At CMD-IT, we know that increasing the representation and visibility of women of color in tech is critical to the industry, in both ensuring progress and expanding innovation. Understanding the trends and variables that impact or impede the opportunity and success of women of color in the field remains vital to making lasting change. The recent National Symposium on Transforming the Trajectories for Women of Color in Tech convened top minds and stakeholders in the arena to discuss the 2021 consensus study released by The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine that takes a comprehensive, data-rich look at the ecosystems and experiences of minority women in tech and provides insights to approaches that can continue to drive movement towards equity.
In her portion of the symposium’s opening remarks, committee co-chair and CMD-IT President and CEO Dr. Valerie Taylor spoke about the importance of data that’s inclusive of the varied histories, cultures, communities, and support systems that shape BIPOC women’s lived experiences–socially, academically, and professionally. “Data that includes these contexts will ensure that descriptions of the experiences of women of color truly reflect the experiences of all women,” Dr. Taylor explains. “There is a critical need for institutions and organizations to take an intersectional approach that takes into account how the intersection of race, gender and economic disparity influences the experiences of women of color.”
A Wide Lens with Precision Focus
Analysis reveals, unsurprisingly, that demand for tech and computing professionals will increase dramatically over the next decade, making the number of women of color in tech increasingly critical to building and sustaining a competitive workforce. During the full-day symposium, attendees reviewed and discussed the current literature on the structural and social barriers and supports for women of color in tech, as well as four central impact areas laid out in the consensus study: higher education; industry practices in recruitment, retention, and advancement; the role of government and policy; and the role of professional societies. Each area contained many opportunities for increased engagement and the opportunity to better respond to industry-wide needs in elevating representation.
With such important areas of impact being discussed, attendees and contributors leveraged the gathering to imbed actionable strategies to drive change. The symposium also provided a meeting to discuss the possibility of launching an Action Collaborative, focused on higher education, industry, national laboratories, and government agencies. The Action Collaborative would provide an opportunity for sharing of good practices and provide accountability for increasing the representation and success of women of color in tech.
Continuing the Work
Addressing the systemic issues that diminish the representation of women of color in tech is simultaneously a best practice and social justice imperative. Recognizing the intersection of race, gender, and other social and cultural identities–rather than focusing on gender more broadly– allows for accelerated and more effective outcomes. That’s why at CMD-IT, we’re committed to transforming the landscape and leading the charge in championing new standards and opportunities that bring the full capacity of African Americans/Blacks, Native Americans/Indigenous, Hispanics/Latinx, and People with Disabilities to all levels of industry impact and innovation.
Thank you to the National Academies for hosting this important discussion during this critical moment in the work to illuminate inequities. Read the full study her