An Unexplored Relationship: Women in Computing and Athletics

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The literature documents the underrepresentation of women in computer science, reasons for the absence of women in computing, and promising practices for increasing female majors in computer science. Among the many reasons for women's avoidance of computer science are: feelings of intimidation, lack of confidence, and aversion to the competitive climate in computing. This paper reports results from a study whose purpose lies in surveying a sample of 457 students at a Midwest US university to answer the questions: What are the personality traits of female athletes who enroll in computer science courses? How are these traits similar to or different from those of male athletes, non-athletes, and students who do not enroll in Computer Science I (CS1) How do grades in CS1 differ among these groups? How do personality traits, gender, athletic team membership, and grades interact? The results of this research study indicate that when females' levels of confidence and intimidation are similar to those of their male peers, women outperform males in CS1. This novel study and its results open the door to additional research questions, new strategies for recruiting women into computing, and potential projects involving female athletes and computer science.