Because “the system” does not send students to computing, we need to actively recruit students.

Talks from Tapestry Workshops

Speaker Tile Workshop Material
Cohoon, Joanne McGrath Active recruiting Various 2012 VA: Slides (pptx) Slides (pdf)
NC: Slides (pptx) Slides (pdf)
Powell, Rita Stereotype Threats Pennsylvania 2012 Slides (pptx) Slides (pdf)
Reichelson, Seth Recruiting Various 2012 PA: Slides (ppt) Slides (pdf)
NC: Slides (ppt) Slides (pdf)
video (zip)
Tychonievich, Luther Recruiting North Carolina 2014 Slides (pptx)

External Resources

  • Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher. An ethnographic case study of how Carnegie Mellon University improved their gender representation in their CS classes.
  • Running on Empty — CS in Crisis, an executive summary prepared by the CSTA and the ACM.
  • Tech Savvy Girls
  • Sit With Me (the “Red Chair”)
  • Dot Diva, a resource for improving the image of what computer scientists do and are.
  • DO-IT and Why CSE videos from the University of Washington promote and describe IT jobs.
  • CS Ed Week

Results of Brainstorming Sessions

  • Prepare (and practice, role-play) elevator-talk pitches to make to principal.
  • Hang posters near/in the girls' bathroom.
  • Have visually-interesting station in class sign-up open house.
  • Occasionally say the word “Robots” to boys in the midst of explaining how rewarding computing careers are to girls.
  • “A syllabus is just a list of words they don't know yet” — Seth Reichelson.
  • No computer science jokes, nothing exclusionary.
  • To students heading for engineering: “You haven't had computer science? They're all going to laugh at you.”
  • Opening up with the interesting stuff, not with laying down the law, etc. The first weeks matter for interest.
  • Decorate room to be nice to look at, no inside jokes or exclusionary “geeks corner”, etc.
  • Bring puppies.
  • Ask classes with lots of girls to help with projects in class.
  • T-shirts instead of signs, with a target audience of people that don't take computer science. Walking billboards.
  • Ask existing students to bring girls to you.
  • Recruit girls in groups (ask them to come in groups, invite them to bring their friends, etc.)
  • Stand at the door and say hello to the students
  • Send postcard to students along the lines of “You did so well in your math class, I know you'd excel in computer science.”
  • Mastery learning: if they don't get it, let them learn and re-take the examination. Tell them (and their parents) this will be true in recruiting.
  • Contact your local college/university and ask if they can get students to come visit your class. Reach out to national organizations like SWE, IEEE, ACM, etc. When they come, invite other students to join as well.
  • Add recruiting and encouraging messages to progress reports.
  • Get mothers of students to endorse computing.
  • Create a beautiful logo with CS-themed backing, plaster the school with it.
  • When you substitute, talk positively and often about own CS course.
  • Never ever say anything negative about other classes; it will get to the teachers and they won't support your recruiting.
  • Put on PA about CS+(topic), then send treats to (topic) classroom.


Don't recruit students into a classroom they won't enjoy. Recruit students that have the capability and experience to succeed in your course (what this means will differ depending on how you teach). Don't recruit students into a boring classroom. Don't recruit females into a class where you make male-centric jokes, etc. Don't recruit extroverts into a classroom where there is not teamwork or interaction. Etc.

NEVER repeat false stereotypes, even to debunk them. Don't even mention the false things that would keep them from taking the course. See this article by Skurnik, Yoon, Park, and Schwarz for more.

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