Higher Education

How Can You Re-Engineer Your Undergraduate Program to Increase Women's Representation in Computing? Small Steps Toward Systemic Change (Case Study 1)

How Can You Re-Engineer Your Undergraduate Program to Increase Women’s Representation in Computing?

The socio-educational system a student experiences shapes participation in the major. Altering one element of that system is often not enough to create enduring change. When faculty members are ready to implement organizational innovation, success is more likely if they receive support from institutional leaders, have access to adequate resources, and are able to participate in decision-making about the change.

CRA Computing Research News Cover

Booming Enrollments – What is the Impact?

We are in the throes of another undergraduate enrollment surge. The number of new CS/CE majors in bachelor’s programs at Taulbee departments this year has reached the peak levels seen at the end of the dot-com era. While this is better news than the opposite (declining enrollments), it is critical that the field take into account how policies and efforts to manage the enrollment surge will affect groups that are under-represented in computing. The Taulbee Survey shows a three-year increase of approximately 61 percent in undergraduate enrollment at U.S.

Survey-in-a-Box

Survey-in-a-Box: Student Experience of the Major

Use the Survey-in-a-Box: Student Experience of the Major (SEM) to identify strengths and areas for improving your department’s efforts to retain students. The Survey-in-a-Box contains a full survey, with specific modules that can be used together or independently; an instruction manual; guidelines for getting human research approval when needed; information on how to administer paper and online versions of the survey; suggestions for action based on survey results; and much more.

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What are the Important Components of Targeted Recruiting?

Targeted recruiting means planning strategically: set quantifiable goals; identify large, capable audiences; personalize the content of your message; deliver that message in media that are relevant to your audience; and pay attention to people who influence your audience’s decision-making.

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What Makes Electronic Mentoring Effective?

By removing time and location constraints, e-mentoring allows women to connect with many more women than face-to-face mentoring permits. It can also promote more open mentor-protégé communication by limiting status differences.

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NCWIT Resources for Community Colleges

The NCWIT Academic Alliance Community College Outreach Team has selected the resources below as particularly relevant to the community college context.

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How Does the Physical Environment Affect Women’s Entry and Persistence in Computing?

The décor of physical spaces conveys messages about the kinds of people who belong there and the kinds of activities that should be done there. Understanding this influence allows us to actively craft an environment that makes a broad range of people feel welcome in computing.

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How Does Combating Overt Sexism Affect Women's Retention?

Sexism has measurably harmful effects, but sexist behavior can be minimized. Instructors and supervisors can practice zero tolerance and facilitate positive peer interactions, and they can provide highly visible leadership, policies, and procedures that go beyond legalities to explicitly denounce sexism.

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How Do You Retain Women Through Inclusive Pedagogy?

Women and minority students are not in computing courses under the same conditions as their white male classmates. Instructional practices offer opportunities to level the playing field and improve the retention of underrepresented students.

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How Do You Support Completion of Graduate Degrees and Engender Commitment to a Research Career?

Students most likely to complete their graduate studies are those who are viewed as junior colleagues in a positive relationship with their advisors and who are well integrated into their department’s or lab’s intellectual community.

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How Do You Retain Women through Collaborative Learning?

Collaborative learning can improve retention rates, critical thinking, appreciation of diversity, and development of social and professional skills. When implementing collaborative learning, match students roughly according to experience levels and make sure to give students opportunities to work together for both graded and un-graded assignments.

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NCWIT Tips: 7 Tips for Conducting Inclusive Faculty Searches

Subtle barriers might be preventing you from hiring the best available candidates. These tips will help you conduct inclusive searches that appeal to women and people from other underrepresented groups.

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How Do You Provide Intentional Role Modeling?

In addition to demonstrating expertise and experience, intentional role models display their strengths and weaknesses and help observers see how they could attain a similar position. Role modeling is less interactive than mentoring, but is often a component of mentoring relationships.

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How Do You Mentor Faculty Women?

Faculty mentoring programs help junior faculty to acclimate and promote relationships that can cover a broad range of topics. These programs enhance career commitment and self-confidence in women. Successful programs initiate mentor pairings early for new faculty and formally facilitate the relationship until the mentor-protégé bond is established.

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How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way?

Engage students not already drawn to computing by creating academic and social environments where these students feel like they belong. Students respond positively to solving real-life problems that draw on their existing knowledge and interests and that involve collaboration in hands-on projects.

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Computing: Get the Most Out of Your College Degree

Computing offers high quality jobs and is one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. This resource compares computing to other occupations on quality of life issues such as pay, educational requirements, and work hours, to assist young women and their advisors in deciding whether computing is right for them.

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How Do Stereotype Threats Affect Retention?

Stereotype threat harms both performance and motivation by reducing our feelings of competence, belonging, and trust in our colleagues. However, careful thought, education, and regular assessment of diversity practices can help minimize incidents of stereotype threat.

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How Do Admissions Criteria Affect Women’s Representation in Graduate Computing?

When admission committee members minimize the biasing effects of stereotypes and consider applicants’ membership in an under-represented group as a positive characteristic, they promote diversity.

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How Can REUs Help Retain Female Undergraduates?

Undergraduates with positive research experiences feel more confident and motivated to enter graduate programs. To facilitate successful REUs, supportive faculty advisors or graduate mentors should clearly communicate goals to students and allow them to spend a large amount of time on research, increasing independence as the project progresses.

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How Can Reducing Unconscious Bias Increase Women’s Success in IT?

Research shows that even individuals committed to equality harbor unconscious biases that impact everyday decisions and interactions. In the IT workplace, unconscious gender bias can mislead employers, both male and female, to make inaccurate judgments in hiring, performance reviews, and promotion.

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