Harvey Mudd has cracked the code on how to increase women in computer science. According to the LA Times, “more than half — 55% — of the latest class of computer science graduates were women, compared to roughly 10% a decade ago.”
So how does a college go from 10% to a majority representation in 10 years? Commitment and creativity.
The revamped computer science department, in an effort to change its perception, took feedback from students and created a more inclusive class structure focused on educating its students on the long term social benefit of the course. The computer science classes have done so well in bridging the gap between male and female students that other colleges and universities like Northwestern and UC Riverside have adopted its curriculum.
While hard to describe by a none techie myself, the courses basically enforce the social and group structure concept. That is working with students within your class to solve a problem while understanding the need for your solution. When it comes to education, there can be a huge disconnect between the details of an assignment and its real world necessity, but Harvey Mudd makes sure this doesn’t happen. In addition, making computer science mandatory and separating the advanced students from the newer ones helps each person learn at their own pace. This goes a long way to make sure no one feels “inferior” or that this subject may not be for them.
The community that Harvey Mudd has created is amazing and long lasting. Not only do their students understand their purpose, but this is reinforced with trips to conferences like the “annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, billed as the largest professional gathering of women in technology.”
As Harvey Mudd continues its growth within computer science I believe that currently the college is truly the premier education center for women in tech. Let’s see if anyone can do better!