The gender gap is TEM-only

Here’s the percentage of Bachelor’s degrees conferred to women, by major (1970-2012) courtesy of Randal S. Olson.


More than 80 percent of degrees in health and public administration are earned by women, he notes. Nearly 80 percent of education and psychology degrees also go to women. In biology, women earn 58 percent of degrees.

Even in math, statistics and physical sciences, women earn more than 40 percent of degrees. Business is close to 50-50.

He flips the chart to show that men are lagging in everything but engineering, computer science, physical science, math and statistics. Women are close to parity in everything but engineering and computer science.

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  1. Crimson Wife says:

    My oldest daughter enjoys programming and is interested in maybe earning a “nanodegree” from Udacity (the iOS developer one) but she says that she isn’t interested in majoring in CS at college. Why? Because she doesn’t want to have to take a bunch of math courses. At my alma mater, CS is part of the School of Engineering and all students in that school have to take at minimum 3 semesters of calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations. The Udacity “nanodegree” claims that it only needs high school level math to complete.

    I don’t know how much math is actually required to be a programmer, but I do know that the requirement to take a couple years of it is scaring off at least one girl who loves to code.

    • SC Math Teacher says:

      Interesting. At my alma mater, CS is cross-listed in both the Engineering and Arts & Sciences colleges. The A & S college has a lesser math requirement.

    • the amount of math needed depends on the type of programming job itself. software development is a vast field with a lot of variations. some of it requires advanced math on a daily basis, others need only the four basic arithmetic operations. if she’s interested in becoming a game developer (judging by what most youth who want to learn mobile development, and software development in general, aspire to) she will need advanced math, and a lot if it.

    • commentariette says:

      There’s a big gap between coding and software engineering and a big (different) gap between software engineering and computer science. Most good 4-yr CS or CE degrees are a mix of the two.

      And yes, they do require real math. For subject material, I’d pick out discrete math, prob/stat, linear algebra and maybe signal analysis as basic knowledge.

      Math is also useful for training in very abstract logical processes needed to build secure, reliable complex systems. There is a knack for this, just as there is for e.g. music, but it is best honed through good training.

      Are there programs and jobs for ‘just coding’? Yes, there are jobs that are mostly something else, but with a little coding. There are some jobs that are ‘just coding’ but they’re not great jobs and probably not long term growing, especially in high cost countries.

  2. Any Comp Sci. Degree which has CSAB standards is going to require the following in math (generally):

    Calc I/II
    Linear Algebra
    Differential Eqns
    Applied Stats
    Abstract Algebra
    Numerical Analysis

    In science, count on Engineering Physics I/II, and 3-4 courses of upper division science, and in computer science itself, count on 7-10 courses (30-35 credit hours) in that discipline.

    There is a difference between ‘coding’ and ‘computer science’, as I’ve written a ton of software, patches, and add-ons to various things in my career. I also have experience in network administration, system administration, information security, and a ton of other things.

    The reason that computer science programs require a boatload of math is the discipline itself, which is what makes it different than say MIS (management information systems) or a degree in IT (I have two of these types myself).