Maria Klawe Won’t Let CS Remain a Boys’ Club, and other schools are going to try to follow the HMC model

June 3, 2015 at 8:31 am 2 comments

Always fun to read articles about Maria Klawe and the work going on at Harvey Mudd. The part that I found really interesting was the quote below. I hadn’t heard about this new program to try to replicate the interventions from Harvey Mudd at other schools. I suspect that the real challenge is getting the commitment (as described below) and understanding from the top down. I have heard administrators claim “We’re doing the same things as Harvey Mudd” when they very clearly aren’t. I suspect that the administrators don’t really understand what Harvey Mudd College is doing.

What the article doesn’t talk about is the bottom up support at Harvey Mudd.  The “CS For All” course that HMC CS faculty created has four authors (see book here). HMC has 10 tenure track CS faculty (see list here).  40% of their faculty put time into creating materials for a new approach that engaged more female students.  I know several of the other faculty in the department, and I know that they were supportive, even if not named authors.  I bet that the broad-based support among faculty in the department had more to do with change at HMC than any top-down commitment.

Ms. Klawe, 63, is not content with gains at her own institution, however. Late last year, she announced a program, financed by companies including Google and Facebook, to export and adapt the changes made at Harvey Mudd to 15 other universities. Many of them, such as Arizona State University and the University of Maryland at College Park, are public and much bigger than her science-focused college of 800 students.

Getting women into computer science, and into engineering more generally, requires commitment from the top down, Ms. Klawe says. But it starts with a simple reframing. “It’s creative problem-solving,” she says. “It’s hard to find a young woman who doesn’t want to be seen as creative. They also like problem-solving.”

via Maria Klawe Won’t Let Computer Science Remain a Boys’ Club – The Digital Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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