Science, Women and technology course by Netiva caftori

WSP- 314 Science, Women, and Technology

(the old WS-301F-Women in Computing)

cross-listed with CS-338

(old CS-310L)

Spring 2010. (Last taught Spring 2009, and Fall 2004)

Woman's lib?

taught by Netiva Caftori

Check some thoughts about hybrid learning.

From Anita Borg Institute

                Women in computing

Equality of access is an important ethical principle and we don't have it when it comes to women and other minorities in computing. It's not enough to have women and other minorities use the technology, but it is important that they participate in its creation too. Diversity is important, not only for ethical reasons but also for the good of our society. Despite the downturn of the economy there appears to be a shortage of software developers for example. Women may have the talent to excel in such endeavor. In order to achieve diversity there ought to be an increase of women and minorities in computer science, computing science education, and the computing science professions. Although the factors leading to the current imbalance lie outside the university arena, a lot can be done to correct it within. To ensure greater diversity each institution should aim to eliminate bias and encourage a broader scope of students. Prior experience also tends to influence success in education and usage. In most fields there is no great differential of experience, but in computing boys and whites in general tend to be more experienced by the time they arrive to college. We need therefore to encourage girls and minorities to use computers earlier in life in addition to enhancing their participation in undergraduate computing.

What will be covered in this course:

Women in computing2 ppt presentation with some pictures and additions.

Women of the past, present and future by Shanti, Catalina and Kimberly.


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ...
... by Margaret Mead

With the growing dominance of the Internet, blog, chat and mobile telephony, the great "big bang" of the new media has begun.
Communication is rapidly changing and becoming mobile, interactive, personalized and multi-channel.
This extraordinary revolution is affecting the basic structure of many societies and is raising various discussions and debates that profoundly impact women: the rapid transformation of the boundaries between the public and the private spaces, the relationship between new technology, orality and women's literature, changes in the relationship between written and oral languages, the increasing use of mother tongues (mainly oral) in the field of education, and the challenges of new transmissions of women"s knowledges.

group with computer We will have an overview of the women who have made it in computing from Countess Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper to others more modern like Anita Borg, who founded Systers, the email forum for women in technology, or Ellen Spertus from Mills college in CA.
Another major aspect of the course will overview the reasons of why there are so few women in the field, and what can be done to remediate the situation.
This will serve as a vehicle for assignment/presentations in class whereas each student chooses a famous woman and a topic and does the research and presentation in class.

early computer equipment ~ ~

Instructor's Office hours Course schedule Blackboard
Course description Links 
Grading Philosophy Assignments Sample readings
Create your home page to Home Page
    3 women-1 man

Other topics will include:

  • Boys and girls differences - nature or nurture?
  • The discrimination that exists in the field; the glass ceiling, or is it the sticky floor syndrom?
  • The history and travail of all women in science.--a guest.
  • The problem of biological clock vs tenure clock.
  • Why we don't have so many women in the university level, teaching and even studying beyond the first few years?--the shrinking pipeline.
  • What women like in general when using computers?
  • How does that differ from men?
  • What can be done to improve the situation?
                  african american woman

Some resources for the course book shelf

Other related readings and links:

woman on computer
  • Graduation statistics in CS found by Ali.
  • Techno girls are all Woman, an article in the Ugandan weekly Observer.
  • The Alphabet versus the Goddess: The conflict between Word and Image, by Leonard Shlain, Viking, 1998.
  • Women, Science and technology reader edited by Wyer, Barbercheck, Geisman, Ozturk and Wayne (we have it in our library)

Women in technology

Description of the course

laughing woman on computer

Students will be assigned weekly readings from books and articles. They will answer some written questions and will participate in class discussions of the readings.
Students will be encouraged to participate in online women networks to research ways of interchanging ideas and support.
There will be a couple guest appearances in class for questionning and discussions.
A team assignment may include visits and observations in schools and computer labs. The team will decide on a research study to be conducted outside of class and results presented in class as a midterm project.
A final paper will be requested as a summary of most pertinent papers the student has read, and field research done.
The paper will be presented by the student in class using a presentation tool.


Weekly assignments include article reading, summary and feedback writing, participation in women networks, and relating these activities to the class.
Midterm team research in or out of school. Presentation of research findings in class using (Ppt) presentation tools, web page or Word document.
Final paper will be presented individually. It will be based on readings, research, and personal thoughts.
A possible exam will be given midway. This possibility will be discussed in class.

Grading philosophy

  • Weekly assignments on readings and networks searches - 35%
  • Midterm research paper and team presentation - 25%
  • Final paper and presentation - 30%
  • Class participation - 10%
Grading will be done on a curve.


Leveling of the playing fields by Mike and Patti
Women in video games by Chantel Sizemore.
2 girls Other presentations

Woman's art. Any objections?

Email to for Comments and questions is appreciated.

Last updated on 1/31/11


In the news

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY A Breakthrough For MIT -- And Science Five years after conceding rampant sexism, MIT has a new president, Susan Hockfield Massachusetts Institute of Technology shocked academia five years ago with a scathing report about how it had discriminated against female scientists. Although many were world-class, the country's most prestigious science university publicly confessed that its male-dominated culture had marginalized them. Women were paid less, received fewer resources, and were often treated as if they were "invisible," the report concluded. Moreover, despite a flood of women earning PhDs, their share of MIT's science faculty hadn't risen in more than a decade. In MIT's entire history, no woman had ever headed a science department.

My own reflections on balancing career and family.

On design, on Ted:
On games for girls: