Diversity in Tech: Addressing the Talent Pipeline and Workplace Culture

On Wednesday, March 29th, the Fellows attended this talk with speakers Danny Best (Dell EMC Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion), and Bentley CIS Professor Wendy Lucas. The focus of this talk was how to increase participation of minorities and women in technology-focused careers. Fellows, please share two key takeaways from this event, and also why you think it’s important in the case of the tech industry to have more women and minority participants.

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3 thoughts on “Diversity in Tech: Addressing the Talent Pipeline and Workplace Culture

  1. Diversity is key to making a team function at its best. Not only is ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed in the technology field the most productive and profitable method in the long run, it is what is right. Women and minorities test and perform as well, or often better, than (white) males when it comes to computer science, and although working in diverse teams can be difficult, it is very important that the tech industry sees as increase in female and minority participation.

    The event left me with many important takeaways, one of which is the need to improve educational standards and curriculum of computing courses at a young age. By the time students hit middle school, they have already developed a stereotypical profile of someone with a CS degree – often geeky and almost always male. If this were not discouraging enough to females, the curriculum is lacking in content, and where there is content, it is not presented in an intriguing way. One (possible) solution presented during the event, that has not yet been proven effective but looks promising, was the single-sex primary education. When girls are surrounded by solely other girls, their confidence in tackling male dominated subjects increases.

    The last takeaway I will discuss is the need for the tech industry to retain its women. Their is a technology drain – women are rapidly leaving the industry before hitting their career peak. Reasons vary and may include unequal pay, unequal evaluations/standards, on the job harassment, few role models, starting at a lower entry level job and more. Of these women who leave, less than 20% leave the workforce entirely, indicating that the majority are simply leaving the industry for a new opportunity. The tech industry needs to work to hold on to these women and create a more inclusive workplace culture.

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  2. The Diversity in Tech event was great because it was focused on the faculty and not the students. While I know that it is imperative to teach our younger generations the importance of diversity, it is equally important to educate the generations that are in the workforce now. They are the ones with the current power to make a difference, and with more workshops like these, I believe that they will.

    Out of all of the information shared with attendees, I found two points most significant. The first revolves around the fact that the low representation of women in science is due to the way secondary education approaches this area of study. According to Professor Lucas, teaching methods often fail to intrigue or engage females because it is presented in a dull manner, or worse yet, lessons are tailored to male-dominated interests like football. On top of that, it is not even required to offer CS classes, which definitely explains the lack of female interest generated.

    My second key takeaway was that negative opinions of CS begin as early as middle school. This indicates the need to connect with female students as soon as possible. The sooner females can be exposed to the benefits of the science field, the sooner their involvement will increase. While the simplicity of this realization ridicules the problem, it also highlights the ease with which we can flip the switch.

    I personally believe that the tech industry should have and, quite frankly, needs more women and minority participants because it is the right thing to do. The benefits of diversity in the workplace are irrefutable, and a shift toward saturating a male-dominated arena holds nothing but the promise of good things to come.

    – Dana Zappone

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  3. Research has shown that, in spite of assumptions, women are no less capable than men in the technology field. In fact, diversity in the workplace produces a more polished outcome. It seems obvious: the more voices we hear, the better solutions we can create? Why then, is there a dearth of women in the technology industry?

    My biggest takeaway from the program is that involving women in technology needs to begin in secondary school. Beginning in high school, the trend of fewer women in technology starts, as less females take the AP Computer Science test than do their male counterparts. In addition, CS is not required as a class in most schools, thus, many students are simply unaware of where to jumpstart their studies in the field.

    I also learned that sometimes, the tone at the top is not enough. Mr. Best proved that he and his executive team promote diversity. Yet, during day-to-day operations, top-level management cannot oversee what each and every mid-level manager is actually doing. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of the employees in mid-level manager positions to ensure that women are being recruited, and furthermore, retained.

    I enjoyed this talk immensely. I will be interning at Dell EMC this summer, and I am proud that my company supports my growth. I aspire to work in User Experience after graduation, and I also have an interest in cybersecurity, so I am a woman in technology. Knowing that although I have obstacles to overcome, I have resources available to me means a lot.

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