Best Practices in Action

The Center supports the implementation of well-documented, evidence-based practices that have been shown to increase representation of women in computing at the undergraduate level.

With a sense of urgency, we prioritize applications that aim to create sustainable, long-term change at institutions that demonstrate faculty and leadership support and buy-in.

The examples below derive from initiatives funded by the Center. While these do not represent the full scope of the interventions, the Center prioritizes the following best practices:

1

Make it easy to discover computing

As students explore different areas of study, ensure your courses are engaging and your website is accessible and informative. Provide a computing course that satisfies a general education requirement. Leverage student groups and advisors to help attract students to the major.

2

Redesign the intro sequence

Design introductory computer science courses that do not assume prior knowledge of computing. Remove barriers to success, such exposure to computer science in high school, non-culturally relevant curriculum, or inflexible gateways between courses.

3

Change the culture

Create a supportive, inclusive atmosphere. Work with the department to ensure faculty-student interactions are positive and encouraging. Identify faculty who are best positioned to teach introductory courses in a way that demonstrates the breadth of the field and creative ways computing can benefit society. Consider expanding and improving diversity, inclusion, and implicit bias training for faculty, TAs, and advisors.

4

Collaborate across campus

Seek out diversity and inclusion experts on campus. Learn what other departments have done or are planning to do. Consider creating interdisciplinary opportunities such as joint/combined majors or double/dual major programs, which can broaden appeal and participation.

5

Collect and analyze data

Track student persistence and retention data. Look at race, gender, and other key factors of identity. Using an intersectional approach is critical to promoting diversity, inclusion, and change for women. Knowing precisely where students are gained or lost in computing programs allows schools to design highly tailored interventions to make real, systemic change.

Learn more about the Center’s data collection initiative and how to participate here.

The best practices we fund are captured in the National Science Foundation’s BPCnet Resource portal.