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Drexel Women in Computing Society Wins Grant to Support Mentorship Program

September 14, 2016

The Drexel Women in Computing Society (WiCS) recently won a seed-funding grant from Google.org and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). WiCS plans to use the grant to enrich and expand their mentorship program. 

The NCWIT Student Seed Fund, sponsored by Google.org, offers an opportunity to create or expand ACM-W chapters on college and university campuses. Since 2011, the NCWIT Student Seed Fund has invested over $234,250 in more than 141 student-run programs for women in computing at non-profit, U.S. Academic Alliance (AA) member institutions nationwide (excluding U.S. territories). As an AA member, the College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) is one of 200 distinguished colleges and universities charged with implementing institutional change in higher education.

Funded programs have included technology-related learning and advancement opportunities, including programming workshops, peer mentoring and support, professional training, after-school programs and more. 

Founded in 2004, WiCS’ is a student organization with a mission to support, recruit and retain women pursuing a degree in the broad field of computing. The group hosts a variety of events, such as informal dinners and gatherings, speaking engagements, and field trips, with the goal of empowering women in computing fields so that they can succeed and thrive in the Drexel community — and beyond.

As the president of WiCS, pre-junior computer science student Amy Gottsegen conceptualized WiCs’s mentoring program.  Gottsegen is an undergraduate researcher with interests in data science in public policy formations, and is an alumna of Drexel’s STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) Scholars Program

WiCs’s program involves pairing freshmen and sophomore students in computing programs with junior and senior CCI students to foster integration and inclusion. The program, which is exclusively for female-identifying students, aims to address challenges that women in computing might face, such as social isolation due to being a minority in a predominantly male field (in 2016, women made up only 26% of the computing workforce).

“Given the success of the program in past years, we wanted to expand it by first, giving more support and recognition to mentors and second, extending the reach and impact of our program along the ’leaky pipeline‘ of women in STEM by matching each mentorship pair with a woman in industry and high school girl,” Gottsegen said. 

Courtesy of CCI, the group will travel to Houston, Texas next month to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, the world’s largest gathering of women technologists.

For more information about upcoming events or to learn more, follow WiCS on Twitter (https://twitter.com/drexelwics), or visit their website at drexelwics.tumblr.com.