested in professions with clear social applications compared to men. CERP’s data suggest that one way to increase women’s participation in computing research is to promote women’s understanding of the social applicability of computing research early on. To accomplish this, academics and industry members could give research talks to K-12 and college students with emphasis on the real world implications of their research.

New-CERP-LogoThese data are brought to you by the CRA’s Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP). CERP provides social science research and comparative evaluation for the computing community. To learn more about CERP, visit our website at