Dr. Ryder receives COE Diversity Award

Dr. Barbara G. Ryder, J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering, received the College of Engineering (COE) Diversity Committee Award for her commitment to diversity.  Barbara’s work has improved diversity in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, region and state.  This award is richly deserved and one in which all supporters of inclusion efforts can take pride in.  The award was presented by Dr. Bevlee Watford, COE Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at an AdvanceVT luncheon on November 4, 2015.  Barbara said, “I am honored by this award and very much appreciate the CS faculty and staff who have contributed to the department’s recent gains in the gender diversity of its students and faculty (in fall 2015, 16.7% CS majors and 21% CS tenure-track faculty are female).”

AdvanceVT began in 2003 with a grant from the National Science Foundation to promote and enhance the careers of women in academic science and engineering through institutional transformation. Read more about Advance VT here.


Dr. Ryder
Dr. Ryder

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4th Annual Aspirations in Computing Event

The National Center for Women In Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing honors young women at the high-school level for their computing-related achievements and interests.  Winners are selected for their computing and IT aptitude, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.  NCWIT has local and national affiliates.  The CS department continues to support this and other diversity efforts designed to identify and recruit women into the field.  Dr. Barbara G. Ryder (Department Computer Science – Head) and Libby Bradford (CS Director of Undergraduate Studies) chair the Virginia and Washington, DC affiliate and manage the annual awards ceremony.  Microsoft hosted the event this year where twenty high school students were recognized.  The event was sponsored by Bank of America, Eastman Chemical Company, Microsoft, NetApp, Northrop Grunman, SWIFT and Virginia Tech.  Dr. Barbara G. Ryder said, “We are truly honored to recognize these outstanding young women from across Virginia and the District for their achievements in computing and leadership.  They are pacesetters and set an example that girls may accomplish great things in the technology field”.  To view a full list of winners and learn more about NCWIT visit here.


NCWIT Aspirations Award Dinner on March 21, 2015

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Dr. Barbara G. Ryder to receive ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award

ACM’s Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) has named Professor Barbara G. Ryder as the recipient of its 2015 Influential Educator Award “For significant contributions in software engineering education, graduate student and faculty mentoring and efforts to improve the representation of women.” Dr. Ryder is Head of the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, where she holds the J. Byron Maupin Professorship in Engineering.

The award will be presented on 22 May 2015 at the 37th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2015) in Florence, Italy (http://2015.icse-conferences.org/). This award is presented annually to an educator who has made significant contributions to, and impact on, the field of software engineering with his/her accomplishments as a teacher, mentor, researcher (in education or learning), author, and/or policy maker. The award is accompanied by an honorarium and travel support to ICSE.

Professor Barbara G. Ryder has been deeply engaged in education and mentoring in software engineering and programming languages for more than 33 years. She is an exceptional graduate mentor having graduated 15 Ph.D. and 3 M.S. students and supervised 4 postdocs. She is an influential leader in diversity, both nationally through activities with CRA-W and NCWIT and through outreach at both Rutgers University and Virginia Tech. Dr. Ryder’s mentoring extends beyond her own research group. She was awarded Professor of the Year (2003) while at Rutgers, by the Computer Science Graduate Students Society award for excellence in teaching and was the recipient of the Rutgers University Graduate School Teaching Award (2007). As a department head at Virginia Tech, Dr. Ryder established an ongoing formal mentoring program for both assistant and associate professors. Dr. Ryder is an ACM Fellow (1998) and has received the Rutgers’ Presidential Award as a Leader in Diversity (2006) for her activities to increase the diversity of computing. Recently, she was given the 2014 Virginia AAUW Woman of Achievement Award in recognition of her efforts. She was a co-founder of the NCWIT VA/DC Aspirations Awards Affiliate, which celebrated its fourth year of awards in 2015.  Read the full story here.

Please join the department in honoring Dr. Ryder’s accomplishment.

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CS Ph.D. student, Ashley Robinson, elected to honor society

The Virginia Tech Graduate School announced the seven inaugural members of the university’s chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society.  Ashley Robinson, CS doctoral candidate, was selected to join.  Ashley is a native of Chesapeake, Virginia.  She is investigating the attitudes of African-American middle school girls toward computer science and the factors that influence these attitudes.

For more information visit http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2015/03/032415-gradschool-bouchetscholars.html


Ashley Picture









The Bouchet Society was established in 2005 by Yale and Howard universities and named for the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree in the United States.  Bouchet graduated from Yale College in 1874 and earned his doctoral degree in physics from Yale University in 1876.  The society’s goal is to create a network of strong scholars and professionals who “serve as examples of scholarship, leadership, character, service, and advocacy for students who have been traditionally underrepresented in the Academy,” according to its webpage.  Virginia Tech is among 11 university partners with Bouchet Society chapters.

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CS@VT Diversity News


Dr. Barbara G. Ryder
J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering
Head – Department of Computer Science – Virginia Tech
Follow CS@VT on Facebook

I think it’s time for me to report about the push we have been making with regard to increasing the gender diversity of CS@VT. We have focused on increasing the percentage of women students as our initial goal.  To accomplish this we have joined with the National Council on Women in IT (NCWIT), which runs many programs to recruit and retain women in computing. There are three NCWIT activities in which we participate: Pacesetters, VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards and the NSF Engage project.

Pacesetters is envisioned as an academia/industry partnership to increase the number of net new women in computing studies and jobs. Our activities in Pacesetters have included encouraging students to take CS minors, taking CS@VT students to high schools to encourage girls to think about majoring in computing, presenting programs in COE summer programs/workshops to attract students to computing as a career, etc. After participating in Pacesetters since 2009, we have good news to report. Our CS major cohort is ~14% female, more than double the percentage in 2009! Moreover, as of 11/6/2014 we had 183 CS minors of whom 48 (26%) were female, a third more females than spring 2014! Our Association for Women in Computing (AWC) student organization continues to annually host local middle school girls for a fun day of computing activities at CS@VT. In spring 2014, the AWC attracted ~75 students from local middle schools.  At the AWC core are 30 active members, with a few hundred on the listserv who participate occasionally in events.

We (I and Libby Bradford) are chairing the VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards for the 2nd time since it was started in 2012. Our goal is to work with NCWIT to identify and recognize female students who are strongly interested in computing and to support that interest through recognition of their achievements, leadership and drive. Students who win these national or regional awards and study CS at Virginia Tech are awarded a modest scholarship annually as long as they remain in good academic standing. VT is the ONLY college/university in Virginia with an Aspirations scholarship program. We have several Aspirations winners at VT, with 3 currently in the CS major and 2 more intending to transfer into CS during 2015. There also are 3 entering freshmen Aspirations winners this year – 1 in business and 2 in engineering, hopefully planning on declaring the CS major. Note that our first Aspirations award winner is graduating in 2015 and already has a position at Microsoft in Redmond. We are thrilled to have these talented female CS students in our department.

The NSF Engage project is an effort to recruit and retain women into the CS or CE major in the College of Engineering, involving both departments and the CEED Center in the College. We hold many joint activities with female students from the CS and ECE departments, encouraging them to network and work together, building a critical mass for our female cohort.

The department also sponsors student attendees to both the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and to the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. We are academic Gold Sponsors of both these events. Our sponsorship gives us access to underrepresented minorities and women attendees who are looking for faculty positions — an asset to our faculty search committees and in diversifying our faculty, another departmental goal.   This year, we supported 12 female students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration and 16 to attend a regional Grace Hopper Celebration in Richmond, VA.  We also supported 6 students (4 females) to attend the Tapia Celebration.

Another interesting statistic concerns CS@VT faculty involvement in diversity efforts throughout the year. The department Diversity Committee prepared a list of varied commitment activities for faculty to choose from; participation is be reported as service to the department, part of expected annual service. One activity might be working in the summer with an undergraduate student from an underrepresented group in computing; another might be attending a lunch with incoming COE freshman to talk to them about computer science or to do a 1 hour hands-on CS project to a COE CEED high school girls’ camp in the summer. I have been keeping track of the percentage of faculty participating in such diversity activities, and I am happy to report that ~75% of the faculty participated in such activities last year.

You may also be interested that we have exceeded the annual CRA Taulbee report means for the percentage of female Ph.D. graduates for 3 of the past 4 academic years!

Clearly, we have more work to do on diversity, but as a faculty, we have taken significant steps and should take pride in this accomplishment of building a more diverse CS student body.

Barbara Ryder, Dec 5, 2014

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Top-paying jobs for women

I’ve always believed that computing is a wonderful career option for women. There are tons of obvious reasons why we need women to be strongly represented in computing, not the least of which is that half of the people in the world are female, so it’s a real shame to waste all that talent! But here comes an article from Forbes.com, which lists ten top-paying jobs for women — jobs where the unfair salary gap between men and women is somewhat less egregious. And guess what? Positions 4, 5 and 10 on that list are in the computing field. This makes sense! Computing has generally been a meritocracy — if you’re good, you’re good. And many computing careers offer the flexibility of part-time consulting or telecommuting careers, if that works best in certain stages of life. We need more people who are creative and passionate about solving really important problems and making people’s lives better. So if you are a young lady who is pretty good at math and would like to use your smarts and creativity to make a positive difference in the world (and make a good living while you’re at it), why aren’t you thinking about computer science? Please don’t let some worn-out stereotype about computer scientists chase you away from an amazing opportunity!

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The Image of Computing

Computer scientists are doing a lot of self-analysis these days. ‘Why are so few students interested in studying CS?’ ‘What are the big questions CS should be answering?’ ‘How can we better explain what we do?’ Lots of discussion, hopefully with some good results for our field and for the world (see www.imageofcomputing.com for a recent contribution to the discussion — there is plenty of useful propaganda there if you are considering CS as a major or a profession).

In fact, computer scientists have done relatively little of this kind of thinking during the short history of the field. I don’t remember worrying too much about the image of computing when I got into this business 20-some years ago. There were too many interesting things to learn and do to have time to worry about image. In some sense the field has been too young to ask and answer these kinds of questions. We’re still establishing our place in the world of science and engineering. And most of the people in the field have themselves been relatively young, busy establishing careers and moving at internet pace to create, innovate, solve problems, and build cool things. So it’s pretty interesting to watch now that we have both the people and the motivation to step back and address these big high-level questions.

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