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Making A Difference On $10 A Day: Creating A “Women In Cse” Seminar Linked To Cs1

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Women in IT Fields

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.905.1 - 10.905.10



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Paper Authors

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Crystal Hoyer

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Crystal Eney

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

Making a Difference on $10 a Day: Creating a “Women in CSE” Seminar Linked to CS1

Crystal Eney, Crystal Hoyer University of Washington, Microsoft Corporation

Abstract Computer Science and Computer Engineering programs across the country are increasingly concerned about the lack of women pursuing computer-related fields. To address this issue, we created a one credit seminar focused on the recruitment and retention of women in technology. The seminar targeted undergraduate women who were co-enrolled in introductory programming at a four year research institution. For approximately $500 per quarter, a staff member and an undergraduate teaching assistant ran the Women in Computer Science and Engineering (WICSE) seminar. The syllabus was shaped by the instructors’ personal experiences, and research studies on gender disparity in computer science and engineering. Throughout the quarter we brought in guest speakers, visited research projects, and held discussions. Our activities concentrated on fostering a sense of community, encouraging a wider and more accurate view of computer engineering, and offering a safe environment for discussion and debate. At the end of each quarter we surveyed the students and found that they had uniformly positive reactions to the seminar. The women felt more comfortable in their programming course and became excited about the field of computing. Our paper will outline what we learned during our first three offerings of the course, and how we plan to improve upon our experience in the future. We will show how we developed creative solutions to support women in technology with minimal department resources.

Introduction The University of Washington is a large research institution with nearly 40,000 students, 28,000 of whom are undergraduates. The university is just over 50% women but the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department has held steady with roughly 17% women for the past several years. High achieving women are going into fields such as bioengineering, chemistry, math, business, and biological science, but not computer science. Research by Jepson and Perl show that the misperception of computer science and the lack of supportive communities are two of the major reasons women choose not to pursue computer science degrees.1

As with most CSE programs across the nation, our institution struggled to increase the number of women pursuing computer science degrees. In an attempt to address this problem we researched some of the possible approaches to stop women from opting out of the CSE curriculum. Cohoon states that the presence of supportive peers can greatly aid in the retention of women in this field.2 One step we took to encourage women to pursue computer science was to create a one credit seminar for women who would simultaneously enroll in introductory programming (CS1). One of the seminar leaders had participated in a Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) seminar linked to general chemistry. We used the basic structure of that course for our Women in Computer Science & Engineering (WICSE) seminar.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Hoyer, C., & Eney, C. (2005, June), Making A Difference On $10 A Day: Creating A “Women In Cse” Seminar Linked To Cs1 Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15521

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