Despite UC Berkeley’s electrical engineering and computer sciences major’s status as one of the world’s most prestigious STEM programs, only 12.4 percent of students in the EECS major at UC Berkeley are female, according to the fall 2013 department census. This is representative of the larger gender disparity in the professional field. The lack of female engineers is a long-standing problem because of its cyclical nature: Women are discouraged from entering a field dominated by men, leading to a continuous crop of males entering the industry and perpetuating the problem.
The number of undergraduate women in CS in the College of Letters and Sciences has increased by 10.1 percent over the past four years, while that in EECS has increased by 1.5 percent. Reasons women are not entering this field range from a lack of female faculty and graduate student mentors to the social norm of engineering being a field in which only men succeed.
The importance of having female computer scientists and engineers is clear. Innovative technology that will serve the entire population should be designed by teams representative of our population’s diversity. Currently, the computer science and EECS departments at UC Berkeley do not represent the gender makeup of Californians, and the university has the responsibility to produce smart and capable engineers of both genders to enter the workforce.
Clarification: The earlier version of this video should have included Susanne Kauer’s full statement indicating female enrollment in Computer Science at UC Berkeley has seen an increase in enrollment in previous years.
Editor’s note: Jessica Lazarus, a student interviewed for this video, is a former Daily Cal staff member.