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 companies can work with postsecondary institutions to improve DEI outcomes?
In response to increasing public pressure to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion within their industry, many tech companies have taken the approach of directing funds toward educational institutions as a way of increasing the number of people of color in the tech career pipeline. A recent article by Dwana Franklin-Davis and Kinnis Gosha, published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, argues that while such an approach can be useful, the allocation of funds needs to be refined for greater effectiveness. In 2017, the authors note, “only 3 percent of the tech industry’s philanthropic dollars went toward college-level computer science programs, while 66 percent went to programs in K-12 schools.” This distribution, they assert, is out of balance. For example, while many K-12 schools require long-term investment to build computing programs from scratch, colleges with established computing programs can “help meet a key demand for DEI: urgency.” The authors suggest that partnering with higher education institutions to rapidly increase the numbers of people from currently underrepresented groups in the tech industry can help “move more of us closer to equity.”
The article offers several suggestions for companies that want to pursue partnerships with postsecondary institutions, including reaching out to schools with diverse student populations; collaborating with schools when planning initiatives so that investments meet specific local needs; and “investing in programs that provide soft skills that help students cope with the non-technical challenges of being underrepresented members of a challenging industry.”
NCWIT has many research-based resources to support change-leading efforts in both corporate and academic environments. Here are some resources that can help companies work with postsecondary institutions:
- Learn more about universities and colleges working to increase racial and gender equity in tech education. With more than 600 member institutions, the NCWIT Academic Alliance is a great way to find and connect with undergraduate and graduate computing programs that are doing this work. Allies in the tech workplace can start by joining the NCWIT HigherEd Community of Practice. Any employee of an NCWIT member organization is welcome to join! Contact email@example.com for more information on NCWIT HigherEd and how to support the work of colleges and universities.
- As the authors of this article recommend, don’t assume you know what colleges and universities need. Before starting conversations with higher ed institutions, educate yourself about recommended practices for recruiting and retaining college students in tech. Then, be prepared to listen and learn about the specific needs and challenges of your new collegiate partners. The NCWIT Scorecard is a good place to start learning about the current state of representation in collegiate computing programs. And, conversation two of The Color of Our Future Online Conversation Series, Black Women in Postsecondary Computing Education, offers additional insight into the specific challenges facing Black women, both students and faculty, in higher education institutions.
- Recruitment is moot if you can’t retain. Don’t put the onus for change on underrepresented group members; technical leaders need to take responsibility for changing their own cultures. Employees report that the supervisory relationship is one of the most significant factors in their decision to leave or stay with an organization. The NCWIT Supervising-in-a-Box series includes several resources for addressing both unconscious bias and institutional barriers to inclusion and equity in the workplace.
Did you know that the NCWIT Counselors for Computing webinar series, Advising for Future-Ready Careers, offers information for K-12 computing educators?
Advising for Future-Ready Careers is a webinar series hosted by NCWIT Counselors for Computing (C4C) with support from the Department of Defense STEM (DoD STEM). The six-part series originally aired live via Zoom each month from February through July, 2021 and is now available for viewing on the NCWIT website. The series explores numerous topics of interest to computing educators, counselors, advisors, and those who are preparing for a career in computing education. Guest speakers for the series include members of the Aspirations in Computing Community and TECHNOLOchicas Ambassadors, as well as educators, counselors, and researchers who share their expertise.
Topics covered in the webinar series include:
- Connecting 21st Century Skills and Educational Pathways, featuring AiC Community Members Anesha and Annika Santhanam, Founders and CEOs of the Likeable STEM learning platform
- What Make an App Addicting, featuring TECHNOLOchicas Ambassador Carissa Lintao, Founder and CEO of Apptuitive, an award-winning app store optimization agency
- Careers in Cybersecurity, featuring Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach at Cyber.org, and AiC Community Member Samina Mondal, Founder of Cyberweek.org
- Accessibility + Computer Science, featuring educators Ruth Kyle and Tom Kyle, along with a panel of computing students
- Ethics and Computing, featuring Jess Smith, a PhD student at the University of Colorado whose work focuses on ethics in the field of machine learning and AI
- Reinventing STEAM, featuring Aerospace Engineers and Reinvented Magazine Board Members Caeley Looney, Aly Trevino, and Rachel Weeks, all of whom are also members of the Aspirations in Computing Community
Recordings of all six webinars can be accessed here.
There are many ways computing teachers and school counselors can work together to make computing programs more inclusive and equitable. This resource suggests some ways in which counselors and other educators can collaborate to help students of all genders and backgrounds get involved in computing. For example, educators can share sample lessons or projects from their classes with counselors to help them get a better sense of the kinds of things students will learn in these courses, so that counselors, in turn, can be better equipped to recruit students who might be interested. Counselors, on the other hand, can review school schedules to ensure that there are no structural obstacles to students’ enrollment in computing classes. Find the full list of ideas, plus a downloadable slide deck, here.