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Using Targeted Conferences to Recruit Women Into Computer Science

By Christine Alvarado, Eugene Judson

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 57 No. 3, Pages 70-77

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The shortage of women in computer science (CS) is well documented. Since 2001, the Computing Research Association Taulbee Survey reports the percentage of women obtaining a bachelor's degree in CS dropped from 18.8% in 2001 to 13.8% in 2010.7 A 2011 study by Baumann et al.4 found that although some schools saw increases in the percentage of women receiving Ph.D.'s and earning faculty positions, the percentage of women receiving bachelor's degrees continued to drop. Increasing the number of qualified women (along with other underrepresented populations) choosing to study CS is critical in combating the shortage of CS graduates in the U.S.16,22,23

Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is recognized for dramatically increasing the percentage (and number) of women majoring in CS, from 12% historically to approximately 40%, where it has held steady since 2008.13,18 This percentage is well above the U.S. average, even among elite private schools, which, at approximately 16%, tend to have a slightly higher average than elite public schools.4


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