NCWIT Academic Alliance (AA) Newsletter: Fall 2021

NCWIT Academic Alliance

Our communities have faced many challenges throughout the past year and a half, in which a global pandemic has combined with the impacts of structural racism and other forms of inequity to push us, at times, to our limits. However, we believe that these difficult experiences have also provided us with a unique opportunity — a chance to reevaluate our current practices and explore alternative approaches that are more sustainable and just. As you balance your efforts to broaden participation in computing with the demands of work and home life, NCWIT seeks to support you, your colleagues, and your institutions as we reimagine and rebuild together.


Find strength through the solidarity of 2,600+ member representatives of the NCWIT Academic Alliance. Reach out; grab a cup of coffee (virtually or in person) with your fellow change leaders. You and your colleagues are a part of a growing movement — one that is working to rapidly change cultures and environments to become more inclusive, non-binary, and accessible. You are making waves by creating systemic change across multiple sectors — through your students, your research, and your departments. There are still challenges that lie ahead, but we are in this together. Continue to be the spark, and help others ignite.


Encourage your colleagues to participate with NCWIT by sharing this newsletter and encouraging them to become a fellow member representative for your institution by filling out this form.



In This Edition




How Does the Lack of Diversity in Tech Limit the Technologies We Use?

Technology products and services should serve all populations equitably, but unfortunately, this is not currently the case. Without diversity at the innovation table, technology will continue to be biased and limited. This PowerPoint slide deck includes relevant information and case studies, and you can download it for your own use.


View the slide deck here.


NCWIT Academic Alliance Mentoring Panel

Panel Photo Circle ThumbnailStudents often cite the importance of an individual faculty mentor whose support influenced their educational and career path. In May, NCWIT hosted a panel with the recipients of the 2021 NCWIT graduate and undergraduate mentoring awards. Panelists shared their experiences and offered tips for inclusive mentoring. The discussion included benefits for mentors and mentees, peer mentoring, managing the demands of mentoring, building relationships with mentees, and more.


View the recording here. And, view a handy list of mentoring resources here.



  • Dr. Barbara Ryder, Virginia Tech, 2021 NCWIT Harrold and Notkin Award Recipient
  • Dr. Diba Mirza, University of California (UC) Santa Barbara, 2021 NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research (MAUR) Recipient
  • Dr. Gloria Washington, Howard University, University of California (UC) Santa Barbara, 2021 NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research (MAUR) Recipient
  • Dr. Damla Turgut, University of Central Florida, 2021 NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research (MAUR) Recipient
  • Dr. Haiyan Cheng, Willamette University, 2021 NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research (MAUR) Recipient


  • Susan Rodger, Duke University, 2020 NCWIT Mentoring Award for Undergraduate Research (MAUR) Recipient


Free Academic Alliance Membership Poster

Announce your commitment to broadening participation in computing by displaying a free poster on your office door or on your department’s bulletin board. This is a simple way to inform your colleagues about NCWIT membership and point students towards NCWIT communities and networks available to them.


Sign up to receive a free hardcopy in your mailbox. Quantities are limited! Please request your copies no later than Friday, December 10, 2021.


Or, download a digital copy to print yourself or to share online.






Education for Everyone, Irrespective of Background: Ruminations from Academic Alliance Emeritus Co-Chair

Dr. Leen-Kiat Soh Photo Circle ThumbnailDr. Leen-Kiat Soh is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Nebraska, in Lincoln, and has been an advocate and volunteer to further broaden participation in computing through NCWIT for many years, notably as an Academic Alliance Co-Chair from 2018-2021. We thought it would be interesting to learn a few takeaways from this experience as well as to understand why the decision was made to volunteer with NCWIT.

“These experiences have shaped my belief that Computer Science (CS) is for all and I appreciate the importance of that. All students have the capacity to learn and acquire more effective and efficient problem-solving skills using CS concepts, methodologies, and programming. In my experience, CS allows for the practice of computational thinking more effectively and efficiently, and I agree with Jeannette Wing that 'computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone.' I have found that CS empowers students from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and abilities to succeed in today’s data-rich world.


One of the reasons that motivated me to participate in the NCWIT Academic Alliance and serve the alliance as a Co-Chair was to help broaden participation in computing. I was able to contribute by helping set the agenda for the alliance, to extend and improve the existing groundwork, and to inspire others to carry on the mission. The NCWIT Academic Alliance has generated many valuable resources, and most of all, it’s a community—where peers are willing to share and contribute with passion and commitment. I am glad that I was able to play a part in strengthening that community during those three years as a Co-Chair.”

Read Dr. Soh’s entire reflection.


Academic Alliance Co-Chairs serve three-year, staggered terms and meet one to two times per month with NCWIT staff. The Co-Chairs provide visionary direction and generously contribute their broad range of experiences to further the work of the Academic Alliance. You can contact the current AA Co-Chairs at


Celebrating and Reflecting On 16 Years of the Academic Alliance

Our new Academic Alliance Membership Coordinator Matt Muchna recently sat down with Kim Kalahar, who fulfilled that role from May 2007 to April 2020 and currently serves as the AA Awards Manager, to talk about the early days of the alliance and where the alliance stands now.


Read a transcript of their conversation.






NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC)

AiC Group Photo Circle ThumbnailNCWIT AiC changes what’s possible for women, genderqueer, or non-binary students in technology from K-12 through career by offering the kind of encouragement that combats isolation, enables long-term persistence, opens doors, and changes lives. AiC opportunities include exclusive awards, scholarships, internships, and a national network of peers:

  • Encourage students with a major or minor in a computing or engineering discipline to join the AiC Community where they can exchange ideas and advice with technical women who have many different interests, strengths, and connections; lead computing experiences that inspire the next generation and informally mentor others; and much more.

    The benefit of connecting with fellow students can be life-changing and at this key inflection point, those connections can make the difference between a lifetime career in computing or a changed degree program.

  • Encourage high school educators in your community to apply for the AiC Educator Award by December 6, 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 award recognizes these educators for their efforts to promote gender equity in computing.


Meeting of the Minds

Virtual Meeting Photo Circle ThumbnailThe Meeting of the Minds is a web-based discussion series, hosted by the NCWIT Academic Alliance. By bringing together experienced practitioners and evidence based research, the series takes on today’s largest broadening participation challenges in computer science.


If you missed the first session on October 21, “Preparing Teaching Assistants (TAs) to Foster Inclusivity in Computer Science Classrooms,” watch a partial recording here.


Stay tuned for future meetings: And, propose topic suggestions to the team at


NCWIT Communities of Practice: HigherEd ListServ

It is all too common to feel alone in our efforts to implement system-level change, unfortunately. But, one of the best ways to enact change is to collectively raise awareness and unite together. As outlined by the Wenger-Trayner model, “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”


The main way this community is communicating is via the NCWIT-HigherEd moderated group email list. From cross-pollinating recourses and award opportunities to new research and job opportunities, the NCWIT-HigherEd is a place for our membership to share their passion for broadening participation in computing.


Are you interested in joining the discussion? Join online. (Note: It is free and available to any individuals at Academic Alliance member institutions.)






The NCWIT Academic Alliance now has more than 650 member organizations with more than 2,600 individuals representing them. Find them all listed in this dynamic AirTable directory, and use the filter feature to find your neighbors!


We want to know more about our membership.
Previously, we have not tracked race/gender identities of our member representatives. Can you help us by updating your information for internal reporting purposes? Additionally, if you have changed your institution, department, or position since becoming a member representative of NCWIT, use this form to update your personal information. The form also provides space for you to share ideas about resources and programs.


Please complete the following questionnaire at your earliest convenience: Member Representative Information Form.


Questions? Email









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