Windward Coding Competition Works to Bring More Women into Computer Science
Reporting and document generation software company in Boulder makes coding competitions a favorite among female college students via the Windward Code Wars
Boulder, CO — It’s no secret women students are woefully underrepresented in computer science. There’s a fun event coming up on February 1st doing its part to help change that: The Windward International Collegiate Programming Championship.
“We really appreciated that the competition emphasized strategy and problem solving rather than simply coding,” said University of Wisconsin Computer Science Professor Joline Morrison.
The emphasis on strategy and problem solving has brought a much higher percentage of female participants to the Windward Code War. The need for a team effort brings in more female students. And it makes computer science a more compelling career choice for them.
The percentage of women majoring in computer science is at an anemic 12 percent and has been dropping over the last several decades. This is a gigantic problem both for the women who choose alternatives but would be happier in computer science and for society at large. Computer science is in worse shape than any other STEM major, and yet the future will see computer science jobs growing faster than almost any other major.
A lot of hackathons tend to not be appealing to many women. They focus on the details instead of the big picture. The result is most female computer science students either avoid the hackathons or find them less than thrilling. The Windward code war has created the kind of challenge that female students find fun and interesting. Not just a little bit of fun, but “one of the best days at school ever” fun. And making computer science fun for women students is a giant plus in encouraging more women to major in computer science.
Why The Windward Code War
- It presents problems that require collaboration and discussion throughout the contest to win. Many contests are won by students who can take a problem and code up a solution in minutes. There is no significant social interaction in this kind of contest, and that’s a problem.
- It presents problems where the solutions from each team directly interact with the solutions from the other teams. This adds a significant new dimension to the level of interaction in the contest as opposed to each solution being individually measured. When you have multiple A.I.s in a game, each written by a team, then those teams are interacting with each other.
- It makes the result fun. Measuring the fastest code where the result is a number is not fun. Creating an iPad app, a game, a social media widget — those are fun.
- It levels the playing field. If the contest winner is the one who can write the tightest code, that’s not only uninteresting to most people, it’s also a poor measure of how useful someone will be in the real world. If the contest winner is the team that collaborates best and comes up with the best strategy, that is a contest many women will embrace. Because the contest drives social interaction and teamwork.
Yes, the Windward Code War is the world championship for Computer Science Universities. Equally important, it’s encouraging more women to become programmers.
Windward, the most amazing software company you never heard of. For more information visit http://www.windward.net.
Annette Grotz, Senior Marketing Manager