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:

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.

43 thoughts on “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. 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. 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


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

  12. Dimas says:

    Nice articles…

    Open Minded…


  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. 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

  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:


    Good articles….

  22. adillon says:

    Since this post still gets lots of traffic, I thought I’ point you all to an updated (part III):

  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.

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