Carnegie Mellon University is boasting that nearly half (48%) of incoming School of Computer Science undergraduates are women, a new diversity record for the institution.
This echoes results at another top-notch computer science school, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's College of Engineering, which says 46% of its 190 incoming freshmen CompSci students are women. That's up from 24% the year before.
Guy Blelloch, associate dean for undergraduate programs at CMU, says 38% more women applied for admission with SCS as their first choice. The school, which increased its first-year undergrad class in computer science by 30% this fall, says men and women are judged by the same admission standards.
Programs such as Women@SCS have helped to improve the culture for women -- including via better networking opportunities -- at CMU. Women@SCS Director Carol Frieze and co-author Jeria Quesenberry dive into CMU’s cultural evolution in the new book, “Kicking Butt in Computer Science: Women in Computing at Carnegie Mellon University.”
CMU says it has been making progress for years, with women accounting for 30% of all undergrads in computer science in the past academic year, well above a national figure of 16.5% cited in the Computing Research Association’s Taulbee Survey. The CMU number will be up to 36% this academic year.
CMU isn't alone in fostering a more welcoming computer science field for women.
MIT, for example, is using a two-year, $1M gift from the Hopper-Dean Foundation to boost three STEM education programs designed for women and underrepresented students in middle school in high school. Among these projects is the Women's Technology Program in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a four-week hands-on residential and academic summer program.