SIGCSE Committee on Expanding the Women-in-Computing Community

Charter Approved: February 24, 2004
Facilitators: Gloria Childress Townsend, DePauw University and Paula Gabbert, Furman University

This Committee is patterned after a valuable and on-going collaboration between ACM-W and SIGGRAPH and the Grace Hopper of Women in Computing (GHC). With this SIGCSE Committee, ACM-W seeks to build a third community within the SIGCSE domain. Already, ACM-W (and ACM) completely funds an ACM-W member or two to attend SIGGRAPH and GHC (and SIGCSE), to staff a booth and to organize a Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session.

Currently, members of SIGGRAPH may visit an ACM-W booth, an associated BOF session, or both. They may also join a listserv that is set up and maintained by ACM. The SIGGRAPH activities are necessarily different from those of SIGCSE, so they are not discussed here. They do, however, provide a useful model in which ACM-W has successfully built a relationship with SIGGRAPH through ACM-W funding and SIGGRAPH cooperation.

This initiative is a partnership with ACM-W, the ACM Committee on Women in Computing. ACM-W celebrates, informs and supports women in computing, and works with the ACM-W community of computer scientists, educators, employers and policy makers to improve working and learning environments for women. Current initiatives include the ACM-W Student Chapters, the Grace Hopper Conference for Women in Computing and more. For more details see

SIGCSE Committee Charge
This SIGCSE Committee on Expanding the Women-in-Computing Community will have two basic foci:

  • developing a document identifying best practices for "recruiting and retaining women in computing" (R&R) and highlighting success stories regarding R&R, and
  • fostering communication with interested computing educators related to expanding the community of women in computing.

Initial Planning
While the SIGCSE Committee will need to consider various ways to accomplish its goals, several preliminary ideas seem promising:

  • During SIGCSE 2004, 2005 and 2006, this committee, with funding from ACM-W, will develop and staff a booth to attract interested visitors to the SIGCSE listserv SIGCSE-WOMEN-COMM and BOFs.
  • The Committee might use the existing SIGCSE structure for Birds-of-a-Feather sessions. (With ACM-W funding, the Committee might pay for reserving a room to conduct a BOF at SIGCSE 2004.) During a BOF session, the Committee could collect best practices and success stories related to its charge from the discussants.
  • The Committee could duplicate BOF activities and propose other sessions at SIGCSE 2005.
  • Between SIGCSE 2004 and SIGCSE 2005, the Committee could build its document that describes best practices for R&R - though the Committee's listserv SIGCSE-WOMEN-COMM.
  • The Committee could refine and expand materials between SIGCSE 2005 and SIGCSE 2006.

Desired Product and its Dissemination
A priority of this Committee is to develop a best-practices report concerning the recruitment and retaining of women in computing. Tentatively, a target date for the completion of this report is 2005.

Assuming the Committee does indeed complete its work on a best-practices document in 2005, then a priority for 2006 would include dissemination.

  • SIGCSE 2006 could provide a natural venue for dissemination.
  • The SIGCSE listserv, ACM-W Web pages, and SIGCSE Web pages could provide additional outlets.
  • Publication involving the SIGCSE Bulletin inroads could be considered.

created February 21, 2004
last revised February 22, 2004

For more information, please contact Gloria Childress Townsend at, or Paula Gabbert at