Cornell Tech’s Program to Increase the Number of Women in Computer Science to Expand Nationally

Cornell Tech’s Women in Technology & Entrepreneurship in New York (WiTNY), a partnership including the City University of New York that has increased representation of women in computing, will expand nationally with support from Pivotal Ventures, Cognizant U.S. Foundation, and Verizon.

The program, which will now be known as Break Through Tech, will be replicated starting in Chicago as part of a $50 million investment in the new Gender Equality in Tech Cities Initiative by Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates. Break Through Tech will now partner with the University of Illinois at Chicago, a public research university whose computer science department, part of the university’s College of Engineering, has grown from 187 undergraduate students to more than 1,400 over the past 15 years.

In New York City, Cornell Tech works with the City University of New York and industry partners to offer new introductory computer science courses and workshops that teach coding and emphasize technology’s real-world applications, with an eye toward recruiting and retaining women and other underrepresented groups in tech. During winter recess, three-week paid “winternships” provide freshman and sophomore women with resume credentials and industry experience that increase their chances of landing coveted summer tech internships. The program also builds a community of women in computing through peer and mentoring networks.

“It’s critical that students from all backgrounds are equipped with the technological skills needed to tackle the world’s problems, and Cornell is committed to fostering diversity and gender equity,” said Greg Morrisett, the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech. “The Break Through Tech initiative is an incredible model that has already made a huge impact in New York and will do so around the country.”

Renee Wittemyer, Pivotal Ventures’ director of program strategy and investment added that “boosting representation of women in tech requires the work, investment and collaboration of many players in the tech ecosystem, and we are thrilled to have Break Through Tech’s innovative model to foster the coordination between companies, universities, and nonprofits to scale change.”

Filed Under: STEM Fields

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