Thursday, April 3, 2014

IWITTS: Changes to an Introductory Course Helped Female Students Succeed in Computer Science

MPICT is hosting WomenTech training for qualified ICT instructors.  For more information, please contact

Hi, it's Donna here.

I want to share with you some of the successful strategies that worked for one program featured in our Proven Practices Collection. This collection of over a hundred research based articles and case studies underpins the knowledgebase of the WomenTech Educators National Institute. At Harvey Mudd College, women now make up about 42% of the computer science program after educators introduced a few key recruitment and retention strategies.

One of the changes made at Harvey Mudd was to implement a new curriculum for their introductory computer science course. Professors at the college found that many female students did not have a solid idea of what computer science was. So the introductory course was revised to provide an overview of the breadth of computer science and its connections with other disciplines. During the first week of class, students now delve into the content by writing interesting and useful programs. This hands-on experience increases their level of interest, and also gives students more confidence in their abilities. For female students in particular, we know that confidence is a big predictor of success in STEM.

Learning how to provide students with hands-on experience and build confidence are just part of what you'll take away in the WomenTech Educators National Institute. When you attend the training, you join educators from around the country to learn the full knowledgebase, and then develop a customized recruitment and retention plan to increase the number of female students in your STEM classes, often in just one year. Plus, Fresno Pacific University is now offering one unit of continuing education credit to training participants!

Find out more about the WomenTech Educators National Institute

When you attend the WomenTech Educators National Institute, you will take away:
An easy-to-implement recruitment plan that will greatly increase the number of women and girls in your STEM classrooms.
A retention plan for your school that will increase the completion rate of your female (and male students), starting the next semester.
The knowledge and confidence you need to put these plans into action, right away.

How can you make the training even more effective? Attend in a team!

The more people that you can get involved in this campaign, the more lasting change you're going to have. Yes, one teacher on their own can get more women in the classroom, but the schools that have been the most effective and had lasting institutional change have had more people involved. Teams should have between 4-10 members. Your team will be the most effective if it includes a variety of stakeholders from your college dedicated to increasing the number of female students in your STEM program.

Learn more about attending as a team

Here are a few recent quotes from participants about the WomenTech Educators Training:

"The most valuable things I received from working with IWITTS were strategies that have been researched and have data to support them. There are also many inexpensive strategies; 'inexpensive' is a key term in these difficult economic times. I anticipate additional increased retention in my programs. I have already implemented retention strategies from IWITTS with much success. The workshop has empowered me!"

~Jessica du Maine, Assistant Professor/Program Coordinator, Electrical/ Electronic Engineering & Technology, St. Louis Community College

"Completely made me re-evaluate the approach that we have been taking. I realized the many mistakes and plan to make changes that I learned from the training. Great information!"

~Hector Yanez, Department Chair/CADD Manager of Computer Drafting and Design Technology, Texas State Technical College, Harlingen, TX

I look forward to meeting you and your team in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer!


Donna Milgram

Executive Director - Institute for Women in Trades, Technology and Science
Institute for Women in Trades, Technology & Science (National IWITTS) | 1150 Ballena Blvd. | Suite 102 | Alameda | CA | 94501

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