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Last updateTue, 20 Jun 2017 11pm

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Google Awards $3,000 to MU Organization

Google AwardsGoogle awarded $3,000 to students in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery (IEEE/ACM) in Jan. The funds will be used for the creation of an Association for Computing Machinery Committee on Women in Computing (ACM-W) chapter on campus.

According to ACM.org, there are ACM-W chapters on campuses and locations around the world. Chapters advocate for the full technological engagement of women in all aspects of the computing field. At the University the chapter will aim to encourage, recruit, and empower female students interested in computing.

The award was the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Student Seed Fund Gift. Jessica Anastasio, a senior, along with two other computer science students applied for the funding from Google.org.

“We recently applied for a scholarship to start our own ACM-W chapter at Monmouth. This chapter will be a great place for women to come and network, seek support, etc. We ended up winning $3,000 from Google to start this initiative which is really exciting,” said Anastasio.

As the advisor of the IEEE/ACM Student Chapter, Jamie Kretsch, Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, said that she will take part in a number of exciting initiatives that the ACM-W chapter will host. “As far as my role in ACM-W, beyond helping to recruit women to join our group to learn more about computing, I’ll be helping them offer workshops, provide educational and social opportunities for women in computing, and working with them to support each other and provide mentoring and outreach to younger women in high school and community colleges.”

Programs like ACM-W are important because there is a gender gap in the field of computer science said Anastasio. “Ever since I can remember I loved messing around with computers. But when it came to school, I felt intimidated when it came to computer science because I didn’t know any girls who had studied it.”

Nevertheless, she followed her passion, and ignored societal trends. “My curiosity and love for building things and problem solving inspired me to study computer science regardless of whether or not I was the only girl in the class,” said Anastasio.

According to Kretsch the percentage of women in computing has changed drastically through recent history. “National estimates are about 20 percent of computing students are female, although there are a large number of organizations–such as ours and those we are associated with–working to increase those numbers.”

 She said that the gender gap has worsened since she was a student. “Back when I was in school the percentage of females was much higher–my ‘group’ in college was almost equally male and female. The number of females started dropping in the mid to late 1980’s and the drop continued up until recent years when professional organizations and companies started efforts to reverse that trend.”

According to the National Science Foundation, Kretsch is correct in her assertions of a decrease in female computer science graduates. According to the study in 1985, women earned 37 percent of computer-science undergraduate degrees. However, today more men than women are obtaining computer science degrees.

The report showed that computer science is the only field in science, engineering and mathematics in which the number of women receiving bachelor’s degrees has decreased since 2002.

Janice Rohn a specialist professor in the Department of Computer Science said that she does not understand the decrease in female computer science majors. “It’s important for there to be diversity in every field. It would be a shame for women to not be included in the design and development of the technology that is so much a part of the world in which we live.”

Kretsch anticipates that the incoming ACM-W chapter will reverse the gender gap, and encourage female enrollment in the University’s computer science, and software engineering majors and minors.

Taylor Campo, a senior computer science student said that women should not feel intimidated by the computer science field. “Any woman who wants to get involved in computing should do so. They will become a part of this amazing age of technology. Perks of being involved with computing include having the skills for jobs that are in high demand, and you can get paid a lot to do something that you love.”

Anastasio asserts that all Women In Computing (WIC) programs like ACM-W are crucial for the advancement of not only women, but technology as well. “Young girls simply stop wanting to study math and science because it is so culturally ingrained that they are for “men”. If we want to continue to be better and bigger as a country we absolutely need these initiatives to inspire women to join the field, shrinking that gender gap. Once we achieve that, we will have an even bigger capability of innovating the next big thing.”

IMAGE TAKEN from www.bbc.com

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