There's a diversity problem at the heart of higher education's technology fields, and a new partnership is aiming to rectify it.
“While women comprise 57 percent of professional occupations in the U.S., they represent just 26 percent of the computing workforce and a mere 6 percent are corporate CIO," Internet2 Senior Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer Florence Hudson said in a company news release.
The Society of Women Engineers, in partnership with Internet2, is taking a bold step toward expanding diversity in STEM fields by launching a new community: SWE@Internet2.
Up to 200 women at participating Internet2 higher education institutions will receive free memberships to the Society of Women Engineers, which now includes more than 34,000 professionals across the world. Membership benefits include access to scholarships, professional resources, awards and recognitions, and more.
The effort is part of the Internet2 Gender Diversity Initiative, which seeks to improve gender diversity in the research and education IT and Internet2 communities, according to the release.
“This partnered program aspires to attract, develop and retain women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to pursue technical leadership roles,” Hudson said.
At a roundtable discussion in May hosted by International Science Grid This Week, Internet2's gender diversity initiative representatives outlined the problem facing higher ed leadership.
"There is a very strong social bias about who does tech. When we have a bias it causes weird dynamics in the classroom, in corporations. Then inclusion numbers drop, which in turn skews the culture even more. So that’s really 'who’s' blocking it — it’s all of us basically," says Lucy Sanders, chief executive officer and founder of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
Sanders added that the future looks good, with new pathways opening for young women to pursue STEM careers.