Why do so few people major in computer science?

Why do so few people major in computer science?

Wow, the number of people graduating with CS degrees is really cyclical. The first peak in 1985 corresponds to the release of the IBM Personal Computer. The second peak corresponds to the 2001 dotcom bubble.

One problem that I observed in last 5 years is that folks are afraid of change. They see mechanical, civil, electrical as core fields of study and they will stay green for years to come, (arguably) forever. On the other hand, CS is prone to change. Safety is not guaranteed. Unless you acquire knowledge as fast as the changing times, you’re bound to be out of job in say a decade. (e.g. a front-end developer would probably be out of job given the rise of AI (again, open to arguments).

It’s as simple as this: Anyone who cares about longevity in their career will avoid software development.

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I’ve seen it a lot. The old guard is worth a lot until companies are off the systems they know. Once there’s no threat of disaster recovery, then those people are suddenly expensive and obsolete. That’s when the layoffs begin.

I have a friend who was just dev lead at a startup in his early 40’s. They got acquired with 3-year lockup. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you his daily caffeine consumption. I also wouldn’t wish his list of medical problems on anyone.

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Well, if too many people major in CS, salary will go down.

Because everyone knows about ageism in the field and they want, what they perceive as, a long-term sustainable career.

[quote=“marcus335, post:2, topic:2861”]
The old guard is worth a lot until companies are off the systems they know. Once there’s no threat of disaster recovery, then those people are suddenly expensive and obsolete. That’s when the layoffs begin.
[/quote]I have seen similar in my ex-workplace too. I was there when the company is transitioning from mainframe/ dumb terminal to PC client-Unix server, we systematically chopped those old timers including the number one who is actually the first one to go :slight_smile: Is an IT organization within a big organization.

Anecdotal evidences that high level executives are not spared too.

Jon Rubinstein was very good at PowerPC chip and invited by Steve Jobs to join Apple as SVP. Apple transitioned to Intel and he is no longer around.

Steve Ballmer, ex-CEO Microsoft, left when Microsoft transitions to cloud-computing.

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I saw it in automotive too. People don’t realize electric and hybrid technology was big years ago. Then gas got cheap again and no one cared. All the electric and hybrid vehicle people were laid off. There was the same cycle with turbo and super charger experts too. Once they were out of muscle cars those engineers were useless. Now that we’re using turbo and super chargers for fuel economy, the skills are hot again.

Few people major in CS because it is really hard. This major really tests your IQ along with other STEM majors like Electrical Engineering and physics. Material is very abstract and hard to grasp. Try explaining to someone what a Turing Machine is. Anyone with an IQ lower than 130 is not going to achieve much success in this field. This narrows it down to less than 5 percent of the population.

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I would be offended by your James-like comment if I don’t have a B Eng (EE) and a MBA.

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Quit the bullshit. This is not some internal Google bulletin board.


Whatever I hear from my friends, nowadays it is hard to get seats at bay area colleges, UCs & CSUs especially for CS or Electrical Engineering subjects. The competition is very high ranging from UC-SCZ to UCDavis or CSU-San Jose or De-Anza or West valley college courses. Even with hiked tuition fees, situation is getting worse.

I say math and physics are much harder than CS. There are a few ways of thinking about problems that you need to master. And that’s it. Math is much richer and 10x more abstract.

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They are hard but don’t really offer a lot of lucrative career paths. CS is where the money is…

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Engineering has never been a stable job, unless you work for the government. .Even civil and structural engineering…Now even that kind of work can be done off shore…I worked for 11 companies in 12 years in construction related structural engineering. .Plus most engineers are obsolete after 40…doesn’t matter what field…Plan an exit strategy…either get an MBA and go into management or start buying real estate rigth out of college. .My real estate investing was much more stable and lucrative than my engineering career…


Totally agree. CS courses were way easier than both for me, and more interesting.

I just going to bring this back into this thread:

When I went to MIT, they admitted women to men 49%-51%. They don’t admit into majors–you come and declare a major your freshman year and change it as often as you like, even as a sophomore. So while they definitely manipulated the sex/race stats, they didn’t affect the intended major stats (to my knowledge–that’s what we were told).

So of women admitted to an engineering schools, only about 20-25% majored in computer science. Biology, I believe, was majority women, and Mech E–which i would have thought more of as a male field–was probably around 50%.

What this tells me is that there’s something about women who are already looking at a science/engineering degree not choosing CS. Maybe there is in fact something biological there.

Also, why don’t we ever hear about this in physics? What are the stats on physics? My guess is that it’s just as bad.

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Blatantly obvious… there’s no money in a physics career. Can be dominated by men 100% nobody cares. People only start yelling and screaming when money is involved, as always…


Maybe part nature, part nurture.

Boys may be born more aggressive and girls more social. Then we layer expectations and stereotypes on them as they grow up. We buy guns for boys and teach them “boy” behavior. We buy dolls for girls and teach them “girl” behavior.

When they grow up we point to them and say, see? Men exhibit our expectation of male behavior and women female behavior and thus it’s all biological.

I’ll bring this one back up too:

Physics is more interesting when you’re on testosterone:


Griffin Hansbury
Something that happened after I started taking testosterone, I became interested in science. I was never interested in science before.

Alex Blumberg
No way. Come on. Are you serious?

Griffin Hansbury
I’m serious. I’m serious.

Alex Blumberg
You’re just setting us back a hundred years, sir.

Griffin Hansbury
I know I am. I know. Again-- and I have to have this caveat in here-- I cannot say it was the testosterone. All I can say is that this interest happened after T. There’s BT and AT, and this was definitely after T. And I became interested in science. I found myself understanding physics in a way I never had before.

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Google, buy some steroids for the ladies… :rofl:

As I said, I do not want to see this come to adding testosterone to the drinking water. yeesh.

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Math is a basic need or backbone for any science subject that includes Physics, CS, Mechanical, Electrical Engg or any financial subjects.