Activities in CS

(L - R) Lesley Shannon, Elizabeth Croft, Anne Condon, Maria Klawe

Above: Four Generations of NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, BC/Yukon

Undergraduate Community Building

FOWCS luncheons and dinners are held monthly; speakers from industry and academia are invited to come and shaire their career experience with students. We also hold workshops and panels on topics designed to encourage women in Computer Science. Past topics have included salary negotiation, presentation skills, preparing applications to graduate school, and "Thrive as a Women in Technology."

Graduate Community Building

FOWCS sponsors the Bi-Annual Grad Dinner. This event happens twice a year, usually in October and March. It is an opportunity for female graduate students, post-docs, faculty, and tech staff to meet in an informal setting outside of the department. These dinners are hosted by one of the faculty or staff members.

Tri-Mentoring Program

Our Tri-Mentoring program serves both genders, but we have been able to encourage women to participate, with over 50% of the participants being female.


GIRLsmarts is a one-day computer science workshop for grade 6 and 7 girls.  The goal of the workshop is to introduce computer science to young girls through a series of educational and interactive activities and give them more confidence with computers and technology.  The workshops have been offered annually since 2004.

The 2017 workshops were held on January 28, February 4, February 11. Over 300 girls attended the workshops. Various activities were presented, including HTML, Programming, Music and Technology, Social Gaming, Computer Hardware and Human Computer Interaction. While each of these activities has been held previously, each is improved each year based on input from last years participants and new technology available.

Supporting Conference Attendance

FOWCS coordinates and supports the participation of female UBC students to attend conferences involving women in Computer Science. Examples include Canadian Women in Computing Conference, Grace Hopper Conference, CRA-W Graduate Workshop, and CMU's OurCS Conference.

The FoWCS Committee

Focus on Women in Computer Science (FoWCS) is a UBC Computer Science departmental committee with the mission of increasing the participation of women in CS at all academic levels. Our projects within the department include social/networking events so that female students can meet each other to combat the isolation of being in the minority of a male-dominated field. We have a mentoring program within the department that serves both genders, and over 50% of the participants are female. We're also active in bringing in successful women in CS as speakers, in the hope that providing female role models and illustrating many paths to and career paths within CS will encourage all students, but especially women, to choose and complete a CS degree.

We are also engaged in outreach efforts to younger girls to ensure that they don't fall out of the pipeline before reaching university. One outreach program is GirlSmarts, a full-day computer science workshop for grade 6 and 7 girls with hands-on activities followed by a panel session of women working in computer science. The activities are designed and led by UBC CS students, both female and male, and there will be two such workshops run this winter.

While we have some departmental funding for these initiatives, many of the projects rely on sponsorship from external sources, including prominent high-tech companies. There is always a need for direct funding to pay for things such as monentary awards for competition winners, or mailing and printing expenses, or refreshments for participants. Another sponsorship possibility is to provide in-kind donations of company products or services, such as computer software or items such as T-shirts and caps, for prizes or giveaways at events. We are also always looking for the names of talented female computer scientists who can serve as speakers in panels.

We're always looking for grad and undergrad reps. If you're interested in joining the committee, please email Michele Ng.

The FoWCS Committee working group is located here.

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