NCWIT Pacesetters is a fast-track program in which industry and university leaders commit to increasing their numbers of technical women. Pacesetters organizations set for themselves a goal number of "Net New" Women, and then work at an accelerated pace to recruit previously untapped talent pools of technical women and retain women who are at risk of leaving. Pacesetters is the first program of its kind for organizations to work together across corporate and academic organizational boundaries, within an aggressive timeframe, and holding shared accountability to themselves and the public for achieving a common, quantifiable goal. You can set your own Net New Women goal and follow the Pacesetters model. Enlist executive leaders who work from the top-down and change leaders who work from the bottom-up. Together, you can build an internal team that develops effective programs and shares results. Consider some of the approaches implemented by previous Pacesetters that helped them accelerate the achievement of their goals:
Improve the First Course Experience
First courses can appeal to a broader demographic (not just women) by teaching computing in context and showing how computing skills can be applied to disciplines such as healthcare, disabilities, or the arts. Such introductory courses introduce computational thinking skills (as opposed to just the mechanics of coding), keep students engaged, and can increase retention in the major.
Create Community and Visibility
Partner with existing groups (company affinity groups, supervisory groups, local community organizations) to highlight opportunities that women may not have been aware of and to recruit and advance women into computing fields. These collaborations may involve efforts to change the image of computing or improving how the organization celebrates women's technical contributions and accomplishments.
Look more closely at the women already on campus and those already working in your company to recruit from the inside. Women already connected to your organization can be motivated to study CS / IT majors or take on technical corporate jobs when they receive direct motivation to do so.
Support and Draw on Female Talent Pools
Programs that engage girls before they lose interest or decide to pursue other fields offer potential students, interns and new hires. For example, the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing provides encouragement, inspiration, and community to young women that can influence career decisions. By supporting and engaging with participants in these programs, you can build relationships and paths to your institution or company.
Influence the Influencers
Faculty, admissions staff, counselors, parents, mentors, managers, and peers are all powerful influencers of women's decisions to enter or stay on a technical track. Communicate with the influencers to have them encourage more women to pursue computing careers.
Tap New Pools of Talent
Seek new pools of talent that could flow into computing fields and careers. This strategy can include offering new majors or creating interdisciplinary majors that allow students to combine computing skills with a variety of fields that interest them, or providing training to current employees that allows them to switch to a technical track.