Princeton University
Computer Science Department

Computer Science 597C
AdTopCS: Gender in Computer Science

Adam Finkelstein

Fall 2004

Course Summary

Recent studies document disparities in status and number between women and men in computer science. What factors lead to such inequalities? How do they impact our field technologically and sociologically? Are there interventions and educational reforms that might ameliorate these disparities?

Administrative Information

Meetings: Fri 10am-11:50. Room: Friend Center room 202

Professor: Adam Finkelstein - office 424 CS Bldg - 258-5756 email: af@

The seminar

The goal of this seminar is to understand the nature of gender disparity in computer science and to propose a specific set of recommendations that we might adopt in order to improve the gender balance in our field. We will read and discuss papers on the following subjects:

In our discussion we will investigate what aspects of these questions apply (perhaps uniquely) at Princeton as well as what factors apply to the entire discipline.



Q: Why study this topic in a CS department as opposed to, say, sociology?

A: Two reasons. First, if we want to effect change in our field, the push must come from within the field. Second, there may be technical aspects of these issues that are better understood by computer scientists than by people outside the field.

Q: Why study gender as opposed to, say, generally underrepresented groups in CS?

A: First, a narrow focus allows us to address the topic in greater depth. Second, there are some issues in common for many underrepresented groups in CS, so reforms proposed to encourage better gender balance may provide better balance overall. Finally, I believe that we have the opportunity to make the greatest difference in the shortest amount of time by working on gender, so I would like to start there.
Q: Why should grad students care about this seminar?

A: You might be thinking to yourself: my job here is to focus on my field, publish my research, and get my degree -- this seminar would simply distract me from these goals. Well, indeed that's true. Taking the long view, however, you are probably doing this degree because you would like to continue your career in computer science, in either industry or academia. In either arena, you will probably be more effective if you are aware of the issues we will address in the seminar.

Q: How about students from other fields?

A: Students from other, related fields (e.g. EE) may have an interest in this topic and are welcome.
Q: How about undergrads? Faculty?

A: Both undergrads and faculty are also welcome, provided there is space. We will cap the seminar at 15 participants in order to facilitate the discussion format.
Q: What is the workload going to be like? May I just audit the seminar?

A: Each week we'll read and discuss some papers. There will also be a small writing component, essentially documenting what we have read and discussed. In the interests of having everyone in the room fully invested in this process (and because this is a relatively light workload anyway) no, you may not just audit the seminar.

Q: Other questions?

A: Please email me (af@) or drop by my office (424).