Ready for a refresher on the National Convergence Technology Center’s (CTC) “Diversity Summit”? About two months have passed since the two-day event that featured guest speakers from across the country. Videos from all the presentations are now available online – it’s a great way to take advantage of their expertise for those who weren’t in the room.
Here’s the rundown of the event with some highlights:
Celeste Carter, Program Director at the National Science Foundation welcomed everyone through our WebEx platform.
Andres Diaz from the Puerto Rico Photonics Institute then spoke on “Developing Outreach, Recruiting and Retention Through Partnerships.”
Some of his best practices included:
- Inviting parents/family of prospective students to be involved in the process,
- Hosting bilingual information sessions and promotional materials,
- Finding partners with other programs, deans, students, international student offices, other colleges and universities and Hispanic allies like Hispanic radio and TV stations and consulates, and
- Starting outreach early with activities and workshops for K-12 students
Next, we had Serita Acker from Clemson University speak on her programs PEER (Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention) and WISE (Women in Science and Engineering).
Some things we learned:
- Clemson has a 91% freshman retention rate which can be attributed in part to successful launches like PEER mentoring, a study hall for all students and a test bank, and
- Clemson focuses on outreach and recruitment through projects like PEER SnapShot (for juniors and seniors in high school); summer programs like FIRE (Foundations in Research Experiences) and MEW (Math Excellence Workship)
After a break, we then had Pam Silvers of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College speak on “Increasing Diversity in Your Programs.”
- Evaluate how faculty actions can be perceived by students as inviting or uninviting as well as thinking about how those actions could be intentional and unintentional and then how to modify behavior accordingly. (Example: A student asked a professor what they teach so they could take their class, all because they always saw that professor smiling, which was “unintentionally inviting.”)
- Tailor your message to how students choose their careers. (Research found that men respond to salary, job potential and technology, while women are attracted to jobs that help others, work in teams and solve problems. Many women do not know that IT jobs can do this, so Asheville-Buncombe updated many course and degree descriptions to focus on the positive results a job could do for humankind, rather than the technology it uses to do so.)
- Asheville-Buncombe also updated their marketing methods with campaigns showing women success stories and a “picture yourself” initiative.
After, we had two WebEx calls from Mercedes Adams of NetApp speak on the “Industry Perspective on Diversity” and Laura Nicholas of IBM speak on “Successful Messaging.”
Day 1 wrapped up with Beth Quinn from NCWIT (National Center for Women in Information Technology) talking on the “Tools for Recruiting and Retaining Diverse Students in IT” as well as sharing resources that NCWIT can provide.
Beth’s talk focused on unpacking and addressing stereotypes and to be careful of bias in marketing. Research on this topic included:
- Finding an increase of female performer hires when orchestra auditions were held from behind a curtain (with no gender cues available) rather than face to face.
- Two identical resumes with the only difference being a name, male applicants were received better and more likely to be hired than females. The same thing happened when two identical resumes and the only difference was “white-sounding” and “ethnic-sounding” names were used.
On Day 2 of the event, we began with Matt Glover of Le-Vel discussing his experience with diversity from an IT industry perspective then we had two Q&As with all the speakers: Andres Diaz, Serita Acker, Pam Silvers and Beth Quinn.
Some of the questions addressed in the Q&As were:
- How their recruitment and retention programs were built
- How they reached unmotivated students or students with learning barriers
- What to tell students who are worried about IT jobs becoming automated
- What role that business and industry leaders play
What is your school currently doing to increase recruitment and retention of diverse populations?