Is it harder for women to achieve in the field of computers? Only 4% of 70 Turing Prize winners are women

The Turing Prize, known as the “Nobel Prize in Computer Science”, is a concern, but if you attend the awards dinner you will find that the winners are almost all men, and looking at the Turing Prize winners, you can easily conclude that men are more likely to make breakthroughs in the computer world. In fact, women have many outstanding contributors in the field of computer science, but because of stereotypes, institutions and other issues, women have fewer winners. But that is changing.

Is it harder for women to achieve in the field of computers? Only 4% of 70 Turing Prize winners are women

The Turing Prize, known as the “Nobel Prize in Computer Science”, is not a household name, but their innovation has changed our lives. Tim Berners-Lee (winner of the 2016 Turing Prize) invented the World Wide Web and the first web browser. Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman (winner of the 2015 Turing Prize) invented public key encryption, a security technology that allows us to enter credit card numbers online with confidence. Raj Reddy (1994) pioneered artificial intelligence, a technology that enabled computers to understand natural language. Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun (2018 Turing Award winners) have made breakthroughs in deep learning for features such as self-driving cars, facial recognition, and more.

Nominations for the 2019 Turing Prize should be made on 15 January by the Computer Science Association (ACM), the award-giving organization. ACM usually announces the winners in March. In late June, it will honor the winners and other lesser-known winners of the Computer Awards at an awards dinner in San Francisco. If you go to an awards dinner, you’ll find an obvious phenomenon: almost all of the people who win the top computer award are men.

Read the Turing Prize winners carefully and you may easily get the wrong impression that men dominate almost all computing breakthroughs. Since the Turing Prize was awarded in 1966, 70 computer scientists have received the award, only three of whom are women. The first female winner did not appear until 2006, meaning the first woman at the Turing Prize in its 40th year. Some argue that the lack of female Turing prize winners reflects the underrepresentation of women in the field. However, the 4 per cent of female winners disagree, and in fact 21 per cent of those currently receiving phDs in computer science are women (down from a peak of 37 per cent in 1987).

Is it harder for women to achieve in the field of computers? Only 4% of 70 Turing Prize winners are women

Turing Award Winners List, Source ACM

Millions of dollars in prize money, such as the Turing Prize, have attracted public attention. The winners were highly sought after, invited to give high-profile speeches, meet with business leaders and advise politicians. For some nerd groups (I belong to one of them), they are heroes. After the ACM Awards dinner, they became role models for young people. When women’s contributions are overlooked, the opportunity to get inspiration and seek advice from important computer pioneers is abandoned.

Moreover, ACM must have missed the chance to discover pioneering female computer scientists. Grace Hopper (1906-1992) worked on the first commercial computer produced in the United States, created the first compiler, and invented the first English-like data processing language. Team at ENIAC – Betty Jean Bartik, Kathleen McNulty, Mauchly Antonelli, Ruth Teitelbaum, Frances Spence, Marlzer and Frances H Alberton was responsible for calculating World War II ballistics and was the world’s first general-purpose computer. Mary Kenneth Keller’s sister (1913-1985) helped develop BASIC computer code.

Radia Perlman (born 1951) developed the Tree Generation Protocol to make the Internet possible. Judy Clapper (born in 1930) developed a prototype of an air defense system that uses radar to track and guide the aircraft.

Catherine Spark Jones (1935-2007) developed TF-IDF (term frequency-inverse document frequency, A common weighting technique for information retrieval and data mining), which is the basic technology of modern search engine. The story of a female computer pioneer can be filled with books.

Is it harder for women to achieve in the field of computers? Only 4% of 70 Turing Prize winners are women

Rear Navy Adm. Grace Hopper in 1978.

In fact, some of the highlights include who created the little-known story of the Internet, when computers became human beings, and Grace Hopper: admirals in the network.

Fostering greater gender inclusion in the Turing Prize winners and in the larger computer community is not only good for women, it is also good for innovation and discovery. Gender diversity in science increases the diversity of researchers’ perspectives, issues and areas, resulting in a “gender diversity dividend”. According to the results of the study, heterogeneous groups performed better than homogenous groups. Other studies have shown that participants from different groups are better able to accept different opinions, which can stimulate thought and enhance their creativity. As one author writes, “Diversity leads us into cognitive behavior, but homogeneity does not.” “

Studies have shown that implicit and explicit biases in systems hinder female computer scientists. The general stereotype suggests that they have no innate scientific talent, which also reduces women’s influence. Women, or women who are good at interpersonal, are often considered unfit for calculations.

The good news, however, is that many influential figures who have won the Turing Prize want it to be more inclusive. “We’ve been working hard to get the (ACM) Committee to pay more attention to and encourage nominations to meet the broad desire to be fully engaged. Vinton Cerf (2004), co-chair of the committee, said he is chairman of the ACM Awards Committee and Google’s chief Internet preacher – working on interplanetary Internet.

It is important to recognize that more women will not reduce the institutional barriers that limit women’s development in the field of computers. In universities, female researchers are asked to take on in-house service roles as “academic families”, which limits their research time. The lack of maternity leave and affordable childcare has a particularly high impact on women scientists in the early stages of their careers.

In addition, some family-friendly policies have exacerbated gender inequality among research scientists, and family leave policies have proven to reduce a higher proportion of teaching burdens for men than women. Childcare has been shown to increase the number of male journals published, but only for women in teaching.

Institutional issues are also reflected in the identification of potential Turing Prize winners. ACM relies on outstanding computer scientists to write letters of recommendation to nominate candidates for the award. But for career development and nominations, academic letters that have proved to be in the field of science disproportionately contain language that women choose to pursue science, confirming earlier research.

Those responsible for assessing professional ism often do not explain men’s tendency to overestimate their abilities, or women’s tendency to underestimate their abilities. The result is that the Turing Prize nominee bears a striking resemblance to the 50-year-old experiment with scientists, with children being asked to paint a scientist with almost all of the men who paint. To be sure, not every woman in computer work will encounter all these challenges, but many will experience some.

“Usually, we receive one (Turing Award) female nominee every five years. “This is very disturbing,” ACM President Cherri Pancake said at the last Heidelberg Winners Forum in September. “The forum is the annual gathering of math and computer science winners.

“We need to nominate more women,” said Robert Tarjan (1986), then a Turing Prize winner. “I can think of some women who should be nominated. “

Indeed, the Turing Prize has made some progress in recent years on gender inclusion. Frances Allen (2006), whose job is to optimize the recognition of compilers (programs that convert code from one programming language to another), provides the foundation for automated parallel execution, dividing large computing problems into smaller problems that can be solved simultaneously. Barbara Liskov (2008) was recognized for her pioneering contribution stoic contribution stoic to programming languages and system design. Shafi Goldwasser (2012), paving the way for the famous science of cryptography, invented a method to effectively verify mathematical certificates in the study of complex systems.

As a result, Allen, Liskov and Goldwasser can not only attend ACM Awards dinners, or Heidelberg Winners’ Forums, but also create the impression of computer science heroes in the collective consciousness of the public.