NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) provides technical girls and women with ongoing engagement, visibility, and encouragement for their computing-related interests and achievements from high school through college and into the workforce. AiC Community members are supported by their peers, volunteers, and NCWIT Alliance member organizations who offer exclusive access to scholarships, internships, and professional work. Community members also give back to others by planning and leading computing experiences for middle school girls and high school women. These opportunities allow women of the Community to strengthen their leadership, technical, and entrepreneurial skills, further preparing and motivating them to participate in the computing workforce.
NCWIT AspireIT connects high school and college women with K-12 girls interested in computing. Using a near-peer model, program leaders teach younger girls fundamentals in programming and computational thinking in fun, creative environments that are supported by program partners from the NCWIT community. The relationship between the program leaders and their program partners fosters mentoring with technical professionals, increases young women’s confidence in their computing abilities, and develops valuable leadership skills.
The Community College Outreach Project Team is working to include more community colleges into the NCWIT Academic Alliance and understand how we can best support them. This team is an excellent opportunity to work on broadening participation at this often-overlooked stage in the national IT pipeline. The Community College Outreach Project Team has gathered information about the issues facing 2-year institutions and learned the common issues involved, such as budget constraints and student retention.
The NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA) Engagement Team is responsible for reaching out to potential new members. Currently the Academic Alliance comprises more than 1,500 representatives from more than 450 institutions. These institutions include two-year and four-year schools, research universities, community colleges, minority serving institutions (MSIs), and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), which offer degree programs ranging from Associate's degrees through PhDs. With the increasing number and diversity of institutional members, this team also focuses on increasing engagement between members. There are two activities that have recently been the focus of the team, increasing engagement and providing more benefits specific to NCWIT members to increase the value of their membership in the Academic Alliance.
NCWIT Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP) 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.
From 2010-2014, ES-UP provided customized consultation to 40 computing and engineering departments. Collectively, these departments have seen positive results:
Since 2011, the NCWIT Student Seed Fund has invested $316,250 in more than 157 student-run programs for women in computing at non-profit, U.S. Academic Alliance member institutions nationwide (excluding U.S. territories). Programs have included programming workshops, tech summits, peer mentoring and support, professional training, after-school programs, and the creation of multimedia materials — all aimed at increasing recruitment and retention of women and other underrepresented groups in computing.
The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund awards NCWIT's Academic Alliance members at non-profit, U.S. institutions (excluding U.S. territories) with start-up funds (up to $10,000 per project) to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting or retaining women in computing and IT. To date, 51 member organizations have received a total of $585,450 to grow their technology-related outreach program. We thank Microsoft Research for their support of the Seed Fund.
NCWIT’s Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP) provides customized consultation to academic departments to help improve their strategic recruitment and retention of women students in their majors. To recognize the achievements of these outstanding departments, NCWIT has established the NCWIT Extension Services Transformation (NEXT) Awards, funded by Google.