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School of Informatics and Computing honored for promoting women in undergraduate computing

School received NCWIT award

The School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) was recognized by a major national organization for its excellence in promoting women in undergraduate computing. The School was one of three institutions to receive the inaugural National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Extension Services Transformation (NEXT) Award.

These awards, which are sponsored by Google, recognize departments that have shown significant outcomes in women's enrollment and graduation rates, and have excellent potential for building on these gains. The awards reflect and reward practices that NCWIT recognizes as having the most significant impact on the goal of increasing the number of women in information technology and other computing-related fields.

SoIC will receive $50,000 in recognition of its strides in women's enrollment, which has grown by 735% in introductory classes, 135% in declared majors, and 185% in graduating women since 2009. These rates are all significantly higher than the men's growth rates for the School during the same timeframe (445, 68, and 103).

According to the NEXT Award website, "Like many computing programs, Indiana's School of Informatics and Computing has experienced significant increases in undergraduate enrollment in recent years (from 743 majors in 2009 to 1330 in 2014). Even in the face of these pressures, they have maintained a commitment to diversity and inclusion, and have steadily grown the percentage of women students, especially in their Informatics major."

In 2013, women students made up 24% of the graduating class in Informatics, up from 11% in 2007.

"SoIC deserves special acknowledgment for its effective use of the NCWIT Systemic Change Model, resulting in a strategic and well-coordinated suite of recruiting and retention initiatives. This includes building strong support from institutional leadership -- a key to effective and sustainable change. They are also commended for consistently making evaluation a key component to their initiatives."

The School's efforts have been spearheaded by a team including Dean Bobby Schnabel, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies Esfan Haghverdi, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Education Maureen Biggers, and Director of Inclusion and Education Lamara Warren. Dennis Groth, Indiana University Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, was also recognized as part of the collaborative team along with Extension Services Consultants Angela Arndt, Tom McKlin, and Sylvia Beyer.

"Excellence in diversity has been one of the key strategic goals of SoIC from the outset. It is gratifying to see our excellent progress recognized by a major national organization," said Schnabel.

"Since computing is usually not taught in K-12 schools, this career path is not on the radar of the vast majority of students entering Indiana University. We have to make students aware of the opportunities and clarify some misperceptions about the field that many have," added Biggers. "We help students understand that this is a field that involves creative problem solving and collaborative team work, and one in which you can make a difference in multiple arenas."

The School became a Pacesetter by NCWIT for its work to increase women's participation in IT, and has kept the designation since 2008.

The University of Washington Department of Computer Science & Engineering receive the grand prize, while SoIC tied with Michigan State University (Departments of Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computing Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering) for second place.

NCWIT's Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP) provides customized consultation to academic departments to help improve their strategic recruitment and retention of women students in their majors. To recognize the achievements of these outstanding departments, NCWIT has established the NEXT Awards.

Source: SoIC