Pacesetters Program

NCWIT Pacesetters is the first, fast-track program of its kind, aiming to move the national needle for women’s participation in computing. Company and university leaders work together across corporate and academic boundaries, committed to increasing their organization’s number of technical women at an accelerated pace. NCWIT Pacesetters employ innovative methods and set quantifiable goals to recruit untapped talent pools of “Net New Women” — technical women who would otherwise pursue non‑computing careers or would be at risk of leaving. In our 2010 pilot program, Pacesetters added or retained 1,685 NNW to the U.S. tech talent pool in just two years shredding their goal of 1,000.  Our 2013 Pacesetters have already made significant progress on their goal of 1614 Net New Women by 2014.  You can read more about Pacesetters results in this 2012 article in Communications of the ACM (CACM).

Why Pacesetters?

Adding “Net New Women” to the U.S. computing talent pool can yield a larger and more competitive workforce; research shows that groups with greater diversity solve complex problems better and faster than do homogenous groups. Read Pacesetter profiles to learn more about individual Pacesetters organizations. Click on their strategies to find out more about these approaches, or read about all strategies. Watch this video to see the Pacesetters talk about the importance of this work. Download the program overview to share with a someone you think might be interested in becoming a Pacesetter.

What are Pacesetters Saying About Their Experiences?

A Corporate Pacesetter, "Change doesn't just happen. Having goals, a strategic focus, key company stakeholders involved, and a strong NCWIT team leading the way and pushing a bit from behind is cruicial and leads to action! We benefit greatly." 

An Academic Pacesetter, "I personally have derived significant benefits from my work as a Pacesetter. It has exposed me to higher levels of administration both within my college and at the university. I have strengthened my ties to members of the local tech community as well as whithin the state more generally. Pacesetters also gave me the motivation to try for a new degree program in the Department of Computer Science. This "holy grail" has long been thought impossible to achieve and yet we started accepting students in the fall of 2013."

What Are National Action Platforms for Change?

NCWIT Pacesetters work together across organizational boundaries and with NCWIT to deliver national action platforms that give other organizations the motivation and infrastructure to mobilize their own change efforts. Our 2010 Pacesetters cohort influenced the inception of Sit With Me, a national advocacy campaign that provides a platform to raise the visibility of technical women and acknowledge the valuable contributions of women in computing. Find out more at  Our 2013 Pacesetters are working on a new Career Awareness Platform to help organizations create effective job descriptions and career videos to attract more technical women. Stay tuned for more on this important work coming soon.

Interested in Learning More About the Pacesetters Program? 

There is great value in having organizations work across academic-corporate boundaries. The Pacesetters program is like no other of its kind as it enables organizations to compete together against the problem and grow the collective talent pool for all, instead of competing against each other for an individual slice of a dwindling one. We believe this is the only way to finally “move the needle” for women in computing in this country” , NCWIT Pacesetters Program Director, Jill Ross. If you are interested in becoming a Pacesetter or have a press inquiry, please contact Jill directly at

Pacesetters Group Photo


People Involved: 

Jill Ross

Program Director

Lynda Grindstaff

Project Team Co-leader
Intel Corporation

Cedric Stallworth

Project Team Co-leader
Georgia Institute of Technology

Members Involved