ICS receives Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award from NCWIT

May 3, 2016

The Google-funded NEXT award provides $100,000 for ICS to continue working with underrepresented groups to pursue technology-related degrees.

The Donald Bren School of Information and Computers Sciences (ICS) has received the 2016 Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award from The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). ICS was recognized for the school’s dedication to recruiting and retaining women in information science programs.

Funded by Google, the $100,000 grand prize is awarded annually under the NCWIT Extension Services Transformation (NEXT) Award banner to “reflect and reward practices that NCWIT recognizes as having the most significant impact on the long-term goal of increasing the number of women in information technology and other computing-related fields,” according to the NEXT Awards website.

NCWIT lauds ICS in particular “for its extensive internal and external outreach efforts, as well as the commitment to evaluation of students to consistently ensure that efforts are properly directed.”

“In addition, the focus on developing interdisciplinary courses for non-majors strengthened the application. The raw increase in women students along with the cultural changes described in the application are sustainable, impressive and noteworthy. Finally, the effort to seek external funding from industry partners and share results via conference papers was particularly notable,” they add.

A dynamic team of ICS faculty and staff collaborated in applying for the award, including Assistant Dean for Access and Inclusion Sharnnia Artis, Director of Development Antigone Blackwell, Professor Amelia Regan, Director of Communications Matt Miller, Associate Director of Student Affairs Neha Rawal, Professor Emeritus and former Dean Debra J. Richardson, and Professor Nalini Venkatasubramanian.

“We’re honored to receive this award in recognition of the school’s hard work in diversifying our student population in our computing program. We look forward to building on our success and continuing to do our part in encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue technology-related degrees,” Artis says.

Richardson notes the sustained effort of ICS to practice evidence-based recruitment and retention strategies, often in partnership with NCWIT, which it joined as a hub for women’s participation in the information sciences in 2004. “I am very proud that ICS has won NCWIT’s Excellence in Promoting Women in Undergraduate Computing Award – the Grand Prize in the organization’s NEXT Awards,” she says. “Over the last decade, we have increased the raw number of women in our undergraduate majors from 106—when women made up just 11.6 percent of our majors—to 566, or 24 percent.”

With this accomplishment in mind, Richardson recognizes that there’s still more to be done to address the pipeline of women in computing and technology. “We still have a long way to go. I’d like to see us reach 35 to 40 percent, but I’m extremely proud of this recognition for what we have accomplished thus far.”

Members from the ICS team will officially accept the award at the upcoming 2016 NCWIT Summit on Women and IT Conference, which will be held in Las Vegas from May 16-18, 2016.