UNF Looks to Increase Number of Female Students In STEM Programs

Jun 17, 2016

UNF's mascot the osprey
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The University of North Florida’s Computing Department was selected as one of 47 institutions in the U.S. for the National Center of Women and Information Technology Pacesetters program, which will run through 2018.

The National Science Foundation-sponsored program is designed to help get more women working in science technology engineering and mathematics fields.

“Our Pacesetters take advantage of this innovative, boundless computing community – collaborating alongside esteemed NCWIT peers and researchers to define and measure goals based on researched-based strategies for creating change for women in tech,” said Lucy Sanders, the program's CEO, in a news release.

The School of Computing at UNF is composed of just 13 percent female students.

UNF Director of Computing Sherif Elfayoumy is excited to be able to learn about recruiting methods proven successful in other places, as well as help with tracking the department’s success over a couple years.

“Part of it is cultural, part of it is related to stereotypes and what have you, but this is something we’re trying to correct,” Elfayoumy said. “So, rather than we reinventing wheels, we thought that maybe we would leverage the experience of others.” 

UNF junior Molly Johnson said computing allows her to express her creativity.

“I wish I could encourage all of the women, you know, to go for computing because it’s something that they don’t even think about because they think it’s for guys,” Johnson said. “But I really do believe it can be for anybody.”

The Pacesetters program has helped companies like Amazon and Microsoft and schools including Syracuse University increase the number of female staff members and STEM students.