New URI, IGT scholarship to support women in computer science

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island’s computer science department has long noticed a troubling trend among its graduate pool: despite academic success, many women were leaving the program before graduation.

Over the past decade, women have made up 11% to 17% of the university’s computer science graduates. That’s similar to or below broader trends, with women making up about 18% of computer science bachelor’s degree recipients nationwide, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.

To help mitigate this gap and support women interested in pursuing computer science, the university is partnering with International Game Technology PLC to offer $200,000 in scholarships over the next four years.

The IGT-funded program will support a cohort of 10 women with about $20,000 each over the course of their four-year program.

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Lisa DiPippo, chair of computer science at URI, said the scholarship can provide a “game-changing” opportunity to foster a greater sense of community and belonging for women in the program.

“One of the things our research found was that the women who left computer science weren’t doing any worse than the men who stayed in computer science,” DiPippo said in a statement. “The women weren’t leaving because of their grades. They were leaving because they felt they didn’t belong. They felt they wanted to find a major where there were more people like them.”

In addition to financial support, women in the program will also have access to industry mentors through IGT, as well as other internship, networking and capstone opportunities.

The scholarship continues a long-standing partnership between IGT and URI.

“IGT has partnered with URI for decades to provide top-quality internships, and we are excited to expand our support for URI students in this new capacity as we aim to increase the number of women graduating with computer science degrees,” said Rachel Barber, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Global Gaming at IGT.

“As a URI alum, I hope that this IGT Scholars Program inspires more women to take an interest in computer science-focused careers and empower them to confidently enter a career in technology,” Barber said.

Applications are currently open to all first-year students who identify as a woman and are majoring in or plan to major in computer science. Interested students have until Dec. 15 to apply.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at