The #SitWithMe campaign — focused on encouraging women to enter computer science-related fields — highlights several pressing issues as it pushes for progress. Historically, there has been a long-standing discrepancy between male and female information technology professionals due to how women are precluded from pursuing opportunities in increasingly important jobs.
The Georgetown’s wing of this initiative stands poised to make unique efforts in doing away with this status quo. But the university’s resources could be used for an interdisciplinary approach that could accomplish even more, particularly on an undergraduate level.
The university should capitalize on the fact that women are increasingly entering technical fields to create a unique curriculum opportunity. It should explore interdisciplinary programs that fuse technological learning with pre-existing subjects, like public policy, biology and business. Georgetown undergraduates traditionally excel in these fields. Matching students with targeted technology education would create groundbreaking academic programs.
In order to best encourage greater participation in computing courses, the core curriculum ought to be liberalized so that a higher number of technical courses count toward elective credits. Additionally, current courses can do more to incorporate technology within their curricula. For instance, Georgetown University Associate Professor Heidi Elmendorf — an advocate of the #SitWithMe campaign — already uses computing technology in her labs.
Crafting niche programs that prescribe public policy or analyze genes by using information technology would combine students’ existing interests with practical and relevant applications. These programs would equip participants with unique and employable skills, which would in turn spur everyone — particularly women — toward leadership positions in these interdisciplinary positions.
Expanding these programs can demonstrate that collaboration between information technology and other fields is not an exception, but a rule. Ultimately, these programs will cultivate interest, participation and mastery of skills that can push boundaries — sociologically and technologically.
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