Computer Science Students Win $750 Grant to Support Women in High Technology

December 19, 2012


Puget Sound awardees will work with Pacific Lutheran University students


TACOMA, Wash. – Two University of Puget Sound students have won national support for a new, local effort to encourage more women to enter the computing and information technology professions.

Computer science majors Jillian Andersen ’13 and Shelby Lee ’13 have been awarded a $750 grant to fund their plan to start a college group that supports women in computer science.

The $750 Student Seed Fund grant was awarded by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) and is sponsored by Symantec, a global company offering security, backup, and availability solutions. The two Puget Sound students aim to work with Pacific Lutheran University students to create a joint ACM-W college chapter. The ACM-W represents women in the international Association for Computing Machinery.

“By building a community where we can discuss the issues that women in computer science face, we can help foster a sense of belonging,” Andersen and Lee wrote in their proposal. “Bringing speakers to campus will show that there are women out in the world, beyond college and in the industry, acting and making a difference. We hope that students will be inspired by these speakers to stand strong and walk their own path in life.”

Andersen and Lee plan to organize a series of events, including mixers, movies, and guest lectures, from February to April 2013, in conjunction with computer science students at Pacific Lutheran University. Advisor Brad Richards, professor of computer science at Puget Sound, said that the students were energetically working with the Career and Employment Services office and exploring social networks such as LinkedIn to find local female computer science graduates who could be speakers.

“Starting and maintaining a local ACM-W chapter would be an incredibly significant accomplishment, as there are very few in the Western states, and none at small colleges,” Richards said.

Currently Puget Sound, the only national, independent liberal arts college in Western Washington, has about 65 students who declared computer science as their major or as part of a double major. Of these students, 13 are female. The proposed ACM-W chapter will aim to connect students with women leaders in the industry, to educate students about opportunities, and to broaden the computer science community.

The NCWIT Student Seed Fund has awarded $34,500 to 56 student-run programs nationwide, with the aim of recruiting, retaining, and supporting women in computing. The student programs have provided outreach, mentoring, peer support, training, and professional development opportunities to more than 1,750 elementary, middle, and high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students.

About NCWIT

The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) is a nonprofit community working to increase women’s participation in computing and technology. NCWIT was established in 2004 with funding from the National Science Foundation and is supported by Microsoft, Bank of America, Avaya, Pfizer, Merck, Turner, AT&T, EMC, Google, Motorola, Qualcomm, Intel, HP, Symantec, and more than 300 university, corporate, nonprofit, and government member organizations nationwide. For more visit www.ncwit.org.

Photo on page:  Shelby Lee (left) and Jillian Andersen in a computer laboratory. Photo by Ross Mulhausen.

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