Rita Powell, Ed.D.

Director of Diversity and Belonging

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 Manco 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).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.

Current Initiatives

Diversity@CIS web site

Get involved in the CIS Diversity Summit Committee. Contact Rita Powell

Penn Emerging Scholars Program (PESP) is a collaboration between the Penn Math and Computer and Information Science Departments. PESP gives freshmen, who are interested in math and computer science but unsure these majors are a fit for them, the opportunity to work in small groups to solve logical, algorithmic puzzles. Students learn the logic underlying the computer program and the problems that math and computer science seek to solve.

Women in Computer Science High School Day for Girls--An Annual Event

Underrepresented Students Study Hall - Tuesdays in 307 Levine, 8 to 10 pm

Google CSResearch Explore for Undergraduate Women

Tech It Out Philly -- A Sunday coding workshop for high school studnets -- 1 - 3 pm, Moore 200

Selected Papers

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

Using Web-Based Technology in Laboratory Instruction to Reduce Costs


Resources for Women

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

WICS   Women in Computer Science undergraduate organization

WICS Residential Program

National Center for Women & IT



Notable Conferences


Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

ACM SIGCSE (Special Interest Group for Computer Science Education)


NCWIT Annual Summit

ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Sept. 21 -23 -- scholarship applications due March 29



My daughter, Nora Powell Rodgers, graduated from American University in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. She received a Master's degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. Nora is married to Kevin Rodgers. She recently started her own petcare business, Wagdaysphilly. Check it out!
My son, Kip Powell, earned his BSN at Penn Nursing in 2011 and is currently studying for the MSN in Acute Care Nursing.. He is working as a Medical ICU nurse at Hahnemann University Hospital. Kip is married to Katie Mooney
My husband, Ken Powell, is a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge.

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