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Free Essays on the Gender Divide in Computer Science

The Gender Divide in Computer Science

Abstract: This paper examines the gender divide in computer science. Computer science is a relatively new field, but still has few females involved in it. Numbers seemed to be on the climb for a while only to dwindle back down. Stereotypes and media play a large role in discouraging women, but some universities are trying to change this by encouraging women. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has made some significant increases in women enrolled in computer science. A change of some kind is needed so we can create a more diverse group of programmers. That may be the key to the next big breakthrough in the field.

1. Brief History: contributions from women

This paper analyzes the reason behind the gender gap in computer science. Although there is a low number of women in computer science and related fields, women have made some important contributions. An early contribution came from Augusta Ada Byron back in the early to mid 1800’s. She is best known for her contributions to theoretical work. Her work, along with others at that time, is believed to be the foundation for modern computers. She developed the idea of loops and subroutines long before electronic computing existed. In honor of her, the Department of Defense named the high-level programming language Ada after her [11].

Some other notable contributions in the past came in the 40’s while most men were off in WWII and women were forced to hold many of the jobs left behind. Grace Hopper made one of the biggest breakthroughs: inventing the first English-based programming language, which was later used to develop COBOL. Today terms she was remembered for are also still used like bug and debug [2].

Men, however, returned from the war and took back these positions and the gender gap became more prevalent as time went on. It seems, though, that this shouldn’t have happened quite so easily since contributions like Hopper’s are the beginning of what became the backbone of digital computing as we know it today [6]. Hopper’s contributions really marked the beginning of computing as we know it, so in that sense computer science is a relatively new field. One would think the newer technologies like computers would have been easier to break into, since men didn’t have as many years of advantage in computing as they did in many other areas; areas where the number of women is much more even[2].

Genetic Engineering Should Not be Banned

Genetic Engineering Should Not be Banned

Genetic engineering is a hotly-debated topic. On the one hand, giant corporations, ambitious scientists and powerful politicians are pushing forward with projects they claim will benefit mankind, and on the other, public opinion, environmentalists and consumers’ associations are concerned that these projects are insufficiently safeguarded and pose irreversible risks to life on this planet. In this paper I will set out the main issues in the debate on genetic engineering. First I will summarise the history of genetic science, and look at the origins of the debate. Then I will discuss the manipulation of plant, animal and human genes in turn, and consider the possible benefits and dangers of each. Finally, I will suggest that, for all its potential dangers, it is better for research to go ahead openly than for governments to try to ban such research altogether.

GE is quite a recent science. DNA, the basic material that determines genes, was discovered in 1953 (the discovery was announced in Nature magazine on April 25th, 1953), and ‘It was only in 1956…that cytogeneticists learned that each human cell contains 46 chromosomes’ (Lipkin and Rowley, p. 4). ‘Recombinant DNA’ – which makes it possible to actually change or modify genes – was not discovered until 1973 (Howard and Rifkin, p. 13).

However, the debate about GE goes back much further. It was first popularised by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World (1932), in which humans are born in bottles (‘test tube babies’), and genetically conditioned to think and behave in certain ways.

When GE became a scientific reality in the 1970s, the debate continued to focus largely on the mainulation of human …

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Published sources:

Howard, T., and Rifkin, J., Who should play God? : The artificial creation of life and what it means for the future of the human race ( New York, Delacorte Press, 1977)

Karp, L.E., Genetic engineering, threat or promise? (Chicago, Nelson-Hall, 1976).

Lipkin, M., and Rowley, P.T., Eds., Genetic responsibility: on choosing our children’s genes, (New York, Plenum Press, 1974)

Paoletti, R. A., Ed., Selected readings: genetic engineering and bioethics, (New York, MSS Information Corp, 1972)

Internet sources:

Dr. B. Benoit, ‘Human Cloning and Re-engineering’:

‘Food for Our Future’ (UK Food and Drink Federation website:

Home Arts web page on Children’s Personality:

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