BY DANIELLE KRUIZENGA
Published February 5, 2007
When she was growing up, LSA senior Laura Bickle heard stories from her mother about the gender gap in many fields of mathematics and science.
It didn't deter her, though.
Bickle is one of only 21 female computer science majors at the University. Males outnumber females eight-to-one in the program.
Computer science is the undergraduate major at the University with the highest ratio of females to males.
The most female-dominated major is dental hygiene, which has 84 female students and not a single male.
Although Bickle came to the University with the intention of studying business, she quickly switched into the computer science program.
"What the students were doing in Engin 101 looked like a lot more fun," she said.
At first, computer science classes were intimidating, Bickle said.
"Guys on North (Campus) wear much more casual clothing and are also less likely to sit next to girls they don't know," she said. "I used to be afraid that I smelled bad but was assured that it wasn't me."
Bickle said gender balance isn't her most serious concern with her major, though.
"My mom still thinks I'm going to be living in a box in Silicon Valley when I'm 30," Bickle said.
Randall Brown, an LSA sophomore majoring in computer science, said some male computer science students are uncomfortable having females in their classes.
"There are usually open seats next to the girls in computer science classes," Brown said. "Maybe we are afraid of them."
Not all male computer science students are afraid of their female counterparts, though.
School of Music junior Myron Bishop, who entered the University as a computer science major, said he tried to reach out to the females in his classes.
"I tried to befriend a lot of the women and make them feel more comfortable," he said.
The question remains: Why do some majors attract more males and others more females?
Brown said his major is male-dominated because males are more likely to be obsessed with their computers.
"Computer science is mostly male because after guys are done looking at porn, we're too lazy to leave the computer, so we find other stuff to do," Brown said.