News on the Radar: 10/27/21

Here is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT’s radar recently and which we think will be of interest to you. The practices or content of the news gathered (while not endorsed or vetted by NCWIT) is meant to spark new conversations and ideas surrounding the current diversity statistics and trends in the tech workforce. We encourage you to add your two cents on this month’s topics in the comments below.

Did you know that women are still underrepresented at the CEO level — but there are many ways to help?

This October, the Women Business Collaborative, along with NCWIT Affinity Alliance Member Catalyst and other organizations, released a new report on Women CEOs in America. The report draws on data from the Fortune 500 and 1000, S&P, Russell 3000, and private companies in order to present a comprehensive look at women running public and private companies, including startups, across all industries. While the number of women CEOs is at an all-time high, the percentages of women in executive roles are not representative of society as a whole: women currently hold 8.2 percent of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies and 7.3 percent in the Fortune 1000. This lack of representation is an issue for businesses because, as the authors of the report note, “There is an established – and growing – body of evidence that when women are in top leadership positions, companies outperform in everything from financials to a healthy culture to the war for talent.”

The report also highlights ten “accelerators” shown to help raise the numbers of diverse women in leadership “at an increasingly rapid rate.” Several of these suggested practices focus on generating greater support for women executives among board members, stakeholders, majority-group allies, and other sponsors within the organization. As the authors explain, “True sponsors use their influence, network, and credibility to create a path of upward mobility for women.” They also note that two-thirds of the women executives in this study “said they never realized they could become CEO until a boss or mentor encouraged them.” Other accelerators include ensuring that executives of all genders are equitably compensated; actively seeking out and including diverse women in leadership pipelines; and supporting “organizations focused on position, pay, and power for all women.”

NCWIT offers many resources for supervisors and others who want to help more women advance to leadership positions within their companies. These toolkits and resource collections are a great place to start:

Did you know that TAs can play an important role in fostering inclusive learning environments?

On October 21, the NCWIT Academic Alliance launched a new web-based discussion series called The Meeting of the Minds. The inaugural conversation explored recommendations for preparing teaching assistants (TAs) to foster inclusivity in computing classrooms. In addition to offering an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to share their own experiences and promising practices, the session also featured a panel of speakers including both faculty and TA perspectives: Associate Professor of Computer Science Dr. Colleen Lewis, Associate Professor of Computer Science Dr. Scott Heggen, and Computer Science TA Concepta Njolima. The speakers cited a variety of reasons why it is important to equip undergraduate TAs to foster inclusive cultures, including creating an educational environment in which students with diverse backgrounds and levels of experience are all valued as participants; preventing TAs from unconsciously committing microaggressions against students; and enabling students to feel comfortable seeking support from TAs. 

All three panelists emphasized the importance of empowering TAs to see themselves as leaders within their campus community. Heggen explained that in his department, lead TAs are encouraged to “own the program, build it out, and learn from the students who are in the program what they need at that time,” so that students “drive where the program goes,” with support from faculty. Njolima expressed that one of the most impactful elements of the TA program she was a part of was the role TAs had as collaborators with faculty and their ability to communicate students’ concerns and needs to decision makers within the department. Lewis also noted that when designing a curriculum on inclusion for TAs, one of her goals was to “help undergraduate TAs see themselves as leaders in the community” and “as champions for diversity, and see this as part of their role and responsibility in creating an inclusive classroom.”

If you missed this session, or if you’d like to review the resources and ideas that were shared, you can find a recording at This is also where upcoming sessions will be announced. 

Looking to start — or revitalize — an inclusion-focused program for TAs at your institution? These NCWIT resources can help:

Did you know that computing educators come from a wide range of backgrounds?

This month, the CSTA Stories blog featured two of the 2021 NCWIT National Educator Award recipients, Angela DeHart and Melody Hagaman, sharing about their unique journeys as computing educators. 

Angela DeHart first started bringing computing concepts into her classes while she was a middle school Family and Consumer Science (FACS, aka Home Economics) teacher. “I started teaching FACS with STEM in mind,” she writes. For example, she incorporated electrical circuits and micro:bits into classes on textiles. As she explored more ways to introduce students to programming, she started an after-school coding club for girls and became a robotics coach. Though she didn’t have a background in computer science, she sought out professional development opportunities for herself and encouraged her students to share their own knowledge as peer educators. Today, the after-school program she started “has grown from a single middle school to a multi-state organization and now, with the support of Zoom, into a nonprofit with international members.” Read DeHart’s story here

Melody Hagaman didn’t start out as a computing teacher, either. However, before she jumped into that subject area, she had the benefit of attending the University of Virginia’s Tapestry program, a professional development program that emphasizes research-based strategies for improving equity in computing education. The things she learned in Tapestry helped her to keep going when she encountered challenges along the way, because she realized, “This was bigger than me: offering CS to every student and making sure they had a fair chance to enjoy it without stereotype threat or bias was my all-consuming mission.” Today, Hagaman tells other teachers that it’s OK if they don’t know all of the programming languages before they start teaching computing classes; they can learn as they go and model the process of discovery for their students. What teachers “really must be experts in,” she says, “is how to provide a safe and inviting place for all students to fall in love with CS. This is the single most important part of our jobs.” Read Hagaman’s story here.

(Stay tuned for the third installment in the series: a post by 2021 NCWIT National Educator Award Recipient Philip Peavy!)

Did you know that the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award is now open for applications? This award identifies exemplary formal and informal educators who play a pivotal role in encouraging 9th-12th grade women, genderqueer, or non-binary students to explore their interest in computing and technology, and recognizes these educators for their efforts to promote gender equity in computing. Go here to learn more.

NCWIT also has many resources to help educators bring more computing into the classroom, no matter what subject they teach. In Enrich PK-8 Computing Education, find a wealth of ideas for exposing young learners to technology and helping students of all genders and backgrounds discover an interest in computing. The Computer Science Professional Development Guide is designed to help schools and districts empower educators to expand computing offerings through strategic approaches to professional development. 

Scroll to Top