The Calvin CS 50 Percent Initiative

Calvin's 50 Percent Initiative is about Gender Diversity in Computer Science The high-tech industry is suffering from a shortage of top technical talent and a significant lack of diversity. To address these problems, Calvin's CS Department and its Strategic Partners Council have created the 50 Percent Initiative, a corporate sponsorship program that seeks to change the face and future of our industry by increasing the number of women who earn computer science degrees. This program will address the talent shortage by equipping increasing numbers of (female) students with advanced computing skills, and at the same time address a social problem, namely the underrepresentation of women in the tech sector. Our initiative uses proven tactics to recruit and retain female computer science majors, but we cannot do it alone; we need your help. Please review the strategies and sponsorship levels described below and consider how you can partner with us to make this program a success.


Other colleges have identified two effective strategies for addressing these problems:

  1. Special scholarships for female CS majors, to encourage young women to enter the CS pipeline.
  2. Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC, see videos here and here), to encourage young women to remain in the CS pipeline until they graduate.

Using similar strategies, two colleges – Harvey Mudd College in California and Colby College in Maine – have significantly raised their percentages of female CS majors. Both colleges report that attending the GHC conference is key to retaining young CS women.

The GHC conference encourages young women to persevere through their male-dominated CS classes by: (i) presenting them with high-profile role models like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, (ii) letting them mix, mingle, and network with thousands of other CS women, and (iii) forewarning them about and preparing them to deal with confidence-draining problems that female CS students frequently encounter, such as misogynystereotype threat, the imposter syndromeand others. The GHC conference thus motivates women to persevere, succeed, and ultimately thrive in CS.

The 50 Percent Initiative

The 50 Percent Initiative is a program by Calvin's CS department and its Strategic Partners Council that aims to attract qualified women to computer science and remove artificial barriers to their success. Through this program, we will enable these women to participate in and contribute their talents to the hi-tech industry. Ultimately, we hope that this will lead to women being represented in the hi-tech industry at levels proportional to their representation in the general population.

To achieve these goals, we seek partners willing to sponsor our female CS majors at the Platinum, Gold, Silver, Diamond, Ruby, or Emerald levels, shown below:

The benefits of the different sponsorship levels