Attracting More Women to Computer Science Requires Shattering the 'Brogrammer' Culture

California's Harvey Mudd College has taken huge steps toward boosting the number of female computer science majors.

Call it "revenge of the nerds": Computer programmers are beginning to shed the stereotype of antisocial guys with bad acne and extensive action figure collections. Unfortunately, they’re ditching the image of awkward geeks in favor of being seen as collar-popping, beer-swilling bros.

They call them "brogrammers"—tech startups and university computer science departments are chock full of them. But whether they're nerds or bros, one thing that hasn't changed is that the programmers are overwhelmingly men. And the brogrammer culture is making computer science a pretty unwelcome environment for women college students.

Although women now make up the majority of college graduates, the number of female computer science grads has dropped precipitously over the past 25 years—from nearly 40 percent in the mid-1980s to 18 percent in 2009. As a result, only 2 in 10 programmers are women.

Harvey Mudd College in suburban Los Angeles is taking steps to fix the problem. In 2005, only 10 percent of computer science majors at Harvey Mudd were women, in part because male students started college with more computer experience. To level the playing field, Harvey Mudd began requiring all students to take a computer science class, whether an intro level or something more advanced. In the beginning classes, "you don’t get these super macho students who raise their hands all the time and know the answer to everything all the time," computer science department chair Ran Libeskind-Hadas told eSchoolNews. "That’s not a very welcoming atmosphere for less experienced students."

The school's efforts to increase women's interest in computer science has paid off: 40 percent of majors are now women. Of course, there's plenty of work to be done—female computer science grads still face steep obstacles breaking into the boys' club. But any college serious about ending the brogrammer culture should look to Harvey Mudd for advice.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user Phillie Casablanca

AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less