Recruitment and retention of women graduate students in computer science and engineering

Janice Cuny, William Aspray
2002 ACM SIGCSE Bulletin  
T his document is the report of a workshop that convened a group of experts to discuss the recruitment and retention of women in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Graduate Programs. (1) Participants included long-time members of the CSE academic and research communities, social scientists engaged in relevant research, and directors of successful retention efforts. (2) The report is a compendium of the experience and expertise of workshop participants, rather than the result of a
more » ... ult of a full-scale, scholarly study into the range of issues. Its goal is to provide departments with practical advice on recruitment and retention in the form of a set of specific recommendations. Women are significantly underrepresented in CSE academic departments [5] [40] . As computing technology becomes increasingly pervasive, this underrepresentation translates into a loss of opportunity for individuals, a loss of talent to the workforce, and a loss of creativity in shaping the future of society. While there are many causes of this underrepresentation -some rooted in early socialization and primary educational experiences -academic departments at the university level nevertheless can have an effect [6] [7]. In particular, an improvement at the graduate level in recruitment and retention (and thus in graduation rates) would enable more women to move into visible and influential positions in the CSE community. The increasing presence of these women would provide positive role models and mentors. In order to treat all students fairly, educators must pay attention to gender-based traits. Although in characterizing behaviors one must be careful to acknowledge the existence of individual differences and to avoid stereotyping, there is a large body of information on gender traits. There is strong evidence, for example, that women, even though they perform at the same levels, have less confidence in their abilities and individual accomplishments than men [2][17][36][39] [43] . Women are often less aggressive than male students in promoting themselves, attempting new or challenging activities, and pursuing awards or fellowships. There is evidence that females come to computing as only one interest among many, and are thus less single-minded than their male counterparts [27] . Often women report feeling "out of place" in the male-dominated, hacker culture [3] [22] [28] . In light of such differences, some of our recommendations are gender-specific. Most, however, are not. The adoption of our recommendations would improve the educational environment for all students. The recommendations are given in two sections, the first !;15~!7c>5:~' ~.; SIGCSE Bulletin 168
doi:10.1145/543812.543852 fatcat:v2zdok3birazjk26nmwvxq6nyq