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FAU Receives Grant to Empower Women for Careers in Computer Science

FAU Receives Grant to Empower Women for Careers in Computer Science

Computer science, women, female, jobs, grants, computing, empowerment

(Photo by Alex Dolce)

The College of Engineering and Computer Science at Florida Atlantic University has received a grant from the Center for Inclusive Computing (CIC) at Northeastern University to support the Empowering Women for Careers in Computer Science initiative. CIC is funded by Pivotal Ventures, Melinda French Gates, and has a mission to transform the national landscape of women in technology through grant funding at the undergraduate level, expert technical assistance by faculty in computing, and the collection of meaningful data for diagnostic and evaluation purposes.

Since 2018, FAU’s School of Engineering and Computer Science has placed a heavy emphasis on the recruitment and retention of women in engineering and computer science.

“We are very excited to receive this diagnostic scholarship, which is designed to look deeply into continuity and retention data to assess how our College of Engineering and Computer Science is performing as it relates to women in computing,” said Shihong Huang, Ph.D. . , project manager, associate dean for faculty affairs, equity and inclusion, professor, and director of the software engineering lab in the department of electrical engineering and computer science. “This project is the first step towards a much larger effort to implement evidence-based approaches to increasing women in computing.”

Among the significant efforts made by the College of Engineering and Computer Science is its flagship Women in Engineering/Computer Science (WIE/CS) program. WIE/CS is a comprehensive platform that provides female students with the essential support, encouragement, and tools needed for successful academic and professional careers. The program includes mentoring support, professional development, scholarship opportunities, academic support, community outreach, company site visits, and social activities.

In addition to the WIE/CS program, the college also provides other programs to recruit and retain female students such as the Girls Exploration Summer Camp in Engineering. Through the mentorship of fellow college students, female students in grades 7 through 9 learn different concepts in engineering and computer science, coding and how to conduct research. WIE/CS members serve as role models and mentors for these young girls to explore the world of engineering and computer science.

These ongoing initiatives implemented by the College of Engineering and Computer Science were recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in January 2021 with the highest award for their commitment to overall excellence.

“The FAU College of Engineering and Computer Science strives to create a truly inclusive culture that fosters empowerment and participation in an environment in which every member can thrive. We recognize that diversity is key to creating a rich pool of talented workforce to support A vibrant technology future in America.” “Receiving this prestigious scholarship places us in good company nationally among distinguished academic institutions for diversity and inclusion such as Carnegie Mellon University, University of California, Los Angeles, Michigan State University, and others.”

Over the past five years, thanks in part to WIE/CS and other programs geared toward female students, the College of Engineering and Computer Science has experienced a steady upward trend in female student enrollment in computer science. The enrollment rate for computer science majors increased from 12.78% in Fall 2016 to 21.69% in Fall 2020; The proportion of female graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computing increased from 12.6 percent in 2017-2018 to 17.6 percent in 2019-2020. The number of women participating in the comprehensive WIE/CS program—who serve as mentors, learners, and members—has also increased annually. From 2018 to 2022, the WIE/CS program increased the number of participants from 46 to 133. These female students achieved a higher GPA—the number of female students with a GPA of 3.0 and above increased from 44.20 percent in 2017 to currently 73.5. percent.

“Although there have been many initiatives, we now need to evaluate and evaluate the effectiveness of these programs in increasing women’s participation in computing,” Huang said. “With this diagnostic scholarship, we will be able to conduct an in-depth study to understand how we can best encourage and support our female students and collect qualitative and quantitative data to gain an in-depth understanding of recruitment, retention, tracking, and monitoring of our success.”


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