Carnegie Mellon University Makes Great Strides in Enrolling Women in Computer Science and Engineering

Carnegie Mellon UniversityAt colleges and universities across the United States, the percentage of women in computer science and engineering majors remains very low and in some instances the percentages have fallen in recent years.

According to data published by the Computing Research Association, women make up 16.5 percent of the students in undergraduate computer sciences programs. But at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, women are 48.5 percent of all first-year undergraduates in computer science courses.

According to the National Science Foundation, women make up just 15 percent of the students in undergraduate engineering courses. But at Carnegie Mellon University, women are 43.3 percent of all first-year women in undergraduate engineering courses.

The university attributes its success to “a long-term commitment to purposefully seek out outstanding women and support them during their studies, through the concerted and coordinated efforts of university leaders, faculty advocates and role models, staff and fellow students.”

jelena_kovacevicJelena Kovačević, the Hamerschlag University Professor and head of the electrical and computer engineering department at Carnegie Mellon, says that the success is due to a “combination of factors, including reaching out to middle schools and high schools, training university tour guides, a holistic view of applicants, promoting an understanding of the societal impact of the fields and working with members of the faculty who serve as role models.”

“It’s not magic,” Professor Kovačević said. “What CMU has done over the past two decades is make this effort a priority, advertise it and let people buy into it.”

Professor Kovačević is a graduate of the University of Belgrade in Serbia. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Columbia University in New York City.

Below is a video showing Professor Kovačević and others discussing the university’s success in attracting women to computer science and engineering.

Filed Under: STEM Fields


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