We have far too few women in computer science. We know why we need more women. We know that too few are pursuing computer science in school. And we know that even those who do enter the workforce, disproportionally leave.
In an effort to work towards a solution, we've gotten involved in a number of areas in our community. We've hosted Bitcamp, a day-long opportunity for middle school girls to learn about software development. We've supported Girl Develop It, including the brand new Grand Rapids chapter.
Over the last 3 years, I have been working with Calvin College’s Computer Science Department as part of their Strategic Partners Council. One of the primary missions we have pursued over that time is to help Calvin’s CS department improve the representation of under-represented groups — especially women — in departmental programs. In order to achieve that, we’ve created the 50 Percent Initiative, a corporate sponsorship program that seeks to change the face and future of our industry by increasing the number of women who earn computer science degrees. This initiative builds on the findings of other colleges in a number of important ways. To encourage women to enter the field, it provides scholarships to Computer Science majors. Female CS students are able to receive financial support to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, an experience that boosts retention in the major. And to assist in the transition from the academic to professional world, the program offers opportunities in mentorship, job shadowing, and paid internships from supporting companies.
As another opportunity to support and encourage women in CS, we are really excited to be working with the Michigan Council for Women in Technology and Calvin College’s Computer Science Department to host a showing the movie CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap. CODE exposes the dearth of American female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap. CODE raises the question: What would society gain from having more women and minorities code?
After the movie, we will be hosting a short panel discussion with women who work in the local tech industry, including our very own Sara Gibbons! At the end of the night, everybody will have some time to enjoy refreshments and network. The movie will take place in Calvin's Bytwerk Theater, which is in the basement of the DeVos Communication building on September 30th at 7pm. Doors will open at 6:30pm.
This is a free event, but there are a limited number of seats, so if you are interested in attending, you’ll need to register.
We hope you can join us for the event, but even if you can't help us spread the word to those you work with. The movie's main goal is to persuade people in business of the value of a more diverse workforce and thus begin to change business culture.
Thanks, and we hope to see you there!