How Does the Physical Environment Affect Women's Entry and Persistence in Computing? Design Physical Space that Has Broad Appeal (Case Study 1)
The décor of physical spaces conveys messages about the kinds of people who belong there and the kinds of activities that should be done there. Understanding this influence allows us to actively craft an environment that makes a broad range of people feel welcome in computing.
The Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington opened in 2003. The building was intended to be warm, welcoming, and “non-techy” in appearance, applying principles supported by research on stereotypes and the environment. Combined with the department’s other diversity initiatives, the building may be accomplishing its goal. The department has seen increases in women’s representation at a time when peer institutions saw declines.