Should Computer Science Be a Requirement at Winsor?

By Sophia Lichterfeld

Winsor writes in their mission statement that they “prepare young women to pursue their aspirations and contribute to the world.” In an increasingly digitized global culture where “computer science courses are essential if students want to grow into well-rounded adults who are prepared for the future,” as Emily Lutzker ’25 noted, can this goal truly be achieved without teaching students the fundamentals of computer science (CS)?

Currently, Winsor offers eight STEM/CS electives, including introductory Python, various Java courses, Engineering Design classes, and others. Unfortunately, “the arts requirement makes taking computer science classes difficult,” as students would be exhausted taking multiple electives at once, according to Alyssa Quarles ’24. 

Some students like Caroline Shin ’23 suggested that “CS is not for everyone and a requirement may impede upon students’ abilities to delve into other areas of interest.” However, “by that logic, there also shouldn’t be an arts requirement,” mentioned Gabriella Franca ’25. Considering that there are 28 different art and music courses that allow students to find an area that intrigues them and fulfills their art requirement, it appears that expanding the variety of CS courses offered would be an important first step for supporting a CS requirement that all students could benefit from and enjoy. “I think that it would be nice if there could be a lot of different selections of courses, like Object-Oriented Design, computational linguistics, or even animation, and students could choose the one that they’re the most interested in for that semester,” Ainsley Wang ’24 commented.

When asked, many students proposed having STEM/CS electives count toward the arts requirement so that they are more motivated to take these classes. Those who have taken CS courses at Winsor generally reported having had a positive experience, but despite the undeniable usefulness of this area in our modern world, some are hesitant to pursue more classes in this area because of their already-busy schedules. 

Mr. Cox, who teaches many CS electives at Winsor, explained that “being able to understand software and being able to develop solutions to problems on your own is a huge advantage.” The skills to do so, such as “problem solving and critical thinking,” as well as “creativity” are “deliberately fostered in computer science.”

“Because this is ostensibly a girls school, closing the gender gap in computer science and technological fields should be a major goal of what we do here. Computer science is a tool, and by not having it as a requirement is a statement of not valuing it. And that just reinforces the existing mentality, the existing norms of the field,” Mr. Cox stated. 

Like Mr. Cox, Diya Dronavadhyala ’24 strongly believed that “the world is moving towards a more technology-dependent society, and almost every field requires some knowledge of CS, so I think Winsor should definitely encourage that as much as possible!”