Women’s Sense of Belonging in Computer Science Education:The Need for a Collective Response

Widdicks, Kelly and Ashcroft, Alice and Winter, Emily and Blair, Lynne (2021) Women’s Sense of Belonging in Computer Science Education:The Need for a Collective Response. In: UKICER 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 Conference on United Kingdom and Ireland Computing Education Research. ACM, New York, 4:1-4:7. ISBN 9781450385688

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The gender imbalance in Computing education continues to be concerning, with women hugely underrepresented in the field. Prior research on improving gender equality in the discipline discusses the need to improve women's sense of belonging. However, this has seldom included women's understanding of what a sense of belonging is for them - nor have solutions for fostering belonging been co-created with women. In this paper, we report on the findings of four innovative focus groups with thirteen women, students and staff, in a university Computer Science department - uncovering their experiences of belonging and their proposed solutions to improving it. Through these focus groups, we present the experiences impacting our participants' sense of belonging, alongside our participants' solutions for fostering belonging within Computing. From this, we discuss the need for a collective response to fostering a sense of belonging in Computer Science, specifically through having a collective understanding of the barriers to a sense of belonging, applying a collective of solutions to foster belonging, and taking collective responsibility for improving equality.

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25 Oct 2022 09:25
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17 Sep 2023 04:10