This project will address the gender gap in computer science through a discourse analysis of materials used to attract young girls to the field. Applying Invitational Rhetoric, Foss and Griffin’s feminist rhetorical theory, I will determine how rhetoric is being used to attract or possibly dissuade young females from entering computer science. Women have contributed to the field of computer science beginning in the 19th century even though computers were not yet invented. Considered the world’s first programmer, Ada Lovelace helped pioneer the first modern computer science concepts, and many of the same ideas we use today, like variables and looping. While many women played an important role, the statistics of women majoring in computer science have declined over the years. By the mid-80s, the number of women began to decrease. Women have developed many computer science inventions dating back 200 years. Many of these are still used today, have become the foundation for technological advancements, or played a role as participants in computing development. The 1980s saw the growth of personal computers in U.S. homes. These early computers were toys marketed to males with media catering to males, movies like Weird Science and Revenge of the Nerds established a male feel to the field of computer science and “geeky” culture. This played an important role that impacted young women to not choose computer science and helps explain the gap we have today. The theory and method used in this research will show how invitational rhetoric differs from traditional rhetoric. It is important to know the methods used to incorporate young women in the field of computer science. Invitational Rhetoric is rooted in valuing the individual experiences of everyone to “enter the rhetor’s world and to see it as the rhetor does” (Foss & Griffin, 5). The methods will allow me to explore in-depth how rhetoric could be used to portray computer science by instilling equality, immanent value, and self-determination between rhetor and audience.
Ramirez, Cindy, "Gender Gap in Computer Science: An Invitational Rhetoric Study" (2021). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 465.