Gates on reduction in entrants into computer science

In the Seattle PI today, Bill talks about declining university enrollments is CS. I don't recruit for CS directly, but many/some of the people that we hire into product strategy roles do get their undergrad degree in a technical major. Plus I think there's somewhat of a cascade effect with other functions. Companies make decisions based on the availability of talent. I know that I personally make decisions on where, geographically, to recruit for marketing professionals based on the abundance of technical talent in that geography (because where there's good tech talent, there's good tech marketing talent). So it does impact other functions within technology companies.

Comments (9)

  1. rsamona says:

    There was an interesting article on the dmeographics of comp sci majors. I haven’t read the whole thing yet to determine if I agree with the analysis. Take a look:

    Who are the new computer whizzes?

    Not the guy with a pocket protector, but a middle-aged minority woman

    Pop quiz: Which schools produced the most degrees in computer science in 2001? MIT? Carnegie Mellon? Georgia Tech? If you guessed any of these, you’re wrong: try Strayer University and DeVry Institute of Technology.

    And what kind of student is most likely to take up computer science at Strayer or DeVry? If you guessed a young geeky guy with a pocket saver, guess again: try a 35-year-old African American or Hispanic woman who already has a full-time job at a company where information technology (IT) skills are a key to advancement.

  2. Brad says:

    I read the article in yesterday’s PI and found it interesting. I work in healthcare and our industry is also suffering a lack of talent in many areas, especially nursing. It isn’t unknown for hospitals to recruit internationally for positions. And believe it or not, nursing schools in some areas of the country are targeting students in 5th, 6th grades to get them to begin considering careers in healthcare.

    Rick, in his comment, states some interesting news re the schools that are producing the most computer science grads. I’d be curious if Strayer or DeVry was represented at the Microsoft conference.

    I wonder how recruiters view the worth and value of online university graduates?

  3. David says:

    Job prospects and expected salaries have been driving this since I was a C.S. student in the early nineties. Many people are driven by money: if you are smart enough to be a C.S. student at a top university, chances are you are pre-law or pre-med. My classmates who went on to medical school found the residency market to be crowded with too many new doctors from big universities, further evidence of a shift in what U.S. students with strong backgrounds in science and math choose for a field of study.

    I don’t see things improving with outsourcing the surplus of developers improving perceived or real prospects for people in this industry. Much of the surplus is a lot of VB and ColdFusion type coders, who aren’t Microsoft material. Bill is speaking about the hot shot C/C++ coders who are still rare, and many of them don’t want to work at Microsoft.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    It’s interesting to me that we aren’t seeing more articles putting all the pieces together. There’s a short term solution and a long term solution. I don’t want to get political, but if you know me, you know that I want to hire the best people, period…that’s what we need to be able to focus on in the short term. I mean if the world is flat now, perhaps some flexing to the new economic dynamic is required. And that’s all I am going to say about that (well, probably not all I am going to say but at least for now). Just my opinion, of course.

    In the long term, we need to figure out how to get more students interested in CS. Scratch that, we need to make CS more interesting for students. And it can’t just be about money because that’s not sustainable and will, frankly, get us exactly where we already are.

    Is the US behind the times because we don’t start stearing kids toward professions that leverage their strengths earlier? Or are we already doing that but there still aren’t enough kids strong in the areas we need?

    I want to know WHY they aren’t getting CS degrees. Some research please!

  5. David says:

    > I want to know WHY they aren’t getting CS degrees. Some research please!

    Let me summarize my experience.

    1. People believe that the number of jobs in the US will decrease due to Offshoring.

    2. Perceptions of decreased salaries in the long run due to decreased demand for these skills.

    Here are some examples of how this is true inside the C.S. world and outside.

    I was talking to my neighbor who is a stay at home mom and her husband is a child psychologist. They are not techies by any measure. She asked me what my profession was. I told her that I was a software engineer at an ISV. Her reaction was surprising. She said, “That sounds like a great job. Only, I guess that’s less and less the case these days.” This is a pretty common reaction from people outside the field.

    Alan, my brother in law, is a C.S. student at the University of Michigan, which is a feeder school for Microsoft. He and his classmates often ask me about job prospects for the industry, and they seem very nervous about it. Other students in other concentrations at the U have the same pessimistic view of the field. The students in the C.S. program hear day in and day out that the job market is bad in the IT field from the press, friends, and colleagues. Many of them end up switching to other fields. Personally, I have deliberately moved into more of a Marketing and Finance role in my company in addition to learning more foreign languages so that I can have a broader skill set should the bottom of the market fall out.

    Right now the common perception is that C.S. is not the place to be.

  6. Russ says:

    Strayer is in the House !

    Strayer MBA Dec. 05 – yes, Strayer and they are tier what ?

    Tier you this, they have some progressive and interesting programs and student populaces going on. It’s one reason I’m there.

    Glad to see Strayer starting to pop up on the radar. They have been around over 100 years, you can feel the diversity in the classes and it results in an extremely market applicable mindset. Your fellow students are SO diverse you cannot help but benefit. They examine every concept from almost every possible ethnic and cultural upbringing.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    David-thanks for the scoop. Really interesting. I wonder if it’s a self-sulfilling prophecy. Maybe all the talk has really freaked people out. Maybe those of us that hire CS folks need to be more public about it.

  8. A school may "pop up on the radar," but if its MBA program isn’t approved by AACSB it is a waste of your time and money.  Don’t know what AACSB is?  Go to Wikipedia.

  9. Educational institutions that offer MBA and MPA degrees must have courses of study that are approved by professional associations as well as by regional accrediting authorities.

    MBA programs, for example, must be approved by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which means that AACSB-certified schools will accept graduate business transfer credits from the school.  Similarly, MPA programs must be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

    Institutions that lack these credentials are often thought of as diploma mills, even though they are “regionally” accredited.

    For information about MBA accreditation, click here:

    For information about MPA accreditation, click here:

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