CSE Receives NCWIT Award for Recruiting and Retention Efforts of Women in Computing

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The Computer Science and Engineering Division has received a NCWIT Extension Services Transformation (NEXT) Award for excellence in efforts to attract undergraduate women to the field of computing.

Sponsored by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Google, NEXT Awards honor academic departments that show improved outcomes in increasing women’s meaningful participation in computing education.

NCWIT has recognized the depth and breadth of CSE's recruiting and retention efforts.¬†Currently, CSE’s recruiting efforts focus on undeclared students and include a multifaceted promotional campaign and redesign of the introductory computing course EECS 183. CSE’s retention efforts include the use of relevant and interesting course content, collaborative learning, timely feedback, and student encouragement through their first four computing courses (EECS 183, 203, 280, and 281).¬† A mentorship program for undergraduates was also created by EECS 183 and 280 faculty so women in CS could feel more welcomed and included. Additionally, CSE has implemented bias training for course staff and students, and tries to maintain a 50/50 ratio of male and female TA’s.

Collegiate Lecturer Mary Lou Dorf and Prof. Valeria Bertacco have spearheaded these efforts and since starting their initiatives in 2012 there has been improvement in on the numbers of women declaring in CS and graduation rates. They state, "You will never achieve your greatest successes unless you are passionate, you persist, and you take a chance. As faculty, we are all three; our passion drives us into uncharted territory of imaginative initiatives. Our advancements towards ultimately realizing our dream of classes with a 50/50 mix of male/female gives us hope."

Recipients of the NEXT Awards demonstrate outstanding achievements as clients of NCWIT Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs, a program that helps academic departments of computing develop high-impact strategies for recruiting and retaining more women students with advice that is customized to local needs and conditions.

"Not only are we proud to recognize these department for their remarkable results, but we’re also proud to recognized the ripple effect these institutions create among the computing community at large," said NCWIT COE and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. "They are setting an example for other institutions – reinventing their culture by establishing better habits and practices for attracting and keeping a range of students in their computing programs."

Posted: May 23, 2017