A group of undergraduate students at Missouri University of Science and
Technology is designing fun recruitment software to “kill the nerd stereotype”
and help interest younger students, especially women, in computer science.
The project, called Computer Science Recruitment for the 21st Century, or
CSRecruit21, is aimed at getting kids, particularly girls, interested in
computer science at a young age.
“It’s important to target them while they are young,” says Dr. Daniel
Tauritz, assistant professor of computer science at Missouri S&T. “We want
to reach them before their minds are made up, and make sure they enroll in the
elective math and science courses in middle school and high school that will
prepare them for a career in computer science.”
According to Tauritz, the percentage of female students entering computer
science has been declining nationally since the 1970s. At Missouri S&T, the
number of females enrolling in computer science fell by 35.5 percent between
2001 and 2006.
“For a variety of reasons, it just became uncool,” Tauritz says.
CSRecruit21 hopes to change that by showing girls that being a computer
scientist doesn’t mean being stuck in a cubicle alone for 24 hours a day
staring at a monitor.
According to Tauritz, research has shown that women favor socially relevant
vocations, such as medical careers, where they have a direct impact on people
and society. CSRecruit21’s software shows in a variety of ways how careers in
computer science help people by providing real examples of what Missouri
S&T computer science graduates are doing in their jobs that impact
Missouri S&T computer science majors Jasmine (Bowles) Glaese, of
Leesburg, Mo., and Lisa Guntly and Jessica Williams, both of St. Louis, are the
second group of female students to work on the project. Kristen Loesch and
Laura Woodward started CSRecruit21 in August 2006, before graduating from
Missouri S&T in May 2007.
“Who better to work on a recruitment software to get females involved than
other female computer science students?” Tauritz says.
Glaese, Guntly and Williams are working on fine-tuning and adding games to
the software, which still is in the preliminary stages of design. The software
offers students a variety of activities to choose from, such as memory game, a
board game and a maze. All of the activities are interwoven with information
and questions about computer science. The software is targeted at children in
the third through sixth grades.
“It’s important to show children how relevant computer science is to
society,” Guntly says. “There are a lot of things you can do with a degree in
“You can work anywhere in the world,’” Glaese adds.
Last year, Loesch and Woodward took the software into a computer lab at Mark
Twain Elementary School in Rolla, Mo., to see how students responded. Their
reaction was positive, and this year’s CSRecruit21 group hopes to do the same.
Woodward presented last year’s CSRecruit21 work at the 2007 Grace Hopper
Celebration of Women in Computing conference in Orlando, Fla., where it was
well received. This year’s CSRecruit21 team intends to submit their new work to
the 2008 Grace Hopper conference.
Tauritz says another group of computer science undergraduates will take over
the project when Glaese, Guntly and Williams conclude their research in May.
Eventually, hopes are that a version of the software will be available for
download online to improve the image of computer science worldwide.
To learn more about the CSRecruit21 project, visit the project’s website at