CSEdWeek: Encouragement and Inclusion, Mentoring in IT Careers, Hiring the Best, Engage Girls in IT, Outreach and Engagement

CSEdWeek takes place December 8-14, 2014 to coincide with Admiral Grace Hopper's birthday, a visionary computer scientist born on December 9, 1906. CSEdWeek was first recognized in 2010 when the 111th Congress passed House Resolution 1560. This weeklong celebration raises awareness about the impact of computing on innovation and economic growth, as well as the need to bolster computer science education at all levels. This blog post features NCWIT resources, which you can use during CSEdWeek, and all year long, to be a change agent at your institution or workplace.

Encouragement and Inclusion

Encouraging words and inclusive classroom environments are just two methods that NCWIT suggests for engaging students from historically underrepresented populations, such as women and racial/ethnic minorities to participate in computer science (CS). Another tip: “Include many opportunities for collaborative learning in your classes. Collaborative learning, such as pair programming and peer-led team learning, can improve learning outcomes, retention rates, critical thinking, appreciation of diversity, and development of social and professional skills. In addition, research shows that female students feel more confident in classes using pair programming.” Read “Top 10 Ways to Engage Underrepresented Students in Computing” for more on this important topic.

We also want to take this opportunity to introduce EngageCSEdu, developed in partnership with Google. EngageCSEdu encourages the development of more inclusive learning environments in introductory CS courses by helping faculty to easily browse, contribute, and review materials that will engage all of your students. You can help curate the collection by joining the EngageCSEdu review cohort as a Computer Science or Social Science reviewer.

Mentoring in IT Careers

NCWIT has a number of resources that mentors can use to encourage young women to pursue careers in IT. “Why Should Young Women Consider a Career in Information Technology,” offers talking points that  explain how IT careers are creative, flexible, and lucrative. One specific talking point encourages mentors to share that young women can use their skills to “help solve pressing social problems in a variety of fields.” You can also find links to related resources as well as inspirational videos and introductory activities.

Technical women also face challenges and can significantly benefit from role models and mentors at work. For those of you involved in workplace mentorship, NCWIT’s “Mentorship-In-a-Box: Technical Women at Work,” offers activities, resources, and tools to support a mentoring pair, presented in an easy-to-use format.

Hiring the Best

CSEdWeek is about encouraging more participation in computer science as well as innovation and growth. At the startup level, these goals require a talented and diverse team of employees, and unconscious bias in job ads and descriptions is a major hurdle for reaching this goal. To ensure that your job ads are appealing to a diverse group of candidates, check out NCWIT’s “Top 10 Ways to Hire the Best for Your Computing Startup.” This resource offers ten recommendations for attracting and hiring highly-qualified technical employees such as, “Provide interviewees an opportunity to meet technical women already at your firm. Let candidates see that they will not be isolated and that women have succeeded at your firm. Describe the opportunities for skill-building and career advancement that your firm provides.” These tips can help you attract women, and other underrepresented groups, to your startup.

Engage Girls in IT

CSEdWeek is about introducing as many students as possible to computer science and the world of opportunities that it can offer. Learning what deters girls from computing and what you can do to about it are important first steps in learning how to expand the reach of this discipline. A comprehensive resource from NCWIT about the state of girls in computing is “Girls in IT: The Facts.” Use it to get a broad understanding about the issues, and then explore the ‘Addressing the Barriers’ section to find specific steps that families and educators can take to bridge the gap. Following are more related resources.

Top 10 Ways to Increase Girls Participation in Computing Competitions” offers tips related to mentorship, event design, and recruitment. You can also explore “Top 10 Ways of Recruiting High School Women Into Your Computing Classes,” which encourages educators to use challenging but doable sample tasks, like logic puzzles, that can help build students’ confidence. Finally, explore “Top 10 Ways to Engage Underrepresented Students in Computing,” which offers tips related to curriculum design, the physical set-up of the classroom, and teaching style. Together, these resources provide wide-ranging advice to making this year’s CSEdWeek as inclusive as possible.

Outreach and Engagement

CSEdWeek is about encouraging more participation in computer science as well as innovation and growth. Professionals in IT can work toward these goals through youth education that speaks to diverse students. Diversifying the pipeline is an important step to creating a varied workforce, and outreach to middle school girls is a critical step in the process. NCWIT’s “Outreach-in-a-Box” contains everything you need to deliver an engaging class presentation at a local middle school. “Outreach-in-a-Box” includes a PowerPoint presentation, hands-on robotics activity, and a program guide for how to use the materials. You can customize the program to inspire and inform young women in your community.