Countless studies prove time and time again that diversity matters. We, as the Carleton Women in Computer Science (WiCS), crave this more than anything.

One of the ways to increase diversity in Computer Science is supporting the minority: women. One of the most tangible ways to support women in Computer Science is fostering an inclusive community where members feel empowered and included.

We’re a huge believer in the good of conferences – especially when the conferences bring together female students, researchers and professions in technology.  Two such conferences are the ACM Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing (CAN-CWiC) and the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC). The first is Canada’s premiere conference for women in computing and the second is the world’s largest celebration of women in technology. They are both welcoming places to network, learn and find new communities. Our goal is to send as many students to these conferences (and perhaps other similar ones) as possible.

With your support, you are making this possible.

The Background

It’s 2019, and there are just not that many women in Computer Science right now. Strange, right? From the National Center for Educational Statistics , 37% of undergraduate Computer Science students were women in 1984. By 2014, around 18% of students were women! Did you read those numbers? The percentage from 1984 to 2014 decreased.

Since the world of Computer Science is predominantly male, many females feel like they don’t belong in the field and lack the confidence they need to thrive. Carleton’s Women in Computer Science (WiCS) is organized by the School of Computer Science with the mission to establish a positive environment for women in computing at all academic levels. Our desire is to develop an inspiring and supportive network of female Computer scientists.

In the past, we have supported many students to attend the annual CAN-CWiC (Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing). The impact on our students that attend is hard to miss. Students who come back from conferences like CAN-CWIC feel like they can change the world with Computer Science. We’ll be sending about a dozen students to Mississauga for this conference this year. With your help, we’d like to send even more next year!

Thanks to the generous support of our futurefunder from last year, we were also able to send FIVE students to this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, Florida. This is the world’s biggest conference for women in CS but is very expensive with registration, travel and accommodations. We would love to keep sending students to this event but cannot without your help.

The Rollout

Sending students to conferences is expensive. We are hoping to raise $20,000 to support as many students as possible to attend these events (or similar events like Harvard’s WECode – the largest student-run conference for women in computer science in North America). The funds would go to towards the cost of registration, accommodation, travel and meal expenses for the students attending the events. The breakdown of how many students that will attend each event will depend on student applications and locations of the events. We will be encouraging and helping students to apply for other financial support so that we can try to send as many students as we can (because – the more inspired students that come back – the more impact it creates!).

The Impact

Imagine this. You’re a woman. You’re an eager, smart, high-achieving first year. You look around your very first Computer Science classroom. It’s predominantly male.

You meet your classmates. Most of them have programming experience. You feel nervous – you don’t. They talk about how late they stayed up programming–how they dream in code. You slept early that night. You dream about everything other than code.

You adore technology. You’re excited to learn how to program in order to change the world. But… you start to hesitate. “Am I not passionate enough because I don’t dream in code?” “Am I in the wrong program?”

You then hear about conferences that are specifically designed to bring women in technology together. The conferences are not in Ottawa… There are registration fees, travel costs, accommodations.

Then, you’re told you can get funding through Carleton’s WiCS. You apply. Eagerly waiting, you get an email that will change your life.

You arrive at the event. “Am I dreaming?” You see the vast number of women in CS from across Canada or even the world! Shocked, you meet students from all over.

You attend as many sessions as you can. You meet potential employers. You learn how to have successful interviews. You get tangible ideas to start outreach programs back at Carleton. You even end up interacting with leaders in technology and academia..These women tell you about the hurdles that they have had to overcome. Amidst the struggle, these women made it to the top. You can’t wait to share.

Inspired, you come back and tell discouraged students that they too belong in CS! One student inspires another, and a beautiful community is formed. Word gets around. Unbelievable projects and ideas start forming. The world is changed.

Together, we can make this happen.

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