Despite the push for technically-skilled college graduates to fill the hundreds of thousands of computing related positions across the country, there exists a huge disparity in who fills these positions. In 2015, only 22% of students taking the AP Computer Science exam were female, and only 13% were African-American or Latino/Latina. These statistics mirror the unfortunate reality at most of America’s largest technical firms in which women compose only 18% of the workforce, and African-Americans compose less than three percent. It is no secret that a diverse workforce is more productive and successful. Therefore, increasing the diversity of our students will not only benefit the discipline as a whole, but will also increase the diversity in the technical job sector.
The Department of Computer Science at the University of Pittsburgh is committed to increasing diversity in computing-related fields. Inclusion efforts to expand CS-related opportunities for women and minorities are essential for both the creative health of the field and the economic prospects of the nation. We aspire to raise awareness, disseminate knowledge, and engage others in support of diversity in computer science. The following programs demonstrate our multi-faceted efforts, dedication and passion to increase diversity in our department and in the discipline.

WiCStart Camp – Fall Semester

Not sure what path to take? Try computer science!

Are you a woman coming to Pitt? Are you unsure of what to study? Do you want to know more about computing and information? Sign up for WiCStart!

WiCStart (Women in Computer Science Start) takes place the week before fall classes begin, and is designed to introduce incoming undeclared women to computer science and information science in a no-pressure, no-grades environment. WiCStart students will be permitted to move into their residence halls early. They will get a broad overview of various topics in computing and information and hear stories, advice, and technical information from upperclassmen and professional women in industry. Lunch will be served daily.

Throughout the week, students will learn about such topics as basic hardware and software concepts, programming, big data, and artificial intelligence. They will also learn about the benefits of being an SCI student at Pitt and graduating with a CS or IS degree. Finally, they will be given the chance to connect with other technical women.  There are no costs for attending WiCStart. In addition to an early move-in date and free lunch, we will provide all necessary materials and equipment.

“Before I came to Pitt, my main interests were English and theater. When I received the email inviting me to WiCStart, I was shocked and confused as to why I would be offered that opportunity. I decided to do it in the spirit of trying something new, thinking “why not?” During my week at WiCStart I was amazed at how great it all seemed. I remember being told that the need for women in technological jobs was a “Rosie the Riveter Moment” and that stuck with me. The things I learned during that week fascinated me. I immediately switched into a CS 0007 class for the fall semester to test if my infatuation with Computer Science was just a passing feeling. It turns out I really did love it. I am now working towards a Computer Science major, and it is all thanks to WiCStart!” – Katrina Dagenais, Class of 2019

Please email if you are interested in learning more.


WiCStart Lunch  – Spring Semester

If you are an undeclared, female student, with an interest in computer science, then this luncheon is for you!  Come find out information about getting a major or minor in computer science or about the field of computer science in general!


She Innovates Hackathon

The first all-women’s hackathon at the University of Pittsburgh.  The hackathon is co-hosted by the Department of Computer Science, Innovation Institute, Pitt WiCS, and Pitt SWE. This event encourages the participation of all female Pitt students, including but not limited to computer science, business, engineering, and law.  This event prides itself on providing a safe place for women to come together to learn, grow, hack, and empower each other.  The She Innovates Kick-Off Party features: team formation, for those without a team, idea pitching for those without a hacking idea, and Q & A.  We have mentors on-site to help guide students through the hacking process. Throughout the weekend She Innovates features keynote speakers and talks about business and tech.  Each team pitches their idea to a panel of judges, and there is an awards ceremony to announce the winners and award the prizes.

Grace Hopper Conference

(Students at the 2016 Grace Hopper Conference)

“It is a massive confidence boost to see so many other technical women and to see how supportive the companies in attendance are of women in tech.It had a huge impact on me personally because it gave me the opportunity to grow closer to other women in the department, improve my knowledge, and network with other technical women.” –– Student, Emilee Betz 

“I met other women of color at the conference and they had specialized receptions for different groups of people (LGBTQ, women of color, etc.).  It was a great learning experience.” – Student, Nicole Daniels

The world’s largest gathering of technical women in computing, where technical women gather to network, find or be mentors, create collaborative proposals, and increase the visibility of women’s contributions to computing. Each year the Department of Computer Science funds undergradaute students to attend this conference.

  • Mid-career and senior students profit the most from listening to presenters from industry, academia and government.
  • Leading researchers present their current work, while special sessions focus on the role of women in today’s technology fields, including CS, IT, and Engineering.

Grace Hopper Debrief

An annual debrief that is held each year after the Grace Hopper Conference in the CS Department,  Grace Hopper Conference attendees present what they learned and experienced at the Grace Hopper Conference, including pictures and slides.

Learn more about the students experience at Grace Hopper by viewing their compilation of slides from the GHC Debrief Here!

For Questions Regarding Outreach Contact:

Mackenzie Ball | Outreach Coordinator |