Gloria Townsend, Professor of Computer Science

Gloria Townsend
Organization Name 
DePauw University

DePauw University has set a goal to increase the numbers of graduating computer science majors by leveraging the large minors' pool in two ways.  First, we are expanding the pool by employing a strategy developed in our first-round NCWIT seed grant:  The "content preview", a strategy in which we send an invitation to all first-year women (immediately preceding fall and spring registrations) and offer to teach the concepts necessary to complete the first Computer Science I laboratory.  We work through the laboratory in a just-in-time fashion, using female role-models (who are upper-class student majors) as individual instructors for each small group of first-year women.  Instead of encouraging only majoring in computer science as an outcome of the "content preview" events, we now also stress minoring.  Our second in-reach strategy is to implement targeted recruiting of women who plan to minor in computer science to participate in the many activities we offer for female majors, as encouragement for extending the computer science minor to a major.

DePauw University joins Pacesetters as its first small liberal arts school. Liberal arts institutions provide especially effective climates in which to nurture female students: Undergraduate students receive the kinds of opportunities normally reserved for graduate students at large research universities, and professors maintain close relationships with students in classrooms with very low student-to-faculty ratios. Accordingly, DePauw graduated many female computer science seniors between 1988-2012. A number of programs contribute to DePauw's success of graduating female computer science majors such as, a longstanding ACM-W Chapter, student and faculty attendance at Grace Hopper Celebrations and ACM-W small regional conferences; encouraging women to serve as laboratory and in-class teaching assistants and tutors; and adhering to NCWIT best practices such as student encouragement, stressing that the mind is elastic, and emphasizing the importance of practice. DePauw will continue to implement these programs to ensure the continual success of our computer science women.