Asee peer logo

Awakening Interest And Improving Employability: A Curriculum That Improves The Participation And Success Of Women In Computer Science

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Student Recruitment and Retention

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.245.1 - 13.245.27



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Yvonne Ng College of St. Catherine

visit author page

Yvonne Ng, M.S.M.E, teaches computer science and engineering for non-majors at the College of St. Catherine. Educated as a mechanical and aerospace engineer, she worked in industry as an automation design engineer and contract programmer. She made computer science a more appealing topic for her all-women undergraduate student body by presenting this technically valuable course in a more comprehensive manner. She is currently the coordinator of the Center of Excellence for Women, Science and Technology where she administers the college's National Science Foundation and Clare Boothe Luce scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) majors and facilitates various recruiting, advising and placement activities for STEM majors and minors.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

essential in a program that had few to no majors at any given time to tutor students. 4) Incorporating career development, such as resume, portfolio and evaluations, explicitly into the lessons to prepare students for obtaining, securing, and succeeding in a job or computer-based career.

Seventy-five percent of the study participants worked or are currently working in an Information Technology (IT) related position. They cited the above four elements as invaluable for their initial employment and continued success.

PCM guided our curriculum development to ensure that all aspects necessary for a well-educated student were addressed. This model was originally developed for gifted and talented education. However, it shows promise for technical curricula that prepare students with the essential skills needed to succeed in industry and that awaken interest and excitement about computer science, a field that is quickly losing students, particularly women.

1 Introduction

Insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. ~ Diamond commercial

1.1 National Crisis: Computing Expertise Needed

In 2006, the National Center for Women and Information Technology reported that only 50% of the 1,000,000 additional computer and information-related jobs anticipated by 2014 will be filled by U.S. computer science bachelor’s students.7 As Caroline Simard, a research associate for the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology reports, “Despite popular beliefs about the impact of offshoring on hi-tech jobs, numbers show that the demand for high-level high-tech jobs such as software engineers have increased since 2000.” 10, p. 1

These institutions, along with others, advocate recruiting women as an untapped source of talent. With fewer girls choosing CS and fewer women completing computer-related degrees6, this may seem like a long shot. Still, a successful investment strategy may involve both long-term strategies (with a focus on girls) and short- to mid-term strategies. The latter requires giving women an educational foundation that allows them to enter computer-related professions after completing a college degree that may not be in CS.

Doing this would open more doors since women often choose a computer-related education later in life. To many, computers are more of “an ‘acquired taste’ that emerges over time. … [T]hey may come to computing at a later stage in their education, perhaps after having majored in some other discipline.” 3, p. 3 Women who have taken at least some CS courses have an easier time following this path later in their education. Thus, one way to approach the impending crisis is to “sow seeds” by encouraging women to take more CS courses, whether or not they plan on making it their major.

Ng, Y. (2008, June), Awakening Interest And Improving Employability: A Curriculum That Improves The Participation And Success Of Women In Computer Science Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3624

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015