Women students in graduate caps and gowns at commencement.

Michigan Tech Receives NCWIT Surging Enrollment Seed Fund to Bring More Women Into Computing

Increasing enrollment for women in computer science with new mentoring program funded by NCWIT.

Michigan Tech receives $10,000 to launch strategic approaches for recruiting and retaining women in computing.

Michigan Technological University is one of four institutions to receive the 2018 National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Surging Enrollment Seed Fund. The fund expands diversity of incoming computing students in the face of increasing enrollment in computing programs.

Michigan Tech’s Department of Computer Science and Admissions Office are developing a program to match admitted women students with current women students. The program’s goal is to increase the percentage of accepted female students that enroll at Michigan Tech.

“Computing disciplines continue to grow in popularity among all student populations,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Universities and colleges must look for ways to handle heightened demand for these programs without inadvertently leaving underrepresented populations behind.”

In the U.S. in 2016, women earned 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees; less than one-fifth of those degrees were in computer and information sciences and engineering. Engaging tech-related activities and opportunities can help to reverse this trend by appealing to a variety of students by building on their existing interests.

According to Dr. Linda Ott, professor of computer science at Michigan Tech, “The Computer Science Department has been delighted to see an increase in the number of women enrolling in our undergraduate programs the last few years. There has been disappointment, however, as we’ve watched the number of applications from women rise much faster than our enrollments. We are very excited to have this award to develop this mentoring program. We believe that the mentoring program will develop stronger personal connections, so that more of our applicants will feel comfortable coming to Michigan Tech.”

Allison Carter, director of admissions, agrees. “There’s tremendous potential in engaging prospective female students with a current student within their same academic department while the student is still in high school. Peer-to-peer communication offers valuable opportunities that prospective students are more likely to engage in. Current students are excited about the program and will be involved in all aspects of outreach and engagement.”

Programming will begin in the fall 2018 semester and continue through the first semester of enrollment for new first-year students.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.