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New Research Projects Will Examine Ways to Increase the Participation of Women of Color in Computing Fields

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We know women of color are a critical component of our future technology workforce, bringing unique experience, knowledge, and creativity to the development and application of technology. We also recognize the need for data and research to advance the participation of women of color in computing. In August 2018, the Kapor Center and the Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology (CGEST) at Arizona State University launched the Women of Color in Computing Collaborative to build this critical body of research.

Today, we are thrilled to announce fourteen research projects, each of which examines the participation of Black, Latinx, and/or Native American women in the computing landscape. We are also excited to announce the inaugural cohort of Women of Color in Computing Senior Research Fellows: Mia Ong (Technical Education Research Center, Inc); Jakita Thomas (Auburn University), and Luis Leyva (Vanderbilt University).

This research collaborative aims to develop foundational knowledge about:

(1) trend data on the participation of underrepresented women of color (Black, Latinx, and Native American) in computing;

(2) barriers faced by women of color in entering and persisting in computing; and

(3) the efficacy of interventions designed to increase outcomes for underrepresented women of color in computing.

Through this collaborative, academic researchers will work side-by-side with educators, diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners, tech industry leaders, and venture capitalists to translate emerging research findings into actionable practices and inform strategies which can be scaled broadly to increase the number of women and girls of color pursuing and completing computing degrees, and participating in the tech workforce, entrepreneurship and venture capital.

Click on the titles below to see more information about each project.

The Developing Aspirations of Girls of Color Towards Computer Science: A Comparative Examination of the Role of Teachers, Peers, and STEM Stereotypes

Catherine Riegle-Crumb, University of Texas at Austin

Description: This project will examine how teachers, peers, and STEM stereotypes impact the aspirations of girls of color towards (or away from) computer science during the critical years of adolescence, using data collected from middle school and high school students in a large, urban, predominantly Hispanic and Black district in the South.

Trends in Bachelor’s Degree Completion among Women of Color in Computing

Shaundra Daily, Duke University, Jakita Thomas, Auburn University, Wanda Eugene, DEEP Designs LLC, Christin Shelton, DEEP Designs LLC

Description: This study will use multiple data sources, including the Taulbee Survey, the American Society of Engineering Education, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, to examine which universities have the highest rates of Bachelor’s degree completion in computing among Black, Latinx and Native American/Alaskan Native women.

Speaking Truth To Power: Exploring the Intersectional Experiences of Black Women in Computing

Jakita Thomas, Auburn University, Senior Fellow, Women of Color in Computing Collaborative

DescriptionThis project will examine the narratives of Black women in different computing contexts, such as the undergraduate and graduate school, workforce, graduate school, government, and academia (professors) and will contribute to a more complex understanding of the experiences of marginalized groups in computing who live at various intersections of racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, heterosexism, ableism, etc.

Strategies for Persistence of Native American Women in Computing and Technology Higher Education: Two Case Studies

Mia Ong, TERC, Inc. (Senior Fellow-WOCC)

Description: This project will apply frameworks of intersectionality, critical race theory, and community cultural wealth to examine two case studies from the Computing Beyond the Double Bind dataset (CBDB-CNS-11451341) to explore the persistence of Native American women in computing and technology higher education.

Intersectionality as a Methodological Tool for Understanding Undergraduate Women of Color’s Experiences as Computing and Engineering Majors

Luis Leyva, Vanderbilt University (Senior Fellow-WOCC)

Description: This project conceptualizes intersectionality as a methodological tool for better understanding the experiences of women of color (WOC) pursuing majors in computing and engineering (C&E). A three-tiered analytical framework will be used to capture ideological, institutional, and relational influences on the experiences of WOC and their identity construction as C&E majors and counter-stories are then used to illuminate their specific experiences as C&E majors at a large, predominantly white university.

Native American Women and Two-Spirit Individuals in Computing Higher Education: A Photo Elicitation Study of Persistence

Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, TERC, Inc., Kathy DeerInWater, American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)

Description: This study will examine landscape data and trends on participation of Native American (American Indian/Alaska Native) and two-spirit individuals in computing and then uses the qualitative methodology of photo elicitation to explore unique barriers facing Native American women and factors that have influenced and supported Native American women and two-spirit individuals’ persistence in computing higher education.

A Mixed-Methods Study of the Persistence of Undergraduate Latina Women in Computing

Linda Sax, University of California, Los Angeles, Sarah Rodriguez-Jones, BRAID Affiliate

Description: This research study will conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis of Latina student experiences at the point of entry to a computing major — the introductory computing course — as well as their trajectories into a computing minor or major across BRAID institutions. This data will inform our understanding of the predictors of entry and success among Latina students in undergraduate computing, and inform the policies and practices within institutions to ensure success for this population.

Building a Collaborative Network to Support Women of Color in UX/UI

Laura Gonzalez, University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Joy Robinson, University of Alabama-Huntsville, Clarissa San Diego, Makerologist, Dr. Ann Shivers-McNair, The University of Arizona

Description: This project will introduce bilingual and multilingual women of color students from The University of Texas at El Paso to user-experience and technology design through paid summer internships in user-experience projects of their choice alongside mentors in El Paso, Tucson, Seattle, and Huntsville. This project will assess the impact of an internship and mentorship model on women of color in UX/UI.

Workplace Experiences of Women of Color in Tech

Joan C. Williams, The Center for WorkLIfe Law at the University of California, Hastings

DescriptionThe Center for WorkLife Law will conduct the Workplace Experiences Survey with a sample of tech industry employees in order to identify specific types of racial and gender bias that occur towards women of color, how these differ from men and women from other racial backgrounds, and the impact these biases have on employees’ sense of belonging, intent to stay, and other retention issues.

A Social-Psychological Intervention to Increase Retention of WOC in a Tech Company

Greg Walton and Gregg Muragishi, Stanford University

Description: This project examines how to increase belonging and retention of women of color in a large tech company in Silicon Valley. Together with their industry partners, the researchers will develop and test an intervention to promote more positive and respectful interactions for women of color within the pilot company, and will assess the outcomes of the intervention for women of color.

A Roadmap to Culture Change in the Technology Workforce that Advances and Promotes Women of Color

Yulkendy Valdez, Forefront, Sonia Mañjon, LeaderSpring

Description: This project will develop a roadmap as an intervention to define priorities and actionable steps that tech companies can take to advance women of color in the tech sector, and develop a scorecard to track progress. The goal is that partner organizations will commit to implementing the roadmap and the scorecard for evaluating the outcomes of their diversity and inclusion strategies.

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A Leadership Academy for Women of Color in Tech

Rati Thanawala, Harvard University

Description: This project will explore the experiences of 40+ successful women of color in tech to identify unique strategies, or levers of success, which will accelerate career advancement in tech. The project will then culminate with a Technology Leadership Academy for women of color who want to pursue careers in the tech industry, consisting of weekend academies and coaches and integrating the actionable levers of success. The Academy aims to start in grad school and continue for 3–5 years after transition to industry.

Addressing Investor Bias to Broaden Access to Capital for WoC STEM Entrepreneurs

Heather Metcalf, Erin Kelley, Jennifer Clark, Aspen Russell Association for Women in Science

Description: Through the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) STEM to Market initiative, and the AWIS Intentional Investing program designed to address bias directly with investors, this project will conduct two half-day interventions with funding gatekeepers to improve funder self-reflection, accountability, transparency, and inclusive investment practices. This intervention will aim to impact investor attitudes and planned future behavior to improve opportunities and outcomes for women of color in entrepreneurship.

Access to Capital, Funding Vehicles, and Growth of Startups for Founders who are Women of Color

Kate Brodock, Women 2.0

Description: This research seeks to identify the ways in which women of color are successfully resourcing their tech and VC-backed startups in the pre-Series B stages of company growth. To the extent possible, we aim to highlight the strategies that have proven most successful and least successful across the study group, as well as differences between women of color founders and the general population of women founders, and further single out any areas of opportunity that haven’t been fully utilized or realized.

Click here to register for our newsletter and receive notice when findings from these projects are released!

Click here for more information about the Women of Color in Computing Collaborative.

This project is led by the Kapor Center and ASU’s Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology and funded by Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates.