gender gap

Increasing female enrollment in UW’s iSchool narrowing the gender gap

Record percentage of female students is helping diminish the school’s STEM gender gap

The University of Washington’s Information School‘s 2015-16 undergraduate cohort in informatics is not only the school’s largest yet with 210 students, it also includes more women students than ever before — about 40 percent.

Students in informatics learn to design information systems, user interfaces, mobile technologies and social media. The curriculum draws upon the computer and information sciences, sociology, psychology and information management.

Increasing participation of women in informatics has been an iSchool goal for several years, “and many have worked hard to help us get there,” said Scott Barker, UW lecturer and program chair, by hiring female faculty and actively recruiting women applicants.

“We do not give preference based on gender in admissions,” Barker said. “In fact, there is no gender column in the spreadsheet that the committee uses when reviewing applicants. However we had more women apply this year, and more that were evaluated highly by the committee based on their grades and essays.”

This year’s informatics cohort was chosen from about 630 applications, also the most ever received. The Information School created its Informatics major in 2000; most graduates report accepting positions in information technology or consulting.

That the cohort is 40 percent female is a particularly strong number, given that, as of 2013, only 18 percent of computer and information bachelor’s degrees were awarded to women nationwide, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology.

“But it’s not enough for Informatics’ ambitious team,” the iSchool states in an article on gender imbalance.

“The new goal is a Superwoman leap to 51 percent,” the article stated. “That’s the proportion of women to men on the UW campus. It’s also the proportion of women to men across the entire U.S.”

Laura Ascione