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 Stout 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, Stout 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.
Below are highlights from the article:
EDTECH: Your research has shown that when young women have a role model, that increases their confidence in work settings. How can IT managers connect female employees and mentors?
STOUT: First, leaders should actively recruit senior women to present their technical work in colloquia or brown-bag sessions. Even if you don’t have senior women on your team now, hopefully, you know women who you can bring in to give a technical talk. Leaders should also try to provide opportunities for these speakers to meet one-on-one with employees, especially women, and mentor them.
Organizations should strive, of course, to diversify their leadership. This shows underrepresented groups that all types of people are capable of rising to the top. The road to success seems more feasible if you see successful people who look like you. One might make the argument that there aren’t enough qualified women to nominate for leadership roles. To that I say: Try harder. If this is really your intention, you’re going to need to do things like search outside of your own professional network and think about whether your promotion guidelines unintentionally favor men over women.
EDTECH: How can IT managers increase diversity at the top?
STOUT: In our culture, the typical leader is assertive and commands the room, a stereotypically masculine concept of leadership. But a lot of research shows that people who are compassionate, good listeners and democratic in considering others’ opinions and needs are also good leaders. So I would encourage organizational leadership to recognize that there are different types of effective leadership styles. If you broaden the lens of the traits you’re looking for, you’re probably going to get different sorts of people who meet those qualifications.