Note: ITAC meetings are digitally recorded for meeting minute generation; audio files for each topic are posted to an authentication-protected repository available on request to any ITAC member. Presenters are welcome to request to have their audio program excluded from the repository.
All times below include presentation and discussion time.
The meeting agenda is below.
4:00 - 4:05 – Announcements (5 minutes)
There is a new ITAC website. The URL is itac.duke.edu. The old URL will redirect to the new site.
The minutes from the October 25, 2019 ITAC meeting were approved.
Some if you saw an email inviting you to attend a session on Monday where we will more fully get input into what we are describing as the technology related co-curricular offerings at Duke.
The committee welcomed professor Lawrence Baxter (verify spelling) who will be attending as a representative of the law School.
4:05 – 4:35 – DTech Scholars, Shani Daily, Monica Jenkins (20 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)
What it is: DTech is a comprehensive effort to inspire a more diverse group of Duke undergraduates to choose careers in environmental engineering, electrical and computer engineering, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering. In particular, the past two years have focused on increasing the number of women who choose this path. The program centers around the idea that social relationships, mentorships, and hands-on experience make the difference in recruiting and retaining women in technology fields.
Why it’s relevant: With the success of DTech and similar programs, Duke will be well-positioned as a leader in diversifying the IT landscape both on campus and in the workforce, and as a premier institution for women and minorities in computing. We will review DTech’s progress, growth, and results – as well as discuss future plans for encouraging a diverse and inclusive environment that will not only attract students, but also retain them once they arrive.
We are now moving into the fourth year of DTech. The initial project was started by an anonymous donor to address the lack of women in technology fields by providing funding to start a program that could have an immediate impact. There were 10 participants the first year, 34 the next, and 64 the third year. The program started in Silicon Valley and expanded to Chicago and the Research Triangle Park with additional funding for future expansion to Seattle.
The women receive assistance in getting internships. Over the summer, the women live together in small cohorts and while the internships are with different companies, the students can come home and talk to each other and share their experiences. The program organizers actively search for candidates and maintain frequent contact with them (a short sampling of five women showed an average of 56 touch points). There is an application and interview process and the candidates attend information sessions and have one-on-one time with the directors where they have opportunities to talk about negotiation and company culture. Since the program launch, we are now seeing previous students reach out to the new members. Before the students start an internship, we have a leadership boot camp with information on expectations in the workforce and then the students start the 10 to 14-week internships. We also have different panels and workshops during the academic year and summer. The students have one or two agents during the week that they are able to go as a networking resource. There are panels, most in Silicon Valley, hosted by different companies where both women and men discuss what it's like to be in a tech field. Companies also host networking events which provides assistance in soft skills such as how to network, how to approach someone, and how to promote yourself. Last year we had 167 applicants and even though only 64 of them were placed in internships because of budget constraints, all of them where helped in some way. The interns were matched with industry mentors and were encouraged to meet biweekly.
The growth this year has been explosive (the last number reported was 212 but we may be closer to 217 applicants). The interest comes from word-of-mouth communication with almost no advertising as students suggest to each other to apply. DTech was initially intended for ECE (electrical and computer engineering) and computer science students but this year mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering students were also applying. We also have a website at dtech.duke.edu.
We worked with SSRI to evaluate the program and did a series of focus groups with each cohort from Silicon Valley, Chicago, and Durham. We also did a series of pre- and post-surveys and saw increases in efficacy in the ability to find a job which also translated into self-efficacy in the classroom. There was increased clarity with career goals (even if a scholar may have realized she didn't enjoy the work she was doing; this was still helpful). There was also the establishment of supportive community bonds not only at the internship but when the students came back to Duke.
We are continuously looking for resources to enrich the student experience and are working on a grant to the National Science Foundation for the IUSE: RED program (revolutionizing engineering departments). We hope to look at cultural, structural, pedagogical, and organizational changes that can make an impact and we would propose DTech as a possibility. We also want to think about the mechanisms on campus that are already here that we can access to enrich our scholar's experience and expand to other under-represented populations. Because we have been expanding, it has become more difficult to find individual mentors for the students and we welcome suggestions for contacts.
Q: We have a leadership boot camp but there has been talk of pre-internship technical training in topics like software development, programming, and additional skills that would be useful. What is the state of planning for that?
A: We did work with the Co-Lab last year including four or five technical skills workshops and it was under subscribed. We tried different times of day, different days, but this did not improve things.
Q: Wasn't there was feedback indicating the participants wished they had that training?
A: Yes. The workshops that we picked were based on that feedback for the training that they wanted. A lot of the students, after receiving an internship offer, ask the hiring manager what they should be doing before they start and are self-teaching including utilizing lynda.com.
Q: So they are not feeling overwhelmed when they get there?
A: Online materials have improved and there is a wealth of resources out there, even beyond Coursera. The student’s schedules are also busy including extracurricular activities beyond the technical.
Q: You highlighted the gender and diversity gap in the tech sector and that DTech was created as a pipeline to get the students into this field using the internships. Many of our graduate programs also suffer from the same gender and diversity gap including computer science and computational biology. Is there any component of this to help steer the students not just into our graduate programs but into tech-centered PhD programs?
A: The initial funding used as a metric placement in industry positions. Now that we have been running the program, we can expand our definition of success. That said, the initial gift came from the concern that women began their education with an interest in computer science and engineering but by graduation had switched to other programs. The concern wasn't about career but getting them to graduate in those fields. We do have inquiries from graduate students and math majors who want to participate in DTech. There is a huge need and we have limited resources. There have been 19 graduates so far with 18 working in the tech industry and one starting a PhD program at another university. This means 100% are maintaining a technical focus. We would consider it a success if a student went on to a technical graduate program.
Q: If you look at the number of women starting freshman year in computer science and ECE, how many freshman women do we have in those majors?
A: This is difficult because freshmen are not declared. From Computer Science 101, I can tell you that we are doing very well in terms of gender balance, but the numbers decrease in the harder classes. Computer Science 101 has about 600 students. In Computer Science 201, there is still balance but after 201, the gender balance drops significantly which seems to be a trend for most universities. In Computer Science 101, the students don't have a major and may be either exploring the area or they are taking the class as a prerequisite. Many students are recognizing that no matter what the field they study, being able to say that they took CS101 and CS201 is good.
Q: Do you try to have a balance of first, second, and third year students? Do you take the seniors?
A: We try to get them as early as we can. From a recruiter's standpoint, we are trying to reshape the way companies hire. Companies want juniors because it is a step toward hiring but we are trying to solve a different problem of catching the students before they drop out. By the time a student gets to the junior year, she knows what she likes and will stick with it. We will take them as first years, but we want to make sure they have enough experience to be successful so that they don't go into a fast-paced company only to be overwhelmed. Of the 64 students last year, we had four freshmen. It has been unusual for a freshman to be ready to be successful in these companies, but we are seeing the first years bringing experience from high school. We have mostly sophomores with fewer juniors. We do not take seniors because this is an internship program. We point them to new graduate opportunities. Once these participants are in the DTech community, we continue to provide support for them.
If roughly half of the students in computer science 101 are women, that could suggest that DTech could have huge cohorts. If we had the resources to accept all applicants, we could be more forward in advertising. That said, we don't have the resources. We are getting feedback from some students who were in the summer program that that they were very close to dropping out because they didn't think they had what it took to be successful but once they were in a supportive community, they gained the self-confidence needed to stay with program and graduate. We are seeing this program make a difference.
Q: What is next? Is it just more places? Where do you see things headed?
A: To be honest, more places are not needed but money drives decisions. My dream is to do more with first year students. This is when they are doubting themselves and comparing themselves to the older students. I think if we can capture some of these talented freshman and create opportunities to help them realize their potential, that we would see a big difference. I've been in conversations with senior executives at LinkedIn about piloting a program for Duke freshman women. To summarize: more companies doing more with the younger students is where I think where we will see the biggest impact.
Q: Is there any opportunity to get the development people to help out?
A: I have been having a lot of conversations with great people in Development almost every day.
Q: I know some of these companies like Microsoft have these programs as well. Is there knowledge sharing?
A: Yes. We encourage students to research all of these opportunities for freshmen and sophomores where the only qualification is that you have zero experience. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and DropBox all have these types of programs. We encourage the students to apply but there are not nearly enough opportunities and more companies need to be doing more. That said, a lot of startup companies have been working with DTech. We want the exposure to different types of companies and there are some entrepreneurial-minded students who want that. If these students go to a smaller company, they will feel their impact more. The students get greater exposure to the executive team. We love to seek out the smaller-to-medium companies (although we would not discourage the students to go to the larger companies).
Q: One of the things that was a great experience for us last summer was the Code+ group drawn from some of the Dtech students who all worked together on the same project. And harkening back to Data+ and that team experience, we found this to be more productive and have a bigger impact for our project. Instead of "I am the only intern in this company", the experience was "I am an intern with other people working toward something in common". Have you thought about a company taking a team of scholars?
A: Most companies do have an internship class. They might not all be Duke, but it is common to be with other interns. If we are working with a startup, we ask if they would take two students for this reason. Also, the fact that they have housing together gives them the feeling of community.
Q: Regarding the collaboration with SSRI, what is the arrangement like?
A: We worked with them on developing the research questions, the logic model, and the survey instruments which they created. They drew from some of the research they have done in the past. We remove ourselves. We don't interact with the focus groups. We let SSRI handle that. We had a debriefing meeting where they presented their data, both the qualitative and quantitative. It's been a great partnership in that they think about developing surveys, data collection, and best practices. This allows us to get beyond anecdotes to show the validity of the program.
4:35 – 5:00 – Diversity in IT, Paul James, Martay Smith, Jen Vizas (25 minute presentation, 10 minute discussion)
What it is: Duke is committed to creating a diverse community that is built on collaboration, innovation, creativity and belonging. Diversity across Duke, and more specifically within IT at Duke, is critical to our continued success.
Why it’s relevant: Many technology organizations across the nation have functioned without a diverse workforce (men hold 76% of technical jobs and 95% of the tech workforce is white). As the demand of a technical workforce continues to grow and qualified candidate shortages are predicted, this lack of diversity cannot continue. Technology affects everyone and is used every hour of every day. It impacts how we interact with the world around us -- from conducting research, teaching, and learning to shopping, traveling, and how we interact socially. We need multiple viewpoints and ideas to truly represent the diverse landscape of society. Duke is in a position to not only impact diversity in its own IT employment landscape, but also to create a pipeline of diverse technology-savvy students who will thrive in the tech industry.
The Office of Institutional Equity has the responsibility for the oversight of all Duke full-time employees for diversity and inclusion. Two years ago, we were asked by the president to chair an institutional group that would design a statement on how we think about our commitment to diversity and inclusion. We pulled together a committee of about 25 participants made up of faculty, staff, and students, from both the health system and university, and spent the better part of the summer developing this statement, which was voted on by the Board of Trustees, that at the highest level of this institution we are aspiring to be a community that thinks about diversity, both intellectually and practically. The other aspect we believe is important is the awareness of diversity and inclusion in the absence of a conflict or as part of a compliance requirement. We know the best time to address this is when it is not required. We are asking people to think about diversity's role in the work force as a norm. How we talk about diversity and of belonging is critically important.
OIT Human Resources came to us about three or four years ago saying, "We want to improve in this area and create an educational platform that suggests that we are not only thinking about the numbers in diversity but the culture as well". We began designing learning modules with an emphasis on thinking through critical aspects of difference in the workspace. Information Technology is not immune to issues of diversity and inclusion. We all come from communities and cultures. As we look back and reflect on these programs, we believe the IT community has responded very well and it has allowed us to create something tangible. However, we know that in diversity and inclusion, it is not about the destination but the journey. We measure our progress in several ways including staff participation and engagement in events. As we move forward, diversity and inclusion must be a factor in culture, hiring, community, and learning style on a daily basis. Research suggests that a deciding factor of the sustainability of these efforts is when senior leadership is engaged.
News reports and employee feedback indicate that statistics on diversity affect them personally. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics is predicting there will be 1.4 million open jobs in the computer science fields but only 400,000 qualified candidates, likely because of "leaky pipe lines" (the inability to keep women in technology and the lack of access to training resources for minorities). A report from Google found that people of color were one and a half more times likely to be interested in computer science but had limited access to those resources. Two thirds of white males report having a computer at home but for people of color, only half have a computer at home. In the next 25 years, the majority of the United States will be people of color which means that the "leaky pipeline" will have an impact on the industry. Ramping up diversity efforts results in 400 billion more in revenue annually, but 16 billion is lost without that support. In 1985, 35% of computer science graduates were women compared to 17% today and there is research to determine why. A major factor is the sense of community. Environments with fewer women or people of color find difficulty in creating that feeling of belonging. 41% of women are leaving the technology workforce because of hostile work environments and organizational cultures of harassment. We talk in diversity about "intent" versus "impact" and we know that while the intention isn't to ostracize or harass, the impact is the same. Pay inequality is also a huge issue. 63% of the women surveyed stated that they were offered or were paid less than their male counterparts and by "less", that can range anywhere from 4% to 50% and minorities can expect to make less than women. Another important issue is the loss of assignments and opportunities because of misperceptions or unconscious biases.
DiversifyIT was created with a focus on being realistic, because the issue is large and we want to address it in a way that can be impactful. DiversifyIT started as a "women in tech" group that was expanded to bring awareness to the issues and create a sense of community and support across Duke. We are encouraging the Duke IT community to join our conversation and are doing this in a variety of ways including the programming we have done over the last three years. We used different approaches, starting with "lighter" content so as not to be oppressive and overwhelming with statistics. We did everything from workshops to offering departmental training for addressing internal issues. We helped determine what resources were needed and where to get help including utilizing personal assistance services. Implicit bias training was also offered. We provided interactive workshops where actors were brought in to perform real-life scenarios with the audience providing suggestions that were then acted out. Participants were able to have a sense of the experiences of other people. We offered lighter programming including a screening of the movie "Hidden Figures", an ice cream social, bus tours of the history of Durham, and monthly brown bag discussions that were open to all of the Duke IT community. We had about 200 employees attending implicit bias training, an average of 85 attendees at most events, and calculate 400 people have been impacted.
We also have a very active mailing list that acts as an educational platform to share articles and information important for the community. All of this has resonated, and the Office of Institutional Equity indicates every time they do these workshops, there is a desire to know more about the information and they want to keep the momentum going.
What kind of impact does this have on the community at large, both Duke and beyond? We have increased our outreach and engagement efforts. We have an internship program with approximately 27 non-Duke students who've participated and at any given time we have 20 to 30 students working in a wide range of departments, from Identity Management to the Innovation Co-Lab to Security. We have historically black colleges and universities represented as well as both Wake and Durham Technical Community Colleges. We have seen a number of those interns make the transition to full time employment. Other community engagement efforts include working with DTech scholars and hosting open houses where over 120 students attend who have an opportunity to learn about offerings such as the Roots program. We also have "mock" technical interviews where a group of volunteers in OIT work with students who submit their resume and experience questions on their resume and areas of interest. Both the interviewers and students ask questions during the 45-minute session and the student is given immediate feedback with follow-up written information.
This year, we hosted a discussion on "Women in Tech" where women from technical companies participated in a panel which had good attendance where the participants received valuable exposure. We also launched the Code+ internship program and sponsored students to attend programs like the "Women in Tech" summit in Raleigh and a few of our Code+ students went to the Grace Hopper conference. The Code+ summer program included six students who were associated with DTech Scholars. These students had little to no programming experience but were able to create a fully functional iOS app for Duke Parking and Transportation which we anticipate will be in production later in the spring. Feedback from the Code+ students indicated some were unsure they were going to stay in the major but gained the confidence to remain after the program. Code+ students also provided testimonials including that they made the best memories of their lives, wished they could do the program again, and that the experience was beyond their expectations. They also said before the program they were felt overwhelmed at the thought of working in tech but now had confidence they could be successful. Students are now interning at Facebook, MasterCard, and Expedia. We are formalizing and expanding the program to 25 students and have a web site. We anticipate having upwards of 46 projects with project teams of 4-6 students on each team. We are working closely with Data+ and the computer science department. We think this was a fabulous program and are very excited about the opportunities to support the technical pipeline.
Regarding the intern program in OIT, a striking aspect we've noticed is the range of departments where these internships have worked. They have gone beyond entry level positions which has helped to reinforce the roles these interns can play because a lot of these "conversions" to full-time employment have been in the networking and identity management teams.
Q: We want to ask, "What do you perceive are the biggest challenges and gaps in your areas and communities?"
A: We recently went through the hiring process for IT within our department and it was challenging. We were not aware of some of the resources that OIT had but all worked out in the end. I think more outreach to individual departments and stakeholders is needed so they are aware of those resources. Finding qualified candidates is already difficult. Even as a participant on this committee, I was not aware of these resources and I'm sure our hiring and business manager are even less aware. Advertising and training would be useful along with outreach to the departments.
We do hear this a lot and are having conversations that hopefully will address this issue.
A lot of issues come down to the Duke central Human Resources' vetting process. We found out after a job posting that there were wonderfully qualified candidates we never got to see until several weeks after they had applied. We had candidates from diversity demographics who reached out asking why they were not offered an interview.
Is this because of the vetting that happens up stream before the results are shown to the hiring staff? Duke has thousands of applicants a month reviewed by a relatively small team. This makes it difficult to have a true recruitment process. However, we don't want hiring managers to be overwhelmed by unqualified candidates.
We are not permitted to see those candidates until they have gone through that process and if they don't make it past this stage, then we never know they have applied.
We have tried to expand the pool by increasing the search terms that we use in our job description. However, this does not always work. For example, we may request experience in Python programming but if a candidate doesn't have that language explicitly listed, they will not be seen even though an interview would have been worthwhile. This makes the vetting process for central human resources even harder, even though we are trying to expand the candidate pool. In the end, reducing some of these keyword terms helps a lot.