Scholarship to Help Bridge Gender Gap in Computer Science

Six University of Central Arkansas students have been awarded the 2012 Computer Science Female Freshman Scholarship to assist them in pursuing a career in the computer science and technology field.

The scholarship is funded through the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Academic Alliance Seed Fund, a program designed to help bridge the gender gap in computer science and technology. Its goal is to recruit and retain women with opportunities for learning, research, service and leadership in the field of computer science and technology.

Currently, women earn more than half of all undergraduate degrees in the U.S., including 45% of math degrees and 38% of chemical engineering degrees, but they earn only 11% of computing degrees.

UCA received a $10,000 grant earlier this year from the NCWIT and Microsoft Research to help support female students. UCA was one of five universities that received the grant for 2012. Other schools were the University of Virginia, Fisk University, Claremont Graduate University, and Union College. The grant is administered through the university’s Department of Computer Science.

Samantha Anima of Rogers, Amanda Falls of Conway, Yaying Li of China, Angela Lewis of Bryant, Jessica Stewart of Searcy and Kelsey Zahorec of Jacksonville are the first group of students to receive the scholarship. Each student received a $500 scholarship.

“All of the six students ranked UCA Computer Science their top choice to pursue their undergraduate study. In their applications for the scholarship, most of them expressed extremely strong desire to become one of the female leaders in Computer Science and Information Technology,” said Dr. Chenyi Hu, Chair of Computer Science. “The faculty will do their best to help these female students to reach their career goal.”

NCWIT is a national coalition of over 300 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and non-profits working to increase the participation of women in technology and computing, according to its website. The alliance brings together more than 400 representatives from computer science and IT departments at colleges and universities across the country – spanning research universities, community colleges, women’s colleges, and minority-serving institutions – to work towards gender equity, diversity, and institutional change in computing higher education.

The Department of Computer Science is currently taking applications for the spring 2013 scholarships. For more information, visit