Align as one of the four ways to diversify tech – Grace Hopper Celebration

Align as one of the four ways to diversify tech – Grace Hopper Celebration

Melinda Gates was the keynote speaker at the 2017 Grace Hopper Celebration. She spoke about how to diversify tech, specifically by getting more women in tech. Right now, there are a lot of diversity efforts focused on getting more women into the “so-called” pipeline, but that pipeline isn’t producing more than a trickle and it has a lot conditionals built in, she said. And not all the great women are going to meet those conditions, neither do they need to or want to, she went on. “If we want to see a wave of women in tech, we have to open the flood gates.”

She asked, “What if instead of one pipeline, we created lots of new pathways to get people into tech?”

How do you get more women in tech? In Gates opinion, it’s not just about getting them started early.

Gates gave four examples of how to engage women in tech, not only at an early age, but throughout their lives. You never know when you’ll get that itch, but when you do, there are organizations currently working to make sure you don’t miss the boat.

Northeastern’s Align Master of Science in Computer Science (MSCS) program was highlighted as the fourth example of pipelines being built for women. Align is an opportunity for women and people from underrepresented groups who have already pursued a bachelor’s degree in something else, and realize later that tech is where they want to be.

Below were her talking points and examples of other organizations reaching women throughout their lives.

1. Reach the early: Oakland High school students partner with local companies, gaining experience and mentorship.
2. For women already in college: show that tech is a tool for showing real-world problems. Realizing that simple fact can be a game-changer.
3. Combine computer: for women already majoring in some other field, offer programs that combine computing with the rest of their coursework, and lead to degrees in things like bioinformatics.
4. Not just four years: for women who discover tech at different times and in different places, open up more pathways into the field. For community college students, a bridge program that leads to a bachelors in CS like they have a UC Davis. And for women who have already graduated, design master’s program that help pull them and transition into computing like Northeastern University’s Align program.

Read more about the Align program:

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