The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

With females comprising 23 percent of Penn Computer Science students, the University has one of the highest percentages of women enrolled in Computer Science Engineering programs.

Today at the Guidance Counselors and Teachers Day, faculty and students from the School of Engineering and Applied Science are showcasing why.

According to the event’s organizers, today’s program aims to show guidance counselors and high-school teachers what computer scientists do and explain the career opportunities available to students who study this major.

The event is organized by the Department of Computer and Information Science and the Advancing Women in Engineering program, and its sponsors include the National Center for Women and Information Technology and Microsoft Research.

“Teachers and parents are the biggest influence in a child’s life when he or she is deciding what to study,” said AWE director Michele Grab. “It’s important to educate them about what the study of Computer Science actually involves.”

Rita Powell, associate director of CIS, said the goal of the event is primarily to reach out to high schools that don’t have computer science programs. However, she added, the event is also designed to raise awareness about women in computer science at schools that already teach the subject.

“Even at schools where these sort of classes are offered, girls are not often exposed to them,” she said.

On average, 11 percent of computer science students at top colleges across the country are female Penn’s CIS program has more than twice this percentage of female students.

At the event, faculty from the Engineering School will talk about the logistics of studying computer science, and current students from the undergraduate organization Women in Computer Science will elaborate on why they chose to study the field.

Engineering senior and WICS President Brynn Shepherd said her passion for computer science began in seventh grade, when her keyboarding teacher asked class members to design their own web sites on

“I found using HTML really cool and I wanted to turn this hobby into a career,” Shepherd, a former Daily Pennsylvanian design assistant, said.

In addition to speeches from current students and faculty members, Engineering alumni will be at the event to discuss career opportunities after graduation, and admissions officers will highlight what they are looking for in prospective computer science students.

“We need to dispel the myths of computer science, especially those that discourage women from getting into the field,” said Grab.

She added that by debunking some of these misconceptions, the event’s organizers can make a career in computer science more appealing to girls applying to college.

Attendees will also be given a tour of the Robotics lab and Susquehanna International Group Center for Computer Graphics.

“We’re going to show off a little bit,” said Grab. “We want more students to apply for computer science programs in general, but we also want more of them to apply to Penn.”

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.