Behind the Numbers

02.24.14

What the Latest Research Really Means for Women

Berkeley’s comp-sci classes get an A; the media flunks out.

Relevant studies abound, so shall we parse the numbers? On the good news front: In a few years, Berkeley may be handing out quite a few computer science degrees to women. Last spring, the U.C. had more women than men enrolled in an introductory computer science course (106 vs. 104)—a rarity in the male-dominated field in which 82% of degree holders are men. But how beneficial is an equally coed class? Another recent (unrelated) study at the Australia National University states that female econ and business students who come from single-sex classrooms were 19% more likely to make risky decisions than those who studied for eight weeks in a coed class. Point being: social settings might play a larger factor in learning than originally thought. Finally, on the women-in-media horizon, the new numbers on racial and gender diversity from the Women’s Media Center look bleak. Women still make up only 36 percent of newsroom staffs (virtually unchanged since 1999) and among 143 prominent op-ed columnists, only 38 are women. Something of interest for all TV fans out there: women of color directed just 2 percent of TV episodes last year. Binge-watchers, time for a revolt.