Student Organization Spotlight: Women in Computer Science (WiCS)

November 11, 2022

The Women in Computer Science (WiCS) club is an organization consisting of undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate, and faculty women in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information (SCI).

In a largely male-dominated field, WiCS works to create an environment for members to feel comfortable asking questions, help each other develop skills and careers, share advice, and support anyone who advocates for women in computer science. The club meets weekly on Thursdays at 7 p.m. in 5317 Sennott Square.

WiCS offers a variety of academic and social activities to its members. Academic activities include resume reviews, LinkedIn workshops, mock interviews, and learning the basics of various fields in computer science. Social activities offered include club lunches, parties and formals, game nights, and casual homework nights. Some activities, like the yearly formal, are planned in coordination with other clubs to broaden the exposure that students have to other peers in the field.

WiCS president Anita Kaul is a sophomore studying Computer Science and Computer Engineering. As a member of the organization during her freshman year, Kaul recalled her experience of transferring to SCI in the beginning of the 2021-22 school year and feeling hesitant about her limited background in computer science.

“I showed up to the first WiCS meeting because I thought it was a good place to start,” Kaul said about joining the club. Kaul noted that after speaking to the officers of WiCS and explaining her hesitation, she was met with support and advice that eventually led her to her first internship. “I wanted to carry on that same support to people who are in a similar situation as I was, so when it came time for elections, I ran for president."

As WiCS president, Kaul has several goals for the club's growth throughout the year. 

"One of my biggest goals this year is retention rate," Kaul said. "We like to keep a steady rate throughout the year of people coming back.” To work towards this goal, Kaul is making the club experience more personal so that people can recognize each other by name and feel the organization's support. 

Kaul is also helping to make more interactive opportunities for members this year. “A lot of our events last year were very presentation based, and it’s not as exciting to get involved in computer science when you’re just sitting and listening,” said Kaul. At "Exploring Fields in CS", a new event created by Kaul to have more hands-on activities, WiCS officers set up a variety of stations featuring an interactive activity based on a different computer science field, including robotics (students learned how breadboards work), cybersecurity (students learned encoding and decoding), and computational biology (students learned how to code a program to convert DNA to RNA). In the future, Kaul hopes to reproduce this event, because “there are so many more fields to explore in computer science.”

WiCS is currently planning its annual formal, in collaboration with the Computer Science Club (CSC) on November 11. Tickets are available to any student in SCI. Additionally, WiCS will be hosting an informative event featuring Honeywell, a corporate sponsor of the club, in December.

For more information, visit the WiCS website or @wics_pitt on Instagram for regular updates about upcoming events.