Starting Young

Charlie McDowell, Associate Dean, Professor

Organization Name 
University of California - Santa Cruz

To reach our Pacesetters goal, the University of California-Santa Cruz will conduct a summer camp for middle school girls, support the Bay Area Affiliate of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award, make regular visits to local area middle and high schools with a “Road Show,” work to improve the “Introduction to Computer Science” course and bring it into alignment with the national “Computer Science: Principles” course, and further develop our overall effort to recruit and retain more 1st year females in CS which we have named, “Project Awesome.” We recognize the importance of working towards goals that will generate long term results and these projects will do so by educating women about how a career in computing can be compatible with their personal goals and interests, introducing alternative programming courses, launching an information brochure, inviting female students to information sessions that also is informative about the nature of a CS major, and hosting social events that will change the image of the CS community.

Dori Farah

Dori Farah, Graduate Recruitment Manager

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Syracuse University - School of Information Studies (iSchool)

Our Pacesetters journey began with Syracuse University’s Chancellor Nancy Cantor kicking off the Syracuse University Sit With Me campaign, affirming our commitment to act as an entry point and springboard for women interested in the STEM disciplines. With the Chancellor’s visionary charge, our iSchool Dean, Liz Liddy’s, support, and our countless champions amongst our faculty, staff and –most importantly – students, the iSchool is implementing a number of special initiatives to meet our Pacesetters goal: to increase female enrollment by 15% at the undergraduate B.S. and graduate M.S. degree levels by January 2015.

To build awareness overall, we’ll be continuing the Sit With Me campaign, updating our website, and collaborating with our Women in Information Technology student groups on special campaigns to the campus and community. At the undergraduate level, we are continuing our It Girls Overnight Retreat program – a slumber party meets hack-a-thon designed to engage, inspire, and celebrate high school women and their potential in IT – and the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Upstate NY Affiliate Award. At the graduate level, we look forward to meeting outstanding graduate school candidates through our sponsorship at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference and on the road at new university graduate school fairs.

Linda Ott, Professor, Computer Science

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Michigan Technological University

As a Pacesetter, Michigan Technological University is committing to a full-force, multi-pronged approach to achieving our short-term goal of doubling the number of women enrolling in our undergraduate computing programs. We are implementing a summer camp aimed at high school women, developing activities to be used in local and traveling outreach programs, creating materials describing the opportunities available with a degree in Computer Science (CS), a Discover CS day on campus, utilizing alumnae as role models, and collaboration with industry partners interested in expanding the pipeline. In addition, we are working with our admissions staff to ensure they are well-equipped to influence young women to pursue computing careers.

Jim Cohoon

Jim Cohoon, Professor

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University of Virginia

Computer Science at the University of Virginia is committed to an environment where diverse, capable, inspired individuals can collaborate to learn and advance knowledge. Our reasoning is trifold: we wish to be a model in reaping and sharing the benefits of diversity; we seek to enhance our intellectual and creative environment; and we expect to better produce happy, capable, and broadly-educated graduates.

To support our vision we have three undergraduate programs: B.A. and B. S. degrees in Computer Science, and a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering. These offerings allow our students flexibility to tailor their education towards their careers goals. We call our "Net New Women" goal 30-30-30. We want female undergraduate and graduate participation in computing to reflect their overall school demographics of 30%. It is also our intention to see the percentage of women faculty exceed 30%. To help us achieve a diverse, well-qualified undergraduate body we actively recruit with career nights and with three first-year course offerings. Although all offerings prepare students for immediate entry into secondary courses, they differ in pedagogy and intended audiences, from the inexperienced to the experienced. These practices are achieving results. Our major graduation rates are projected to climb from a historic high of 15% to over 25% women.

See Jim's University of Virginia Pacesetters story:

Tiffany Grady

Tiffany Grady, Assistant Director for Academic Initiatives

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University of Texas - Austin

The Department of Computer Science at UT-Austin set a goal to increase the number of women entering the computer science undergraduate program and, through carefully targeted steps In 2011, we requested 40 slots for focused recruiting; in 2012, we doubled the number of women admitted. We intend to recruit and retain an increased number of women into our 2013-2014 freshman class this year. This year, a number of female students who attended our First Bytes camp were accepted to the department for 2013-2014. This year, we invited all accepted students to a recruiting event and we hosted a special lunch for the women.  We are holding a boot camp this summer for incoming students to help them get ahead with regards to programming and calculus as part of our retention efforts. We also offer scholarships sponsored by the National Science Foundation to many of our incoming female freshmen, as well as scholarships for winners of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. Each of these efforts has impacted our success. 

Hear Tiffany tell the University of Texas at Austin Pacesetters story:

Adrienne Harrell

Adrienne Harrell, Director of Undergraduate Student Affairs

Organization Name 
University of California - Santa Cruz

Over the last 18 months, the number of women majoring in computer science at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) has increased by 40%. Faculty and staff at the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (JBSOE) have introduced a number of initiatives to encourage greater participation of women in computing on campus.

We are reaching out to middle school girls with a summer camp called "Girls in Engineering", which focuses computer science and engineering. Through our participation in the Bay Area Affiliate of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing, we are encouraging high-school-age young women to pursue computing and establishing UCSC as a women-friendly place to study computing. An outreach "road show" is designed to influence more young women to consider computer science as a college option.

Our NSF-funded scholarship program targets financially disadvantaged students, especially women, and includes a unique live-and-learn community and shared curriculum in the first year. We also are reaching out to women already at UCSC through the redesign of an entry-level course and an advertising campaign we call "Project Awesome." Project Awesome is an aggressive "in-reach" program targeting first- and second-year women with brochures mailed to their homes, welcome events on campus, and a website ( that provides encouragement and incentive to study computing.

Hear Adrienne tell the University of California Santa Cruz Pacesetters story: