Stanford CS Department Targets Women

Billy Gallagher at TechCrunch covers Stanford’s quest to recruit more female students into the Computer Science department:

In 2009, the Stanford CS department revamped its undergraduate curriculum, broadening the program so students could focus on tracks in areas that most interested them. Stanford Professor Mehran Sahami says the addition of multi-disciplinary tracks, such as collaboration with psychology, product design, and others, helped to cast a broader net for potential CS majors.

The department has seen growth across the board since the 2009 revisions, Sahami says, with female enrollment increasing faster on a relative basis. Since 2009, the number of female undergraduates majoring in CS at Stanford has increased 9.5 percentage points.

This kind of “affirmative action” (for lack of a better term) seems to me like the best way to level the ground for under-privileged groups: not necessarily lowering standards, but actively engaging and reaching out to people who might feel marginalized.