NCWIT’s Longitudinal Educational Pathway Programs in Computing

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Computing is one of the most powerful and influential fields shaping society today. Yet women (diverse in race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other historically marginalized identities) are all but absent. This underrepresentation significantly impedes women’s participation and influence as innovators, leaders and researchers shaping the future. Launched in 2004 with a grant from the National Science Foundation, NCWIT is a non-profit national community that convenes, equips, and unites change leader organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of a diverse range of women in the field of computing. NCWIT’s overarching goal is to promote systemic change rather than adopting a deficit-based approach in which women are “trained” to fit into hostile work and educational contexts.

While programs focusing on women and computing exist today, NCWIT’s holistic approach coupled with a foundation of decades of social science research, are unique. As an exemplar organization of the NSF, NCWIT has set the standard for evaluating impact and ensuring our programs are effective and efficient. By offering longitudinal support (K-12 through career), NCWIT provides encouragement that conquers isolation, builds in long-term motivation, opens doors—and changes lives. Research points to the necessity of providing such longitudinal, community-based support as a critical success factor in increasing participation and persistence of historically marginalized groups in any educational discipline. While one-time episodic experiences are helpful, they are generally not sufficient to create large scale systemic change.

Two effective ways to help women students in technology fields to succeed are encouragement from critical influencers, and creating a sense of belonging in the field. The statistics for women pursuing computing degrees continues to lag those of men – just 21 percent of Computing and Information Science degrees were awarded to women in 2019.

NCWIT Aspirations in Computing

The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program (www.aspirations.org) is designed around these principles – and the opportunities to join are open to all students who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary pursuing a technical post-secondary degree. AiC serves as the foundational community and program infrastructure for NCWIT’s academic pipeline programs. AiC utilizes recognition, access to resources (scholarships, internships, jobs, digital upskilling vouchers, etc.), and leadership development (teaching younger girls about computing) to amplify voices, build identity, reward persistence, and recognize fortitude as women increase their technical, research, and leadership skills.

Elevate the work of Technical Women through Recognition.

You can encourage your students to apply for the NCWIT Collegiate Award by October 15, 2020 through this online form. The NCWIT Collegiate Award honors the outstanding computing accomplishments of undergraduate and graduate students who self-identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary. This annual award recognizes technical contributions to projects that demonstrate a high level of innovation and potential impact, and shines a light on the many outstanding innovations women at any level of college and graduate studies create. With up to $10,000 in cash prizes, this prestigious award has in the past awarded innovators like Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, and projects that range from computational medicine to consumer health applications, from natural language processing to computer vision, from materials science to aerospace. Awards applications are due October 15, 2020. For more information or to apply visit https://www.aspirations.org/recognitions/AiCCollegiateAward

It’s not just about awards; it’s about community.

Students who apply for the NCWIT Collegiate Award first join the NCWIT AiC Community, a network of nearly 20,000 people who self-identify as women, genderqueer or non-binary. This community gives its members an opportunity to connect with nearly 20,000 like-minded high school, college, and early career women in tech.

Being part of a community like NCWIT AiC can provide students with a sense of belonging that is critical to their success. It also connects individuals with opportunities that open doors – including conference travel, awards, hackathons, internships and jobs.

Any undergraduate or graduate student who self-identifies as a woman, genderqueer, or non-binary who is pursuing a major or minor in a technical field is welcome to apply! Find out more about our eligibility requirements.

About the NCWIT Collegiate Award

The NCWIT Collegiate Award, sponsored by Qualcomm and Amazon with additional support from Palo Alto Networks, recognizes the outstanding technical contributions to projects demonstrating a high level of innovation and potential impact. Ideal projects for this award include a significant computing component and can include internship projects, independent work, research projects, or significant class projects.

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