What to Do After Releasing Diversity Data, Community Colleges and the STEM Pipeline, Transgender Access to Tech, School Teachers’ Bias

What to Do After Releasing Diversity Data

NCWIT Senior Research Scientist Dr. Catherine Ashcraft authored a recent Fast Company article entitled, “10 Actionable Ways to Actually Increase Diversity in Tech.” The topic of diversity in tech has been making headlines of late, with many large companies releasing their diversity data. However, Dr. Ashcraft noticed that few of the articles on this subject deal with the steps companies can take after they release their statistics. She suggests, “Involve ‘majority-group’ members in change efforts. Increasing representation is not a ‘women’s issue’ or a ‘person of color’s issue.’ It is a human issue and a business issue.”

The article points to a new NCWIT resource related to this topic: “Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing a Diverse Technical Workforce: Data Collection and Strategic Planning Guidelines.” One helpful reminder from this resource is, “It is important that companies take a systematic or ‘ecosystem’ approach to these change efforts. Isolated or piecemeal efforts are not enough for sustained change.”

Community Colleges and the STEM Pipeline

In a recent Quartz article entitled, “How Community Colleges Will Help Fill One Million Jobs in the U.S.,” Gloria Kim, Clinical Associate Professor at Northwestern University, wrote, “Community colleges, with more than 1,655 institutions nationwide, are an untapped STEM talent pipeline, especially for underrepresented minorities. The majority of these schools are public institutions, and 62% of them have an open admissions policy.” She further argues that community college can help with diversity issues in the technology workforce. “Nationally, 50% of Hispanic and 31% of African American students enroll in a community college as their first post-secondary institution.”

With tips like, “Take a variety of math, technology, and computer science classes,” NCWIT’s poster, “A Lucrative, Secure Computing Career: Community College Can Take You There,” is an ideal tool to share with a student considering community college. The easy-to-use flowchart includes experiences unique to community colleges and some of the high-paying technical careers students can pursue with two-year degrees. Community colleges play an important role in educating the computer workforce and can lead to careers in environmental engineering, web development, and computer support.

Transgender Access to Tech

Earlier this month, Fast Company published an article entitled, “The Startup That’s Battling to Open Tech to Transgender People.” Written by Melissa Jun Rowley, the article profiles Angelica Ross, the CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, a Chicago-based startup that works to “empower and employ members of the trans community through apprenticeships in graphic design and web development, which allow telecommuting opportunities.” In her interview, Ross explains, "I wanted to create an environment that’s similar to the workforce without all the harassment and discrimination, a place where people know how to respect your gender identity.”

NCWIT has a number of resources about gender diversity in the workplace and, specifically, unconscious bias. As Rowley explains in her article, “Ross says the biggest misconception about members of the trans community is that they are mentally unstable and can only be entertainment.” Learning to identify hidden roadblocks is an important step towards hiring a diverse and talented team. NCWIT’s first interactive video, “Unconscious Bias and Why It Matters for Women in Tech,” is a great tool to get you started on this subject.

School Teachers’ Bias

The New York Times recently published an article titled, “How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science.” The article describes a new study called, “On The Origins of Gender Human Capital Gaps: Short and Long Term Consequences of Teachers' Stereotypical Biases.” According to the article, math teachers “overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls,’ and that this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects.” The article’s author, Claire Cane Miller, concludes, “The girls who had been discouraged by their elementary school teachers were much less likely than the boys to take advanced courses.”

NCWIT has a number of resources that teachers can use to make sure that they’re encouraging, and not discouraging, their students. Effective feedback should give students information they can use to increase their learning and should spark additional interest from students. NCWIT’s resource, “8 Ways to Give Students More Effective Feedback Using a Growth Mindset,” provides a great jumping-off point to incorporate effective feedback into your teaching style.