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How Northeastern Plans to Reach Equal Male-Female Computer Science Enrollment By 2021

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Carla Brodley, dean of the College of Computer Information and Science at Northeastern University.

Carla Brodley, dean of the College of Computer Information and Science at Northeastern University, has set the goal of 50/50 female/male computer science enrollment at her institution by 2021.

Credit: Mariah Tauger

Carla Brodley, dean of Northeastern University's College of Computer and Information Science, aims to reach an equal male/female balance in computer science (CS) enrollment by 2021.

To attract new students, the university expanded its combined majors program to include more than 20 special majors that pair CS with subjects such as business administration, English, and biology.

Northeastern also created a CS minor in which every student takes the same two introductory computing courses. After completing the requisite classes, students can choose their minor courses depending on their major. The CS introductory course was revamped to focus on a coding language the faculty designed, ensuring no students had an advantage. A separate accelerated section of the introductory course was created for students with prior coding experience.

In addition, Northeastern offers two CS master's programs; one for people with an undergraduate CS degree, and one for students with degrees in other fields.

"The goal is for 50/50 female/male majors, but the other goal is that every student should know some computer science before they leave the education system," Brodley says. "Until we fix that at the high school level, we need to fix it at the college level."

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