The demand for digital technology professionals is skyrocketing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, there will be a 13 percent growth increase projection in this field, leading to 557,000 more well-paying jobs through 2026. Yet women in the United States are increasingly forsaking computer science careers. ComputerScience.org. predicts “the vast majority of computer science jobs will be pursued and filled by men.” Moreover, this trend has only increased since the 1990s, the website reported, noting, “There is a clear disconnect between the computer science industry and the message girls receive about their ability to succeed in tech organizations.”
These statistics are also reflected within the University of Findlay’s classrooms. During the 2017-2018 school year, only 13 percent of students enrolled in UF’s Computer Science Program at the undergraduate level were women, while 35 percent accounted for enrollment in the Master of Science in Applied Security and Analytics Program.
In response to the gender gap, the University applied for and received $150,000 to provide three $2,500 endowed scholarships annually to women pursuing computer science degrees.
Funding is provided by the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund through Fifth Third Bank. The fund was established in 1908 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Jacob G. Schmidlapp in honor of his daughter who died in a car accident. Schmidlapp founded Union Savings and Trust, which later merged into what is now Fifth Third Bancorp, Philanthropy Ohio. He instructed the fund’s trustees to make grants that would aid women to establish themselves in life.
Today, the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund is the largest fund in the country dedicated exclusively to the needs of women and girls.
The first three University of Findlay Schmidlapp Computer Science Scholarship recipients are Jacqueline Nobora, a senior from Eastlake, Ohio; Morgen Long, a junior from Findlay, Ohio; and Lillian Siefker, a freshman from Ottawa, Ohio.
Nobora, Long and Siefker will also benefit beyond the much-needed funding that will help them pay tuition. They will also interact with Choose Ohio First (COF) Scholars, who are state scholarship recipients pursuing science, technology, engineering, math and medicine degrees. These collaborations “will keep them engaged with professionals through mentoring, professional meetings and guest speaker opportunities,” said Mary Jo Geise, Ph.D., computer science professor and co-chair of the Computer Science Program. “As their major project, they will work with the COF Scholars to develop an Hour of Code program for the Marathon IT Explorer group in April, and present on their preparation experience at UF’s annual Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity.”
Scholarship winners will also become involved in the Association for Computing Machinery – Women, a group established between industry professionals and faculty at UF, Bowling Green State University and University of Toledo; and will attend the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing 2019 conference, a biannual event that gives young women the opportunity to explore internet technology careers, network with others, and meet potential mentors thanks to women leaders from business, industry and academia.
Geise said the University of Findlay is excited to offer women such substantial computer science scholarships that will enable them to land valuable, lucrative jobs in this dynamic, fast-paced professional field.
Findlay’s computer science courses offer lessons in object-oriented programming languages, client-server applications development and data communication.
Learn more at www.findlay.edu/sciences/computer-science.