Recruit and Retain Strategically

Extension Services recommends a strategic, sustainable approach for attracting and retaining women that focuses on revising educational systems for an inclusive experience for all students, as opposed to changing the students to fit these systems. Explore the components of an effective strategic plan and find useful NCWIT resources by clicking on the model or by viewing the table below.

Recruit and Retain Strategically

Recruiting Strategic Plan

Actionable Steps and Practices

  1. Focus recruiting efforts on women with the appropriate aptitude and interest who can enroll in your program within the next one-three years.
  2. Use effective messaging. Emphasize computing's real world, socially relevant applications, and show that a diversity of people belong in it.
  3. Use well-taught and engaging introductory courses to recruit undecided students. Explicitly encourage underrepresented students who may be candidates for the major.
  4. Collaborate with individuals and offices both on and off campus who reach potential majors, such as admissions, advising, marketing, introductory course instructors, high school teachers, and guidance counselors. Consider providing "talking points" to ensure that messaging about computing and your program is accurate.
  5. Develop a strategic plan for recruiting (and retaining) underrepresented students, and use evaluation to shape initiatives and monitor progress.

Related NCWIT Resources

NCWIT Programs and Opportunities

Curriculum

Actionable Steps and Practices

  1. Offer introductory courses that enable students without previous computing experience to succeed.
  2. Offer majors, minors, or courses that align with student interests and career goals.
  3. Structure the program curriculum for student success. For example, examine retention data to identify whether particular courses or course sequences are causing problems.
  4. Engage students with broadly appealing, stereotype-free examples and assignments that emphasize the real-world relevance of computing.

Related NCWIT Resources

NCWIT Programs and Opportunities

Student Support

Actionable Steps and Practices

  1. Encourage positive faculty-student interaction.
  2. Encourage positive student-student interaction, both within and outside of the classroom, to create a sense of community and belonging among students. For example, utilize well-structured collaborative learning in class, and encourage participation in on-campus student groups and the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community.
  3. Strengthen underrepresented students' identities as a member of the field through research experiences, conference attendance, and exposure to role models and mentoring.
  4. Understand and combat the effects of unconscious bias and stereotype threat.
  5. Make sure the physical environment is welcoming and inclusive.

Related NCWIT Resources

NCWIT Programs and Opportunities

Institutional Policies & Support

Actionable Steps and Practices

  1. Focus on changing the system, rather than changing the students to fit the existing system.
  2. Gain support from colleagues.
  3. Use data to raise awareness and motivate change.
  4. Educate yourself and your colleagues about unconscious bias, stereotype threat, and sexism; and, learn to identify and respond to common misunderstandings about underrepresentation in computing.

Related NCWIT Resources

NCWIT Programs and Opportunities

Evaluation & Tracking System

Actionable Steps and Practices

  1. Examine recruitment and retention trends to identify problem areas and measure progress. The free NCWIT Tracking Tool allows you to track student participation in your program broken down by gender, race/ethnicity, and academic year.
  2. Survey students in introductory courses to understand why they are there and how well your recruitment efforts are working.
  3. Evaluate specific recruitment initiatives to understand who they reach and whether they are effective. For example, survey or interview participants about their perception of an event and its effect on their interest in computing and your program.
  4. Survey students to identify conditions that may affect retention in your program.
  5. Develop a strategic plan for recruiting and retaining underrepresented students, and use evaluation to shape initiatives and monitor progress.
  6. Use evaluation data to gain support for your initiatives among colleagues, administrators, and funders.

Related NCWIT Resources

NCWIT Programs and Opportunities

Pedagogy

Actionable Steps and Practices

  1. Engage students with broadly appealing, stereotype-free examples and assignments that emphasize the real-world relevance of computing.
  2. Increase students' confidence and sense of community with well-structured collaborative learning and an inclusive, interactive class environment.
  3. Understand and combat the effects of unconscious bias and stereotype threat.
  4. Offer direct encouragement and provide role models to help underrepresented students see themselves in computing.
  5. Emphasize that computing skills are gained through experience and effort.

Related NCWIT Resources

NCWIT Programs and Opportunities