Women of Color Remain Underrepresented in Technology


Jose: GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO HORIZONTE, I AM JOSE CARDENAS. A.S.U.’S CENTER FOR GENDER EQUITY IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, CGEST, AND THE CAPOR CENTER RELEASED NEW DATA THAT SHOWS WHILE WOMAN OF COLOR ARE A FAST GROWING POPULATION IN THE U.S., THEY REMAIN UNDERREPRESENTED IN THE TECHNOLOGY FIELD. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS DATA IS KIMBERLY SCOTT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR THE A.S.U. CENTER OF GENDER EQUALITY IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY. SHE IS ALSO PROFESSOR OF WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES IN THE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION AT A.S.U. DR. SCOTT, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US THIS EVENING. TELL US ABOUT THIS CENTER THAT YOU HAVE

Scott: SO, IT'S A ONE OF A KIND CENTER, TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEDGE, WHERE WE'RE FUNCTIONING AS A RESEARCH UNIT HERE AT ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY. WE HAVE THREE ARMS, ONE IS RESEARCH, BUILDING KNOWLEDGE SPECIFICALLY ABOUT DOCUMENTING, ANALYSING, AND BETTER UNDERSTANDING EXPERIENCES OF WOMAN OF COLOR. THE SECOND ARM IS ADVOCACY. WE BELIEVE THAT WHILE IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TO GENERATE NEW DATA, UNLESS IT INFORMS POLICY, IT OFTEN MISSES THE IMPACT WE'RE HOPING TO ACHIEVE. AND THE THIRD ARM IS THE DEVELOPMENT ARM WHERE WE ARE WORKING TO USE THE DATA TO SUPPORT PROGRAMS, AGAIN PROGRAMS SPECIFIC FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN, LATIN X, ASIAN AMERICAN, AND NATIVE AMERICAN, GIRLS AND WOMAN, SO THAT THEY ARE BETTER POISED TO ASSUME THE 21ST CENTURY JOBS, WHICH ARE GOING TO REQUIRE S.T.E.M. COMPETENCIES.

Jose: ONE OF THE THINGS WE WANT TO FOCUS ON TONIGHT INVOLVES THAT FIRST ARM, THE DATA DEVELOPMENT AND THERE'S A DATA BRIEF THAT HAS BEEN RELEASED. TELL US ABOUT THAT.

Scott: YES, WE ARE SO EXCITED BECAUSE THIS PARTICULAR DATA BRIEF IS MANIFESTATION OF A COLLABORATION THAT MY CENTER HAS WITH A CAPOR FOUNDATION IN CALIFORNIA, AND THIS PARTICULAR DATA BRIEF IS ONE OF THE FEW SOURCES OF DATA THAT LOOKS VERY SERIOUSLY AT WHAT WE KNOW TO THIS POINT AS IT RELATES TO WOMEN OF COLOR IN COMPUTING. AS YOU SAID, COMPUTING IS THE FASTEST GROWING AND THE MOST LUCRATIVE OF ALL SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH DISCIPLINES. SO THIS BRIEF CHALLENGES OUR SOCIETY, CHALLENGES OUR RESEARCHERS, OUR POLICY MAKERS TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT ARE WOMEN OF COLOR EXPERIENCING. WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH TELL US, THE DATA TELL US, AS IT RELATES TO ENTREPRENEURSHIP, VENTURE CAPITALISM, HAVING ACCESS TO COMPUTER SCIENCE ADVANCED PLACEMENT COURSES, AS WELL AS OUR GENERAL EXPERIENCES IN THE PRE-K-20 SYSTEM.

Jose: AND BEFORE WE GET INTO WHAT THE DATA DOES TELL US, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, ONE OF THE UNIQUE THINGS THAT IS SOMEWHAT UNIQUE ABOUT THIS IS THAT WE DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW THIS. YOU WOULD THINK THERE WOULD ALREADY BEEN WELL-ESTABLISHED CENTERS OR DATA INFORMATION ABOUT THIS SITUATION AND YET THERE SEEMS TO BE A DEARTH OF RESEARCH.

Scott: THERE IS DEFINITELY A DEARTH OF I THINK OF COLLECTIVE RESEARCH, A HUB OF INFORMATION, WHERE AN INDIVIDUAL CAN GO, WHETHER THAT INDIVIDUAL BE A DECISION MAKER OR A STUDENT. WE HAVE SEVERAL SILOED TYPE OF PROJECTS AND RESEARCH, AND SO WHAT THE COLLABORATIVE, WHICH IS BEHIND THE PRODUCTION OF THE DATA BRIEF, WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS TO AGGREGATE, TO PUT ALL OF THE DATA TOGETHER, BUT ALSO DO IT IN A UNIQUE WAY. IT'S INSUFFICIENT TO SIMPLY SAY, WOMEN, AND THEN DOT, DOT, DOT. WE'RE VERY MUCH INTERESTED IN WHAT KIND OF POWER DO -- LET'S SAY AFRICAN AMERICAN HAVE IN SILICON VALLEY? HOW MANY LEADERS ARE THERE WHO ARE OF ASIAN AMERICAN DECENT AND ALSO WOMEN. SO WE'RE INTERESTED IN THINKING ABOUT POWER, THE INTERSECTION OF IDENTITIES, OR HOW OUR MUTLIPLE IDENTITIES, COME INTO PLAY IN PROVIDING AFFORDANCES OR BARRIERS, AS IT RELATES TO EXTENSION OF LEADERSHIP ROLES AND TECHNOLOGY, AS WELL AS PERSISTENCE.

Jose: SO, LET'S TALK NOW ABOUT THE DATA. IT LOOKS, AT LEAST WHEN I READ THE SUMMERY, LIKE WE HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO.

Scott: WE DO HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO. AND I THINK THAT THIS IS A CRITICAL TIME IN OUR NATION, WHERE WE NEED TO PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THOSE BARRIERS AS WELL AS FORCES. WOMEN OF COLOR BY THE YEAR 2060, ACCORDING TO THE CENSUS BUREAU, WILL BE THE MAJORITY OF WOMEN IN OUR NATION. AND GIRLS OF COLOR IN THE K-12 SYSTEM WILL ALSO SOON, ARE VERY CLOSE TO THE MAJORITY NOW. AND SO WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO WHY ARE THERE SO FEW OF US WHO ARE NOT ONLY ENTERING TECHNOLOGY AND ACQUIRING THE COMPETENCIES, IN ORDER TO CONTINUE ON IN THESE FIELDS, BUT GAINING ACCESS TO THE LEADERSHIP OR DECISION-MAKING ROLES.

Jose: AND EVEN AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL, I READ THE NUMBERS, IT'S PRETTY STARTLING.

Scott: IT IS STARTLING, AND A LOT OF THE REASONS HAVE VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH THE INDIVIDUALS. OFTENTIMES INDIVIDUALS WILL SAY, WELL, WOMEN OF COLOR ARE SIMPLY NOT MOTIVATED. AND THE DATE REVEILING IT’S MORE OF A STUCTURAL SYSTEMIC ISSUES. FOR INSTANCE, THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE OF COLOR, KIDS OF COLOR IN OUR NATION TEND TO THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY TO ATTEND A SCHOOL THAT IS UNDERREPRESENTED, HAS ECONOMIC ISSUES AND DISADVANTAGES, AND IT'S IN THOSE CONTEXTS, UNFORTUNATELY THAT WE HAVE FEWER OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS TO TAKE ADVANCED PLACEMENT COMPUTER SCIENCE, AND WHAT WE SEE IS THAT IF YOU DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO ADVANCED PLACEMENT COMPUTER SCIENCE, THEN OFTEN TIMES WHEN YOU START YOUR POST SECONDARY, WHEN YOU START COLLEGE, YOU MAY BE REALLY INTERESTED AND HAVE EVERY INTENT OF MAJORING IN COMPUTER SCIENCE, BUT YOU HAVE LACKED THE BACKGROUND KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCES IN ORDER TO CONTINUE ON.

Jose: AND SO YOU GET MORE DISCOURAGED IF YOU DO TRY IT BECAUSE YOU ARE BEHIND THE OTHER KIDS IN YOUR GROUP?

Scott: IN ADDITION TO STEREOTYPE THREATS, SO WHETHER IT BE PEERS OR FACULTY MEMBERS WHO ARE ASSUMING THAT CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS ARE TECHNOLOGICALLY SAVVY, THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE INHERINTLY BORN WITH A GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF COMPUTER SCIENCE, AND WHAT WE SEE, NOT NECESSARILY ARE YOU BORN WITH IT, BUT OFTENTIMES WE HAVE COMMUNITIES WHERE YOU ARE BORN WITH GREATER OPPORTUNITIES AND RESOURCES TO PURSUE TECHNOLOGY AS WELL AS THE SUPPORT TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET THAT JOB.

Jose: TALKING ABOUT WOMEN OF COLOR AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN THIS AREA, TELL US ABOUT THAT.

Scott: INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH WHAT WE FOUND OF THE DATA PARTICULARLY FOR AFRICAN AMERICA AND LATIN-X WOMEN, THERE HAS BEEN AN INCREASE OF WOMEN FROM THOSE POPULATIONS THAT ARE STARTING BUSINESSES, WHICH WE ARE TO CELEBRATE THAT POINT, AND PARTICULARLY BUSINESSES, START UPS, IF YOU WILL, IN TECHNOLOGY, BUT AT THE SAME TIME, AFRICAN AMERICAN AND LATIN-X WOMEN ARE LESS LIKELY TO GET VENTURE FUNDING. OR FUNDING FROM ANGEL INVESTORS. WHY IS THAT? AND IT'S THIS INITIATIVE, THIS COLLABORATIVE BETWEEN MY CENTER THAT AND CAPOR WE'RE AIMING TO SUPPORT COMMISSION WORK, SCHOLARS AND OTHERS TO EXPLORE QUESTIONS SUCH AS THAT.

Jose: SO, I WAS ABOUT TO ASK YOU, YOU’VE GOT THE DATA. UM, WHO USES IT, WHO WILL USE IT? AND YOU HAVE ANSWERED THAT A LITTLE BIT. BUT WHAT RESULTS DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE WHEN PEOPLE TAKE INTO THIS INTO ACCOUNT?

Scott: I'M HOPEFUL, AS WELL AS MY COLLEAGUES INVOLVED IN THIS COLLECTIVE INITIATIVE, THAT THE DATA WILL SPUR ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS. THERE ARE A MULTITUDE OF THINGS THAT WE DO NOT KNOW. WHAT WE DON’T KNOW SPECIFIC TO THE VARIOUS GROUPS. FOR INSTANCE, WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ASIAN AMERICAN WOMEN, WHICH GROUP ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT KOREAN AMERICAN? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT MUNG, OR LAOTIAN? AND WHEN WE’RE TALKING ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN, WHERE? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN WHO ARE MIDDLE CLASS IN THE NORTH EAST VS. THE SOUTH WEST. AND SO WHAT WE’RE HOPING IS THE DATA BRIEF WILL INSPIRE ADDITIONAL RESEARCH QUESTIONS, ADDITIONAL, UM, IDEAS TO SAY WHAT ELSE DON’T WE KNOW AS IT RELATES TO THIS ECOSYSTEM THAT IS UNFORTUNATELY PROVIDING NOT ENOUGH EXPERIENCE AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR CERTAIN COMMUNITIES.

Jose: AND JUST ONE LAST THING, YOU GOT A CONFERENCE COMING UP?

Scott: WE DO. THE CENTER IS REALLY PLEASED TO OFFER ITS THIRD WOMEN OF COLOR S.T.E.M. ENTREPRENEURSHIP CONFERENCE IN COLLABORATION WITH A MULTITUDE OF OFFICES HERE AT ASU. THE FOCUS IS YEAR IS ON GOVERNANCE AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP. THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE -- AND WE INVITE EVERYONE, IF THEY GO TO OUR WEBSITE, TO REGISTER ON OUR WEBSITE. IT STARTED WITH OUR WORK WITH THE WHITE HOUSE INITIATIVE FOR WOMEN UNDER THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, AND WE CONTINUE ON TO OFFER THIS SPACE TO PROVIDE ROLE MODELS, LESSONS LEARNED, AND HOW TO BETTER ENGAGE, AND SUPPORT WOMEN OF COLOR IN THEIR ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS AND OPPORTUNITIES IN S.T.E.M.

Jose: AND WHEN IS IT AGAIN?

Scott: OCTOBER 4TH, HERE IN PHOENIX, IN FACT, DOWNTOWN.

Jose: GOOD LUCK ON THE CONFERENCE. AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Scott: THANK YOU.

Jose: COMING UP NEXT, REFUGEES GET HELP STARTING THEIR LIVES IN ARIZONA.

We’ll be joined by Kimberly Scott, the Executive Director for the ASU Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology to discuss new data on the role of women of color in the technology field. Scott is also a Professor of Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation at ASU.

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In this segment:

Kimberly Scott, the Executive Director for the ASU Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology

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