Software Carpentry is pleased to announced a two-day software skills boot camp for women in science and engineering, to be held in Boston this June. We're currently trying to raise the $6000 needed to give 120 grad students (and others) a chance to improve their research computing skills while networking with peers; donations would be very welcome.

Why a boot camp specifically aimed at women? Because a large body of research has shown that without initiatives like this, the cycle of low participation today leading to low participation tomorrow will continue unchecked. For example, WiT reports:

In the Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey, women and minorities raised a number of barriers in their path to STEM careers, including:
  1. Lack of mentors (50%)
  2. Lack of role models (49%)
  3. Stereotypes adversely affecting women and minorities (39%)
  4. Lack of communication from STEM industry (39%)
  5. Self doubt (35%)
  6. Cost of education (31%)
  7. "Sense of isolation" (29%)
  8. A lack of solid math and science education in poorer schools (24%)

Issues like the lack of role models, lack of mentors, stereotypes, and a sense of isolation are effectively addressed by getting a bunch of women together in one room. We're not just presenting the Software Carpentry material, we are also creating a community of women who will support each other in tangible and intangible ways. If you would like to learn more, one of the most thorough and most readable pieces of research in this area remains Margolis and Fisher's Unlocking the Clubhouse, which reports their work in the late 1990s and early 2000s at Carnegie-Mellon.