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Participation of Female Computer Science Students in Austria

Participation of Female Computer Science Students in Austria
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Author(s): Margit Pohl (Vienna University of Technology, Austria) and Monika Lanzenberger (Vienna University of Technology, Austria)
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 6
Source title: Encyclopedia of Gender and Information Technology
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Eileen M. Trauth (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-815-4.ch153


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The situation of women in computer science education has been a major topic of feminist researchers. It has received widespread attention in many countries all over the world. In general, it can be said that in almost all the countries of the world women are underrepresented in computer science education at university level. This phenomenon is, however, a very complex one. In many industrialized countries, there was a peak in women’s participation in computer science studies in the middle of the 80s of the 20th century. After that, the number of women who studied computer science in these countries decreased again. This development has been discussed, for example, by Behnke and Oechtering (1995) for Germany, by Kirkup (1992) for Great Britain, and by the EECS Women Undergraduate Enrollment Committee (1995) for the USA. In recent years, there is some indication that the percentage of women who choose Computer science at universities is rising again, at least in Germany (Kompetenzzentrum, 2003) and in Austria (Österreichisches Statistisches Zentralamt, 1971-2001). Apart from that, some cultural differences can be observed. It has been mentioned in several publications that the percentage of Asian women studying computer science is often higher than that of women in Western industrialized countries (Greenhill, von Hellens, Nielsen, & Pringle, 1997). In the following text, we want to discuss possible reasons for the increase in female computer science students in the last years in a few countries. We want to analyze the reasons for this increase. Detailed information about the motivation of women who study computer science at universities should be helpful in formulating strategies to overcome the under-representation of women in this area. Such strategies should take differences between countries into account. Case studies for single countries could provide relevant information in this context. The following text describes the situation in Austria.

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