The NCWIT approach to increasing women’s meaningful and influential participation in computing is through systemic change. Systemic change assumes that women in the social system are not deficient and that piecemeal efforts are insufficient. Change should address and improve social and cultural systems, learning and work environments, and organizational structures that have been detrimental to recruiting and retaining women and other groups historically underrepresented in computing.

To inform change efforts using evidence-based practices in a strategic way, NCWIT has developed systemic change models for the three different parts of the ecosystem that NCWIT Alliances represent. Based on social science research, these models show the different areas of reform necessary for creating comprehensive change. There is a slightly different model for each part of the ecosystem because addressing context is critical for change.


The K-12 Systemic Change Model identifies several key social and structural factors that influence girls’ participation in computing, often deterring them from enrolling in CS education classes and/or choosing careers in technology. The model emphasizes that young women’s perceptions, interests, confidence, and career decisions are shaped by society and the local environments in which they learn about computing and technology. We encourage teachers, counselors, researchers, and other critical influencers to see how they can make change. Learn more about the K-12 Systemic Change Model at


Post-secondary institutions are both training grounds and workplaces for undergraduate and graduate students, and for computing faculty and researchers. These conceptual frameworks for undergraduate programs, graduate programs, and academic workplaces draw upon extensive reviews of relevant theory, empirical research, and intervention experience reports. The models below explain the crucial, system-level features and actionable items that change-leader teams should use to structure their recruitment and retention efforts for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For Undergraduate Programs

The Model for Undergraduate Programs includes the following elements: program entry, classroom experience, community and belonging, program curriculum and supports, institutionalization, data and evaluation. Underlying all of the components is the development of appropriate institutional policies and leadership support to ensure an inclusive culture that helps all students find their place in computing. Learn more about the Undergraduate System Change Model at

NCWIT's Undergraduate Programs Systems Change Model
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For Graduate Programs

The Model for Graduate Programs comprises six key elements and processes: admissions, advisors, the doctoral lifecycle, social ecosystems, policies and accountability, and evaluation. Together, these components represent the essential, mutually influential structures for recruiting and supporting doctoral degree-seeking students of all genders, racial and ethnic groups, ability statuses, income levels, and sexual orientations. Learn more about the Graduate Systemic Change Model here.

For Academic Workplaces

Academia is a workplace, in addition to being a place for where training happens. The Model for Academic Workplaces identifies three key areas of focus, including crucial parts of the faculty employment life cycle. The successful implementation and institutionalization of initiatives includes: 1) enlisting top leadership support and building in institutional accountability, 2) growing individual commitment and personal accountability, and 3) conducting ongoing evaluation of initiatives.


The Industry Systemic Change Model identifies the key focus areas that should be part of a larger strategic plan for creating more inclusive and productive environments, such as examining processes and policies (e.g., in recruitment or performance evaluation) that deter women’s participation. This model encourages a holistic approach through three foundational steps: 1) enlisting top leadership support, 2) educating managers, and 3) collecting appropriate evaluation data. Learn more about the Industry Systemic Change Model here.

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