Recruitment Works: A Success Story

Women working at computer

Every organization, whether for- or non-profit, lives for the success story: the testimonial from a happy client or customer served that tells you in first-hand terms how effective and influential your organization has been. In rare cases, you might hear that you've been integral in helping a person make significant and positive changes; in even rarer cases, you cause a person to shed tears of joy.

The note below is from a high school computer science teacher who adopted some NCWIT recruiting and outreach practices after participating in a tapestry workshop run by Joanne Cohoon, Jim Cohoon, and Mary Lou Soffa at UVA this summer. His efforts to recruit girls into his computing class have been wildly successful: he has 29% female students enrolled this fall, a marked increase from the 12% he had previously.

"I was at the tapestry workshop. After the workshop I did what you said and appealed to a gaggle of girls.  I got 51 in AP Computer Science and 15 of them are girls. The 15 girls are all in the student government. I had my kids build the student government stuff for a convention they are having (we built a 40-foot Hot Wheels track and some carnival games).  Before the summer I had 5 girls.

"Next year I will get more from word of mouth!"

Then, he describes his reaction to realizing that he could have overlooked an exceptional student had he not begun to explicitly encourage girls.

"I have three girls on my programming team.  (two on one team, and one on another team).  One of my girls whom I have taught for three years made me cry in my car on the way home (where no one could see me).  She solved a recursion problem that I tried to do for about 4 hours and could not solve.

"Without me pushing for girls on the team, I would have just thought she was an 'A' student.  With a little push she became my brilliant A student. I should have pushed her last year.

"(And for the record, it wasn’t an all-out boo-hoo cry.  It was like a single tear that a man would do if there was something in his man eye.)"

Teachers from a similar workshop the previous summer also have given testimonials to the positive effects of NCWIT recruitment recommendations. One teacher had been in danger of not having her computing course run at all due to lack of enrollment. Following recruitment efforts, the principal told her to desist because there was too much demand for her classes, and now other courses were in danger of not running.

The bottom line? Planned, targeted recruitment, like that described in NCWIT's resources, works. Ready to get started?  Visit our practices page to find out which ones are best for you.