NCWIT Virginia Aspirations Winners

As part of an effort to encourage more young women to choose careers in technology, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and the Virginia/DC Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing program recognized 25 high school women for their accomplishments and aspirations in computing and technology.

Virginia Tech at WEPAN

Computer Science and College of Engineering faculty, staff and alumnae at the Proactive Network Change Leaders Forum, where we were recognized by the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) with an Engineering Inclusive Teaching (EIT) Inclusive Educators Award for our efforts to promote student self-efficacy through curriculum/pedagogy changes.


  • Falling numbers and percentages of women in computing since early 1980’s
  • CS@VT saw 12.5% females out of 1152 CS majors in 2002 (4 years) vs 4.2% females out of 272 CS majors in 2007 (3 years)


  • NCWIT Academic Alliance (2006)
  • NCWIT Pacesetters (2009-14) with goals and metrics
  • Co-founded NCWIT VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards for high school women
  • Partnered with ECE & CEED (2012-present) for joint recruiting of female students, initially with NSF funding


  • Dramatic increase in percentage and number of female CS majors
  • 4.2% (2007) to 16.7% (2015)
  • Above national average 15.3% (2014 CRA Taulbee survey) or 13.3% (2014 ASEE survey of CS departments in engineering schools)
  • Comparable retention rates for CS males (94.2%) and CS females (93.5%) in 2014-15
  • Two year average percentage of female CS grads has almost doubled since 2011 (5.2% to 10.3%)
  • Grew number of female CS minors from 17.6% (13 in 2012) to 26% (58 in 2015)
  • Increased CS female tenure-track faculty to 21% (2015), well above national average of 17.8% (2014 Taulbee)

Within CS@VT

  • Evaluation of diversity service in annual review for faculty, advisors and staff
  • Diversity committee maintained list of activities varying in time commitment
  • Increased emphasis on sponsored student networking activities and peer mentoring
  • Renewed emphasis on diversity in faculty hiring


Dr. Barbara G. Ryder, J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering, received the College of Engineering (COE) Diversity Committee Award for her commitment to diversity. Barbara’s work has improved diversity in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, region and state.


  • Regional VA/DC NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards for high school women (with UVa and George Mason)
  • Recruiting visits to high schools, HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and 4-year colleges
  • Efforts co-promoted by the College of Engineering CEED program and other campus groups:
    • Lunch programs with Hypatia and Galileo (the women's and men's honors residential communities for Engineering freshmen)
    • First year COE/CEED student invitations to CS events
    • Modules in first year Engineering Foundations courses
    • Modules in pre-college STEP program
    • Modules in C-Tech2, NASA Inspire, IMAGINATION Camp, Higher Achievement, and other summer programs with a mission to promote diversity
  • Annual Women in Computing Day each spring
    • Sponsored by our Association for Women in Computing (AWC) chapter
    • About 100 local 7th grade girls come to VT for a day of fun with computers
    • Celebrated the 18th annual event in Spring 2016

Faculty Engagement

  • The endowed Barbara Ryder Fund for Diversity in Computer Science will support activities and programs for years to come.
  • Departmental service includes at least one diversity promoting activity for each faculty member, listed on the year end activity report and figuring in merit pay raises.
  • Participation in diversity activities are aided by the running list of recruitment opportunities above
  • Faculty are encouraged to seek out additional opportunities as well

Extensions and Connections

  • NCWIT (National Center for Women and Information Technology) Pacesetter (2009 - 2014)
    • Pacesetters lead in advancing & refining methods for recruitment & retention of women
    • Awards from NCWIT and Pacesetters help support our effort
  • We are among the founding organizers of the NCWIT VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards. We have worked with colleagues at UVA, GMU, VSU, JMU, and W&M on this award program to recognize achievements in computing by high school women in Virginia and Washington DC. From the NCWIT website: "Recipients are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education."
  • We have participated in diversity-promoting organizations such as STARS Alliance, A4RC (Alliance for the Advancement of African-American Researchers in Computer Science), and the CDC (Coalition to Diversify Computing).
  • We organized a summer NSF Research Experience for Undergrads (REU) program for six years, partnering with four regional minority serving institutions and we maintain active research connections with these organizations.
  • Funding for our efforts comes from the NSF (in particular, the BPC and REU programs), and our Computer Science Resources Consortium partners. The Department of Computer Science would like to thank our corporate partners for their continued support of our diversity initiatives. Computer Science Resources Consortium (CSRC) members contribute their time, talent and treasure to ensure the field of computing hires a diverse and inclusive work force.