Review & Select Award Recipients

Step One: Build a Selection Committee

You may wish to recruit volunteers from your local business and academic community to serve on a selection committee, with anywhere from two to five or more committee members. These volunteers will review the applications from your region and select the winner and honorable mention recipients for your award.

The review process is well defined and one does not have to be a technical professional to review, though it is helpful. Potential reviewers can be employees of sponsoring corporations, professors, graduate and undergraduate computing/engineering students, and other professionals. Reviewers may not be: parents of applicants or teachers/school officials of applicants.

Please note that it will be up to the affiliate coordinator to distribute copies of the applications to all committee members, as some may not have full access to the coordinator portal.

Step Two: Select Winners

Use of the following selection instructions will facilitate consistent selection of Regional NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing winner and honorable mention recipients. This approach allows each affiliate to select the most appropriate recipients for their area, while maintaining program consistency.

1)​ ​Select Award Recipients Using These Criteria

The application score is a tool for creating an initial overall ranking of the applicant pool. NCWIT encourages selection committees to consider the entire application when making award decisions. Affiliates ​can and should look beyond the score ​to identify students who stand out in some way, for example they have unique achievements, they have made an impact through computing, they have overcome challenges or they are clear role models to their peers. NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients are chosen for:

  • demonstrated interest ​and achievements in computing

  • proven leadership ability

  • academic performance ​

  • plans for post-secondary education

Note: Do not compare scores from previous years with the current year. Last year’s “winning range” of scores is not pertinent to the current year’s scores due to application and scoring changes from year to year.

  • Interest: ​Demonstrated ​interest in technology, ​supported by action.

    • In particular, action that takes a young woman from a user to a creator role.

  • Achievement: We strive to honor achievement ​in computing and technology, not interest alone.

    • Achievement need not be awe-inspiring; it may range from beginning (taking an Introduction to CS course) to advanced (creation of significant original technology).

  • Leadership: ​The Aspirations Award is a computing honor that rewards proven leadership, but leadership without computing achievement is insufficient for recognition.

    • Leadership may be something that differentiates Winners from Honorable Mentions.

  • Academic Performance​: Consider the student’s whole academic experience (as evidenced by the student’s written responses and educator endorsement), their relative access to advanced technology opportunities, and not GPA alone, to select recipients and designate between recipient tiers.

  • Future Plans​: The Aspirations mission includes actively encouraging high school women to persist in computing through college and career.

    • Some applicants don’t yet have fully-formed thoughts about their future plans and a traditional path - immediately pursuing a 4-year college degree - is not the only viable path to a career in tech.

  • Diversity​: We strive to reach populations historically underrepresented in computing. The recipient pool should be a reflection of the local Affiliate female student population.

    • Diversity may be defined in many ways - NCWIT’s Social Science team has created a definition of “Underrepresented Populations in Computing” (see below)

  • Institutional and Geographic Diversity​: We are looking for broad representation of a Region’s entire geography and its high schools.

  • Number of Awards: ​There is no limit on the number of awards​ you can give out. Select as many Winner and Honorable Mention recipients as you deem appropriate based on your applicant pool and your capacity to recognize Award recipients.

  • Selectivity​: There is no need for every applicant to receive recognition as a recipient.

2) Use these Criteria to Distinguish Between Winner and Honorable Mention Recipients

Nuances in the following areas - gleaned from the entire application (including Endorsements and Reviewer comments) - can be useful differentiators between Winner and Honorable Mention candidates:

  • Leadership quantity, depth and quality and whether the leadership experience was in computing.

  • Depth of computing experience and degree to which concrete experiences are cited.

  • Sincerity and level of interest in computing as described in essay questions.

  • Overcoming barriers to access, such as bringing an AP Computer Science course to a school where none previously existed, or starting a coding club that caters to underrepresented populations and has as its mission outreach to the community.

  • Involvement and participation in extracurricular activities involving computing.

  • Educator Endorsement - sincerity of endorsement, whether negative, neutral or positive. Applicants should not be penalized if there is no endorsement, it is not well-written or it is short, because that is not within the applicant’s control. Other considerations that may affect selection:

  • Achieving the Affiliate’s growth goals

  • Size and make-up of applicant pool (e.g., socio-economic status, public vs. private schools, rural vs. urban, grade/school year, race/ethnicity, prior applicants/recipients)

  • Rewarding new or focused outreach efforts for more diverse applicants

**Note that although you may not select all applicants as either a winner or a honorable mention, that those not selected will be eligible for the national Certificate of Distinction. This award is designed to recognize those high school women who were unable to be selected by the local affiliate due to space constraints, lack of funds, etc. The notification goes out in late February to all those selected for the Certificate of Distinction.

3) Invite National Winner and Honorable Mention Recipients to the Local Event ​

In 2017, fifty National​ Winners and 350 National Honorable Mention Recipients ​were selected from the thousands of applications received. These 400 students represented many of the highest scores from across the country.

  • It is not necessary to award National recipients with Affiliate awards. But National recipients can and should serve as role models for Regional recipients, to encourage them to persist in computing. They are evidence of what can be accomplished.

  • While National Winners attend a National Event with other National Winners, they should still be invited to the Regional event.

  • National Honorable Mention recipients ​are ​not invited to the National event so they MUST be invited to their Affiliate event. ​This is their only chance for public recognition!

  • Please include Regional Honorable Mention recipients in the ​Regional Award Event, too -- encouragement at the event may be the key to prompting them to develop further computing skills and experiences.

4) Allow Repeat Recipients

NCWIT allows past award recipients to apply again, as long as they are eligible. Returning applicants may be motivated in seeking additional awards such as Local Winner (for past Honorable Mention recipients) or National level awards (for past Local Winners). Additionally, repeated recognitions can encourage persistence as participants strive to reach the next level of award. Therefore affiliate committees are urged to allow and encourage Repeat Recipients​. Alternatives to awarding past recipients a new award include finding other opportunities to recognize them, such as incorporating past award recipients into your award event. Note that it can be disheartening to be recognized as “only” an Honorable Mention after being recognized as a Winner in the previous year, especially if an applicant has made progress in her experience over the year. The ongoing encouragement inherent in the AiC mission leads us to prefer not to see this sort of ‘backward’ movement.

More details are available in the "2020-21 Affiliate Selection Instructions

Step Three: Winner Notification

For expediency's sake we recommend notifying the recipients, parents and school officials first via email, followed by a hard copy notification letter. Those non-selected can be notified by email; we plan to send an email to all non-selected participants with updated resources and information once all affiliates have selected their recipients or the first week of February, whichever comes first.

Coordinators may export a spreadsheet of winner and honorable mention data for mailing purposes by going to the "Applications report" from the View Reports tab on the Coordinator dashboard. This spreadsheet contains personal data of minors and should be carefully guarded with every reasonable security precaution.  You may also communicate with recipients, parents and school officials via the email addresses.

Parting Thoughts on Selection by Affiliates and the Regional Ecosystem

Regional Affiliates exist to encourage ​and reward​ young women’s aspirations in computing within their local computing ecosystem of parents, educators, academic institutions and employers.

  • Be thoughtful in what will best do that during selection.
  • Be creative in what will best do that during the event.
  • Engage in other year-round activities that serve the mission, grow the applicant pool and take on a life of their own (like AspireIT programs for younger girls).
  • Help more women, and the local community, by growing the Affiliate Committee.
    • Many hands make light work!
    • Ask the Regional Affiliate Manager (RAM) for connections to like-minded NCWIT members in the region from academia, business and other organizations full of people that would like to help.


  • The Student Guide to Preparing Your Application includes all questions and multiple choice answer options as well as the full essay prompts asked of students.

  • Reviewers’ Instructions (how to score)/ Scoring Rubric and Scoring guidance (what the numbers mean)

  • Application Point Distribution Table (available in the full instructions download)


A Note about Underrepresented Populations in Computing


"Underrepresented" in computing means those populations that are underrepresented in the field of computing (both education and industry) relative to their numbers in the general population. Those underrepresented groups are women of all races and ethnicities; African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander men; and all persons with disabilities (defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities). White men and some persons of Asian descent (e.g., Chinese, Indian) are not considered underrepresented in computing because they participate in computing proportional to, or greater than, their numbers in the general population. Along with gender, race/ethnicity, and disability, broadening participation in computing also includes outreach to persons living with low access to technology and to computing education, such as those in remote, rural and/or high poverty areas.

Differences in participation of men and women, various racial/ethnic groups, and persons with and without disabilities are rooted in differences in current and historic participation in education, technology access, formal and informal educational opportunities, and local community support for computer science education and careers, as well as societal biases.

  • Consider where you are doing outreach and what messages you are giving about your opportunities. Does it sound inclusive to all races and cultures?

  • How are you ensuring that your messaging and event-based programming is culturally responsive? Have you taken steps to ensure that girls from low-income families can afford to participate? That they have transportation to the venue? Are able to "show off" their recognition for computing skills once the event is done?

  • If you are not reaching a diverse population of participants with your program(s), where can you do outreach to get your message to more underrepresented populations? Have you explored whether your outreach messages might be giving the wrong impression to certain groups?