SoIC receives Student Seed Fund gift to promote women in technology

Women In Technology
Women in Computing and PIT Crew leadership teams

The School of Informatics and Computing's Women in Computing has received a $15,000 gift from the National Center for Women & Information Technology Student Seed Fund.

The award will support a collaborative effort between Women In Computing and the Promoting Inclusivity in Technology Crew. The two groups will collaborate on a study that will inform the development of guidelines for how to grow male advocates for women in computing in an academic setting. This will be the first study of its kind done in academia; it has previously only been researched in a corporate setting. The findings will inform the development of resources and potential best practices to be adopted by other universities. The groups will also partner on an awareness campaign about the importance of male advocacy for women in technology.

"Many programs focus on diversifying their student body, and we believe that to be a necessary first step," said Kyle Overton, an informatics Ph.D. student and trainer for workshops on diversity and inclusion. "But cultivating an inclusive community that values the contributions from all voices is the ultimate goal. We're very eager to learn how to increase the number of men that model equitable treatment at the peer and, more saliently, administrative and faculty levels."

Lamara Warren, SoIC's director of inclusion and education, said creating a male advocate program is critical.

"The goal of increasing women's participation in computing and technology can only be attained if there is an inclusive effort to reach this goal," Warren said. "Therefore, it is imperative that men not be excluded from the conversation, but be included in intentional and meaningful ways."

SoIC was one of two student organizations nationwide to receive this sponsored award at the Trailblazer level.

"Through my two years with Women in Computing I have been able to see many exciting things," said Stephanie Wethington, the graduate assistant for Women in Computing. "However, I think this is the best thing I have been had the privilege to be a part of here at Indiana University. I'm excited to see where the research goes and be able to see WIC at Indiana University be the first to create the material needed to create an inclusive atmosphere for women in technology on a college campus."

Maureen Biggers, the School's assistant dean for diversity and education, said reviewers were enthusiastic about the idea because of the opportunity it could provide.
"We are excited because not only does it have the potential to have an impact on our own SoIC community, but it will benefit workforce development and other STEM fields with underrepresented talent," Biggers said.

Since 2011, the NCWIT Student Seed Fund has invested more than $83,250 in over 110 student-run programs for women in computing at non-profit, U.S. Academic Alliance member institutions nationwide. Programs have included technology-related learning and advancement opportunities, including programming workshops, peer mentoring and support, professional training, after-school programs, and more. The Student Seed Fund was recently expanded to offer tiered levels of awards to support the needs of Women in Computing (WIC) groups at different stages of development and varied institutional sizes.

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