The computer science program at Colorado State University (CSU) is making a concentrated effort to attract female students and create a more diverse and welcoming environment within the department.
CSU professor Chris Wilcox says women face multiple obstacles to entering the computer science field, including discrimination, harassment, and a lack of support from parents and teachers.
Wilcox and his colleagues are making several changes to appeal to a wider range of students, starting by separating freshmen in the introductory computer science courses into those with and without previous programming experience. Courses also have been restructured to feature assignments involving creativity, graphics, and music, and projects with social relevance.
In addition, the department has established scholarships for female students as well as a faculty diversity committee.
Support is given to the ACM-W student chapter, and seven students from the university last year attended the Grace Hopper Celebration, the premier conference for women in computer science. Wilcox also started a local chapter of Girls Who Code, which teaches middle and high school girls about Web design and programming.
Meanwhile, Wilcox notes efforts to boost diversity in computer science are taking place across the U.S., and he says some schools have increased female participation by more than 30 percent.
From Rocky Mountain Collegian
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