CRA A. Nico Habermann Award 2005
Jane Margolis was selected for this award because the passion and scholarship she brings to the computing research community is unique.
Unlike previous winners of the Habermann Award, Jane Margolis is not a computer scientist. Instead she is a social scientist who has worked on issues of gender and minority status within computer science education. She is being honored because of the way she uses her research to inform ongoing interventions; she is committed both to rigorous research and to making important changes in society.
As her nomination states: “Her ability to collaborate with teachers, administrators, computer scientists, policy-makers, and foundations allow her to gain insight and collect data from groups representing a variety of perspectives, often serving different interests. She reminds computer scientists, educators, and policymakers alike of the need to collaborate to reform computer science education.” She is passionate about creating more equitable educational environments and she is a crusader for diversifying the field of computer science.
Margolis is most well-known for the work she did at Carnegie Mellon University with Allan Fisher that culminated in the award-winning book, Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing, and in research-based changes at CMU that significantly reduced their gender gap, helping to increase the enrollment of undergrad majors from 7 percent to 42 percent.
Since 2000, Margolis has been working on a similar research project at UCLA aimed at better understanding the psychological and institutional factors responsible for the underrepresentation of females and students of color in high school computer science. Again the research involved collaboration with teachers and administrators within the Los Angeles Unified school district (LAUSD). This collaboration led to a week-long summer institute for a group of high school computer science educators, helping them to increase their knowledge of Java, develop engaging pedagogies, and use more enticing curricula, while simultaneously establishing a professional network for them.
As a result, new CS courses have been added, the number of Latino/as taking the Advanced Placement computer science course in LAUSD tripled, and the number of African Americans and female students doubled. Margolis is publishing her findings, enabling other scholars and interveners to gain a better understanding of the factors at play. You can see a recent campus news article on this work at: http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/news/articles.asp?id=32447.
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