In the News: Coalition of Tech Companies and Academic Experts Launch Unprecedented Report to Transform DEI Outcomes within Tech Industry, 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.
 
 

In this issue, you will find:


 

NCWIT in the News

 

ACT Report Circle ThumbnailCoalition of Tech Companies and Academic Experts Launch Unprecedented Report to Transform Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Outcomes within Tech Industry

On October 28, 2021, a coalition of 29 leading diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) experts from academia and the tech industry released a new report, Action to Catalyze Tech (ACT), which calls on tech companies to commit to bold, collective action by open-sourcing DEI best practices, encouraging collaboration on systemic solutions, and increasing accountability to drive change. Convened by the Aspen Institute, NCWIT, PwC, and Snap Inc., a cross-industry working group partnered for over a year to aggregate relevant, research-based actions that businesses can take to help radically improve DEI outcomes. The ACT Report compiles this research in one place and provides a blueprint and tools for companies at all stages — from startups to mature organizations — to implement to drive internal and sector-wide change.

“Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion is more than a numbers game. True change occurs when company leaders remove the systemic biases and barriers to fostering inclusive organizational cultures,” said Lucy Sanders, CEO and Founder, NCWIT. “It is imperative that we continue to call upon tech companies to take action, and contribute to making the tech industry a more accurate reflection of a broad society.”

Read the full press release here. And, learn how to implement the The ACT Report recommendations: https://ncwit.org/CatalyzeTech.


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New NCWIT Resources

 
  • Meeting Of The Minds Circle ThumbHow To Best Prepare Teaching Assistants (TA) To Foster Inclusivity in Computer Science Classrooms [Webinar Replay] // https://ncwit.org/program/meeting-of-the-minds/ 

    The first installment of The Meeting of the Minds, a web-based discussion series hosted by the NCWIT Academic Alliance, featured Dr. Colleen Lewis, Associate Professor of Computer Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Dr. Scott Heggen, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Berea College; and Concepta Njolima, a recent Teaching-Assistant at Berea College while pursuing a BA in Computer and Information Systems and Support Services, and current Microsoft Explore Intern. This conversation took place on October 21, 2021.

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News on the Radar

 

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 https://ncwit.org/program/meeting-of-the-minds/. 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. Learn more: www.aspirations.org/AiCEduAward.

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. 


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NCWIT Opportunities

 

AiC TeardropSupport NCWIT Aspirations in Computing

Applications are now open for two NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Awards:

  • The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) honors 9th-12th grade women, genderqueer, and non-binary students for their computing-related achievements and interests, and the deadline to apply is November 5, 2021.
  • The AiC Educator 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 interests in computing and technology. The deadline to apply for the AiC Educator Award is December 6, 2021. Help NCWIT spread the word: aspirations.org/get-involved/spread-the-word-about-ncwit-aic-awards.
 

Building Partnerships with School Counselors and Librarians // November 9, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. MT

NCWIT and Infosys Foundation USA invite you to join us for a panel discussion with members of the NCWIT Counselors for Computing (C4C) program, where they will provide information and resources that help counselors, librarians, and other educators join the front line of the computing conversation. Listen in as counselors and librarians discuss what they are doing to bring programs together with professional development, knowledge, and resources to give all students access to transformative computing careers. By the end of this session, you will have learned how to better work with counselors and librarians to become a change leader for implementing computer science and gain the knowledge to educate parents, spark creativity in students, and illuminate a future they may have never considered. Learn more and register: https://ncwit.org/broadening-participation-in-computer-science-education/.


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