Teacher and Guidance Counselor Day to Encourage Women in Computer Science


In Spring 2007 the Department of Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania, with the support of NCWIT, began Women in Computer Science (WICS) High School Day to introduce girls to computer science and to get them excited about the field.  In 2009, 85 high school girls from 25 different schools attended WICS High School day to meet with Penn faculty and students, tour labs, attend a CS class, and learn more about the opportunities presented to those who study Computer Science in college.

In order to expand our outreach programs, again with the support of NCWIT, we offered the first Teacher and Guidance Counselor Day to Encourage Women in Computer Science. Thirty area high school guidance counselors and teachers spent the day on campus in the fall of 2009.  In addition to the activities used for high school girls, we talked to them about how guidance counselors and teachers can help encourage girls to study computer science, what skills/knowledge will best prepare students for success in computer science, and what a college curriculum in computer science entails.  A high note of the day for this group was a lunchtime panel of students, who spoke about what it is like to be a (female) college student in computer science and what was helpful to them from their high school preparations.

When asked to evaluate the day, one participant said, “the energy and the positive attitude of hope that the faculty, students, alums and participants expressed was invaluable for me.”  All of the participants indicated that such a program should be offered again in the future and we are currently beginning to plan the Fall 2010 event.

This event was planned with the NCWIT promising practice on targeted recruiting in mind.  We identified an audience, personalized the content of our message, and paid attention to people who influence our audience’s decision-making.