Girl Tech…Dancer, Other Students Find Computer Science A Natural Next Step

By Katherine Long
The Seattle Times.

SEATTLE

Siena Dumas Ang never thought she would come to love computer science.

What she loved was dance, ballet and, later, modern, as well as math, and she was planning to major in both at the University of Washington. But then she took a few computer-science classes as electives, and found a new subject to embrace.

Computer science “takes all of the aspects of math that I really love, and puts them all in a nice, pretty package,” Dumas Ang
said, adding: “The things we can compute is insane.”

Upon graduating this spring, the Seattle resident will have three majors: math, dance and computer science.

She is one of dozens of undergraduate women at the UW this spring who will graduate with degrees in the last area: All told, 32 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in computer science this year will be awarded to women.

There’s still a lot of room to improve, but it’s much better than the national average of 14 percent among the 200 U.S. universities that award doctorates in the subject, said Ed Lazowska, the UW’s Bill & Melinda Gates chair in Computer Science & Engineering.

That achievement is one reason that the National Center for Women & Information Technology is giving the UW’s Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) Department an award for enrolling more women undergraduates in computer-science classes.

The award, announced earlier in May, comes with a $100,000 prize funded by Google.org, the tech company’s charitable arm.
The UW has encouraged more women to go into computer science with “strategic, well-planned recruiting and retention efforts,” wrote Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of the national center, in the award letter announcing the prize.

“Of particular note is the inclusive, welcoming community” at the UW “that spans beyond the walls of the university and has demonstrably advanced women’s meaningful participation in computing,” Sanders wrote.

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