Do we really want more students interested in CS?

Expert Opinion talks about whether the current drop in enrollment is a tragedy or not

From an employee’s perspective, fewer people seeking jobs is a good thing. And, frankly, while having lots of graduate students to shovel code may help some university research, I’m not convinced that most of the system building that results is truly significant. Interesting, yes, even neat. But not likely to have any significant impact. University faculty should have their students’ interests in mind when talking or writing about the job market, and I’m not sure we do when we talk of declining enrollment as a bad thing, or, even worse, a crisis. Declining enrollment is a rational response on the part of students to a significant drop in the job market.

There are many interesting bits in his posts. For one thing, he shows that the decline comes, in large part, because females have completly left the field now. I think he nails the real reasons why females have left:

I have a radical idea: how about Microsoft leading the way in instituting a real 40-hour work week? How about Microsoft getting rid of the practice of hiring “temporary” technical staff?

Yes, that’s right. Jobs where you are required to work 90 hours a week for an average salary are not going to attract women. Men are macho and stupid, we don’t mind dying at 50 of a heart attact away from our love ones; women aren’t so silly and they require time with their family.

Second of all, he clearly states that fewer graduate students is not going to really hurt research. This is very important. I’ve said it again and again on this blog: stop claiming that we urgently need more graduate students.The lie is everywhere around us, so much so that we can’t see it anymore.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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