Recruiting Young Women into, and Retaining Them in Computing Majors

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 - 3:11pm

4:30 – 5:30
Computer Science Conference Room, Harold Frank Hall Rm. 1132


SPEAKER: David Klappholz
Associate Professor, Computer Science
Stevens Institute of Technology


Recruiting Young Women into, and Retaining Them in Computing Majors:
Have We Been Going About it Wrong All Along? A High School and College
Level Initiative (ACM-W Project) Based Upon a 35-Year Psychological Study


Gender equity in computing has long been a national goal advanced by
those concerned with fairness and by those who know that the female
point of view improves the design and development of software systems.
Unfortunately, though, the percentage of young women entering
computing-related majors keeps falling, and the female dropout rate is
higher than the very high male dropout rate. The Bureau of Labor
Statistics predicts a large increase in the need for B.S./B.A. and M.S.
computing graduates in the next decade. The largest untapped pool of
potential computing majors and, eventually, computing professionals, is
science- and math-talented high school students, but only about 10% of
entering undergraduate majors in computing majors are female. Despite
the many initiatives aimed at attracting young women, the number of
female computing majors keeps dropping. In this talk we will discuss
results of an extensive psychological research study that followed
thousands of science- and math-talented students from middle school to
middle age and that may help explain why many previous initiatives have
failed. We will also discuss a new high school and university level
initiative that is supported by these psychological studies, and that
has recently been designated an ACM-W project. We will invite interested
attendees to personally participate in, and encourage their high
schools, universities, and/or employers to participate in this initiative.


Dr. David Klappholz is an associate professor of computer science at
Stevens Institute of Technology, where his specialty is software
engineering. In addition to his interest in empirical software
engineering research, Prof. Klappholz works, under NSF funding, with an
educational psychologist on issues relating to engineering education
pedagogy. He is also a member of a Stevens-based, DoD-supported, team
that is crafting a reference standard M.S. curriculum in software
engineering, a curriculum with a heavy systems engineering slant. In a
previous incarnation Prof. Klappholz did research, supported by NSF, IBM
Research, DoE, and others, on parallel machine architecture, automatic
code parallelization, compiler optimizations, and, in his professional
infancy, on natural language understanding and translation.