2013 NCWIT Summit - Orientation

August 15, 2013

 [music 00:05]

Lucy Sanders:  Good afternoon everybody and welcome. I'm Lucy Sanders. I'm the CEO of the National Center for Women and Information Technology, or NCWIT. I'm very happy to be providing this brief orientation for you about NCWIT.

I think we have about 200 people RSVP'd for this. We also have an audience at home. Thanks to Turner Broadcasting we are live streaming this orientation session. Please text, tweet and tell your friends to tune in. We're really trying hard to build our remote audience for this.

This orientation is going to go by really fast. We only have 30 minutes. I'm going to try to do 20 minutes of information at warp speed. Those of you, who know me, know that is really fast.

We're going to try to leave some time for questions at the end, and hopefully we'll get to some. Then if you have any other questions, please do catch me at a break, or some other time and we'll go through them.

I want to thank you all for coming and caring about girls and women and computing. It's a very, very important topic. I know it matters to all of you or you wouldn't be here. I know it matters to all the people at home or they wouldn't be listening to this.

Women really do matter to computing, and the stakes right now really could not be higher. We know, for example, that women make a large percentage of purchase decisions, that's not any different for technology products and services. It really only makes sense that women should help design and create those technology products and services.

We also know that there are a large number of unfilled jobs in computing and IT, and women should fill those jobs. They're high paying, fast growing jobs, and they should fill those jobs. Further, we know from research that women add to the collective intelligence of any group that they're a part of.

This is no different than any technical design groups, women should be part, they should be at the table. They should be designing the technology products and services upon which our world depends. Finally, when women participate in the technology workforce, their businesses thrive and grow.

We face a challenge, though, and I know you all know this. It's a full pipeline challenge in this country, concerning girls and women and computing. It starts in high school, where girls make up about 19 percent of all the computer science AP test takers.

It extends into the post secondary space, where women get about 18 percent of all computing and information sciences systems top four year degrees, and into the technology workforce where technical women leave their private sector tech jobs at a rate of 56 percent by mid‑career and that is twice the quit rate of men.

I'm sure many of you are thinking well, why is this? What is going on here that could cause this kind of not just a lack of participation, but declining participation. Women's participation in computing was at an all‑time high in the late '80s, and has been declining ever since.

At the time that technology boomed, women started to leave. This is something that is sometimes baffling to us. I would say this. Here are the main reasons that you can think about. We don't have time to go through them all, but you'll be hearing about pieces of this as you wander around the summit and go to the different sessions.

First of all, we face a policy problem in our country. Computer Science is not taught in our middle school or high school and where it is, it is not taught very well. We have a lot of policy work to do. We have a lot of public education work to do.

Young people both men and women are not exposed to computing as a discipline, as a young person. They also enter college not even knowing what the discipline is.

Finally, we have a lot of stereotypes about who does computing and who does tech, right? We all have them, men and women both have these unintended biases. They really work to impede women's progress as they are educated and move into the workforce.

NCWIT was started in 2004, by the National Science Foundation. Our charter is to significantly increase girls' and women's participation in computing and these words are very important.

You will find, as you walk around the summit, we use Information Technology and computing interchangeably and we do that purposefully. The engineers in you may want an exact definition of what you mean by Information Technology. We are purposefully vague, because it's such a wide discipline. We mean all things computing.

We also care about women's meaningful participation in computing. We care what they do. We want them inventing the technology of the future and right now, we know that, by and large, they are not.

A little bit about our approach to this as NCWIT. We are a little bit different than a lot of organizations. NCWIT brings together all organizations across the full pipeline K‑12 through career that care about girl's and women's participation in computing.

These could be K‑12 non‑profits, they could be post‑secondary institutions. They can be community colleges. They can be corporations. They could be startup companies, everybody who cares. Before NCWIT was started we didn't have a community like we have now with NCWIT.

We were all working in isolation. Often times we would reinvent the wheel, or we would not really know the latest research and evidence. We needed to combine our strengths into what we now call NCWIT Change Leader Network.

We're not a women's network, we're a change leader network. We're men and women together, representing our organizations working all year long to increase girls' and women's participation in computing. Does that make sense?

We're not a coalition. We're not logos on a page. We're change leaders in action all the time, working within our organization and together to increase participation. That first little orange bubble there is our community. I'll say more about that in a moment.

The next bubble you see, the blue bubble. We believe that change leaders need to be equipped with the best possible research, data, resources, tool kits, etcetera.

You all have day jobs, right? Everybody have a day job in here? Yeah. OK, you have night jobs. True? Alright, some of you are students, heck. That's both. You don't need to be digging up the latest research, stats, tools, and everything else.

We need to create those for you. So that when you step out as change leaders, you do so on the best possible footing that we know. It's your tool kit.

The third thing that we know is that when we combine all our strength as organizations, we can create national action platforms like this. We are 450 organizations strong. Isn't that amazing? We were 350 organizations strong, this time last year.

Considerable strength in our numbers and in our power, that when we combine and work as change leaders we can make a real difference. Community, research, resources, and action platforms that combine our strengths, so that not only are we acting in our own organizations, but we're acting together across the country.

You will find, as you wander around the summit, that NCWIT members belong to one of several alliances.

Many of you are going to an alliance, I take it? Some of you? Yes.

K‑12 Alliance is for, usually, large national not‑for‑profits in the K‑12 space, who have a focus on girls and computing. Girl Scouts, Girls Inc., 4H, Teach for America, et cetera, together they combine their distribution strength to run national outreach efforts. They reach over half the girls in the United States, today. When they decide to do something they can get the word out very, very broadly.

The Academic Alliance, universities, and post‑secondary institutions about 270, they're working to recruit from different diverse talent pools into their degree programs. They're also working on curriculum, more rigorous, relevant, inclusive curriculum and also working on retention in their degree programs.

The Workforce Alliance is working on recruiting women into the technology workforce represented by their companies, and also retaining them of course, but making sure that they advance into positions of leadership.

The Entrepreneurial Alliance is doing the same thing but for start‑up companies. When start‑up companies form, they're recruiting technical women into those companies right from the very start.

The Affinity Group Alliance convenes women's technology, Affinity Networks. They share best practices about what does it mean to be a DC women in tack, or the coolest women we know. That's the one from Colorado. Coolest women we know, or what's it mean to be Microsoft Women's Network. How do we share best practices, content?

The Social Sciences Advisory Board, a group of very distinguished Social Science researchers, who specialize in the gender and technology area, who advise us on our resources and our actions, and who meet here at the summit to talk about big picture topics in the area of gender and technology.

That's our community forming alliances. The second part of our three pronged approach, resource and research.

Our resources are growing in number. They're about 130, I believe now, and they're all available on our website. We have done this in a set of series of resources professionally designed. Even though they're beautiful to look at, hold, and read, they're also based on solid research and solid evidence. So that you know when you use them, not only are you proud to share them, but they're very factual in nature.

We first started on reports, data sheets, et cetera, so that you all would get the facts and know the facts. We vet the data to make sure we got the best possible data. That was the first thing our members asked us for back in 2004. Then they said this is great, give use some practices like what should we do?

We invented, I think it's on your left, practice sheets where on the front of a practice sheet is a case study of somebody who has worked in a particular practice. On the back of the practice sheet is the relevant social science research that backs that practice up. Then our members said, in case you're getting the point here, we listen to our members really, really carefully.

They said, "We just need programs. We need Adwater programs. Just give us things we can download and have a faculty mentoring program." Or, "Give us stuff we can download and have an outreach roadshow to local high schools." Or, "Give us something that we can download so that we can use it with our technical supervisors and really train them around diversity and inclusion."

We invented in a box programs. You can download those and use parts of it. You can adapt them. About the only thing you can't do is resell them. You can use them in any way you want.

Then our members said, "We really need talking points. We need to know if I've got one person for just a minute. What do I say to a young person about a career in information technology and computing? Give me the top 10 things that research would show that I need to say."

Then we moved on and we did top 10 cards like the top 10 ways you can recruit women into your classrooms. The top 10 things you can do as a supervisor to promote mid‑career visibility for technical women.

Those are our resources and we really want to hear from you. What don't we have? What do you need? Where are the gaps? We're going to continue to ask you this, because this is a major part of what we do as well.

We think change needs to be fueled by evidence. That's a very important part of our mission. I don't have time to go through all these now. I want to make sure I leave you time for questions.

This is some of the research that we're doing now. We do conduct our own primary research at NCWIT. We also conduct it with other distinguished researchers from across the country.

We look for gaps to fill. One of the latest gaps we started looking at was research around the men who support technical women, and why they do it.

We'd studied women. Why they leave, why they stay, what they think. We have so many great male change leaders. Why are they such great change leaders? What do they do? How do they do it? We did a new research report, and there is a breakout on that tomorrow. You can start to hear some of the reasons why men will advocate on behalf of technical women.

Lastly, we have this notion of action platform. Just to back up and then refresh your memory again. We have community alliances. We have research and resources. Now I'm talking about that part of our approach where we combine all of our strength into national action platforms, where we can make a huge difference together.

I'm going to talk about two of them, in particular, in more detail. "Aspirations in Computing" and "Sit with Me". You're going to be seeing more of these at the summit. I also want to mention a couple others.

If you start in the K‑12 level, we have a campaign called "Counselors for Computing". That's funded by the Merck foundation. This is a set of resources and also workshops where we talk to professional school counselors about careers in computing. Give them the facts about jobs, educational degrees and so forth.

We also have, in the academic space, two seed funds that the Academic Alliance manages. One is sponsored by Microsoft Research. It funds outreach and practice implementation within the Academic Alliance. The other one is sponsored by Symantec, and it funds student chapters on campus, so they can do their outreach efforts.

I think we have at least one seed fund winner over here. Yes, check. These are the kinds of things that we can do together.

I want to say, between the two seed funds, the Academic Alliance has administered over 400 thousand dollars of funding back to its membership. It's a proposal based process and it's peer reviewed as well. Not insignificant funds.

Let's go through a few of these in a little more detail, and then I'll turn it over to you for some questions.

"Aspirations in Computing", how many of you have heard of "Aspirations in Computing?" We have some of the lovely "Aspirations" people right over here. "Aspirations in Computing" starts with an award component in high school. It recognizes high school women's contributions to computing, and their technical achievements so far.

Young women come to our portal, they apply online, they have four independent judgings. We use a technology rubric that's fairly significant. Then we decide who wins the award. We have a national award, we also have regional awards. This started with just a national award.

Three years ago, I believe, we had three regional awards. Guess how many we had this year? 54 regional awards. This year we're on track to acknowledge 1,000 young women across the United States for their aspirations in computing. It's our members, it's you that makes it move. I'll have more to say about that in a moment.

Of course, we have acknowledgement, well done, kind of a pat on the back. Then we also have a publicity component because we require that people issue press releases, that we get the word out about the importance of women's contributions to computing. Then, more and more young women apply for the award.

It doesn't end there. Once we know these women, we enter them into our Facebook online community, they know each other, they peer network. We offer them opportunities in your universities, internships and jobs in your corporations. They have contests sometimes. We might have a mobile app development contest.

It really becomes this longitudinal encouragement pipeline development program that stays with the aspirations community through college. On their own efforts, this wonderful community of young women is starting to do outreach camps into middle school. They're the ones who suggested that they partner with a university and offer middle school students an opportunity to learn about computer science.

It's a wonderful community. When we expand it to its fullest reach, it will go from middle school through college. We want you. There they are, aren't they lovely? They have face to face meet‑ups. We have about how many here at the summit, 20? 20. Raise your hand over here. They'd love to talk to you.


Lucy:  You can see that one young woman is especially excited about her Surface. That's a great photo. How do you plug into this? I want to go through this in a little more detail, because this is typical about how we work.

NCWIT provides the infrastructure. We provide the technology. We provide the call for the award. We provide the judging. We provide the ongoing community for the young women. Then we ask all of you, as members, to help us run a local affiliate, or to judge, or something else.

Our members fuel aspirations and really help it grow and scale quite quickly. Like a franchise model. We sort of produce the tool kits and everything else, and then our members take it out locally. As they act locally, it all adds up into quite a huge and dramatic impact on a national level.

More about "Aspirations," there's a workshop tomorrow, and we have "Aspirations" participants wandering around the summit talking to you.

Great stats, I wish we had more time to brag about these. Thanks to all the members in here who have participated so far. How many have participated in "Aspirations" so far? Good. Thank you. It's making a really, really big difference.

Look at the persistence rate into college. Over 80 percent persist in college in male dominant STEM professions, and about 64 percent persist in computing. Great diversity numbers as well. It's all over the United States right now.

Another thing I want to touch briefly on, "Sit with me." This is a totally different kind of action platform that NCWIT has created. Our pacesetter organization told us that they needed a way to start conversations about the importance of women's contribution to technology in a way that both men and women could participate, and a way that was not confrontational, and a way that was fun.

We hired a company from Brooklyn, BBMG, and they came up with the concept of "Sit with me." You'll see the chair. See the chairs? OK. Iconic red chairs. They're made from recycled Coca‑Cola bottles in case you were worried about sustainability. Each one is handmade. It's a piece of art. We chose the chair because of Rosa Parks' simple action of sitting to take a stand.

Then you can start to riff on this notion. We sit for a place at the technical design table. We won't stand for anything less. We sit for innovation.

We created a toolkit. There's a micro site. There's swag. There's pins. There's all kinds of press things that you can do.

We've had such a tremendous response to this, again, grassroots, organic response. Some of the things, Microsoft used "Sit with me" to roll out an international women's day event across the world. Facebook invited their employees down to have their pictures made in front of a graffiti wall, and make their statements about the importance of women and technology. Of course, guess what they did with them? Uploaded them to their Facebook page.

We've had some companies use them as awards. We just had an event at Oregon State where they brought in the basketball team. I don't want to tell you more, because we have some other really cool examples and there will be a flash talk on "Sit with me" tomorrow.

All this is on the website. You probably knew that. We're very proud of our new website. We just cut it over last June, based on a content management system. Now hopefully you'll be able to find things a little bit easier on our site.

Here we are. 450 organizations strong at our Summit. I really hope that you get to take in all the diverse content that is here. There is a lot here from all different areas of what we do, from research, to strategy, to celebrations, to partnering, to planning out for the next year. It's all here at the Summit.

The Summit is our annual community meeting. It's not like an open conference. It is a community meeting where we're really working hard to think through how to be better change leaders in the next year.

With that, I guess I have 10 minutes of questions. Who wants to ask a question?

Wow, I really stupefied you with my clarity? [laughs] Any questions? A brave person to start.

Audience Questioner 1:  You said 50 states are represented in the Aspirations for Computing thing. How can I find out if there is anything in my local area happening, and how can I get plugged into that?

Lucy:  I want to say something about the Aspirations site on a moment, but on the existing site there is a way to find out where all of the local affiliates are. But the way the affiliates form is really, really interesting, so maybe I'll spend a minute on that.

It's not like we have rigid regions. Every year, the regions re‑up. They say "Oh, we want to form a cluster and we want to have a regional affiliate event in our cluster." It just so happens that a lot of them re‑up all the time. But it's not like we have chapters, or regions, or anything like that.

There is information up on our current website. If you can't find it just write, and we'll tell you where it is. We are in the process of re‑implementing the Aspirations website. It was great when we were smaller. Now we really need to put some significant technology investment into making it easier to use and find.

Yes, right here.

Audience Questioner 2:  Can you say about middle school?

Lucy:  Middle school?

Audience Questioner 2:  The middle school Aspirations people. Can you say something about Aspiration, the women who got the award who are starting the middle school outreach programming?

Lucy:  Yes.

Audience Questioner 2:  How can we at the universities help them?

Lucy:  Let me say a word about that and then I'm going to ask somebody from Aspirations to fill in. This is in pilot mode for us right now. We got some funding from, I think, Intel Foundation and Northrop‑Grumman and Google, to roll this out. Young women apply with an Academic Alliance member. Stay tuned for a bigger roll out of the program. We're just now getting to this in pilot mode.

In terms of the experience of it all, maybe Ruth, did you want to say something?

Ruthe Farmer:  Hi. We are piloting this new middle school concept right now. We received some pilot funding to get it off the ground. The basic concept is that we match the energy of these young women with your infrastructure. They design the program. They teach the program. You handle all the physical and financial and all of that stuff.

They're in a unique position to recruit middle school girls that you aren't in. That's the beauty of it. They're your instant workforce. We're piloting this. We have 24 sites and we're building a toolkit to use.

It's important, but we don't have to be rigid about exactly what we're teaching them at this stage. It's more important that they're getting excited about technology and they're being invited in, because by the time they get to high school the technology will probably be pretty different anyway.

We've given them lots of different technology tools to choose from, but we also want them to be able to leverage whatever resources. If you happen to have a lab that does a particular technology, use that, great. We're not real rigid about the curriculum. It's more about the invitation from a near peer.

We had our first round of grants. We're going to have another round of grants in a few months when we get through this pilot. We have some other exciting things that are going to be happening with this program coming up soon, we hope.

It has a lot of potential to go very big. With just this pilot, we have 24 sites that will serve 800 middle school girls in the next year, 25,000 hours of computing outreach. Some of those girls ‑‑ raise your hand if you're doing an Aspire IT hire ‑‑ some of them are here if you want to chat with them about what they're doing.


Lucy:  I do want to say, too, the whole Aspirations program, because I want all of you to understand what we do. We create toolkits and the franchise model and members just snap them up and go out and do things with them.

I think it is such an important infrastructure. I can't say, again, how much we appreciate everything that members do. We can create all the toolkits we want. But if the members don't take them out there and be in action with them and really use them, we're not going to turn the corner on this as a country. This combined strength we have is awesome.

Any other questions? Yes, right here.

Audience Questioner 3:  What kind of API do you have with the actual companies? The companies are the ones that have only 18 percent of women. What are you doing to bridge that gap between you guys and the actual hiring process itself?

Lucy:  Yeah, that's a really tough question. Did you all hear it? What are we doing to bridge the gap between the hiring process, in other words, how are we working with corporations. Is that right? OK.

This is a tough question. It's hard also to work with the universities in this space, too. NCWIT is a capacity building organization. What that means in the nonprofit world is that we're working to build the capacity of the existing organizations.

In the same way we work with universities, we will work with corporations on best practices and cultural things and supervision, for example. We know from research that when people leave their jobs, they're most likely leaving a poor relationship with their direct supervisor.

We also know about technology supervisors that they often aren't well‑versed in inclusion and diversity dynamics that could be happening on their team. Really, they just need a little awareness, and they just need to know the tips of running teams where there are underrepresented groups.

We work with them on things like that. But corporate space is hard because every corporation is different. The leadership is different. People transition out of jobs very quickly. But we're working in the same space, research, resources, practices, encouragement.

I also think as corporations plug into the Aspirations in Computing talent development program. They're going to have a very receptive talent pool. But I think they need to work on both fronts. They need to say "I need to recruit more, got it. When they get here, we need to have a really great place for them to thrive." It's a two‑pronged story there for corporations.

I think we have time for one more if there is one more.

Audience Questioner 4:  Obviously, I'm here because I am looking to recruit women in computer science. Do you all have a site where you could post positions for trying to hire women in IT, because it is really hard. [laughs]

Lucy:  Yes, it is hard.

Audience Questioner 4:  Exactly.

Lucy:  Exactly. Yes, there is a two part answer to that question. We don't have job boards. We're not really in the sourcing business for talent. I think that as part of the NCWIT community, and as we all are working on Aspirations in Computing, together building a national talent pipeline, there will be more and more young women in college and graduating from college that will look upon your company favorably, because you are participating, and working as part of an environment.

We also do stream jobs of all of our members, not just corporations, to our site through indeed.com. We do stream jobs, but we're not going to post them. I think you could appreciate the horrendous nature of doing something like that. There are plenty of people who do post jobs.

I guess we are here at quarter two. Please come back at three, that's when we open the Summit. Catch me at break or any other time. I'm happy to answer any other questions that you have now or any time.

Thank you.



Transcription by CastingWords