student life

WIC supports female IT students

The School for Informatics and Computing has several organizations that give students opportunities to network and gain experience in their field. Two of these organizations are just for female IT students.

Women in Informatics and Computing serves graduate students, while uWIC is available for undergraduates.

President of uWIC Alexandra Dye estimated about 150 of 1000 students in the SOIC are women. 

“It’s pretty male-dominated,” Dye said. “In a lot of my classes, there are only about five women.”

Not all female SOIC students are interested in joining the organization, however.

“There are women who say ‘I don’t need the support,’” Dye said.

She said some wonder why there isn’t an organization exclusively for men in IT, but she thinks an organization to support women is necessary. There are other student organizations in the SOIC that accept both male and female members.

“Since women are the minority, it really helps us,” Dye said. “I like that I can get together with other women who are interested in the same field that I am.”

Next year, one floor in Forest Quad will be living learning community for female students studying technology, mathematics and the hard sciences (STM). Resident Assistant Valerie Herron said in an email that the LLC was a housing option for this school year, but was postponed because not enough students signed up.

The eighteen students who applied are currently living in a thematic cluster in Read Center, and each resident has a graduate student mentor studying the same field. They also receive free tutoring and meet faculty from STM departments. 

“There definitely has been an interest in the floor,” Herron said. “It’s new this year, so it is still growing. Hopefully, now that it is getting more well-known on campus, more women will take advantage of the opportunity offered.”

Dye said WIC and uWIC were restructured last semester. After asking female students what they would like to see happen, she and others found many women wanted to become more involved in WIC and uWIC.

“We had a huge response, and now we have 26 people on the leadership council. Originally we just wanted six or seven women, but so many people wanted to get involved, and we didn’t want to turn anyone away,” Dye said.

Dye said ideas for restructuring the organization started when she attended the Grace Hopper conference last year.

“It’s a big conference for women to come together and celebrate women in technology,” Dye said. “There were a lot of schools and universities represented, and they had these big clubs. We aspired to be more like them.”

The leadership council of WIC and uWIC has weekly meetings and creates one program for members per month. These programs involve events such as a career advisory meeting.

“We have a career fair next week, so we had the career services director come in,” Dye said. “She had a PowerPoint and taught how to work the room and talk to potential interviewers.”

Members of the organization who are not on the leadership council do not have regularly scheduled meetings. Instead, they receive emails from Maureen Biggers, assistant dean for diversity and education at the SOIC, and the leaders of WIC and uWIC with information about upcoming programs and opportunities.

“We consider everyone a member whether they’re in meetings or not,” Biggers said.

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