2016 NCWIT Seed Fund Winner

Dordt College is a proud recipient of the 2016 NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund Award. We are one of four institituions to receive this award. The program is sponsored by NCWIT, with support from Microsoft Research. The seed fund provides start-up funding to academic programs focused on recruiting and retaining women in computing.

Seed Fund blog

The tales from the road.

Timing

I have always heard that timing is everything. Part of me beliefed it, part of me didn't. Until now. This grant request was a complete shot in the dark for me. I never thought that my very first grant request would even be considered, let alone a winner. Secondly, the amount awarded was doubled what I requested. I received the award notice, and 3 days latter the registration opened for the academic camps. As these were the basis of the grant request, timing was everything. Not to mention that within 24 days upon reciving word of the grant, my third baby was born. Timing is everything.


Academic Camps

The grant money was put to cover tuition to 2 academic camps. The first is a camp designated for middle school (those who have just completed 6th, 7th, and 8th grades). I teach a class called "Build an App". I use the MIT App Inventor web-software and tutorials for instruction the kids how to make an Android App. I cap the class at 20, and it is usally full each summer. Out of the 20, I had three girls in the class. 15% is not a great ratio (i.e. girls to boys), but considering the year before it was 5%, I was happy with the increase. The girls banded together, which I think is only normal in that type of classroom setting.
The second camp was designated for high school (those who just completed 9th or 10th grade). There was 1 girl in this class, out of 6 or 7. Again, not the goal I had for the first year offering the scholarship, but considering the year before there were 0 girls in the class, I can accept the increas.


Isolation

I get that research says having females recruit females is more fruitful. There is just a limit to what one person can do. In that regard, the efforts make me feel very isolated. As we enter the year into figuring out what to do for the upcoming camps, I feel that the pressue is on me -- I'm the female Computer Science professor, and therefore I should be able to recruit the females students. Along with everything else ... new job duties; gradaute school; teaching responsibilities; and lets not forget the work-life balance. It's an isolated world that one can be in. Is that a fair assumption?
How do I hide that from incoming students. It doesn't have be isolating ... but there are definite periods of isolation. I felt this was as a female computer science student -- in my bachelors, masters, and now Phd program. I have felt that in my preiovus programming position, as a computer science professional. I now feel it as a computer science professor. With all the new of gender imblance, I think its an issue that needs to be discussed. It doesn't hae to be the only option, but on that says you will feel this ... AND ... this is how you get over it and deal with it. Computer Science does not equal inversion, but there will be periods of times that you want to be left alone, to put your head down and work. There are lots of opportunities for collaboration and communication with others, these opportunities are not highlighted. You will feel stretced -- you will feel like you can't do it all. If you get scuked into that feeling, it leads to isolation. I think I need to take my own advice -- I'm not isolated -- I'm just stretched. Stretching leads to growth -- so lets power on.


A New Beginning

Summer of 2017 starts in 5 days (for me). I'm not sure what to expect, but I need to set some goals. I'm looking at the start of dissertation, as well as my growing family. So I need to figure out how to fit recuriting in. I know I can't do it alone, so I have to figure out resources. The Girls Who Code Club failed. I'm not happy about it, but I know the resources in this area are limited, as is the interest. IDEAS is also cancelled for this year. A bummer, but maybe a break is waht is needed. Time to regroup, think about what is really needed in terms of appealing to the middle and high school students. For instance, the local library has a Coding Club, and its doing pretty well; so I need to collaborate with them. Alumni are always asking for comptuer science majors, so I need to work with Advancement and Admissions to figure out a better marketing strategy. So much to do .... timing is everything, but so is support. Here's to receiving the list of campers for this year. Hour of Code / CS Education Week is also something to capitalize on. Here's to the summer of being fruitful.