Christine Alvarado

Harvey Mudd College

Historically, Harvey Mudd College (HMC) had about as much success attracting women to the study of computer science as the average institution--in other words, very little.  Until 2005, women at HMC chose CS less than any other field of study. In 2006 HMC began three practices in order to increase the number of women studying and majoring in CS: a redesigned CS1, trips for first-year students to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computer Science, and CS research experiences for rising sophomore women. These practices have now been in place for over 5 years. In this talk I will describe these practices and present a thorough evaluation of the quantitative and qualitative differences that have accompanied them. In sum, these efforts have rebalanced our department by significantly increasing women's participation in our computer science program.  Women now represent nearly 40% of HMC's CS majors, up from around 10% historically.  I will end with a discussion of the implementation details of these practices (including what worked and what didn't), and I will present recommendations based on our experience for applying these ideas in other contexts.



Christine Alvarado is an associate professor of computer science at Harvey Mudd College, where she has been

on the faculty since 2005.   Her current efforts are focused on making computers and computing more accessible, from both a usability and education standpoint.  She received her undergraduate degree in CS from Dartmouth in 1998, and S.M. and Ph.D. in CS from MIT in 2000 and 2004, respectively.  She currently serves on the College Board's commission to design the new AP CS: Principles course, and is a co-chair of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Academic Alliance.  She is spending her 2011/12 sabbatical at Georgia Tech.


B17 Upson Hall

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Refreshments at 3:45pm in the Upson 4th Floor Atrium


Computer Science


Spring 2011

Women in Computer Science @ Harvey Mudd College: Three Promising Practices