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«Gloria Childress Townsend Professor of Computer Science Stephanie Ball Laura Kuh Computer Science Majors DePauw University SIGCSE Original 2005 ...»

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Description: Students from the same classes can meet several nights before a test to review the material and ask questions.

Benefits: An organized study session prevents procrastination. Students are able to combine their knowledge for a better understanding of the material.

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Description: Ask faculty members to hold a study session for students interested in taking the GRE. Afterwards, encourage students to review each subject area (such as computer organization) as a group, using at least two sessions where all students prepare for the first meeting using notes and textbooks from previous classes. Individual members of the group prepare presentations that address unanswered questions in a second meeting.

Benefits: Allowing the students to ask experienced faculty members questions about the GRE will calm nerves and kick off the test preparation phase. "Dividing and conquering" further preparation keeps the group on task and lends efficiency to the process.

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19. "Take Apart Your Computer" Day Academic Description: Faculty members help female students explore the inside of a computer. Alternately, student volunteers take computers apart with younger students, such as students from a local high school, Girl Scout troop, etc.

Benefits: As young children, girls are not encouraged to explore things on their own, especially a computer – the "boys' domain". Therefore, women are less likely than men to view the computer as a "toy" to take apart and to explore. Participating in a "Take Apart Your Computer" Day gives women a new perspective, demystifies the computer as a black box, and creates a knowledge base that empowers women. Bettina Bair at The Ohio State University offers a "Computer Anatomy 101 Workshop" that is a variation. (See next pictures.)

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Bettina Bair and ACM-W event for elementary school girls

For more information regarding Idea #19:

Bettina Bair The Ohio State University bbair@cse.ohio-state.edu "This event turned out to be fairly easy to run. We were lucky to get a lot of equipment donations from CSE faculty, staff and students.

We had many old PCs, one Macintosh and even a couple thin clients.

There were also several monitors, keyboards, mice, disk drives and various modems and other circuitry. Almost everyone got her own PC to dismantle. (There were a couple of pairs of sisters who worked together on one box.) It was amazing how fearless the girls were in ripping out circuit boards, disk drives and cables. They also surprised us by asking to take home various parts as souvenirs. One girl was thrilled with her 'brain' (CPU). Another girl dismantled a keyboard to leave us a Thank You note spelled out in key pads.

The best part was seeing everyone successfully identify all of the eleven components in their challenge: CPU, Memory, Bios, Chipset, Video Board, Modem, Soundboard, Motherboard, Fan, Diskdrive and Power Source.

Each child went home with a ring of 'mindquest' style trading cards that contained fun facts about all the parts [available online]. These girls are going to be terrific computer scientists someday.

When all the dust settled, we were left with the skeletonized carcasses of a dozen PCs, some lost screw bits, a pile of unclaimed screws, a lot of pictures and many fond memories."

Cost: We spent money on printing the trading cards (~$250), and on stickers (~$5). Volunteers brought tools, which were loaned out (and mostly returned in good condition). The workshop took about 45 minutes to set up and about 15 minutes to cleanup. We had one practice session for the volunteers, too.

20. Community Colleges Academic & Service Description: Statistics indicate that community colleges have a higher percentage of female students receiving degrees in computing-related majors than four-year institutions do.

Gather a small group of students to visit a nearby community college and have a meeting, brown-bag lunch, or similar event with women who have related interests. The students can talk about their respective programs and explore ways to continue communication and common events. The community college probably lacks a formal, organized "women in computing" group, allowing the visitors to encourage formation of a sister or joint group.

Benefits: A meeting between a community college and a four-year institution benefits the women's programs of both schools by encouraging retention in both schools and recruitment of the women who will graduate with associate's degrees to the four-year, sister school.

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21. Research Presentation Academic Description: Select several female seniors from the capstone course (Senior Project, Senior Seminar, etc.) for a program where the seniors give advice to younger women. Some or all of the seniors can demonstrate their work for the younger students.

Benefits: This activity provides role-modeling opportunities and helpful advice for younger women from experienced students.

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22. Visit Universities Academic Description: Small- or medium-sized colleges plan a field trip to a nearby large, research institution’s campus to visit research project laboratories and/or hear female graduate students talk about their research and their lives as graduate students. For large universities, plan a trip to a nearby small or medium-size college to present research and talk about lives as graduate students.

Benefits: This activity keeps the students up to date on current research and provides undergraduates with insight into graduate school life. Mentoring and practicing presentation skills reward graduate students.

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23. "Meet the Grads" Night Academic & Social Description: Invite recent graduates to talk to current students in the computer science department. The graduates should be a mix of people who went to graduate school and people who started their careers right after graduation.

Benefits: Students will receive knowledge about possible paths after graduation and helpful advice about their futures from successful role models.

Group Size: Large

24. Bulletin Boards Academic & Social Description: Gather a group of students to make announcement boards to be placed in public areas, advertising classes in the computer science department, career possibilities, research posters, pictures of local award winners and women in-the-news, famous women in computing, tutoring opportunities, grants scholarships, ACM-W meetings, etc..

Popular places to post would be restrooms, inside classrooms, and in dorms. Consider fun pictures of officers, blown up to poster size. This also helps to dispel stereotypes.

Vicki Allan at Utah State University takes pictures of her officers making a human pyramid on the quad or dressed in prom dresses, tiaras, with sashes stating the students' offices. Another shot shows the officers lying as spokes in a wheel with their heads together.

Benefits: Bulletin boards are a great, informal source of information that could draw curious people to the computer science department, especially if placed in unexpected but highlyvisited locations.

Group Size: Large

25. Scrapbook Academic Description: Organize a group with scrapbook experience to construct a "women in computing" scrapbook. When high school women come for visits, show them the book. When young women in introductory classes talk about majoring or when faculty members suggest it, also share the scrapbook with them.

Benefits: The scrapbook is useful for recruiting young women to the computing field. It shows the advantages and diversity the major has to offer.

Group Size: Medium

26. Testimonials Academic Description: Host an "Oprah" event: Each woman shares her “most difficult time in computing and how she dealt with problem” or “what I’ve learned in COMPUTER SCIENCE that may help others”, etc.

Benefits: An event like this allows the students to open up and share their experiences with one another, promoting new friendships, understanding and role-modeling.

Group Size: Large

27. Buddy System Academic Description: At the beginning of each semester, hold a meeting where women can get together and meet the other women in their classes. The students can then pair up with each other (or form small groups) and set up times to meet outside the classroom throughout the semester, so that the class goes more smoothly for each.

Benefits: Previous research has shown that women thrive in smaller classrooms with small group interaction [15]. The buddy system works to achieve that small group interaction with women.

Group Size: Groups of two

28. Women’s History Month and Computer Science Education Week Academic Description: Provide a display for the computer science classrooms area regarding pioneers, including the ENIAC women, Ada Lovelace, and Grace Hopper. Work with the Women's Center, Feminist Studies Department, or the Computer Science Department, etc. to ask a technical female speaker of historical interest to tell her story. Invite as broad an audience as possible. Ask the speaker to lunch or dinner with members of the women-incomputing organization.

Benefits: Honoring women pioneers is a great way to inform people of the achievements that women have made in computing.

Group Size: Medium Women and Communicating

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Good communication skills are vital to success in the workplace, but men and women communicate very differently, which can often lead to problems. Understanding these communication differences could be a huge advantage to a woman, who then may be able to strengthen her communication skills in situations where both sexes are involved.

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Description: Find an expert in communication who is willing to volunteer time. Many schools or offices specialize in providing teaching and training for campus groups and departments.

Frame the workshop as a general-audience event: How everyone can improve communication practices.

Benefits: At Stanford University, a third of the attendees to this event were male, even though the event was held in the Women's Center – far from the Computer Science building.

Communication is a critical part of computing project work success, and the topic had broad appeal. By taking the focus off of women, gender issues in communication can still be part of the discussion. By including both men and women, the focus can shift from what women should "fix" to how everyone can improve communication. (Lilly Irani)

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Description: Obtain a copy of Deborah Tannen’s book You Just Don't Understand or

Women and Men in Conversation, or Linda Babcock’s book, Women Don't Ask:

Negotiation and the Gender Divide. Allow several women who have time to read or skim the books to hold a discussion on women’s forms of communication.

Benefits: Books provide good resources to explore the communication barrier between men and women in more depth.

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31. Lab Welcoming Academic Description: The uninviting and unfamiliar COMPUTER SCIENCE laboratory environment can be daunting to women. Gather several older students and invite the laboratory assistants and any other student assistants in the department to a discussion session, providing information that will sensitize the students. The lab assistants should be sure to circulate among the students, be friendly, stop to ask how students who don't request help are doing, and not wait for students to summon a tutor.

Benefits: This welcoming session makes the students more comfortable in the lab environment, especially at big schools where labs are dominated by men.

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32. Ice-breaking Session Academic Description: Early in the first week of the semester, invite all the student assistants (as well as any faculty members who are willing to attend) to a punch-and-cookies event for women in the introductory courses. Ask each tutor/assistant to provide personal information plus a hint that s/he developed from her/his own experience with the introductory sequence.

Explain to the student helpers beforehand that the goals lie in: Demonstrating the approachability of the students/faculty; breaking the ice so that students are more likely to seek help, when they need it; showing students that they "belong" and that the department welcomes them.

Benefits: Students, tutors, and faculty members will be better acquainted and the students will be more likely to seek help from these excellent resources.

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33. Invite a Friend Academic & Social Description: Ask women to invite as many women as they can to a lunch or dessert event.

Advanced students should briefly describe "why I am majoring in computer science" and "what our classes are like". The sponsor can suggest that taking one, single class can make a difference in one's career choices; that taking the introductory course is a win/win situation; that having no computing background serves as a filter to strain out future options. She also describes the support system in place for women-in-computing.

Benefits: Students with no computing background realize the benefits of taking a computer science course.

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Description: Invite students who are double-majoring or otherwise pursuing interdisciplinary paths, along with faculty members who perform interdisciplinary research to speak about projects. Examples include digital art, artificial life, mathematical simulation, etc.

Benefits: Women are able to see other women pursuing a different path in computer science other than just writing code. These women can be role-models to students who want to use computers as agents to benefit the community.

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Description: Ask an attorney, physician, or veterinarian, etc. who is an alumna to hold a short conversation with the women-in-computing group. Have the speaker concentrate on how the computer science undergraduate degree helped her to succeed in her chosen field.

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