Grant designed for improving gender diversity in tech talent pipeline
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin — April 15, 2022 — The MKE Tech Hub Coalition recently approved a grant to expand NCWIT’s Higher Education offerings in SE WI. This grant will provide the opportunity for computing faculty, administrators, and staff within the seven-county region surrounding the city of Milwaukee, to engage in a webinar series focused on increasing the diversity, equity, and inclusion of their students who identify as women. Representatives from Alverno College, Carthage College, Gateway Technical College, Marquette University, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater, and Waukesha County Technical College will be invited to participate.
Webinar topics to be facilitated by NCWIT research scientists and staff members include:
Summer 2022: Counselors for Computing (C4C): This half-day workshop is especially for career services and academic advisors to provide information and inclusive practices designed to guide students as they consider classes and careers in computing.
Fall 2022: Innovation, Culture, and You: This session explores why diversity matters to innovation, how implicit biases play out in cultures, and what specific actions academic leaders, faculty, and staff can take to create more inclusive technical cultures within their computing programs.
Spring 2023: Growth Mindset: This two-hour workshop examines the ways in which a growth mindset can foster the development of inclusive leaders and cultures.
“In addition to computing faculty and administrators, participating institutions are encouraged to include their staff who interact with students in areas such as high school outreach, admissions, career services, and academic advising as participants to best facilitate a department’s strategic efforts to increase the recruitment and retention of their students who identify as women while educating them within an equitable and inclusive environment,” said Sherri Sanders, NCWIT’s Director of Higher Education Initiatives.
The MKE Tech Hub Coalition’s grant provides additional supports for the tech colleges in SE WI. Specifically, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Waukesha Technical College, and Gateway Technical College. Prior to the webinar series, NCWIT will engage computing departmental representatives from the technical colleges in a collective conversation regarding their work to increase the recruitment and retention of their students who identify as women while discussing NCWIT’s vast research-based resource collection. The NCWIT resources will guide each of the technical colleges in their work with NCWIT to develop $10,000 seed fund proposals to implement research-based strategies aligned with the goals of the webinar series. Northwestern Mutual, Associated Bank and Molson Coors Beverage Company have already agreed to collectively sponsor the seed funding for their projects when the project teams are ready.
“We are thrilled to see so many of our member companies already demonstrate a commitment to strategies that truly support women as an important part of their tech workforce. However, many have expressed concern that not enough women are guided and supported to explore tech and tech adjacent careers at the college level. This initiative is directly aligned to address that concern,” said Laura Schmidt, chief talent development officer.
A recent report by the Wisconsin Policy Forum was commissioned by the Higher Education Regional Alliance highlighted and found that gender gaps are larger in certain fields than others within STEM (Economic Development, January 2021). For example, the HERA data show that between 2016 and 2019, women earned 38.3% of all degrees conferred in mathematics and statistics and 36.6% of those in physical sciences, which include chemistry and physics. They were less represented, however, in other areas like computer and information sciences and support services (21.5%) and engineering and engineering technologies (18.5%).
“The Coalition is excited to partner with NCWIT to bring the additional higher education programming to southeastern Wisconsin as part of building a diverse tech talent pipeline to meet current workforce projections, increase economic prosperity, and foster innovation throughout the region. Connecting our work as well as the work of our higher education partners to national best practice is critical if we hope to make desired improvements at scale,” said Schmidt.
UWM was also selected to participate in NCWIT’s Extension Services Learning Circles program alongside two large urban research institutions with support from the Hearst Foundation. Beginning in the fall of 2021, teams from the computing departments of the urban research institutions began a year-long series of meetings to engage in joint conversations, facilitated by NCWIT research scientists, to support their strategic planning focused on implementing research-based strategies to increase the recruitment and retention of their undergraduate students who identify as women. “The work we are doing regionally will be aligned to what UWM is learning from their experience as well,” said Schmidt.
The expansion of NCWIT’s higher education programming builds upon the great work already underway by the Wisconsin Affiliate of NCWIT’s Aspirations in Computing program that annually honors over 100 aspiring technologists who plan to study computing and/or a related discipline after high school. The 2022 Awards will be held at the MSOE Kern Center in Milwaukee on May 1.
About the MKE Tech Hub Coalition: The MKE Tech Hub Coalition is a non-profit organization working to inclusively double tech talent in the Milwaukee region. We serve as a unifying voice for Milwaukee’s tech community, working with others to grow a vibrant, inclusive ecosystem where tech and innovation create enduring regional prosperity and life-changing jobs. Formed in late 2019, over 120 member organizations now collaborate to grow tech jobs matched with the right supply of skilled talent through K-20, reskilling and attraction/retention initiatives. Underlying all initiatives is an intentional focus on increasing the diversity of our tech talent. To learn more and signup for our newsletter, visit www.mketech.org.
About NCWIT: NCWIT is a non-profit organization that convenes, equips, and unites nearly 1,500 change leader organizations nationwide to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women — at the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability status, and other historically marginalized identities — in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development.