Stevens CS and ECE Departments Join Cohort to Recruit and Retain Female Students

12/4/2012

In an effort to recruit and retain more high-quality female students into their departments, Stevens’ Computer Science (CS) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) programs have been accepted into a unique cohort called “Expanding the Pool: Local Cooperatives for Recruiting and Retaining Women in Disciplines with the Least Women.”

The Expanding the Pool program is a joint partnership between the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP) and ENGAGE: Engaging Students in Engineering. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the cohort aims to improve the representation of women in CS and ECE – disciplines which have graduated less than 12 percent women over the past several years.

Stevens is one of 30 colleges and universities accepted into the “Expanding the Pool” cohort. Inclusion provides the CS and ECE departments with access to a dedicated, highly-trained and highly-experienced consultant who will advise faculty, staff and administrators on recruiting and retaining female applicants to these programs. These consultants will take a hands-on, tailored approach, evaluating existing strategies and developing a researched-based plan specific to Stevens’ existing university culture. In addition, the departments will receive numerous resources to support all recruiting and retaining efforts.

“There is a lot of great research on recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in higher education,” said Susan Metz, director of special projects in engineering education at Stevens and co-PI of Expanding the Pool. “This cohort takes this research and puts it into practice.”

Stevens will also document its approaches and progress so future cohort participants can use data to emulate best practices.

Stevens was chosen for the cohort due to its proven commitment to developing and supporting the next generation of female technical leaders and practitioners in underrepresented fields, thereby promoting the critical growth of a more diverse, larger and more competitive workforce of innovative talent. Just recently, Stevens launched a women-focused lecture series and a university commission focused on the advancement of women.

NCWIT is a nonprofit community with a mission to increase women’s participation in technology and computing. ENGAGE, another NSF program led by Metz, focuses on extending proven, research-based strategies into STEM education.

Stevens faculty members leading this effort include CS professor Dan Duchamp and ECE professor Yingying Chen.

"Computer science is becoming a more collaborative field as software development projects become larger and more directly connected to people's daily lives," said Duchamp. "The field is ever more inviting and rewarding for women, and women's perspectives on computer system design are increasingly valuable. Our participation in Expanding the Pool will help to spread this message to young women to show them that rewarding, high impact careers await in computer science."

 

"Attracting and retaining women in engineering-related fields has become more and more critical in the information age," added Chen. "As a female faculty member, I believe that I am in the unique position to contribute to this important endeavor. I'm proud that I have the opportunity to be involved in this important task to guide more women to develop careers in engineering and science related areas."