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Harvey Mudd College Took on Gender Bias and Now More Than Half Its Computer-Science Majors Are Women

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Harvey Mudd College president, and former ACM president, Maria Klawe.

This year, for the first time, more women than men graduated with a degree in computer science at Harvey Mudd College.

Credit: Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, CA, has had uncommon success in producing female programmers for more than a decade. This year, for the first time, more women than men graduated with a degree in computer science.

Harvey Mudd has done it by removing obstacles that have typically barred women--including at the faculty level.

The school emphasizes teaching over research, hiring and rewarding professors on the basis of their classroom performance, says former ACM president Maria Klawe, Harvey Mudd's president since 2006.

The overhaul of the computer science curriculum to make it more inclusive began the year before Klawe arrived from Princeton, where she was dean of engineering. Klawe says it helps that Harvey Mudd is a small school, with only 800 students, so there are fewer opportunities to slip through the cracks, and women studying science, mathematics, engineering, and math subjects are less likely to feel marginalized.

This year, 64% of women computer science graduates who reported having accepted a full-time job at graduation had a position in the technology industry, up from 30% in 2011. Klawe says they tend to choose large employers such as Google, LinkedIn, and Intel, which offer more stability than startups.

From Quartz
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