In the News: 2016-17 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards, CSforAll, Back to School in Full Swing, and More

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This newsletter provides a monthly recap of the biggest headlines about women and computing, news about NCWIT, and links to resources to equip you as change leaders for increasing women’s participation in technology. Practices or content of the news presented are not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.

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2016-17 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards

Applications are open for the 2016-17 NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards for high school students, educators, and college students! To help spread the word about the 2016-17 Aspirations in Computing Awards, utilize this sharing package — full of detailed information on prizes, eligibilities, and deadlines, as well as sample messaging for social media and publications.

  • The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing honors high school women who are active and interested in computing and technology, and encourages them to pursue their passions. This multi-tiered competition includes recognition at the national and local levels, serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and all U.S. overseas military bases.
  • The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award publicly celebrates educators who encourage high school women’s interest and participation in technology pursuits. Educator Award recipients form a national community of peers, share practices, and empower other educators to encourage the participation of women in computing.
  • The NCWIT Collegiate Award honors the outstanding technical accomplishments of college women of any year of study. Conferred annually, the NCWIT Collegiate Award recognizes technical contributions to projects that demonstrate a high level of creativity and potential impact.

The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program is supported nationally by Apple, AT&T, Bank of America, Bloomberg, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm, and the Symantec Corporation.


Nearly nine months ago in his final State of the Union, President Obama announced the historic Computer Science for All initiative. The White House hosted a #CSforAll Summit to mark progress and to celebrate ongoing commitments in support of this initiative.

During the Summit, CSNYC also announced the launch of the CSforAll Consortium website to serve as a hub for families, schools, and districts looking for resources that match their needs, including content by grade level and target audience. The site will help connect members of the national CS education community, provide an avenue for disseminating their work, and track our collective progress toward the goal of providing every student with the opportunity to learn computing. NCWIT is a member of the CSforAll Consortium steering committee, alongside the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM),, The College Board, and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA).

Back to School in Full Swing

The 2016-17 school season is now in session! A new school year marks another opportunity to create change in computing education and to try a new approach when it comes to engaging and inspiring students to choose computing pathways that will lead them to create the best technological innovations of tomorrow, today.

In the spirit of #BackToSchool, NCWIT, Sit With Me, the Technolochicas, and the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Team recently featured a variety of NCWIT resources and programs focused on recruiting and retaining undergraduate women in computing. These resources and programs work to increase the number of girls and women in tech by using strategies such as designing inclusive environments, engaging underrepresented students, and discussing stereotype threat with faculty. Here is a sampling of what was included:

To view hundreds of more free resources to help change leaders reach their various goals, you can visit our website here, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

NCWITatGHCWe’re Headed to Hopper!

NCWIT will attend this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. It is produced by NCWIT Affinity Group Alliance Member Anita Borg Institute and presented in partnership with ACM.

So, where can you find us? Throughout the duration of the conference, NCWIT will staff Booth #2103 at the GHC Career Fair where attendees can pick up swag and resources, and learn more about ways in which NCWIT can help their change-leading efforts. There will also be great networking opportunities with NCWIT members throughout various sessions, including an NCWIT member reception. Click here for more detailed information on what we’re doing and where we’ll be.

News on the Radar

Density vs. Size in the STEM Labor Market

A study led by Dartmouth College, recently mentioned in Science Daily, examined how economic geography, specifically a labor market’s size and density, may affect job matching for STEM workers. The study also looked at whether or not the same effects played out across labor markets for women and other minorities.

The study found that STEM workers are more likely to find jobs in dense STEM labor markets (e.g. Seattle) rather than in large STEM labor markets (e.g. New York), and that when it comes to STEM job matching, women and minorities are indeed better matched in STEM clusters.

It also noted that while women and STEM graduates of color have better luck at finding jobs in a more dense workforce, it hardly improves their matching prospects relative to white men. “Given that this analysis focused on only one aspect of STEM employment — job matching across the entire category of STEM, unpacking the geography of STEM jobs will surely only further complicate the landscape of an already variable employment terrain,” says lead author Richard Wright, a professor at Dartmouth College.

Collecting baseline data, gathering demographic data within a company and then comparing that data on a national level, is one of two key components for increasing the meaningful participation of women and other underrepresented groups in computing, as outlined in NCWIT’s Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing a Diverse Technical Workforce.

Shaking HandsNew Partnership Increases STEM Opportunities for All Students

The Washington Post recently highlighted a new partnership between Academic Alliance Member Virginia Tech and Sustaining Partner Qualcomm that has resulted in a new Thinkabit lab, a STEM-focused learning classroom, on the university’s campus. The initiative will expose and engage students as young as middle schoolers to STEM. According to Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands, in the future every degree from Virginia Tech will involve STEM “one way or another.”

“We want every student to have that experience working in large teams and solving complex problems,” said Sands, who wants to encourage Virginia Tech students to collaborate across disciplines and participate in projects together.

This initiative draws on several research-based practices, such as hands-on experience and engaging curriculum. NCWIT’s Promising Practices: How Do You Introduce Computing in an Engaging Way shows how you can engage students not already drawn to computing by creating academic and social environments where these students feel like they belong.

How to Increase the Visibility of Female Employees

In the Harvard Business Review, Clayman Institute for Gender Research Directors Shelley Correll and Lori Mackenzie discuss how tech companies are failing to retain their female employees, especially women at the senior level. A study from the Center for Talent Innovation finds that 56 percent of technical women leave their organizations at the mid-level points and that the quit rate is more than twice as high for women as it is for men. So, what can companies do to deter their departure? “One critical, but overlooked strategy: Make sure that women have the right kind of visibility within the organization,” said Shelley and Lori.

Chapter six of Women in Tech: The Facts provides a systemic change model on how industries can improve the recruitment, retainment, and advancement of female employees. The model focuses on five areas including:

  • subtle biases in everyday interaction
  • recruitment and selection
  • employee development
  • performance evaluation and promotion
  • support for competing life responsibilities

Chapter six also provides tips for addressing each focus area, such as establishing a “growth mindset” among employees to create inclusive environments and making it more likely for employees to develop their full potential. Additionally, NCWIT’s Top 10 Ways Managers Can Increase the Visibility of Technical Women and Top 10 Ways Successful Technical Women Increase Their Visibility offer multiple suggestions that highly successful women and their managers can use in order to increase their visibility throughout the company, industry, and technical community.

It Takes a Village to Prepare Kids for STEM

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and President of Broadcom Foundation Paula Golden believes the same phrase applies to preparing kids for 21st century STEM jobs. In a recent blog on the Huffington Post, Paula discussed how it will take an “ecosystem to effectively move the needle” in children’s STEM education.

“At present, there are currently over 35 robust STEM ecosystems intentionally connecting formal and informal STEM learning stakeholders looking to impart STEM knowledge to kids of all ages. These ecosystems are dedicated to achieving collective impact by bringing STEM education everywhere young people spend their days, evenings, and weekends…” said Paula.

Increasing girls’ (and boys’) participation in STEM requires multiple kinds of change agents taking a multi-faceted approach — be it a policymaker, a teacher, a parent, etc. The model in section 3, page 40 of NCWIT’s Girls in IT: The Facts report depicts the key areas where systemic change is needed and the key participants who can effect this change.

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