ACHIEVEMENTS IN COMPUTER SCIENCE COURSES: GENDER ISSUES
The phenomenon of the under-representation of women in all fields of Computer Science (CS): undergraduate and graduate studies, the Computing Industry and the Computing Academic Sector, known as “the pipeline shrinkage problem” is complex and multi-faced, but well known and documented. Studies over the past two decades have shown that there are numerous factors contributing to the fact that women have a lower participation rate in CS than men. Despite this fact, the relationship between gender and achievement in CS has not been in depth investigated. Thus, it is important to determine if achievement in specific fields of CS are affected by gender differentiation. Based on the above, the aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between gender and achievement in the various subjects of CS. For this reason, the degrees (89 degrees) of all graduate students who enrolled from 2002 to 2008 (a 6-year period of graduation) at the Department of CS and Technology, University of Peloponnese, Greece were studied. To this end, the grades of these students in both; mandatory and elected courses were studied and quantitatively analysed. These courses are grouped into: mandatory and elected courses of the “Theoretical Computer Science” (TCS) division, mandatory courses of “Mathematics & Physics” (M&P) and elected courses of “General Education” (GE) that cover a wide range of subjects that can be applied to many different careers and students can choose them according to their interests. In terms of methodology this study can be characterized as a case study.
The analysis of the data shows that:
(a) male students have slightly better, or even, mean grades in all of the mandatory courses in TSC division and most of M&P mandatory courses,
(b) both male and female students have low mean grades in mandatory “Mathematics” courses (grades<7),
(c) female students have better mean grades in most of the elected courses in TCS division and GE,
(d) in the aforementioned courses female students have more “excellent” mean grades (grade >=8,5) than male students,
(e) there is a tendency for female students to perform slightly better than male students in those courses which are chosen by more female students.