Computer science seeks sex appeal (part II)

Last year I wrote about the search for a sexier topics among computer science types that it was hoped would renew student interest in the field. The latest data indicates that interest in CS as a major appears to have dropped 70% in recent years. Data to be released March 1st by CRA will reveal “a second year of double digit declines” in the number of enrolled CS students: http://www.cra.org/wp/index.php?p=104.

The peak years of interest for the field were the early 1980s and the late 1990s, which may point to a cyclical process (just like the cyclical warming of our atmosphere!) but the current interest levels are equivalent to those reported for the the mid-1970s. No equivalent data exists for information schools or LIS programs but most that I know are informally reporting very healthy enrollments. Of course, most iSchools are graduate programs so the comparison is not entirely fair. That said, computer science graduate programs are reporting declines also but the numbers are still up over their recent lows of 2000-2001. In absolute terms, there are still roughly 50,000 CS graduate students in the US each year, which swamps the number of information program grads by about a factor of 10. Still, these metrics are only part of the story. Our school graduates about 100 people per year and we have no plans to grow this number although there is healthy demand from applicants. A fuller picture also would have to look at the employment patterns of graduates and this is a complicated picture. CS grads generally do earn better than average wages but there are serious declines in employment prospects for programmers and database administrators. Similarly, our grads tend to get jobs pretty quickly (half are employed before they graduate) but the variability in salary is quite significant, depending on where grads ply their trade. As a senior professional told my intro class this week, there will be no jobs for them as traditional catalogers, but plenty of opportunities for them to help implement better information systems and services. Regardless, in the sex appeal stakes, we all know information trumps computation.

67 Responses to “Computer science seeks sex appeal (part II)”

  1. Dorothea Says:

    No jobs as traditional cataloguers? That’s overblown. MPOW has been looking for a Head of Bibliographic Services for over a year, and my sense is that there’s a chronic shortage of Asian-language cataloguers.

    Sure, I would advise any would-be cataloguer to learn them some MODS and Dublin Core and the like as well as MARC and AACR2. But “cataloguing is dead!” strikes me as neither helpful nor true.

  2. Prentiss Riddle Says:

    The CRA blog post and graph make me wonder what the full study says about the addition of computer engineering and other allied fields to the picture. Taken at its face value, the graph would indicate that the sum of computer engineering *plus* computer science in 2002 was greater than the local peak of computer science alone in 1999-2000. Of course computer engineering didn’t appear out of nowhere in 2002; it’s conceivable that the total of all computer-related majors in 1999-2000 came close to the all-time peak in 1982-1983 when CS had fewer rivals.

    Is it proper to say that there *are* declines in employment opportunities for programmers or that there *were* declines after the dot-com bubble burst in 2001? The mood is back up in the tech sector, and that may be why (again at the risk of reading too much into one graph) it looks like the decline of interest on the part of incoming freshmen could be leveling off.

  3. Mike Welling Says:

    What do you think about CS as a viable career path these days? Do you think it’s something that a young person should really look into? It just seems that there is so much competition- especially with large 3rd world players out there now.

  4. Paul Perth PC tech Says:

    Interesting article, I think as computers are becoming more and more common place, people that use computers are becoming less un-trendy, and computer gurus are becoming more common..

    Though alot of computer jobs dont involve much contact with people which i think can leave you quite unsatisfied.. depending on your personality…

    in my job I travel around to different places, meet people and fix their computers so i really enjoy it, its actually quite social.. for a it related job anyway.

  5. Ross Says:

    Interesting Article. You got my eye on your title. Idea is needed for us computer scientists :)

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Computer science used to be a male dominated field but now days there are hot sexy women in this field, with big cars and fat wallets(i know it sounds masculine lol)

  7. Charlotte Says:

    Very interesting, hope you continue writing more about this. thanks!

  8. Andy Says:

    Though it is true that Computer Science has lost its glamour these days as compared to early 80’s, but our teenagers still find this field quite interesting while choosing their career path. I am very sure that there will be huge engineering job opportunity in future despite drastic fall in job prospect graph.

  9. Alex Says:

    Well, my sister has graduated in CS. Im Mechanical engineer and computer addict. Here in Slovenia CS is still mostly male dominated although it is not in equal ratio like previous years. Be aware, ladies are on the way…

  10. stacey Says:

    computer techs need more space, good read

    ——–
    http://www.paradise-chat.co.cc/

  11. Kabonfootprint Says:

    Very interesting, I like this kind of writing more . Hope to see more like this. thanks!

  12. Dimas Says:

    Wow…
    Nice articles…

    Open Minded…

    Thanks

  13. EXtenZE Says:

    I’ve been noticing more and more female web designer/developers, so something must be working! I think it’s great to have diversity in our profession.

    And by the way, the women I’ve met in the biz are every bit as talented and just as hungry.

  14. Belajar dan Berbagi Says:

    Nice Post,,,im very Interesting,,good luck

    GOD BLESS YOU,,keep share..

  15. Vinny Says:

    It dropped by 70%? I find that hard to believe…

  16. addtree Says:

    I’m very interesting about your post…nice to know your blog, good luck
    Thanks..

  17. Tol Says:

    computer science and sex
    that’s the balance

  18. mbak maya Says:

    It’s a very nice blog. Nice to meet you.

  19. Sam Hagin Says:

    In addition to a college education,getting certifications help a lot to landing jobs in the Computer Science field

  20. bk Says:

    nice posting

  21. rinku Says:

    hello

    Good articles….

  22. adillon Says:

    Since this post still gets lots of traffic, I thought I’ point you all to an updated (part III): http://sentra.ischool.utexas.edu/~adillon/blog/archives/151

  23. MJ Says:

    This is a great article! Very funny and interesting.

  24. james Says:

    hahaha nice one.

  25. Randy Says:

    in addition to this post..seeking branded certifications will also help in the job field. Great post.

  26. Raffaell Says:

    wow… Nice thougt, I never think of it, good point!

  27. FG Says:

    Thanks for post, this post is a information for me…

  28. Free Domain Says:

    Great post… I like this web.. Thank you friends…

  29. Acai Says:

    I think Computer Science definitely needs a little excitement like this!

  30. Clickbank Says:

    Computer science has always been regarded as the geek and click world. It is time for a change! :)

  31. LRS Says:

    I got a degree in computer science and the class was 99% guys. it was a pitty but at least there wasn’t much to distract us from our computer studies! I think things are chnaging as more and more people use computers, however in saying that a lot of them just want to play games and chat, not study what can be a dull subject at times and is very difficult to make more intersting

  32. ballwell Says:

    nice post. . .
    keep smiling

  33. live naakt Says:

    Interesting article, I think as computers are becoming more and more common place, people that use computers are becoming less un-trendy, and computer gurus are becoming more common..

    Though alot of computer jobs dont involve much contact with people which i think can leave you quite unsatisfied.. depending on your personality…

    in my job I travel around to different places, meet people and fix their computers so i really enjoy it, its actually quite social.. for a it related job anyway.

  34. Martha Says:

    I see how you attracted attention to CS! Good one!!
    Funny how we all tend to draw our eyes on certain things! Never mind! It’s the result that counts!

  35. Domains Says:

    Interesting the way you put it!
    I think science definitely has it’s own genre of sexyness. My boyfriend studies chemistry and I think the way he speaks about chemistry and those weird looking codes he put on white boards are quite sexy… in it’s own weird way!
    So, I know where you are coming from and what you mean! Good article though! Enjoyed every bit!

  36. John Says:

    I guess maybe sex appeal does effect uni subject choices and this is shown by me choosing a fashionable subject myself, anything geeky is a bit of a turn off.

  37. Lilian John Says:

    I think the computer industry is very hard to get into. The dilemma here is if you just get a degree you don’t have any experience and you wont get hired. It is hard to get your foot into the door.

  38. Jp Says:

    I just graduated and landed a job with an IT consulting company that focuses on network security and network management. We oursource our DB and programming to other countries because its dirt cheap. However, we are constantly hiring new network engineers because we have so much business and our clients insist on dealing with people face to face. I think the CS degree needs to focus more on IT Policy and IT Problem solving then programming. Companies that are hiring now want to see that you can take your IT knowledge and apply it to a business problem. Writing code is seen as a mundane detail….at least in our company.

  39. Reg Says:

    I agree that even thought there is a serious declines in employment prospects for programmers and database administrators at present, this trend will turn soon and bring some much needed jobs, in my counrty it has started already, slowly but surely.

  40. CBO Says:

    Maybe CS needs to glamorize some of the more exciting aspects of computer science – Robotics for example. The thought of studying algorithms doesn’t turn me on, but maybe if I thought I could work at Google’s fantastic offices because I knew my 1-2-3s…. CS needs an advertising agency!

  41. Fema Says:

    I think a CS grad with skills should always be in high demand. The skills are being needed across pretty much every industry.

  42. بروكسي Says:

    Well, maybe not so ideal – but a big change to the world of internet.
    Blogging it’s like a game – the more you play – like it more. Your idea: it’s written before Web 2.0 hype. Well done.

  43. Kathy Says:

    Back when I was in college (late 1970s), the idea of computer science was absolutely terrifying – it seemed so futuristic and since I did not have a head for numbers or science in general, I thought it was too far beyond my abilities.

    In an “if only I had known then what I know now” kind of hindsight fashion, I might have forced myself to take some science or technology courses. But, I never in a million years thought that I would be working online and depending on computers as I do now.

    I really wish I knew more about programming and code – I would be doing far better with my work in general, I think.

  44. Christian louboutin Says:

    What a great blog! It’s a pity that i can’t find your rrs address. If you can offer rrs subscription service, i can track your blog easier!

  45. MariaP Says:

    Completely agree with Jp: technical skills are only one part of the equation. Where I work, the most important aspects of the job are ones that require you to understand business problems (and the mindsets of business people) – without that understanding, you’ve got no chance of coming up with an IT system that meets their needs.

  46. CM Says:

    I think the job market’s just dryer. Less jobs, more competition from 3rd world overseas work, it’s discouraging for those looking to get into the field.

    Think about it, you only need about 1 person for every 100 computers, even at the place I work, we have 1 person managing all of the computers in the building.

  47. James Curtis Says:

    The problem with computer science or Infromation Technology as a career is that there are so many people doing it. The market has become so saturated with workers that it’s hard to get a job in the field.

  48. CS O'leary Says:

    From my perspective it seems (at least around here) that student interest in computer science is waning. Like any career though, supply will meet demand at some point.

  49. Tom Says:

    Surely job prospects must be decreasing as a consequence of globalization. Good article though.

  50. jake Says:

    Tom, I think globalization will increase competition for jobs writing fairly straightforward lines of code but CS majors able to solve complex problems and come up with unique solutions will always be highly valued. I think another positive trend is the fact that the increasing use of information systems in all aspects of our life will continue to drive the demand for information science services for quite some time.

  51. Jeff Says:

    Science is sexy. There’s a charm to the advancement of human society that’s deserving of the word ‘appeal’.

    Is there a way I can track this blog?

  52. Free MMORPG Says:

    Jobs concerning CS is greatly increasing over the year as brought by the increasing demands for technological advancements. in this article, it shows an alternative way of how to attract students and learners to be more interested in CS.

  53. Charles Says:

    Wolla…
    Computer Science VS Sexual Appeal.
    These are totally very different and unrelated topic to me except some graphical cutout technique that match cs to sex appeal. Just IMHO.

  54. Golda Otiz Says:

    hello i really your blog. this is great information.

  55. Mariko Chaligoj Says:

    It is rareto see such quality on blogs in the industry enjoyable to see

  56. mezar işleri Says:

    It is a good idea to plot the data so that you can explore its features.
    An exploratory plot of your data enables you to identify discontinuities
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    Thanks…

  57. Sohbet Says:

    I think a CS grad with skills should always be in high demand. The skills are being needed across pretty much every industry…

  58. GC Says:

    Nice article. Computer science was the old days the best job for young people. But nowdays things are very very difficult to find a job. Expecially here in Europe.

  59. Technology guy Says:

    Computer sciences and technology is sexy enough as is I think. It’s all about the presentation, if you present your topic horribly then you are likely to find an uninterested crowd. However, if you make the same topic exciting, by using it in applied knowledge learning. Then the very same topic suddenly has an excited and interested crowd. Though the topic of learning remains the same, the presentation of it dramatically increases it’s students interests.

  60. Reece Says:

    No Sex Appeal? Computer Science is sexier than ever and i don’t think thats about to change. More and more women are now coming into this field, although its not so big over here in the UK as i think around 15 of the 1500 people attending my course at university were female. Geekiness is definately in and i think that with the mass popularity of social networking sites such as facebook so is Geekiness as a whole. It wouldn’t suprise me to see a mass surge in applications. Reece

  61. Daniel Says:

    I hope the UK curriculum for Computer Science has come on since the 90′s, our course had about 10% content which could be put to practical use.

  62. Joan Says:

    I think this is an excellent example of a great blog post title. Your title got me here and I really enjoyed your post. You should write an article on ‘How to Write a Great Blog Post Title”. Joan

  63. Steve Says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m with Mike Wellings earlier comment, but I would also add supply & demand to the equation. As mike points out there is a huge interest in CS in nearly all Asian universities. I currently live in the Philippines and the shortage here is in any medical field, CS gets swamped year after year & I think the overwhelming driving force behind this is the poverty of some of these third world countries (Philippines included). These people have seen & heard of fantastic salaries in the field of IT /CS and then spend years dreaming of the day they can go to America to work! It does not surprise me that you then experience a drop in applications at home, simply because there are now so few quality positions left to fill.

    Regards Steve

  64. Software Jobs Says:

    Very interesting article. I liked it very much. I got a problem. I am not able to view our RSS feed URL. Can you please help me?

  65. Eamon Moriarty Says:

    Many unqualified people now have a level of Computer Skills equivalent to or superior to that of Computer Science graduates of a few years ago. It is important that CS degrees offer a level of knowledge that is at the cutting edge and absolutely up to pace with the latest developments. It is very easy for educational institutions to fall behind in this field.

  66. The Home Based Guy Says:

    Carnegie Mellon University along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University are ranked number one in the country this year for their graduate schools in Computer Science. I think nuclear physics will be a hot job area in the years to come with all the focus on new energy sources. I think attending one of these three schools for nuclear physics would be a wise career choice.

  67. kadın hastalıkları Says:

    Carnegie Mellon University along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University are ranked number one in the country this year for their graduate schools in Computer Science. I think nuclear physics will be a hot job area in the years to come with all the focus on new energy sources.

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