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Increasing the Participation of Women in Computer Science and Engineering: A Systematic Approach for Culture Change

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jing Wang University of South Florida

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Jing Wang is an instructor and Director of Broadening Participation in Computing in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at University of South Florida. She received her PhD in Computer Science from Vanderbilt University in 2005. Throughout her career, Dr. Wang has been actively involved in the important mission of recruiting and mentoring women in computer science and engineering. She serves as the faculty advisor of Women in Computer Science and Engineering student organization since 2013 and has created multiple programs for mentoring and outreach. She is a recipient of 2011 University of South Florida Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching award and 2020 University of South Florida Women in Leadership & Philanthropy Dr. Kathleen Moore Faculty Excellence Award.

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Zachariah Beasley University of South Florida Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Zachariah Beasley received his Ph.D. in Computer Science & Engineering from the University of South Florida with a focus on sentiment analysis in peer review. He is the first author of five peer-reviewed papers and a reviewer of two software engineering textbooks. Dr. Beasley has received the ASEE State of Engineering Education in 25 Years Award and USF Spirit of Innovation Award. He plays the guitar and has spent five summers as a volunteer English teacher in Taiwan. Dr. Beasley joined the University of South Florida as an Instructor in August 2020.

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Ken Christensen P.E. University of South Florida

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Ken Christensen ( is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida. Ken received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from North Carolina State University in 1991. His primary research interest is in green networks. Ken is a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Florida, a senior member of IEEE, and a member of ACM and ASEE.

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Sudeep Sarkar University of South Florida Orcid 16x16

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Sudeep Sarkar is professor and chair of computer science and engineering in the USF College of Engineering, and associate vice president for I-Corps at USF. He has more than 25 years of experience conducting and directing fundamental and applied research in computer vision, image processing, and pattern recognition. He developed a new imaging device that can be used to collect data about the physical characteristics of human skin in terms of its color, texture, and elasticity, which is critical in diagnosing diseases such as melanoma. He is also a pioneering leader in the area of gait biometrics, a field that analyzes and catalogs the unique characteristics of the ways in which individuals walk. This development for identity detection has potential uses in security and threat assessment, as well as environmentally-aware electronic devices and smart rooms. Sarkar is also a leader in the development of recognition systems to translate videos of sign language into text to facilitate communication between hearing-impaired and hearing individuals. He holds four U.S. patents, has licensed technologies, and has published high-impact journal and conference papers.

He received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering, on a University Presidential Fellowship, from The Ohio State University. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 1994, the USF Teaching Incentive Program Award in 1997, the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award in 1998, and the Askounes-Ashford Distinguished Scholar Award in 2004.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), National Academy of Inventors (NAI), American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and International Association for Pattern Recognition (IAPR).

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Closing the gender gap in computing is socially and culturally related, meaning that solutions in places other than just classrooms are needed. It is important that computing departments provide leadership and support for faculty, staff, and students in developing, implementing, and operating activities that are designed to recruit and retain women students in the computing fields.

This paper is an experience report of a computing department’s effort in recruiting and retaining women students. The contribution of this paper are the description of strategies that target at all levels of the department and how these closely interconnected strategies can help a departmental effort in increasing women’s participation under resource constrained scenario. These strategies include leadership, faculty, and staff commitment, strengthening women’ participation in student organizations, data driven decision making, and implement evidence-based practices.

There have been some impressive results. Our Department is seeing a sustained growth in the percentage of undergraduate degrees awarded to women students. The percentage of undergraduate degrees awarded by the department for women students has increased from 9.79% in 2012-2013 academic year to 16.07% in 2019-2020 academic year.

Wang, J., & Beasley, Z., & Christensen, K., & Sarkar, S. (2021, July), Increasing the Participation of Women in Computer Science and Engineering: A Systematic Approach for Culture Change Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37328

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