Cornell joins National Academies effort to support women of color in tech

Cornell University has joined a new Action Collaborative on Transforming Trajectories for Women of Color in Tech, launched by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine along with 34 other institutions representing higher education, national laboratories and government.

Through the action collaborative, Cornell and its partners will work together to improve pathways in tech education and participation in the tech workforce for women who identify as African American, Black, Hispanic, Latina, Native American, Asian American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The effort will be guided by the National Academies’ report Transforming Trajectories for Women of Color in Tech, which provides evidence-based findings and recommendations for increasing recruitment, retention and advancement of women of color in tech fields.

“We are excited to work with our colleagues throughout the country on this important effort to identify and help reduce barriers that are preventing valuable perspectives and brilliant minds from contributing to the technology sector,” said Éva Tardos, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Science, department chair in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, and Cornell’s co-lead liaison to the action collaborative. “By applying what we learn from this national effort, we hope to help Cornell uphold its founding principle of ‘…any person…any study.'”

While women of color currently make up 39% of the female population in the United States, they earn less than 10% of the bachelor’s degrees and less than 5% of doctorates awarded nationally in computing, according to the National Academies. Women of color also remain underrepresented in the tech workforce, and the numbers of women from some racial and ethnic groups have even declined. Black women hold 3% of tech jobs, Latinas hold 1% and Native American/Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women hold 0.3%.

The action collaborative aims to change this underrepresentation by offering a platform for the exchange of ideas and promising practices, taking an intersectional approach that recognizes the multifaceted nature of barriers shaped by race, gender and other factors.

“Cornell Engineering has made tremendous progress, having reached gender parity among our undergraduate population in 2018, and we are always working to make our community more welcoming and inclusive,” said José Martínez, the Lee Teng-Hui Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, senior associate dean for diversity and academic affairs at Cornell Engineering, and Cornell’s co-lead liaison to the action collaborative. “We look forward to learning from and contributing to this important collaboration.”

“This initiative will require dedication and collaboration from all of us,” said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt. “We are committed to facilitating research, collaboration and action that reflect the representation and lived experiences of women of color, in hopes of driving substantial change in the tech and engineering ecosystem.”

/Public Release. View in full here.