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.
Alabama Selected as First Region to Benefit from Multi-Million Dollar Digital Skills Education Grant Received by the National Center for Women & Information Technology
This summer, NCWIT launched a new nationwide digital skills education program and technology awareness campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. This multi-year initiative, designed to increase the number of women pursuing computer science degrees and technical skills in the southeastern United States, is made possible by a $4.1 million grant by the Cognizant U.S. Foundation in December 2018.
Birmingham was selected as the launch site based on several criteria, including educational infrastructure, technical ecosystem, community support and demand, and city leadership. By year-end 2019, grant-funded initiatives in Alabama powered by NCWIT will include AspireIT educational programs for middle school, high school, and college women; Counselors for Computing training opportunities for professional school counselors, and Aspirations in Computing Community scholarship, internship, and networking opportunities.
NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Community Member Launches Magazine for Young Women in STEM
Reinvented Magazine, founded by AiC Community Member Caeley Looney, is the nation’s first print magazine to be dedicated solely to young women who aspire to be scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians. Looney, who holds a degree in Aerospace Engineering and works full time as a Mission Analyst for Harris Corporation, recruited a team of volunteers from the Aspirations in Computing online community to help her bring her idea to fruition. Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the first print issue of the magazine is scheduled for release in August 2019. For a sample of the magazine’s content, go here.
This summer, NCWIT released a host of new, research-backed resources to support you in your efforts to increase diversity in computing:
Bridging the Encouragement Gap in Computing // www.ncwit.org/PracticingEncouragement
There is consensus among researchers that encouragement matters and plays a critical role in engaging more young women and girls in computing. This resource provides key highlights from published research studies, and follow-up tips on practicing encouragement.
Colorism Bias in the Tech Industry // www.ncwit.org/Colorism
Over the past decade, many institutions and organizations are becoming more aware of how unconscious and overt bias leads to uneven access, recruitment, and retention of individuals in computing along race and gender lines. Building on this awareness, it is important to call attention to a lesser known, but equally challenging, form of bias that can be an added barrier for women and girls of color to achieving equity in computing: color bias or “colorism.”
Guide to Inclusive Computer Science Education: How Educators can Encourage and Engage All Students in Computer Science // www.ncwit.org/InclusiveCSWebinar
How can library staff attract girls to their coding and maker programs? This webinar by NCWIT Senior Research Scientist Lecia Barker and Homer, Alaska Youth Services Librarian Claudia Haines describes reasons girls may shy away from these programs and gives some practical advice for identifying and engaging target audiences and their influencers.
Inclusive Environmental Assessment Guide // www.ncwit.org/InclusiveEnvironment
The design and décor of the physical spaces where people work contain signals about who does and who does not belong there. This resource was developed to help identify both inclusive and exclusive characteristics of the physical environment (workplace, office, campus department, etc.) in order to make changes that increase the sense of belonging for a broader range of people.
NCWIT Scorecard: The Status of Women in Computing [2019 Update] // www.ncwit.org/scorecard
The NCWIT Scorecard shows trends in girls’ and women’s participation in computing in the U.S. over time, providing a benchmark for measuring progress and identifying areas for improvement.
Performance Evaluation Toolkit // www.ncwit.org/PerformanceEval-Toolkit
Research shows that even individuals who consider themselves committed to equality still engage in unconscious forms of bias and discrimination that negatively affect the evaluations and experiences of women and other underrepresented groups at work. These resources give you the tools to identify and avoid bias in performance evaluations.
Set Up a Mentoring Culture for Graduate Students: Roles of Faculty and Peers // www.ncwit.org/peer-and-faculty-mentors
Mentoring programs are an excellent way to support graduate students’ sense of belonging in the local intellectual community and help them move forward in their professional careers. Everyone benefits from mentoring, including the mentors themselves, especially when both mentors and mentees are fully committed to the relationship.
Task Assignment Toolkit // www.ncwit.org/taskassignment
Task assignment is a key area where bias emerges, exacerbating workplace inequity. Research shows that women and members of other underrepresented groups are less likely to receive high-value, high-visibility, or stretch assignments, and these patterns can lead to low job satisfaction and higher turnover rates. The tips in this resource will help supervisors root out bias and reduce this key barrier to fostering diverse, inclusive, and thriving teams.
You Can Actively Recruit a Diverse Range of Girls into High School Computing Classes: A Workbook for High School Teachers // www.ncwit.org/HSTeacherWorkbook
This workbook will help educators and influencers understand the research-based reasons why a diverse range of girls are less likely to take computing courses in high school. High school teachers are provided with actionable recommendations for creating recruiting and outreach interventions that work.
Why is Gender Diversity Important to the Field of Computing?
NCWIT CEO and Co-Founder Lucy Sanders answers this question, and others, on Quora: www.ncwit.org/quora!
Gender-balanced and gender-diverse technology organizations and departments: perform better financially, particularly when women occupy a significant proportion of top management positions, demonstrate superior team dynamics and productivity, produce work teams that stay on schedule and under budget, and demonstrate improved employee performance. (See “What is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance? Research Summary” for a comprehensive review of current research on gender-diverse teams, including strategies to maximize the potential benefits of gender diversity on technical teams available at www.ncwit.org/businesscase.)
Gender diversity expands the qualified employee pool. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that by 2026 there will be nearly 3.5 million computing-related job openings available in the U.S. We can only fill 17 percent of those jobs with U.S. computing bachelor’s degree recipients by 2026. We are not taking advantage of our diverse population. The industry is failing to attract this talent. (See “By the Numbers” for more compelling statistics on women’s participation in computing available at www.ncwit.org/bythenumbers.)
Gender diversity also promotes equity. With technology playing an increasingly crucial role in all of our lives, having more people from different backgrounds participate in its creation can help break down gender and racial economic inequalities. Increasingly, non-IT jobs require deep knowledge of computing as well. A computing major or minor provides a versatile skill set that crosses disciplines and is essential in today’s information economy.
Additionally, gender diversity reflects the customer base. Most companies serve a variety of people, so it makes sense then to have a variety of intelligent, skilled people working on services and products.
Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. The heart of Quora is questions — questions that affect the world, questions that explain recent world events, and more. Quora’s answers come from people who really understand the issues and have first-hand knowledge.
Check out the candid, engaging answers from Lucy Sanders, and upvote and share your favorites: www.ncwit.org/quora!