Joanne McGrath Cohoon Service Award Nomination Call & FAQs

The Following FAQ is for NCWIT Academic Alliance’s 2023 Award Year

What is the Award?

The NCWIT Joanne McGrath Cohoon Service Award honors distinguished educators and staff who have effectively challenged and changed the systems that shape the experiences of women undergraduates in postsecondary computing programs. We seek nominees who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to and success in creating long-lasting systemic change that improves the environment for all postsecondary students who identify as women, with attention to practices or interventions that advance the diversity, equity, and inclusion of women from historically excluded groups. The nominee may be currently in the field or retired as we are looking at life-long work.  The award is given in memory of Dr. Cohoon’s outstanding research and advocacy work to broaden and enrich women’s participation in computing. For more information about Dr. Cohoon see below. The award includes a certificate and a $10,000 gift to the recipient’s institution thanks to the generous sponsorship of AT&T.

Who Is Eligible to Be Nominated?

  • Faculty members (any rank, tenurable or not) or staff members (of any gender identity) who have worked effectively to implement systemic change in postsecondary computing over the course of their career. 
  • Nominees must be employed at or retired from U.S. institutions that are current members of the NCWIT Academic Alliance. Verify organizational membership here: ncwit.org/aamembers. If the nominee’s institution is not yet a member, then a membership application must be completed  (ncwit.org/aamembershipform) by December 11, 2022. Note that all institutions of higher education are eligible for Academic Alliance membership if they have or are developing a computing-related program(s); membership is free to non-profit public and private institutions. 
  • Individuals can be nominated for work they have done at their current or previous institutions, or both.

What is the process?

  1. Nomination: Nominations are due October 30, 2022, at 11:59 PM MT via this online form: https://ncwit.org/Cohoon_Nomination. Self-nominations are welcome. The nominator will be asked to provide the following information on the form:
    • nominator’s name and email
    • nominee’s name, email, and homepage or bio URL
    • a short nominating statement (no more than 1000 characters) explaining why the individual should be considered for the award  
  2. Nomination notificationNominees will receive notification from the NCWIT Awards Manager that they have been nominated and invited to submit application materials by December 11, 2022 at 11:59 PM MT. If they do not submit their materials by the deadline, their nomination will not be considered.
  3. Application submission completed by the nominee:
    • Application Form: Nominee must complete the online form using 500 words or less to describe how they have contributed to implementing systemic change in their postsecondary computing program. They should describe how it has significantly improved the environment for students who identify as women, with attention to practices or interventions that advance the diversity, equity, and inclusion of women from historically excluded groups. Please see the NCWIT Systemic Change Model for Undergraduate Programs for examples of areas of potential impact. We encourage nominees to provide evidence of sustained impact across time. This can be within their institution(s) and external to their institution(s). The strongest applications will contain examples of impact beyond individual students and beyond the scope of a single program. The form may include links to external documents, webpages, and graphics, but please include brief descriptions of the additional materials in the form.
    • Two recommendations: Along with completion of the online 500 word application form, the nominee must submit the names and emails of two individuals who will be asked to recommend their nomination. Recommenders may be colleagues, peers, or institutional leaders, but not students. NCWIT will ask each valid recommender to submit written answers using 250 words or less to two short questions by January 15, 2023.
    • Deadlines: Both the online 500 word application form and names of recommenders are due December 11, 2022, 11:59 PM MT.
  4. Solicitation of recommendationsThe NCWIT Awards Manager will invite recommenders to provide answers to the following questions.
    • How do you know the nominee? (250 words or less)
    • Describe how the nominee has contributed to systemic and culture change at their current (and/or previous) institution to create an environment that is welcoming to students who identify as women, with attention to practices or interventions that advance the diversity, equity, and inclusion of women from historically excluded groups. Strong recommendations will vividly describe how this work has been sustained across time and has wide ranging impacts in the postsecondary space both at their institutions(s) and external to their institution(s) (e.g., is larger than one time-bound program and impacts culture or policy, not just individual students). Please see the NCWIT Systemic Change Model for Undergraduate Programs for examples of areas of potential impact. We encourage nominees to provide evidence of sustained impact, such as statistics over time, longevity of interventions, impact beyond your institution, embedded in departmental policies, practices, etc. You may include links to external documents, webpages, and graphics, but please include brief descriptions of the materials. (250 words or less)
    • Recommenders must complete their answers by January 15, 2023 11:59 PM MT.  
  5. Notification: Nominees will be notified in March 2023 of their status.

Where can I find online information about this NCWIT award?

Find online information at www.ncwit.org/joannecohoon

What if I still have questions?

Contact the NCWIT Academic Alliance Awards Manager, Kim Kalahar: academicawards@ncwit.org

Who was Joanne McGrath Cohoon?

Joanne McGrath Cohoon was a Professor of Science, Technology, and Society in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. She was also a founding research scientist for the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). In both positions, she employed perspectives and methods from sociology to study gender, technology, and education. A core finding of Joanne’s research was that departmental factors affected the gender balance in computing. In the late 1990s, Joanne conducted the first large-scale study that identified departmental cultures as the source of women’s high attrition from undergraduate CS. Prior to this, gender characteristics of individual women dominated the empirical landscape of women in computing, focusing on deficiency characteristics like sex role socialization, mathematical ability, and others. Based on her first study, Joanne set out to understand whether the departmental factors were different for CS as compared to a major with many more women. She designed a mixed-methods study comparing CS and biology/life sciences faculty in 46 departments at the same institutions to compare their attrition rates, departmental settings, practices, and attitudes toward women. Joanne found that women are retained at similar rates to men in departments with less faculty turnover, when faculty had more positive attitudes toward women in their field, and where faculty believed they were important to student success and took action through mentoring and encouraging students. These findings were applied in NCWIT’s Extension Services program, in which departments undertake systemic change efforts. Joanne later focused on gendered experiences in computing graduate programs and designed the Tapestry program to leverage the reach and influence of high school teachers for diversifying computing. Joanne was persistent and immensely creative; and she deeply appreciated the people who influenced and supported her. Joanne cared deeply about her family. In a story of her career progression presented at the Grace Hopper Conference for her Abie Award, she insisted that it include photos of her grandparents, her wedding photo with husband Jim, and two photos of her children. She was a delightful colleague and we miss her.

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