By Laurie D. Willis
Assistant Director of Public Relations
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Microsoft Research have awarded Livingstone College a $10,000 grant to introduce students to the industry that has revolutionized the world.
Professors in Livingstone’s Computer Information Systems Department and Bridge Program Director Sylvester Kyles, Jr. will collaborate on implementing the grant, largely through a course that focuses on engaging, project-driven, hands-on activities.
Dr. Kathryn J. Moland, Chairwoman of the CIS Department, said a special emphasis will be placed on ensuring a good number of female students are enrolled in the course – with good reason.
According to Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director for Education and Scholarly Communications Programs at Microsoft Research Connections, “increasing the number of women choosing to study computing disciplines is critical to increasing women’s participation in the technical workforce…”
Johnson-Stempson said women earn more than half of all undergraduate degrees in the United States, including 45 percent of math degrees and 38 percent of chemical engineering degrees, but they earn only 18 percent of computing and information sciences degrees.
Dr. Moland said she’s excited about what the College will be able to do with the $10,000, especially with respect to women.
“We have seen an increase in the number of women enrolled in the CIS Department here at Livingstone; however, there is still much work to be done to further increase the number of women who select computing as a major and actually graduate with a computing degree,” Moland said. “It’s often said that technology is the wave of the future. It might be a cliché, but it’s also true, and we want Livingstone College to be a place that helps better position women for technology jobs.”
NCWIT is a national coalition of more than 350 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies and non-profit organizations working to increase the participation of women in technology and computing. NCWIT’s work connects efforts to increase women’s participation in technology along the entire pipeline, from k-12 and higher education through industry, academic and entrepreneurial careers.
Livingstone has been awarded grant funds from NCWIT in the past, and the money has been used primarily to interest female students at Rowan County Schools, particularly Salisbury High School, in technology.