The University of Texas Department of Computer Science (UTCS) has been selected as one of two NCWIT Second Place NEXT Award winners. The department has won this accolade for its achievements in recruiting and retaining women into UTCS and for it’s successful allocation of resources towards building a department-wide culture of support and community for women.
UTCS has employed a constellation of recruitment and retention strategies that rely on goals shared by administrations, faculty, students, and staff. Organizations such as Women in Computer Science (WiCS) and Lean In, which are open to everyone but targeted towards women, provide a space for the department’s women to connect with each other and form support systems. In fact, just last week WiCS hosted their 3rd, annual Week with Women (WWW). WWW is a week long series of company and social events that celebrate women in tech and specifically the one’s in this department. Recruitment has also seen success through student-led initiates that involve various outreach activates such individually calling admitted high school women. Furthermore, every summer the department hosts First Bytes, a week long residential, summer camp for high school girls. The camp aims to intrigue young women with the potential of computing and the excitement of problem solving in hopes that they will pursue computer science in college. The initiative’s success can be attributed to the fact that about 25% of the women in next year’s incoming CS class are First Bytes alumni. There is no doubt that all of these efforts have been paying off; the numbers speak for themselves. The fraction of women in each year’s incoming class has steadily increased from 13.58% in 2011 to 19.02% in 2015.
In addition to being recognized, UTCS will receive up to $50,000, which the department plans on funneling back into more creative recruitment and retention efforts. The collaborative team that spearheaded the effort includes Ms. Tiffany Grady Buckley, Dr. Lori NcNabb, and Dr. Bruce Porter. Nevertheless, our department would not be what it is without all the amazing students, faculty, administration, and staff.