The gift, sponsored by Google, will go toward the creation of a Texas Tech chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery's Women in Computing.
The Extraordinary Women of Computer Science (EWoCS) student organization at Texas Tech has been awarded a $3,000 gift from the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) Student Seed Fund to encourage more women to enter and remain in the computer science field.
The gift, sponsored by Google, will go toward the creation of a Texas Tech chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery's Women in Computing (ACM-W). The chapter will provide programming workshops, technical summits, peer mentoring and support, professional training, after-school programs and the creation of multimedia materials aimed at encouraging recruitment and retention of women and other groups in computing.
"We are very grateful for the support of the National Center for Women & IT for their selection of our proposal and awarding EWoCS at Texas Tech the NCWIT Student Seed Fund gift," said Neda Tavakoli, a doctoral student in computer science and EWoCS president. "We hope that the gift creates more opportunities to attract more female students to computer science."
The EWoCS' proposal for the new chapter was endorsed by Rattikorn Hewett, the chairwoman for the Department of Computer Science in the Whitacre College of Engineering. The EWoCS chapter at Texas Tech has 41 members, including 31 undergraduate students. Hewett said currently 12.7 percent of undergraduate students and 34.9 percent of graduate students in the department are women.
"I am very happy for EWoCS to receive this grant," Hewett said. "The amount of money is not as crucial as how it will encourage these ladies to believe in themselves and to do more for their peers. It will help the department to leave a footprint on a national level since this is a competitive grant from national computing organizations. It will show our commitment to improve diversity and the presence of women in computing. I am glad to see Texas Tech be a part of this."
EWoCS serves to connect and support women involved in computer science. A notable number of female students have dropped out of computer science programs for several reasons, including a feeling of isolation, a lack of emotional support, low self-esteem and believing engineering is only for male students.
EWoCS promotes and empowers women in computing disciplines by connecting and supporting them, offering tutoring, participating in STEM outreach events, providing short courses on programming activities such as Android development, traveling to conferences, hosting social events that enhance team-building skills and promoting networking.
EWoCS also hosts information sessions with companies and national laboratories such as Sandia National Laboratory to provide students with information regarding job placements. EWoCS encourages leadership training by providing members the opportunity to lead social events of their choosing with guidance from the EWoCS officers.
"The new ACM-W chapter will encourage more female students' involvement, promote networking, allow for collaboration with different organizations and provide more opportunities and help members succeed in their career goals," Tavakoli said. "It will also encourage collaboration between undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty to promote diversity. This will empower women and create a place for female students in computing related fields at Texas Tech. This will in turn help us increase the number of women enrolled in computing disciplines."