Dean Cara Brodley of Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science has set forward plans to reach equal male-female enrollment in the computer science program by 2021.
Ever since the start of her career at Northeastern University, it has been Cara Brodley’s mission to bring more women into the computer science field. According to TechRepublic: “currently, women represent only about 16% of computer science graduates across the US.”
In an interview with TechRepublic, Brodley revealed that her goal was to reach 50/50 male/female majors in computer science, “but the other goal is that every student should know some computer science before they leave the education system.”
In order to attract new students to the computer science field, Brodley is trying to demonstrate how knowledge of computer science can supplement anyone’s education in any field of study. She has worked to make combined majors with arts media and design majors, along with social sciences and humanities majors. According to an interview with TechTarget, Brodley claimed Northeastern to have 26 combined majors as of October 2016.
Brodley also came up with the “Meaningful Minors” program in computer science, where there are five courses, two being electives within computer science that the students choose. Each student receives advising on which courses would match best with their major. Sarah Dunbar, a Northeastern student with a major in bioengineering on a premed track, believes that:
" . . .reaching equality between men and women is a challenge, especially in a field as male dominated as computer science. Brodley’s plan is ambitious.”
Since 2014, the number of female students in Northeastern’s computer science field has risen to 26%. "There haven't really been any ways to learn the basics of coding through Northeastern until Brodley started implementing her plan," says Stacy Andryshak, communication and media studies major at Northeastern.
Although this is a significant rise, Ana Nicosia, a chemical engineering major at Northeastern, does not believe Brodley will meet her goal of 50/50 enrollment by 2021, and that “it may take a bit longer to achieve it,” but she does agree that “the computer science field should be more balanced in terms of gender.”
Knowledge of computer science in an age where everyone uses technology is extremely beneficial to any student, and many employers tend to look for this skill set. Andryshak says she has "seen a lot of interest in computer science in general because it's in high demand in our digital society." It isn’t long until these skills could be required for all students to learn.
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