CRA’s own Jane Stout, director of the CRA Center for Evaluating the Research Pipeline (CERP), was recently featured in the article “Q&A: Researcher Shares Strategies to Increase Diversity in Tech,” in EdTech Magazine: Focus on Higher Education. Amy Burroughs, managing editor of EdTech spoke to Jane about why the lack of diversity in tech persists, how institutions benefit from diverse groups and how IT leaders can build more diverse teams. Drawing from her social science background and her current research on factors that influence women and minorities pursuing computing careers, Jane emphasized building a sense of belonging and community and encouraged IT managers to actively recruit women who can serve as role models and mentors. She also encourages IT managers to recognize that there are different types of effective leadership styles.
Computing Research News
Articles on diversity analysis and efforts.
The Computing Research Association is pleased to announce a new iteration of the Graduate Cohort Workshop designed specifically for underrepresented minorities (URMs) in computing and persons with disabilities. Applications are now open for the inaugural CRA URM Graduate Cohort Workshop, which will be held March 16-17, 2018 in San Diego, Calif.
CRA-WExpanding the Pipeline
The dialogue about broadening participation in computing must extend beyond a narrow focus on women, in general, to one that focuses on the intersectionality of race and gender if the computing educational community will be more inclusive. Engaging more diverse perspectives in computing education can be described as a social justice issue, but also promoted as a necessity to increase innovations in industry (National Science Foundation and National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, 2013). More specifically, to succeed in increasing the participation of black women in computing, there must first be an acknowledgement that black women’s experiences in computing are different from those of other groups. Subsequently, an educational framework can be developed to address these differences.
We found most undergraduate computing students believe computing careers afford ample opportunity to be in a position of influence and serve humanity. However, students believe computing careers afford relatively less opportunity to spend time with family. These findings suggest computing careers may be unattractive to groups of students who place strong value on family.
Gender is complex; while many people identify as either “man” or “woman”, others identify as something other than traditional binary gender options (i.e. “non-binary” gender). CERP data indicate non-binary students report lower levels of peer support compared to their men and women peers.
CRA-WExpanding the Pipeline
The 2017 ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing is being held September 20-23 in Atlanta Georgia. This year’s theme, Diversity: Simply Smarter, evokes the basic yet irrefutable concept that diversity is simply the smarter choice. Research by social scientists has repeatedly shown that teams made up of diverse members have a great potential for innovation than homogeneous teams. Whether we seek innovation, intelligence, creativity, strength or beauty of ideas, the best outcomes come from a diverse set of perspectives, a diverse set of experiences, and a diverse set of people.
CRA-WExpanding the Pipeline
Most broadening participation efforts have focused on women and underrepresented minorities. However, for more than 10 years, AccessComputing has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to increase the successful participation of students with disabilities in academic programs and careers. AccessComputing addresses underrepresentation by providing multiple activities for students with disabilities.
CERP’s 2016 Data Buddies survey collected data on students’ disability status from 6,447 undergraduate students in computing. Eight percent of these students reported having at least one type of disability. This chart illustrates that the most common disabilities are not visible. These data serve as a reminder that some computing students may be faced with an additional set of challenges in and outside of the classroom due to their disability or disabilities.
During the fall 2016 academic semester, CERP collected data from 5,208 undergraduate students currently or previously enrolled in computing courses at a sample of U.S. colleges and universities. Students were asked whether they had participated in any computing-related contests (e.g., hackathons or robotics competitions) during the past year. Some believe this type of activity can help resumes stand out and makes applicants competitive on the job market (e.g., Harnett, 2016; Mone, 2016). We found men were more likely than women, and Asian students were more likely than their peers, to report having participated in computing-related contests. To help promote a level applicant playing field, contest organizers should consider modifying recruitment strategies to target groups who are less likely to participate, such as women.
As computing departments across the U.S. wrestle with increased enrollment, it is important to recognize that not everyone who becomes a computing major stays a computing major. In 2014, CERP collected data from a cohort of U.S. undergraduate students who agreed to be contacted for follow-up surveys in 2015. While most of the students surveyed remained computing majors (96%), some students changed to a non-computing major. As shown in the graphic above, students in our sample moved to a variety of majors, and the type of new major tended to differ by gender. Most men (69%) who left a computing major switched to engineering, math/statistics, or physical science majors. On the other hand, most women (53%) tended to move to social sciences, or humanities/arts. These data are consistent with existing social science research indicating women tend to choose fields that have clear social applications, such as the social sciences, arts, and humanities. CERP’s future analyses will explore why women, versus men, say they are leaving computing for other fields.
Note this summary of longitudinal survey data is suggestive and is intended to spur further empirical investigation. Given our sample size, we did not run inferential statistics and do not claim the gender differences are significantly different. As such, the findings reported here should be interpreted with caution.