WiCS Kicks Off Spring Semester with First Meeting
WiCS is a network of students, faculty, alumni, and industry working together to address the underrepresentation of women in the Computer Science field. Women account for only 14% of NCSU's undergraduate and graduate students in computer science. After peaking at 18.9% in the spring of 2001, the retention rate among females in the computer science field nationally has been trending downward.
WiCS' mission is to "support, promote and retain women in computer science by providing opportunities for personal and professional development, social interaction, and outreach".
Mission in mind, WiCS' attending undergraduates, graduates, professors, and even Dr. Mladen Vouk, the Interim Head of Computer Science, discussed their plans for the upcoming semester. Sarah Smith, president of WiCS and a graduate student in Computer Science, stated that, "This semester, we are looking at ways to promote more women into considering Computer Science as their major- especially incoming freshman women- and at ways to retain the women currently enrolled in our department." WiCS' plan is to get information out to women who are choosing their careers. "I've been reading "Unlocking the Clubhouse", on how Carnegie Mellon University changed its computer science program to where over 40% of its students were women. The idea is that if we change how we present computer science to women, we can appeal to them and get them interested."
Kera Bell, a graduate student, said this had been true for her. "I didn't hear about computer science until my junior year. I went, hey, this is fun and I'm really good at this- I wish someone had told me about it sooner!"
WiCS plans to provide this exposure to women. Through mentors, guest speakers, female Computer Science representatives, and changes to make the program more appealing to women, WiCS is actively trying to get women to come out and play.... with computers.
For more information, visit the WiCS website at http://students.engr.ncsu.edu/wics/.
by Irena Rindos
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