ATLANTA—Georgia State University is among eight institutions to receive start-up money for academic programs focused on recruiting and retaining women in computing from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Academic Alliance Seed Fund.
The program is administered by the NCWIT with support from Microsoft Research.
As a Seed Fund recipient, Georgia State’s Department of Computer Science will receive $10,000 to start outreach initiatives focused on encouraging female students to pursue computing, with an emphasis on community building and mentorship. Fellow undergraduate students will lead biweekly, small-group discussion sections that emphasize building strong connections among students in each cohort. In addition, the program aims to change students’ perceptions of opportunities for women in technical careers through visits to workplaces and guest presentations by female tech professionals.
“These Seed Fund programs leverage effective recruitment strategies to attract women to computing,” said NCWIT chief executive officer and co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Ultimately, increasing women’s participation will lead to a more innovative and competitive technology workforce.”
In the U.S. in 2016, women earned 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, but only 19 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences, according to NCWIT. Engaging technology-related activities and opportunities can help to reverse this trend, reducing entry barriers by appealing to a variety of students and building on their existing interests and competence, the NCWIT said.
Dr. Olga Glebova, a member of the Georgia State Computer Science faculty and principal investigator on the Seed Fund grant, said the department is eager to attract more women to the growing field of computer science.
“We’re privileged to receive this award in support of our efforts to develop inviting and inclusive programs for female students with computing aspirations,” she said.
Dr. Yi Pan, chair of the Department of Computer Science, noted that computer science graduates are in high demand. “The department is committed to further supporting this effort and will provide additional funds if necessary,” he said.
The Department of Computer Science has drawn an increasing number of students in recent years and now has nearly 1,800 students enrolled in its undergraduate programs and more than 220 in its master’s and Ph.D. programs.
NCWIT is a non-profit community of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits and government organizations nationwide working to increase girls’ and women’s meaningful participation in computing. To date, 59 member institutions have received $665,450 through the Seed Fund to kick start initiatives, including professional development, mentoring and networking opportunities, training and workshops.