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                                                                                                                                                                                 RAIN IN THE FORECAST
                                               FIRST OF A THREE-PART SERIES



                  It’s just   WOMEN AND COMPUTING:

      THE PROMISE what the
        DENIED    doctor
                  ordered                                                                                                                                                        More good news: Signs point
                                                                                                                                                                                 to an El Niño winter next year
                                                                                                                                                                                         By Paul Rogers
                                                                                                                                                                                    progers@mercurynews.com
                                                                                                                                                                                    Here’s something you
                                                                                                                                                                                 haven’t heard much around
                                                                                                                                                                                 California during the past 14
                                                                                                                                                                                 months: Get out your um-                         WINTER
                                                                                                                                                                                 brellas.                                         WEATHER
                                                                                                                                                                                    Forecasters say signifi-                       Forecasters say
                                                                                                                                                                                 cant rain is in the future —                     a storm will hit
                                                                                                                                                                                 both this week and possibly                      the Bay Area
                                                                                                                                                                                 next winter, with computer                       by Wednesday.
                                                                                                                                                                                 models showing promis-
                                                                                                                                                                                 ing signs of an El Niño, the
                                                                                                                                                                                 phenomenon when Pacific
                                                                                                                                                                                 Ocean waters warm up, of-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2-5”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Predicted rain-
                                                                                                                                                                                 ten bringing wet winters to                      fall for much of
                                                                                                                                                                                 California.                                      the Bay Area
                                                                                                                                                                                    It’s a double dose of posi-
                                                                                                                                                                                 tive news for the drought-
                                                                                                                                                                                 stricken state. While pre-                       2-3’
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Snow forecast
                                                                                                                                                                                 dicting weather too far into
                                                                                                                                                                                 the future is still unreliable,                  in the Sierra
                                                                                                                                                                                 this week’s storm system                         Nevada
                                                                                                                                       DAI SUGANO/STAFF PHOTO ILLUSTRATION       charging in from the Pacific                      Online: Find an
      Sophia Westwood is working on her master’s in computer science, but she is an exception to the rule. The                                                                   Ocean is a safer bet: The                        extended fore-
      photo illustration was made with multiple exposures containing computer code Westwood wrote last year.                                                                     storm is expected to hit the                     cast at weather.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  mercurynews.
                                                                                                                                                                                   See WEATHER, Page 19                           com.
      Computers drive society, yet half of society is                                                                             INSIDE

      falling woefully behind. Today: The reasons                                                                               The good fight:
                                                                                                                                Mills College
      behind, and consequences of, that imbalance                                                                               professor and                                    WINTER OLYMPICS 2014
                                                                                                                                Google senior

          When Sophia Westwood decided
                                                                                                                                research
                                                                                                                                scientist Ellen                                  Sochi great for games,
      to take computer science as a fresh-
      man at Stanford, she knew she was
      running with a high-octane crowd:
                                                                                                                                Spertus has
                                                                                                                                battled for decades to get more
                                                                                                                                women into computing. PAGE A16
                                                                                                                                                                                 but not for vacations
      elite program, startup factory, genius                                                                                                                                        SOCHI, Russia — The one item I forgot to
                          classmates who                                                                                                                                         pack? Sunscreen. I needed it almost every day.
                          had been coding                                                                                         THE SERIES                                        The one item I remembered to pack? My
                          since birth.                                                                                          Part Two: What difference does                                     heavy winter coat. It hung
                             Then again, why                                                                                    it make if women don’t join the                                    in my closet the entire three
                          not? Westwood                                                                                         tech workforce in the same                                         weeks. The weather was way
                          had been dabbling                                                                                     numbers that men do? Turns                                         too warm. The temperature hit
                          with programming                                                   NHAT V. MEYER/STAFF                out it makes a huge difference                                     nearly 80 degrees one day.
      MIKE CASSIDY        since she was a kid,                                                                                  — to women, tech companies                                             These were the weirdest
                          and she rocked the              Westwood, left, chats with fellow                                                                                                        Winter Olympics ever. And
      SILICON VALLEY                                                                                                            and the U.S. economy
      DISPATCHES          Advanced Place-                 Stanford students and professors                                                                                       MARK PURDY        that was even before the stray
                          ment test in high               at an event she started to bring                                      Part Three: It is going to take an                                 dogs started showing up out-
                                                          students together with role models                                    effort of moonshot magnitude                     COLUMNIST
      school. So she went for it — and                                                                                                                                                             side my breakfast place to snarf
      almost immediately confronted the                   in computer sciences.                                                 to reverse the decline of women                  up leftover sausage, or the feminist punk band
      reality that every woman in the field                                                                                     in computing. Some solutions,                    Pussy Riot was horsewhipped by a Cossack in
      faces.                                              computer science degrees last year                                    and a look at ambitious pro-                     the streets of Sochi.
          “Oh, you must be Sophia,” her                   were awarded to women. At UC                                          grams now underway.                                 (Mark down the last sentence as one that
      instructor for an introductory com-                 Berkeley, the number was 16.2 per-                                    COMING THIS WEEK                                 I have never previously written nor expect to
      puter science class said.                           cent. The schools broadly mirror the
          It wasn’t Westwood’s reputation                 national picture. But that’s only part                                  ONLINE EXTRA                                                    See PURDY, Page 18
      that preceded her. It was her gender.               of the story.
      Westwood was the only woman                             The fact is, the numbers have                                      Stanford student Amy Nguyen
      among the eight or so students in the               been getting worse. In 1984, more                                      can testify that computer sci-
      discussion section, and it wouldn’t be              than 37 percent of computer science                                    ence is not just a dull pursuit for
      the last time she would be severely                 bachelor’s degrees in the United                                       nerdy guys. Her story, links to
      outnumbered.                                        States were awarded to women. By                                       influential reports on the subject
          Even as women have made big                     1995, the figure had dropped to about                                  and more at www.mercurynews.
      strides in once-male-dominated pro-                 28.5 percent. The latest U.S. Depart-                                  com/women-in-computing.
      fessions such as law and medicine,                  ment of Education figures from 2011                                    Join Mike Cassidy when he
      they’ve been left far behind when it                put the number at 17.6 percent.                                        moderates a panel discussion
      comes to computer science, a lucra-                     All of which helps explain why                                     March 1 titled “Cracking the
      tive discipline that is the primary                 women hold less than one-quarter                                       Code: New Ways to Get More
      driver of the 21st century economy.                                                                                        Women and Girls in Tech.”
          At Stanford, only 23.5 percent of                            See CASSIDY, Page 16                                      DETAILS, PAGE A16                                                                                NHAT V. MEYER/STAFF

                                                                                                                                                                                 Rings and flame symbolize the Olympic spirit
                                                                                                                                                                                 of international brotherhood in Sochi, Russia.
        BY THE NUMBERS

        Few female computer science grads (2010-11)                                                                Men 82.4%                       Women 17.6%                   MORE OLYMPICS                      ONLINE EXTRA
                                                                                                                                                                                 Online coverage:                              Scan to see
                                                                                                                                                                                 For all the news, live                        a slideshow
                                                                                                                                                                                 results, and photos                           of the
                                                                                                                                                                                 from Sochi, go to www.                        USA in the
        Source: Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics                                                                  BAY AREA NEWS GROUP
                                                                                                                                                                                 mercurynews.com/                   bronze medal hockey
                                                                                                                                                                                 olympics.                          game, or go to photos.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mercurynews.com.


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