by John Martin, CNN
(CNN) – While it has been argued that science, technology, engineering and math may open the door to more job opportunities, it seems that fewer women are pursuing those courses of study, at least at the nation’s community colleges.
A study released Tuesday by the Institute for Women's Policy Research says that while women represent a majority of college graduates overall, only 27.5% of Associate’s degrees and occupational certificates in the STEM fields were awarded to women in 2007. Cynthia Costello, the study’s author, found that women are losing ground: This statistic was more than 10% higher in 1997.
Underrepresentation in STEM fields at community colleges may be part of the reason women lag behind men in the STEM workforce. According to the study, women make up almost half of the American workforce but only around a quarter of the STEM labor pool. Data presented in the study shows that women are leaving some STEM fields. From 2000 to 2009, the number of women working in computers and math dropped about 3%.
By Ann DeMarle, Special to CNN
(CNN) - A decade ago, I left the computer graphics-game industry and founded the game development degree programs at Champlain College in Vermont. It has been exciting to be on the ground floor of one of the most exciting new fields in higher education, rich with potential for discovery and innovation.
Although today there are more than 500 accredited game programs at American colleges and universities, I feel we still have a long way to go to claim our place among the respected academic disciplines. Misperceptions abound. Some parents, in their understandable zeal to ensure a return on tuition payments, reject the field as frivolous. Yet others flock to us, knowing that many game students, even in this tough economy, are finding jobs upon graduation.
Both parental assumptions are a bit askew. Majoring in a field to get a job dangerously misses the point of higher education. College is about acquiring career skills, but more importantly, it is about mastering skills that allow the individual to determine his or her future and to develop an essential love for lifelong learning.
In strong degree programs, students learn much more than simply how to create games. They become modern-day storytellers, reflectively applying game design skills to a host of challenges facing our world. Technology, arts, interactivity and social understanding are in their toolboxes. Immersed in 21st-century problems, they develop critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills. Working in teams, they come to understand how disciplines can work together to produce innovation and value.