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Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

ISSN Print: 1072-8325
ISSN Online: 1940-431X

Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/JWomenMinorScienEng.v11.i3.50
pages 273-294

REPORT FROM THE TRENCHES: IMPLEMENTING CURRICULUM TO PROMOTE THE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN COMPUTER SCIENCE

Elizabeth Jessup
Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado
Tamara Sumner
Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado
Lecia Barker
Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society, University of Colorado

ABSTRACT

Many social scientists conduct research on increasing the participation of women in computing, yet it is often computer scientists who must find ways of implementing those findings into concrete actions. Technology for Community is an undergraduate computer science course taught at the University of Colorado at Boulder in which students work with local community service agencies building computational solutions to problems confronting those agencies. Although few Computer Science majors are female, this course has consistently attracted a very large proportion of female students. Technology for Community enrollment patterns and course curriculum are compared with other computer science courses over a 3-year period. All courses that satisfy public markers of design-based learning are seen to have higher than average female enrollment. Design-based learning integrates four practices believed to increase participation of women: authentic learning context, collaborative assessment, knowledge sharing among students, and the humanizing of technology. Of all the courses marked as including design-based learning, however, the Technology for Community course is drawing the most significant numbers of women from outside of the College of Engineering and Applied Science. We attribute that success to the inclusion in the course of curriculum reflecting design-based learning and recruiting partnerships with programs outside of the College of Engineering.