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Gender Gap In Computer Science: Studying Its Absence In One Former Soviet Republic

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

An International Perspective

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.778.1 - 12.778.12



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Paper Authors


Hasmik Gharibyan California Polytechnic State University

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Dr. Hasmik Gharibyan is a Full Professor in the Computer Science department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The first 15 years of her career (1981-1996) she held faculty positions in the Applied Mathematics and Informatics department at Yerevan State University, Republic of Armenia (USSR). Then she moved to San Luis Obispo, USA, and in 1998 joined the faculty of the Computer Science department at Cal Poly.

Dr. Gharibyan teaches undergrad and grad courses, including such courses as Theory of Computing, Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis, as well as introductory courses in Computer Science. Her research areas include Numerical Analysis, Computer Science Education, and Women in Computer Science.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Gender Gap in Computer Science: Studying Its Absence in One Former Soviet Republic


It is no secret that women in the United States avoid Computer Science (CS) as a career choice. This is a big problem not only in the USA, but in numerous other countries around the world. However, there are countries – such as some of the republics of the former Soviet Union – where this problem never existed. For example, in the Computer Science department of Yerevan State University, Republic of Armenia, throughout all of the 1980s and 90s the percentage of women never fell below 75% (until mid 1990s this was the only CS program in Armenia and contained around 1,200 majors). The situation was similar in most of the soviet republics. The soviet society, culture, and educational system in many ways are quite different from the USA’s and therefore may contain factors that positively affect women and attract them to CS. This motivated us to start an international investigation (in 2005) involving former soviet countries and the USA on the issue of women’s interest and participation in CS; our goal is (i) to identify factors that attract women to CS in former soviet countries and find out whether or not these factors work in the USA, and (ii) to find out whether or not some of the well known negative factors that affect women in the USA1-5 exist in those countries. We believe that such information will bring a better understanding of the problem in the USA and will contribute to designing more effective solution strategies.

In 2005-06, with the support of the Engineering Information Foundation, we carried out a study involving one former soviet country and the USA; we conducted a series of surveys and interviews in the Republic of Armenia, one of the major CS centers of the former Soviet Union, followed by matching surveys in the USA. In this paper we present some of the data, observations, and findings of the study; additional results of the first (Armenian) phase of the study can be found in a separate paper6.

The investigation is ongoing (we plan to research more than one former soviet republic), and therefore it is early to make final conclusions; however, the results obtained so far are significant enough to be presented at this time.

Armenia, the Target Country

Note: All facts and statements in this section are taken from reliable official web sites7-10.

Armenia (short for Republic of Armenia) is one of the 15 republics of the former Soviet Union (USSR). It covers an area of 29,800 square kilometers (slightly smaller than Maryland) and is located in the Southern Caucasus between the Black and Caspian Seas. It shares borders with Turkey to the west, Georgia to the north, Azerbaijan to the east, and Iran to the south. Armenia is one of the oldest and most historic civilizations in the world with a rich cultural heritage; its history goes back to the 2nd millennium BC. Armenia was the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as its official state religion (in 301 AD).

Gharibyan, H. (2007, June), Gender Gap In Computer Science: Studying Its Absence In One Former Soviet Republic Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1893

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