Women in CS

The Tufts Department of Computer Science is proud of its commitment to women. Over 25 percent of our undergraduate, master’s, and Ph.D. students are women – above the national average. Nearly 30 percent of our faculty are women, including our department chair. Professor Soha Hassoun, former department chair, is on the board of CRA-W, a national organization focused on increasing the representation of women in computer science. Hassoun’s role on the board is to co-manage the CREU program, which seeks to provide collaborative research experiences for undergraduates during the academic year. Professor and Chair Kathleen Fisher is a former board member and co-chair of CRA-W. In academic year 2017-18, both sections of COMP 11, our biggest introductory course, were taught by female faculty members.

The department supports:

  • Regular participation in the Grace Hopper Conference, which is both a celebration of women in computing and a place for women to network with other women in tech. Each year, the department sponsors more than a dozen juniors, seniors, and grad students to attend free of charge.
  • The Girls of Code initiative, staffed by Tufts Computer Science students, which introduces the fun and excitement of computer programming to middle and high school girls in the Boston area.
  • The chartered chapter of the ACM-W (Association for Computer Machinery - Women), created by computer science graduate students. The group “supports, celebrates, and advocates internationally for the full engagement of women in all aspects of the computing field.” At Tufts, the ACM-W achieves this through building community among women in the computer science and electrical engineering departments, who offer each other support and advice for navigating male-dominated spaces in the larger computer science community.
  • WICS (Women in Computer Science), a club for undergraduate women and femme non-binary individuals, which provides networking, mentorship clusters across class years, career readiness events for all genders, and walk-in office hours. In 2017, WICS hosted its first Women in Tech Conference, with 12 corporate sponsors and more than 100 attendees both from Tufts and from nearby high schools and colleges.

We have initiatives in place to encourage women to pursue computer science at Tufts and beyond. These include:

  • Offering dedicated, separate sections in one of our introductory classes based on level of past programming experience, in recognition of the fact that many female students don’t have previous experience with programming. We hope to use this approach to help break down entry barriers for young women.
  • Creating collaborative learning assignments that prepare students for the way technological development is done in the workforce and are particularly effective teaching methods for women.