Originally Posted by Mand12
So how do you explain the massive
disparity between the path of computer science and physical sciences in the graph? One continues to go up, and follows the trend in medicine and law (two other male-heavy fields prior to 1984) and the other one drops very low?
because that's a deceptive graph. the graph shows the % of women in the field. In the CS case it was artificially high to begin with, in the other natural sciences it was low to begin with. furthermore it's a NEW degree program. Meaning the number of people (total) who went into the field is naturally small in comparison to say... biology (natural science). So when the field took off and the number of men poured into it the numbers got skewed and if you're looking at a graph of a "static" population like biology (natural science) you'll see the number of women slowly gain, meanwhile computer science is NOT static... so even if more women per capita were joining the field then biology (natural science) that graph they used will make it look like LESS are joining.
a graph that would show this better would be total number of women getting a CS degree vs say a biology degree.
I'm not saying that it isn't a "male" dominated field, i'm saying the reasons they suggest for causing this overlook some basic technical skill differences between the genders. In that in the late 70's far more women could type efficiently then men, and this provided a technical hurdle for male programmers. however the trend changes in the mid 80's right at the same time the home pc became an affordable product. In short men gained the skills they were lacking previously, and suddenly a lot more men joined the field. Basically CS was a field with too FEW graduates, as a result women were over represented, however when men suddenly gained the skills necessary to enter the field a correction occurred, and women lost "percentage"... however that effect probably snowballed until computers=boystoys became a cultural thing, which then actually suppressed the number of women in the field.
Besides i'm willing to bet the gains women have had in other sciences is mimicked by a similar decline in men gaining those degrees, while the huge gain in men's CS degrees probably makes up much of that difference. That's supposition though. without more data we don't know.