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How One University Quadrupled Female Enrollment in Computer Science

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Despite the numerous successes of the Feminist Movement, female participation in tech-oriented programs remain low. However, evidence shows that this is not an insurmountable problem for colleges. Better still, there is reason to believe that the solution to increase female enrollment in computer science can be replicated.

Here are the three methods that Harvey Mudd College used to increase female enrollment in computer science:

  • First, Harvey Mudd College changed their course from “Introduction to Programming in Java” to “Creative Approaches to Problem Solving in Science and Engineering Using Python.” The change of name made the course less intimidating to interested individuals, while Python replaced Java because it is a more forgiving language. At the same time, the professors separated the class based on coding experience to improve its atmosphere.
  • Second, the college encouraged women to sign up for the course by showing them that women can be successful in tech-oriented industries. This was accomplished by bringing the students to the Grace Hopper Conference, which is meant to celebrate women in said industries.
  • Third, students were encouraged to use their skills to make something that mattered. Examples ranged from educational games to the conversion of popular software for use by new user bases. Their successes showed them that the tech-oriented industries were not out of their reach, with the result that large numbers of women switched over to computer science.

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