Northeastern University is all set to launch the Center for Inclusive Computing with a vision to increase the representation of women in technology. They will collaborate with universities having large undergraduate computing programs across the US in order to strengthen the student population of women and underrepresented minorities. For the upcoming six years, the Center will fund and support not-for-profit universities with 200 or more computing graduates annually. Funding will be used to implement evidence-based strategies to address the gender gap in computing, which includes the fields of computer science, information science, data science, artificial intelligence, and cyber security.
Carla Brodley is the dean of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at the Northeastern University and will act as the founding executive director of Center for Inclusive Computing. “We are so excited to partner with other universities in this process. We anticipate that we’ll learn from each other, and our field as a whole will benefit from this massive collaboration”, said Brodley.
As the dean of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences, Brodley has increased the percentage of women undergraduate students from 21% to 31% in four years. The Center for Inclusive Computing will use the expertise of faculty from Northeastern University and recruit a set of technical consultants from other universities with first-hand experience in the best practices that have shown to narrow the gender gap in computing. They will work with each grantee university to co design ways to recruit, enroll, and retain female students in their respective programs. Also, an advisory council will guide the strategy and purpose of the Center, including leaders on increasing women in technology.
The Center embraces best practices to increase enrollment and retention of women in computing, and have been identified and distilled from hundreds of interviews with experts, peer-reviewed reports, and research from conferences and journals. They include offering on-ramps for beginners, creating a sense of belonging, and cultivating a community of supportive peers.
“There’s a culture of transformation that’s built into our DNA at Northeastern. In addition to caring deeply about diversity and inclusion, providing an invitation to the table for everyone has always been part of our mission”, Brodley concludes.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman