Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

CICS Receives NCWIT Extension Services Grant to Pilot Peer Mentorship Program

The National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT) recently awarded the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) a $10,000 NCWIT Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs (ES-UP) grant for their female undergraduate student recruitment and retention programs.

The grant will support the creation of a pilot mentorship program for first-year Black, Latinx, and/or female CICS students. This one-on-one near-peer mentorship program will help students new to computer science build a community and gain confidence in themselves and their abilities.

In addition to the grant, the NCWIT ES-UP Program has matched CICS with an expert Extension Services Consultant who will use NCWIT-developed resources to assist the college in identifying opportunities, resources, allies, and assessment plans to track progress.

"The support we have received from our NCWIT consultant through this program has been as valuable as the grant," said Emma Anderson, CICS director of diversity. "[Our consultant] has helped us to understand trends in our undergraduate program and define strategies for the recruitment and retention of diverse students. This kind of planning will help us immensely as we work to make CICS a more diverse and inclusive environment."

According to NCWIT, the long-term efforts of the NCWIT Extension Services Program have created tangible results. In the span of two years, two and a half times as many women applied to clients' majors after implementing ES-UP recommended recruiting plans. Within the ten years following these programs, client departments increased their percentage of women graduates from 11 percent to 21 percent, a statistic that exceeds the national average.

The National Science Foundation formed NCWIT in 2004, and currently serves as the only  national non-profit focused on increasing women's participation in computing. NCWIT is comprised of more than 1,100 companies, charities, universities, and government organizations across the country.

Written by Jacob Russian (Communication, '22)