Software Guild: A Workshop to Introduce Women and Non-Binary Undergraduate Students from other Majors to Computing Conference

Arunachalam, N, Weiss, MA, Liu, J et al. (2023). Software Guild: A Workshop to Introduce Women and Non-Binary Undergraduate Students from other Majors to Computing .

cited authors

  • Arunachalam, N; Weiss, MA; Liu, J; Perez, AM; Narasimhan, G; Lunn, SJ


  • It has been well established that women and non-binary individuals are minoritized in the field of computing, despite large-scale efforts to remedy this gender imbalance. In this paper, we describe our approach, which involves the creation and implementation of a week-long, extracurricular workshop called a “Guild.” With our program, we aspired to introduce women and non-binary undergraduate students from other majors (e.g., biology, nursing, and business) to computing concepts. The Guild was held in the winter of 2022 at a large urban public university in the Southeast. It gave students the chance to engage in experiential software projects, community-building activities, and mentorship from computing majors and industry professionals. In our research, we applied disciplinary identity theory, with a focus on computing identity, to explore participants' perceptions of the experiences and the impact of the Guild on their future computing aspirations. Towards this goal, we used a convergent parallel mixed-methods approach. We conducted pre- and post-workshop surveys of (n = 34) students' impressions and goals. In the analysis, we quantitatively assessed responses around students' computing identities and qualitatively evaluated open-ended questions about the Guild using thematic analysis. The findings demonstrated that the participants perceived the workshop as valuable and enabled them to see how computing can be a medium to solve problems of human interest as well as a tool of self-expression. In particular, participants reported that the empathetic assistance given by the peer mentors made the learning process smoother, thus making it inspiring, engaging, and less intimidating. Going forward, more experiments and fine-tuning are needed to continue to scale and improve the Guild. However, we hope the description of our workshop and findings from our investigation encourage other researchers and educators to consider similar approaches to engage women and non-binary students in computing.

publication date

  • June 25, 2023