Women in Computer Science

Linda Ott (right) and Ashley
Villar, 2021 WiCS participant

“Young women don’t always have opportunities to learn about computing careers or to meet role models in the field,” says Linda Ott, emerita chair, computer science. “And without that, many don’t gain the background to consider computing as a career option.”

To change that, since 2000, Women in Computer Science (WiCS), a weeklong Summer Youth Programs exploration, has reached high school-age girls with the message that computing careers are for women, too.

Organized by Ott and the computer science department, WiCS has helped dozens of high school girls learn more about computing and the exciting opportunities it can offer.

“Careers in computing can be fun, rewarding, and well-paying,” says Ott.
“If we are a just society, young women should have equal access to the field.”

And diversity benefits industry, as well. “We’ve seen lots of examples of software products that work well for only a portion of the population,” says Ott. “Industry benefits significantly from a more diverse workplace.”

The exploration is offered without cost to students. Scholarships are funded by alumni and companies such as Ford and IBM.