In 1990, women held only 35% of computing occupations in the U.S. workforce. By 2015, that number was reduced to 25% (PDF). The 2015 documentary CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap examines this decline. In the words of the film’s creators, CODE “exposes the dearth of female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap and digital divide.” The documentary was well-received and there have since been regular showings across campus.
In June 2016, U-M ITS employees Amber Madden, Carrie Shumaker, Debbie Gowan, and Jen Burch attended a showing hosted by the Library Information Technology and Library Diversity Council. The movie and following panel conversation had such an impact that these four women decided to create the Women in IT Community of Practice (WIT CoP) with the goal of sharing knowledge and exploring how we can promote diversification in IT at U-M. (ITS also hosted its own showing in October that also had a great turnout.)
On December 7, 2016, U-M WIT CoP held its first meeting at Arbor Lakes in the Dome. At close to 80 attendees, meeting attendance exceeded expectations with diverse representation from across and within campus units. The group currently plans to meet on a monthly basis. Sub-committees to address specific areas of interest are forming and will host their own meetings as well. Sub-committees currently include Mentorship, Campus Outreach, Professional Development, Community Outreach, Workplace Culture, and Hiring & Recruiting. We encourage anyone with interests in these areas to join and contribute your thoughts and expertise. WIT CoP is open to students, staff, and faculty from all U-M campuses.