Changing the Tech Industry From Here

Top tech leaders at LinkedIn and Craigslist have joined a USF effort to reduce the tech industry’s gender gap.

Sarah Clatterbuck ’97, senior director of engineering at LinkedIn, and Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, paid for about two dozen female computer science students and faculty to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in October. The conference is the largest gathering of women technologists in the world.

Clatterbuck and Newmark’s support shines a light on USF’s Computer Science Department, which stands out with almost 50 percent of faculty being female, more than most universities, according to Assistant Professor Beste Yuksel. The department is also home to the Democratize Computing Lab, which is open to all students and offers training in coding and app building, and the Women in Computer Science and Tech Club, which provides networking and mentoring.

The efforts are paying off, with women representing 24 percent of undergraduate computer science students at USF compared to 16 percent nationally. USF’s goal is to reach at least 50 percent.

“Women make up 47 percent of our workforce in the U.S., and they represent only 12 percent of engineers,” Clatterbuck said. “At the same time, you look at software engineering and related fields, and they are some of the fastest growing fields in the world right now, and demand is high and supply is low. The economic opportunity is really high right now. For me, it’s about creating an economic pathway for women.”

Jovani Kimble MS ’18, a graduate computer science student who attended the Grace Hopper conference, said more women will go into computer science if they know there are people backing them. “Having support helps eliminate doubts and fears,” Kimble says. “When you have support, you know there are people in your corner.”