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Hardcover | Out of Print | 184 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 5 illus. | November 2001 | ISBN: 9780262133982
Paperback | $22.95 Trade | £18.95 | 184 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 5 illus. | February 2003 | ISBN: 9780262632690
eBook | $22.95 Trade | February 2003 | ISBN: 9780262332453
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Unlocking the Clubhouse

Women in Computing


The information technology revolution is transforming almost every aspect of society, but girls and women are largely out of the loop. Although women surf the Web in equal numbers to men and make a majority of online purchases, few are involved in the design and creation of new technology. It is mostly men whose perspectives and priorities inform the development of computing innovations and who reap the lion's share of the financial rewards. As only a small fraction of high school and college computer science students are female, the field is likely to remain a "male clubhouse," absent major changes.

In Unlocking the Clubhouse, social scientist Jane Margolis and computer scientist and educator Allan Fisher examine the many influences contributing to the gender gap in computing. The book is based on interviews with more than 100 computer science students of both sexes from Carnegie Mellon University, a major center of computer science research, over a period of four years, as well as classroom observations and conversations with hundreds of college and high school faculty. The interviews capture the dynamic details of the female computing experience, from the family computer kept in a brother's bedroom to women's feelings of alienation in college computing classes. The authors investigate the familial, educational, and institutional origins of the computing gender gap. They also describe educational reforms that have made a dramatic difference at Carnegie Mellon—where the percentage of women entering the School of Computer Science rose from 7% in 1995 to 42% in 2000—and at high schools around the country.

About the Authors

Jane Margolis is a Senior Researcher at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies and the coauthor of Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing (MIT Press). She was a 2016 White House Champion of Change for her work addressing underrepresentation of students of color and women in computer science.

Allan Fisher, former Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, is President and CEO of Carnegie Technology Education, a Carnegie Mellon education company.


“...a highly influential and celebrated study of women in computer science...”—Scott Carlson, The Chronicle of Higher Education
“...rigorous, academic...practical and readable.”—Gill Stoker, First Monday
“This work proves viewing computer science from different angles, we can attract a broader cross-section of society...”—Gregory V. Wilson, Dr. Dobb's Journal


“Drs. Margolis and Fisher have done a great service to education, computer science, and the culture at large. Unlocking the Clubhouse should be required reading for anyone and everyone who is concerned about the decreasing rate of women studying computer science.”
Anita Borg, President and Founding Director, Institute for Women and Technology
On the surface it seems that computing should be an attractive career for women, but for many it hasn't been. Margolis and Fisher give us a deep and nuanced insight into this troubling problem. No simplistic answers are offered, but rather the far richer perspectives of real human experience.
Wm. A. Wulf President, National Academy of Engineering