Rita Powell, Ed.D.
Associate Director, Department of Computer and Information Science

158 Levine GRW, 3330 Walnut Street
215-898-0051 (voice), 215-898-0587 (fax)
rpowell at cis dot upenn dot edu

Curriculum Vitae

Rita M. Powell earned the EdD in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005.  Her thesis, Sundials in the Shade: a Study of Women’s Persistence in the First Year of an Undergraduate Computer Science Program in a Selective University, took a qualitative, ethnographic approach to investigating women’s experiences, satisfaction and persistence in the computer science major. Powell conducts research in computer science education through the development and implementation of initiatives to enhance student learning, and outreach programs to recruit women and underrepresented minorities into the computer science major. She is also an Extension Services Consultant with the National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT).

Current Initiatives

Women in Computer Science High School Day for Girls

Penn Emerging Scholars Program (PESP) in Computer Science and Math--for information contact Rita Powell at cis dot upenn dot edu

National Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) Extension Services/ENGAGE Engineering to assist universities to increase undergraduate women's participation in computer science and engineering. 


A Cascading Mentoring Pedagogy in a CS Service Learning Course to Broaden Participation and Perceptions, SIGCSE'13

Emerging Scholars Program—a PLTL-CS Program that Increases Recruitment and Retention of Women in the Major, Technical Report MS-CIS-12-16

Attracting More Women to the CS Major Using a Peer-Led Team Learning Program, SIGCSE'13

Initiatives to Support Systemic Change for Women in Undergraduate Computing, SIGCSE'12

Lessons Learned from a PLTL-CS Program, SIGCSE '11

Advancing Women in Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania - CRA Expanding the Pipeline, September 2010

Improving the Persistence of First-Year Women in Computer Science  SIGCSE '08, March 12-15, 2008, Portland, Oregon.

Sundials in the Shade: A Study of Women’s Persistence in the First Year of a Computer Science Program in a Selective University
A Dissertation in Higher Education Management

Sundials in the Shade Abstract

Using Web-Based Technology in Laboratory Instruction to Reduce Costs


Resources for Women in CIS

CISters- an informal social group for women postdocs and graduate students

WICS   Women in Computer Science undergraduate organization

WICS Residential Program



Notable Conferences


Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

ACM SIGCSE (Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education)

  NCWIT Annual Summit


My daughter, Nora Powell, graduated from American University in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a concentration in Biology. She works in MEAM in SEAS, and is studying in GSE.
My son, Kip Powell, earned his BSN at Penn Nursing in 2011. He is working as a Medical ICu nurse at Hahnemann University Hospital.
My husband, Ken Powell, is a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge.

View family photos