Women and Men Ph.D. Students Have Different Experiences in the Computing Community
CERP collected data from Ph.D. students during 2016 via the Data Buddies Project. Students were asked to report on their experiences in the computing community, and several gender differences emerged. Women were more likely to say they felt like an outsider in the computing community than men. Women were also more likely to report they felt their ideas or opinions were minimized or ignored by others in their department. Finally, women were less confident in their ability to discuss theory with senior members in their field. These data point to a very different subjective experience for women versus men in the computing community, illustrating room for improvement in the climate for women in Ph.D. computing programs. CERP provides several resources to help the community enhance women’s sense of belonging in computing:
- Jane Stout and Tracy Camp present actionable items to increase women’s sense of belonging in computing in a 2015 SIGCAS paper.
- Jane Stout presents more ideas in a recent webinar with BrightTALK and an interview with EdTech magazine.
Notes. In 2016, CERP collected data from 1,708 Ph.D. students enrolled in computing programs at a sample of U.S. universities via the Data Buddies Project. N = 1,469 students (592 women and 877 men) responded to the following questions: How much do you agree with the following statement: I feel like an outsider in the computing community (1) strongly disagree to (5) strong agree; Within you computing department and/or classes, how often do you feel that your ideas or opinions are minimized or ignored, (1) never to (5) all of the time; I am confident that I can discuss theory with senior members of my field, (1) strongly disagree to (5) strongly agree. In the graphic above, data are displayed for individuals who agreed or strongly agreed with each statement.
Independent samples t tests indicated women and men’s responses to these three questions were significantly different. Women felt significantly more like outsiders than men, t(1,476) = 5.09, p < .001, d = .27; like their ideas or opinions were minimized or ignored, t(1,476) = -5.42, p < .001, d = .19; and less confident in their ability to discuss theory with senior members in their field, t(1,476) = -5.00, p < .001, d = .27.