Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics Launches Effort to Increase Number of Women in Undergraduate Majors


Philadelphia, PA -- Drexel University College of Computing & Informatics

Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) is partnering with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to launch a new strategic plan for increasing the number of women into their undergraduate majors in data science, computer science, computing & security technology, information systems and software engineering.

This plan includes recruitment and retention strategies such as improvements to curricular offerings; mentorship, leadership and scholarship opportunities; and recurring College-hosted networking events focused on women in computing. NCWIT is working with College curriculum committees to assess teaching approaches and apply best practices for creating an inclusive learning environment. William Mongan, Teaching Professor & Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs, shared more detail regarding the development of new curriculum practices.  “The NCWIT recommendations align well with CCI curricular activities to promote active and experiential learning, as well as to create opportunities for interdisciplinary fusion that invite collaboration across the university.  Tangible connections between curriculum, research, and community enable the meaningful application of concepts at the leading edge of our discipline, and make relevant both the concepts and societal impacts of our field,” Mongan said.

The plan will involve all members of the college community--including faculty, teaching assistants, academic advisors, administrators, and student leaders. Students will be engaged in providing feedback on their experiences, as well as having opportunities to be a part of the change. “Research shows that culture is very important, and we are committed to creating a culture across all levels of our college that is welcoming and inclusive,” said Assistant Professor Gabriela Marcu, PhD. “It has been heartening to see our college really come together on this issue. We want our graduates to enter the tech industry as leaders in creating positive change and tackling the gender gap.”

NCWIT Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP) helps academic departments of computing develop high-impact strategies for recruiting and retaining more women students with advice that is customized to local needs and conditions. NCWIT Consultant Angela Arndt visited CCI and is advising closely on development and implementation of the strategic plan. CCI’s participation in ES-UP builds on a longstanding relationship the College has built with NCWIT as a member of its Academic Alliance (AA), a group of 200 distinguished colleges and universities charged with implementing institutional change in higher education. The launch of CCI’s ES-UP program is thanks in part to a $10,000 grant from Johnson & Johnson, a longtime partner of the College.

CCI faculty and administrators are excited about learning more about what they can do to improve the recruitment and retention of women in these programs. “Given industry’s tech talent shortfall, it is important, more than ever, to encourage women to enter STEM fields to help meet this demand,” said Isaac L. Auerbach Professor and CCI Dean Yi Deng, PhD. “We look forward to partnering with NCWIT to continue to bolster our efforts in providing the support and resources necessary for our female students to succeed today and in their future careers.”

“Encouraging young women’s interest in technology careers is critical: our workforce needs their creativity and their innovation,” said Lucy Sanders, CEO and Co-founder of NCWIT. “The goal of this launch is to immediately increase the visibility and raw numbers of women in these programs”.

The team is led by Assistant Professor Gabriela Marcu, PhD, and includes faculty members, professional staff and students. Representation from across CCI includes Teaching Professor & Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Affairs William Mongan, Associate Professor Andrea Forte, PhD, Director of Recruitment Matt Lechtenberg and Academic Advisor Thea Olsen.

About CCI: Positioned on the leading edge of information and technology, Drexel University’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) instills the knowledge and skills necessary for students to lead and innovate across industries in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. Building on Drexel University’s exceptional foundation of entrepreneurship and cooperative education, CCI provides unparalleled professional experiences and the on-the-job training that is vital to preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world. The college’s unique structure brings computing and informatics together under one roof in a dynamic, collaborative college that allows CCI faculty and students to spot trends before they emerge, to solve problems before they occur, and to build a better tomorrow, starting today. Learn more at www.drexel.edu/cci.

About NCWIT: The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is a non-profit change leader network of more than 650 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations nationwide working to increase women’s meaningful participation in computing. NCWIT equips change leaders with resources and platforms for taking action in recruiting, retaining, and advancing women from K–12 and higher education through industry and entrepreneurial careers. Find out more at www.ncwit.org.

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