Broadening Participation

Rainier Scholars participants in the computer lab
Rainier Scholars at UW CSE
UW Computer Science & Engineering embraces the National Science Foundation's goals for Broadening Participation in Computing to significantly increase the number of U.S. citizens and residents who obtain degrees in computing, with an emphasis on attracting more students from communities that are under-represented in the field, including women, persons with disabilities, and minorities. We invite you to discover the many ways UW CSE is building an inclusive, welcoming environment for teaching, learning and research in computer science and engineering.

Cultivating a Diverse Student Body

Through our DawgBytes program, we engage K-12 students and teachers in a variety of activities designed to elevate computer science in the classroom and encourage a diverse group of students to pursue computer science education and careers.

We partner with a Seattle-area academic enrichment program for low-income students of color, Rainier Scholars, to teach a computer science course to their eighth grade cohort of 40 students. During the course, we host the students for two hours each week, growing their appreciation for and knowledge of computer science, and organize a reunion of the students the following fall. We also host a series of computer science day camps each year for middle and high school students, with an emphasis on engaging girls. In 2014, we staged 11 camp sessions that served more than 230 students.

Teachers at CS4HS
Teachers at the Summer 2014 CS4HS
We organize programs for teachers and guidance counselors to enable them to assist students in preparing for computer science education and careers. Activities include:
  • Counselors for Computing (C4C), a collaboration with the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) to educate high school guidance counselors about our field.
  • Summer CSE 142, a scholarship for middle or high school teachers that enables them to take our introductory programming course.

Engaging Women in the Field

We have made great strides in encouraging more women to pursue computer science and engineering degrees and attracting leading women in the field to teach and pursue their research at UW CSE. Thirty percent of our bachelor’s degrees are earned by women – twice the national average for all colleges and universities.

DawgBytes summer camp participants by Drumheller Fountain
DawgBytes summer day camp for girls

The UW has been designated a Pacesetter School by the NCWIT, as part of a program to attract and retain more women in computing fields. Through our Women in Computer Science & Engineering seminar, we provide students with an opportunity to explore the experiences and contributions of women in the field through group discussions and hands-on activities. In recent years, we have successfully recruited a number of women onto the faculty who are making important contributions in computer vision, robotics, privacy and security, machine learning, natural language processing, human-computer interaction, and programming languages and software engineering.

In 2015, NCWIT recognized UW CSE's efforts with its inaugural NCWIT Extension Services Transformation (NEXT) Award grand prize based on our success in recruiting and retaining more women in undergraduate computer science. In granting UW CSE the award, NCWIT noted that "the University of Washington has grown an inclusive, welcoming community that spans beyond the walls of the university and has demonstrably advanced women’s meaningful participation in computing."

Empowering People with Disabilities

UW CSE is an active partner in efforts to increase access to computer science education and careers for people with disabilities. The AccessComputing Alliance at UW is aimed at enabling students with disabilities to successfully pursue computer science degrees. The alliance provides guidance, resources, mentoring opportunities, and funding to support the full inclusion of students with disabilities in computer science courses and programs. Alliance member and UW CSE professor Richard Ladner received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in recognition of his efforts to promote inclusion of individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, blind or vision-impaired in the computing field.

Our Commitment

Student with disability at computer
A commitment to accessibility

At UW CSE, we are proud to be known as a people-focused department and we support and abide by the University of Washington's diversity statement and commitment to accessibility:

The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities.*

UW CSE embraces the opportunity to lead the way in promoting greater diversity and expanding opportunity in our field. We invite you to learn more about what makes UW CSE a supportive and welcoming environment for all:

*To request disability accommodation in the departmental application process contact UW CSE directly at 206.543.1695 or the UW Disability Services Office at least 10 days in advance at 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax), or e-mail