Penn Advancing Women in Engineering Program to Attract Young Women to Field of Computer Science Through Microsoft Grant

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Media Contact:Jordan Reese | jreese@upenn.edu | 215-573-6604September 16, 2009


PHILADELPHIA –- The University of Pennsylvania’s Advancing Women in Engineering Program has received a grant funded by Microsoft Research and administered by the National Center for Women & Information Technology, NCWIT, to support “Guidance Counselor and Teacher Computer Science Day,” a program designed to bring high school guidance counselors and teachers to the Penn campus for a day-long workshop on how to better recruit women’s participation in computer science.

Counselors and teachers will learn how to talk about the field of computer science, what admissions officers look for and ways to identify and encourage student interest.

This initiative builds on the success of Penn’s “Women in Computer Science High School Day,” also supported by a 2007 NCWIT grant, which brought high school women to the Penn campus for a day of tours, classes, meetings with faculty and students, and information about studying computer science. For more information on this program, visit http://www.cis.upenn.edu/ugrad/hs-outreach.shtml

“Women who study engineering or computer science consistently report that one of the leading factors that brought them to the field is being encouraged by a teacher or guidance counselor,” says Michele Grab, director of Penn’s Advancing Women in Engineering Program. “Educating these gatekeepers to recognize potential computer science and engineering students, make them aware of job opportunities and what a computer scientist or engineer actually does will potentially impact future generations of students.”

NCWIT is a national coalition of over 170 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and non-profits bringing together more than 80 representatives from computer science and information technology departments to strengthen the computing workforce and cultivate technology innovation by increasing the participation of women and increasing diversity in computing higher education. The organization connects efforts to increase women’s participation in technology along the entire pipeline, from K-12 and higher education through industry, academic, and entrepreneurial careers.

The NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund provides academic institutions with start-up funds to develop and implement initiatives for recruiting and retaining women in computer science and information technology fields of study. The Seed Fund was initiated in 2007 with start-up funding from Microsoft Research and to-date has awarded $220,450 in funding.
For more information on Penn’s Department of Computer and Information Science and efforts to encourage young women to consider engineering as a field of study, visit http://www.seas.upenn.edu/awe.

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