Diversity Across a Decade
Enrollment at Computer Science programs around the country has skyrocketed. With these record-breaking enrollments, the demographics of some departments have shifted. Among these is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where 46% of its 2016-2017 incoming freshman class was comprised of women. With each new year of first-year college students, many faculty are wondering, "How could we ever teach more than this?" But as resources are more and more overloaded, my own worry is, "Can universities help them all to graduate with a CS degree? Can departments help them to feel that they belong in their major?"
My upcoming ACM SIGCSE paper with Heather E. Metcalf, Erin Wolf Chambers, and Cinda Heeren examines how the Department of Computer Science has changed in the last ten years with these questions in mind.
The paper reports on classroom experiences, mentorship opportunities, and student sense of identity. While the data collected uncovered significant departmental improvements since 2006, there are some cultural, policy, and structural issues to be addressed in order to foster a sense of belonging and success for all students.