DHS Women in Coding


Kate Koelhoffer, Brooke Beneway and Linda Saad in Ap Computer Science class

Alicia Jacobs, Staff Writer

Women once dominated computer science, being the few that pioneered it. However, it dramatically dropped in 1984, causing the start of the gender dilemma in Coding.

AP Computer Science Teacher Sterling Miller affirmed this, sharing that “the term computer comes from the woman who worked to program machines to compute military information.” He also pointed out that women played a major role in advancing technology. “Ada Lovelace designed the first algorithm to be run on a computer, Grace Hopper designed the first compiler for a computer,” he said.
However, the prominence of women in computer science diminished in 1984, when the number of women in computer science dropped and men in the field took over. Women flocked to other, more domicile professional fields, according to Steve Henn’s “When Women Stopped Coding”. Since then, females in computer science have been extremely low compared to the male presence, even at DHS.
Miller was generous enough to share his class statistics about females in coding. He has 78 A.P. Computer Science Principles (CSP) students, with 17% of them being female. Miller has been teaching CSP for four years, and in his first year, there was one female. Since then, the amount of female students have increased by 1700% and “many were turned away because there wasn’t enough space for all the students who requested the class.”

Miller hopes are “that over time there will be more female students interested in taking computer science and that the class will balance out to be a more accurate representation of DHS’ student population.”
In many ways AP CSP can help express students’ creativity and develop apps that they want to benefit their lives, especially for adolescent girls. “I have had female students develop a menstrual cycle app to help them,” Miller shares.

Ava Braca, a sophomore in Miller’s class, shares that, “There are not a lot of girls in the class. There are only four, including me, in my period. There is little representation for female coders. However, the ones that do take the class are treated the same as the male coders”.
Although there is a small amount of females in these classes, many of the girls believe that the representation will surely increase. “In DHS, I don’t feel that there is a stigma against females coding. So, more females will most likely join as the years progress, which leads to more females in the field,” Braca said.

Computer Science representation is bound to change, especially with the growing interest in technology. The hopes are that females become more involved with the CSP and gender representation levels out. Kate Koelhoffer, another female student in CSP, says, “I believe the representation will change over time since more females are starting to take this class and gain more knowledge of computer science. Even from the beginning, women were well-represented in the field and I do not think that has changed at all.”
More so, all of the girls believe that their gender does not affect their positions in the classroom. “Ultimately, gender does not specifically apply to how I interpret my stance in this classroom,” Senior and CSP Student Linda Saad said.

Brooke Beneway, sophomore, shares her hopes for the future females in CSP, “ I can only hope that STEM activities are introduced at a younger age so that girls in high school feel comfortable to take these advanced courses. Many of these opportunities to this point have been limited for me.” Beneway and her peers argue that if STEM is applied at a younger age to every gender, the comfort of taking the course and developing Computer Science skills in the future can possibly increase for both females.

The future is always rapidly approaching, and hopefully with it comes more representation of females in coding. It is up to the women and girls of today to make the change they want in computer science. With the increasing amount of females in CSP course, the more likely the representation in the industry will change. Like Braca said, “There is pride in creating something.” So everyone should go out on their computers and create!