News on the Radar: 10/31/2018

Here is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT's radar recently and which we think will be of interest to you. The practices or content of the news gathered (while not endorsed or vetted by NCWIT) is meant to spark new conversations and ideas surrounding the current diversity statistics and trends in the tech workforce. We encourage you to add your two cents on this month's topics in the comments below.

Departments are Boosting Women Student Retention

Did you know that NCWIT Extension Services Transformation (NEXT) Award recipients utilize NCWIT Extension Services (ES) research-based approaches and resources for recruiting and retaining women that focus on creating culture change within educational systems, not on changing women to fit these systems?

In part one of a three-part series published on EdScoop, several NEXT Award recipients share their positive outcomes, resulting from core curriculum changes that focus on collaborative learning, a “flipped classroom” model, and more.

“Students are able to learn more quickly than through traditional methods and experience reduced frustration,” says Alison Norman, an associate professor of computer science at University of Texas at Austin.

Read the full EdScoop publication to find out what other NEXT Award recipients like UT Austin are doing, including Michigan State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. And, follow NCWIT on Facebook and Twitter each #TransformationTuesday for examples of inspirational progress by even more NEXT Award recipients.

Want to work towards your goals of increasing women applicants, acceptances, enrollments, and graduates in your computing department? Explore the components of an effective strategic plan by interacting with the NCWIT Postsecondary Systemic Change Model online.

Increasing Numbers for Women of Color Starts with Gathering Data

Did you know that stats on women’s underrepresentation in the computing industry is especially concerning for women of color? As highlighted in last month’s announcement of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition launch, 26 percent of the computing workforce in 2017 were women, and less than 10 percent were women of color:

  • 5 percent were Asian
  • 3 percent were African-American
  • 1 percent were Hispanic

“As technology’s role in society grows, so does the urgency of diversifying the tech sector,” says Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a passionate supporter for women in tech.

Does your company know its numbers? As outlined in Section 5 of the “NCWIT Women in IT: The Facts” report, one of the first steps in creating a company’s strategic plan should be to gather data on the current state of diverse participation. In general, this involves:

  • collecting demographic data on relevant metrics in your company — e.g., disaggregating technical from non-technical roles; data on what kinds of technical roles (creative vs. support) women and other underrepresented employees hold
  • comparing and contrasting these data with national and international benchmarks
  • conducting a climate analysis to collect experiential data about employee perceptions of the current environment

Developing a diverse workforce needs to be treated like any other critical business concern. Ensuring data transparency and accountability is only one important part of taking a systemic change approach. Identify and address the other key factors that affect women’s participation in computing with the help of The Facts report.

The Reboot Representation Tech Coalition is housed at NCWIT and founded with the support of Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company founded by Melinda Gates. All funds from the tech companies will go directly to efforts that engage underrepresented women of color.

CS Is for Everyone, yet Many Feel Like It Is Not for Them

Did you know that while schools across the country and around the world are working to increase access to quality CS education, too many students — especially girls, Black, Latino, and Native American youth — feel like it’s not for them? As a result, the whole world misses out on the diverse perspectives needed to fuel innovation and drive change.

The newly published “Computer Science Is for Everyone” toolkit offers insights and guidance to help adult influencers ensure that all young people understand the value of a CS education, and feel welcomed and empowered to succeed. After all, “Closing the gender gap isn’t up to the students alone. It’s up to us — to change our behaviors, strategies and systems so that these classes and careers reflect the diversity in our communities,” says NCWIT Senior Research Scientist Dr. Brad McLain.

One insight in the “CS Is for Everyone” toolkit, released to coincide with the 2018 CSforALL Summit, suggests encouraging a “growth mindset” by treating questions, discovery, and even failure as positive parts of the learning process. Such effective feedback gives students information they can actually use to increase their learning and improve their performance (NCWIT Tips: 8 Ways to Give Students More Effective Feedback Using a Growth Mindset).

Want more practical recommendations? See Section 3 of the “NCWIT Girls in IT: The Facts” report for actions that teachers, school counselors, administrators/curriculum decision-makers, and others can take as change leaders for making computing more inclusive.