This article outlines several activities at UIUC geared towards encouraging women to join and stay in a computing major. As the authors note, the link between UIUC’s efforts and the uptick in women in computing at UIUC is speculative, as no formal evaluation has been conducted. Nevertheless, the level of engagement in broadening participation in computing at UIUC is encouraging. Of note, UIUC is one of many computing departments and organizations working to increase the representation of women in computing courses and majors. This article is the first in a series highlighting some of these departments.
The CS undergraduate program at the University of Illinois is among the largest in the nation. It has grown by 250 percent over the last decade to nearly 1,800 undergraduates—and it is still growing. In the last four years, the percentage of women in our CS programs rose from 10 percent to more than 25 percent. And our freshmen class in the College of Engineering rose from 11 percent women in 2012 to about 45 percent in 2016.