Why We Need More Girl Nerds

Jocelyn Goldfein, director of engineering at Facebook, is tired of working in a field overwhelmingly dominated by men. “Personally, I care that there aren’t more women in tech because I love most aspects of my job, and the one thing that I don’t love is often being the only woman in the room,” Goldfein told the Huffington Post.

As of the 2010 census, women were earning more bachelors degrees than men, surpassing them by about 1.2 million, and that number is only expected to rise as more women attain bachelors and advanced degrees. But less than 10 percent of computer science majors are women. With the rise of social networking programs and the increasing diversification of computer programs, women are potentially more important than ever for the computer industry, which demands more advanced and diverse skills than ever before — skills that women would be more than prepared to provide, if they were drawn to computer science education programs.

Goldfein, who hires engineers for Facebook’s programming team, believes that women are underrepresented in the computer science field because of simple lack of exposure. If college counselors and professors urged female students to take computer science classes early in their college careers, she believes that many more women would end up majoring in computer science or programming. As it is, most computer science programs are geared towards male students. Female students are left to discover them on their own, and many women may be missing out on opportunities they don’t realize are even available to them.

Facebook has begun to try to draw college freshmen, and women in particular, into computer science through ads posted on their site. Demand for talented programmers is growing, and Goldfein has some advice for aspiring computer scientists:

“The advice I give a lot of women is ‘fake it till you make it.’ I give it to men and women and I think it’s universally applicable. Sometimes you will be over your head, but the act of trying and the act of putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, and trying something you’re not sure you’re capable of, is what it takes to become capable of it.”

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Photo credit: Ed Yourdon


Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.5 years ago

speaking of 'geek' girls... or women
if it were not for one who pioneered VLSI so we could have multiple processors miniaturized and combined into a single huge chip with a specially designed parallel instructions method, we wouldn't be here on the web with hand held computers of any sort (communications/internet/wireless, etc)
look her up... and I'm much like her, except, um, not as accomplished... hehehe
google her: "Lynn Conway"
and yes, she is an 'atypical' female.

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.5 years ago

cont'd from below:

All I have left is hope. If not for myself, at least for my kids, who had a better chance at anything computer related. (e.g. Classic & Computer Animation (my daughter) & Video Game Development (my son)).
It feels terrible not to be able to earn any income, and have no work that I could excel at to the benefit of any employer. Welcome to 2012, ol' super nerd-geek girl...

Stefanie D.
Stefanie D.5 years ago

Back in my graduating senior high school years, i definitely was a A-level nerdy-geek, but unfortunate extenuating circumstances prevented me from ever qualifying for 'computer science' or 'computer engineering' for University. So, I had since learned on my own computer programming, as well as getting work experience as an applications programmer. That was in the 'old days' before the internet/web became widespread. And when the web/internet did arrive, I quickly picked up HTML. Unfortunately, I could never qualify, lacking a 'computer science' degree, any job that was in the 'computer department'. So I had to settle for all other types of work, even in the manufacturing/production sector, and apply my know-how on small 'minor' applications to help anyone working on the production 'shop floor'. I've since gotten pretty good at navigating all the web/internet browsing programs, and occasional 'hacking'; but by no means a bonafide 'hacker'.
Today, I am unemployed 50 months since being permanently laid off, and nobody will hire someone as old as I am, as I fear I am perceived as 'worthless' or 'useless' or 'too expensive' or 'too jaded to educate'. I know I quickly can get up to speed to anyone if given the chance, but the longer I remain out of employment, the less likely I will ever work in any field where I can offer the best of my all round knowledge or skills (includes decades of life experiences) to anyone out there that might be interested. All I have left is hope

Carmen H.
Carmen Harris5 years ago

My sister is doing studying Computer Programming at the college she's at...and it seems like it's a lot of work, but if you can cope and you understand it, why not go for it? : )

Juliet Defarge
judith sanders5 years ago

My Daughter's doing pretty well in computer science. With a view to her future employment opportunities, i sent her this chart:

- with a reminder not to neglect her foreign language classes. There's no reason why a woman with skills that are in demand should subject herself to the woman-bashing stupidity of American laws.
Like it or not, we're in a global economy now. It wasn't the liberals who made it that way, it was the corporate bosses who figured out how to make more profits for themselves by moving company HQs and manufacturing overseas. The GOP controlled Congress has no incentive to help Americans kids get college degrees because they can just hire from other countries.

Carl Nielsen
Carl Nielsen5 years ago

Grace Hopper is cool, but I would have chosen Ada Lovelace as the great computer science pioneer.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

hmmmm labeling. i love to learn and study but have little interest in computers

Anne F.
Anne F5 years ago

My current favorite song is


Rana Newbury
Rana Newbury5 years ago

Science, period.

Emilia M.
Emilia M5 years ago

I'm not a computer science major but I do believe there's nothing wrong with a girl majoring in computer science, engineering, mathematics, or any of those majors that are supposed to be male dominated. Things needs to change in those categories. There should be more girls because it will show younger girls that it is possible to have a career in engineering or math. Nursing, teaching, and cosmetoglogy are not just for females but anybody can choose to become a nurse, teacher, or engineer. Girls being smart is actually really cool! I personally would rather know algebra than not know nothing at all. Just saying....