Fostering a sense of belonging for women in computing through community service

By ElKharboutly, Associate professor of software engineering October 06, 2023

Headshot of Ruby ElKharboutly

"The overarching goal of this my work is prompting a sense of belonging for women in computing though various activities including peer mentoring, supporting the attendance of female-centered computing events such as (WeCode and Grace Hopper) and community engagement by running Girls Who Code (GWC@QU) club."

Girls Who Code is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to closing the gender gap in technology and computer science. Their mission is to inspire more girls to become computer scientists and engineers by teaching them computing fundamentals and computing tools that enable them to build simple applications that demonstrate their passions and personal goals. Female Student facilitators who run the club provide mentorship to middle school and high school female students and are also mentored by senior club facilitators.

GWC@QU has been established in 2017 and has trained around 250 middle students so far. This research studies how community engagement creates a sense of belonging for female students and supports their retention and well-being in computing disciplines which are typically dominated by male students.

M&T Bank Center of Women and Business's mission of building a community focused on achieving goals consistent with women’s personal values aligns perfectly with my passion and drive to build a community of computing female students through mentorship. This award will allow me to sustain my role as advisor for the GWC@QU as well support my study on how up mentoring and peer mentoring among female students enhances their sense of belonging in computing disciplines. I thank all committee members for selecting me for this award.

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