Networking Opportunities/alx

From Open Pattern Repository for Online Learning Systems
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Networking Opportunities
Contributors Anne Bartilla, Christian Köppe
Last modification May 16, 2017
Source Bartilla & Köppe (2016)[1]
Pattern formats OPR Alexandrian
Learning domain

There are a few female students in your computer science cohort, but they form a minority.


Minority groups such as female CS students miss opportunities for their careers if they don’t have access to networks of peers and professionals, but this access does not come naturally to these minority groups in CS.

People naturally tend to build relations (and a network) with alike people, a mechanism called homosocial cooptation[2]. This makes it harder for members of a minority—female CS students—to build the same extensive set of relations with others than it is for members of the majority—male CS students. This not only counts for the students themselves, but also for the relations between students-teachers and students-workforce, where too a gender imbalance is still present.

Members of the majority take these networking opportunities for granted as they come nearly naturally, which makes it harder for them to realize the importance of giving minority members the same opportunities.


Therefore: provide networking opportunities for female CS students, either explicitly or as part of other events.

These networking opportunities are ideally part of the work of the Action Group (Action Group). They can range from small informal meetings to larger official events and do not need to be explicitly called networking events. Especially in places where the imbalance is big, it would be good to make a start with minority members only. At a later time, or at places with a less tremendous imbalance, the opportunity could also involve a balanced number of majority members. In that case it is important to ensure that these do not dominate the event or meeting.

People are different, and so are female CS students, not all of them might like to network extensively. These networking opportunities shouldn’t therefore be forced on the students, but offered as a chance they otherwise would miss or could only create with difficulties. If necessary, students could also be taught about why networking is important and how to network and make use of networks.

A good idea is to make use of existing networking structures and of Female Role Models (Female Role Models). One can set up a local ACM-Women chapter[3]or host events of self-organized groups of female programmers such as Rails Girls[4] or PyLadies[5]. Especially these latter examples demonstrate that it might be fruitful to support female students in creating such networking opportunities themselves (and in their own ways and preferences) instead of organizing them for the students. This will create a higher commitment to the activities and also foster a closer relation with the Action Group (Action Group). In other words, you can take the students to an event that is organized by another organization (such as the Grace Hopper Celebration or small conferences on Gender & STEM) or you can have your students organize such an event themselves where they can invite guest speakers, present their own work, and have informal discussions on CS-related topics. It is always a good idea to Do Food (Do Food)[6], as eating together creates great opportunities for talking with others in an informal atmosphere.

It is important that women eventually need to become part of the bigger networks, so that their positions are strengthened and they get broader access to job opportunities etc. Just being in small, women-only type of networks, will not do much except the feel-good/support effect. These local small networks should therefore eventually become connected with the bigger networks.

By providing networking opportunities for female CS students, they will get the chance to benefit from the positive aspects of networking such as peer support, project opportunities, or higher chances in job applications.

As with all activities directed at women mainly, such networking opportunities could too create a feeling of being not of relevance for the majority. It is therefore important to accompany these networking efforts with various Awareness Seeds (Awareness Seeds). Explicitly calling all these events “networking opportunities for women" might be experienced as an overkill by the female students (even though these events are networking opportunities) and might not attract them anymore. It is therefore important to not emphasize too much the aspect of networking for the female students, but to let this (intentionally) happen during all sorts of events.

A good opportunity for networking is the Grace Hopper Celebration, organized yearly by the Anita Borg Institute.[7]

One important aspect of the success of Women@SCS at the CMU is that they provide an opportunity for networking[8]. Networking is an important aspect for finding a place in a community and creating work opportunities. Such networking often happens automatically during members of the majority—male CS students—while members of the minority female CS students and other minorities—are excluded from such networks through various mechanisms such as homosocial cooptation[9]. It is therefore necessary to create such networking facilities for minority groups as well.


  1. Bartilla, A., & Köppe, C. (2016). Organizational Patterns for Increasing Gender Diversity in Computer Science Education. In Proceedings of the 10th Travelling Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (VikingPLoP 2016). New York:ACM.
  2. Meuser, M. (2006). Geschlecht und Arbeitswelt–Doing Gender in Organisationen. Deutsches Jugendinstitut, 5(06).
  6. Rising, L., & Manns, M. L. (2004). Fearless change: patterns for introducing new ideas. Pearson Education.
  8. Frieze, C., & Quesenberry, J. L. (2013). From difference to diversity: including women in the changing face of computing. In Proceeding of the 44th ACM technical symposium on Computer science education (pp. 445-450). ACM.
  9. Bartilla, A. (2014). 'Je mannetje staan': Kwalitatief onderzoek naar vrouwelijke informatica studenten in het hoger beroepsonderwijs. Universiteit van Amsterdam. Faculteit der Maatschappij-en Gedragswetenschappen.