Female computer science undergraduates just 17 percent of departments at Central Coast universities

May 31, 2016

Central Coast universities are looking for ways to get more women interested in pursuing degrees in computer science. 

The most recent numbers from the Computer Science Departments at both Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara show roughly 17 percent of their undergraduate students are women. Nationally, this number is 18.2 percent, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.

At UCSB, a diversity committee meets biweekly to discuss ways to attract and retain female students, according to Benji Dunson, 

Cal Poly said its numbers are growing each year. In 2010, about nine percent of the department was female, nearly half the current enrollment.

Cal Poly hosted on Tuesday night the screening of an award-winning documentary called Code. The film focuses on this digital gender divide.

GoDaddy CEO and San Luis Obispo resident Blake Irving was an executive producer of the documentary and introduced the film at the screening. He told KCBX that it's time to get started on solutions to narrowing the current gender gap.

"If you think about how long it took to produce the gap—it's taken a long time to produce, it's going to take a long time to fix it—and it's going to have to be all the way back to elementary school, junior high school, high school and college so more women matriculate thinking this is a career that they want to pursue," said Irving.

The film says tech jobs are growing three times faster than colleges are producing computer science graduates. It says by the end of this decade, there will be one million unfilled software engineering jobs here in the U.S., according to White House statistics.