Nov. 7, 2011
Scholarship, student club aim to attract women to computing
Jean Jennings Bartik, who died in March at the age of 86, was Northwest Missouri State’s only female math major when she graduated in 1945. She went on to become one of six female “computers” chosen to program the world’s first electronic computer, the ENIAC, and later the UNIVAC, the world’s first commercial computer.
Shortly after her death, faculty members in Northwest’s Department of Computer Science and Information Systems were determined to generate more interest in the fields of science, technology and mathematics for women. As a result, the Association of Computing Machinery for Women was established last spring. This new student group is a branch of the Association of Computing Machinery, already in existence on the Northwest campus, but emphasizes support for women and minorities in computing.
“We hope this group will show women and minorities different aspects of computing, give them a chance to explore opportunities in the field and provide general support throughout their education,” said Diana Linville, computer science and information systems instructor and ACMW sponsor.
Statistics show the number of women enrolling in the field of computer science is falling not only on Northwest’s campus, but nationwide. The field is dominated by males, and educators believe oftentimes females are intimidated by computing.
“Young women seem to lack confidence that they can succeed in the computing field,” said Dr. Carol Spradling, an associate professor of computer science and information systems. “What they need is the proper preparation to enter the field and an understanding that their perspective is important to the industry.”
In addition to the formation of the ACMW group at Northwest, the Jean Jennings Bartik Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship has been established for females who are interested in the STEM fields. The creation of the scholarship was announced by Bartik’s family at a June 5 memorial ceremony, which was followed by public tours of Northwest’s Jean Jennings Bartik Computing Museum, established at the University in 2002.
“We are so grateful for this scholarship in support of the STEM fields, which can go a long way in helping Northwest students,” said Polly Howard, a development officer for the University’s Melvin D. and Valorie G. Booth College of Business and Professional Studies. “By the establishment of the scholarship, our hope, as well as the family’s, is that others will see the importance of helping attract students to these fields and will show their financial support to give Northwest students the opportunity to blaze the trail like Jean did.”
For more information about the Jean Jennings Bartik Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarship or other giving opportunities, contact the Northwest Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 660.562.1248.
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