Princeton Women in Computer Science (PWiCS) was formed in May of 2010 by two female computer science undergraduates who wanted to find a way to allow the small number of women in the computer science department at Princeton to meet each other and encourage other women to see how much fun it is to be a computer scientist. The group started out holding course advising study breaks for younger students, and now has grown into hosting many other kinds of events.
PWiCS launched a mentorship program in February 2011 to give younger students the ability to connect with older students and learn from their experiences within the department. Students of varying ages are put into groups of 4-5 people, and students organize meetings with their groups on their own, while PWiCS holds a group-wide mentoring study break about every month, so that all of the groups can come back together and share some of their experiences. 34 people signed up for the first round of mentorship, and over two-thirds of those who signed up were freshmen and sophomores, which bodes well for growing the number of women who eventually choose computer science as a major.
In the future, PWiCS is planning to start several more projects, both within the University and in the surrounding community, to spread the word about the benefits of becoming a computer science in this age of constant technological advancement. This spring, we will begin to reach out to schools in the area, targeting girls of middle and high school age, to interest them in pursuing fields like math and science which lead naturally into programming and computer science. Within the university community, we plan to continue our recruiting efforts with younger students. We would also like to create a forum for the discussion of women’s issues in this field by bringing in role models from both academia and industry to speak about their experiences.
If you have any ideas for PWiCS events, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!