There's a huge bias towards men in computing, as your own experience (and our reader surveys) show. The numbers, for us, are something like 98% male and 2% female, which is in my experience even more male-skewed than the real sex breakdown.
I'd say there are several contributing factors, not least including:
- Some women would rather not be identified as women online where there is a very strong male presence. Any "Linux/KDE/whatever Chicks" group (and there are many) is replete with stories of people being abusive/horny online.
- The historical male bias is somewhat self-supporting. One of my friends is the only female engineer in her department, and she says she finds it hard to get along with all the guys - doubtless the same is true at colleges and universities. I should come clean here and say that I was approached by a girl on my very first day in my college computing course, and was quite rude - up until that point (I was just 16, mind), I had only been around computers with guys, and at the time I honestly thought she was having a laugh at my expense. I still feel bad about it!
- The flip side of the above is that the historical female bias is also self-supporting - there's a female majority in lots of humanities subjects, sometimes because people follow in the footsteps of their parents/siblings/friends into subjects that society is comfortable with. Some of the most notable female hackers seem to have been directly driven to geekery by their parents - Allison Randall, for example, says her father got her soldering at just 5 years of age. The end result of the female bias is simply that girls don't know (or care) what computer scientists do.
- A lot of the women I know seem to find the less technical side of interest. I don't mean to say they are any less into computer science; more that they find coding ugly and best left to someone else, and the actual hardware doesn't seem to be of interest. Instead, they project manage, they come up with solutions using pre-build components, they put together analyses and maintenance contracts, they do on-site tech support. In short, they handle *people*, and do it very well. NB: this is just from personal experience.
We published a story on women in open source a while ago - you can read it online here: http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/pdfs/LXF75.women.pdf