Why should one concern themselves with whether or not women become computer scientists? Why should women receive any special emphasis?
I’ve heard that question or variations of it before. I’ve gotten to the point in my life where the answer seems obvious. We clearly need all kinds of people (gender, race, ethnicity, age, you name it) in any organization that hope to succeed and make progress in the modern diverse world we live in. A field like computer science where women and various minorities are under represented is at a disadvantage today.
Diversity is an important ideal at Microsoft just as it is with many other companies and organizations these days. Gone are the days when any organization, let alone industry, can make it with a homogenous (all white male) set of customers and employees. And today companies have come to realize it and incorporate diversity as not a goal but as a value to live by.
I took the following quote from the Diversity Vision and Strategy page at Microsoft.com. I think it is a good summary.
Why Diversity Matters at Microsoft
At Microsoft we think of the business case for diversity as having three components: talent, customers, and innovation.
- Talent. Microsoft seeks to attract and retain the best and brightest employees. This enables us to gain a competitive advantage in the new emerging markets.
- Customers. If we truly want to have a compelling value proposition for our customers, we must understand the rich diversity of our customer base.
- Innovation. We work to build innovative products for an increasingly diverse customer base by using the diverse talents, ideas, and perspectives of our employees.
Read more about Microsoft and diversity at the Diversity home page here. But if you want to learn more about women in technology in general and women at Microsoft in particular I recommend Jennifer Marsman’s blog. Jennifer runs an interesting series of "Featured Women in Technology." She has already featured a number of very interesting women doing very interesting things.
[Edit: Since I posted this a number of other related links have come to my attention so I added on below]
An article on the decline in numbers of women in CS as the numbers in STEM overall are up.
While the number of women in other fields of science and technology have increased over the past 40 years, the computer science area has seen a dramatic decline that has no easy explanation. An international group of computer science educators and historians convened recently in Minneapolis to systematically try to answer the question. You can read the full story at Minnpost.com: