News and Views

Bringing Women Back to IT

In 2006 the College of Information Science and Technology hosted its first Summer Bridge Program, through which female high school students connected with information technology and computer science professions. Joe Chase, acting dean of the college, says, “This summer program was a great way to introduce outstanding rising juniors and seniors to RU as a college choice and to recruit more people, especially women, into the IT profession.”

Twenty years ago, when Chase graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, 40 percent of IT students were female. The percentage of women in information technology has fallen dramatically — to less than 10 percent in 2005.

Summer Bridge Program director Hwajung Lee knows first hand what it’s like to work in the “man’s world” of IT. The information technology professor and native of South Korea was a systems analyst at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. while earning her Ph.D. at George Washington University. She was promoted to financial officer at the bank before leaving to become a full-time student and finish her Ph.D.

With fellow faculty members Shawn Brennaman, Sallie Dodson and Tracy Lewis, Lee supports the College of Information Science and Technology’s Women in Computing organization. “Some people say that this field is not ‘girlie,’” says Lee, but she disagrees. “A lot of people think that a career in information technology is lonely because it must involve sitting in front of a computer all day. This is not true at all. The workplace is very team-oriented with many collaborative projects.”

This summer the College of Information Science & Technology and the College of Arts & Sciences will host the Summer Bridge Progream For Virginia high schools' rising female juniors & seniors who are interested in science, technology, engineering or math, Monday, June 25 — Friday, June 29
To learn more, visit the Summer Bridge home page, email the staff, or call 540-831-6277.
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