Higher ed IT still struggles with diversity
Diversity on IT staff is important in its own right, but diverse staff members can also be a source of inspiration and emulation for STEM students of color who are embarking on paths into professions that often suffer from a lack of diversity in their own right. Tech industries have realized the problem, which is why you see companies like Intel investing heavily in historically black colleges and universities, for example. A 2015 report found that STEM fields were no more diverse than they had been 14 years prior.
College administrators should seize the opportunity to partner students, particularly students of color, with IT teams, as Berkeley University has started to do. It offers students an opportunity to get some experience in practical tech applications that will greet them after graduation, and it may also offer them STEM mentors working at the higher ed institution but outside of academia. This will not solve the lack of diversity on IT teams by itself, but it could serve to boost the experience, expertise and confidence of students of color entering professional fields where they will be in the minority.
Examples of Success
Meanwhile, Ray Wang, bestselling author of Disrupting Digital Business interviewed 3 successful higher ed CIOs to discuss their recipe for success. The following video is the interview with Melissa Woo, CIO from Stony Brook University.
Here are some of the keys to success according to Woo…
1. Successful people work outside of their job descriptions – Woo’s career path to becoming an extraordinary CIO started when she began to improve communication barriers in business, and getting people to communicate with each other, taking on assignments in IT that was outside her official job description. By leaning into technology to further improve collaboration and communication within her organization and company, Woo was able to bolster her technical and leadership skills.
2. Organizations will use analytics to deliver personalized services – Woo and her team are developing personalized services and consultancy capabilities by using big data and advanced analytics to support adaptive learning models – varying the pace of learning that is unique to a student’s competency and capabilities. CIOs must enable organizations to improve mass personalization of services at scale. Another element of success is flexibility and mobility, meaning the services must ultimately be delivered on mobile smart devices.
3. In a digital world, analog skills matter most – Women in general are great communicators. IT and the technology industry needs strong leaders who are collaborative and able to effectively communicate, connect and inspire communities to leverage technology to improve business and professional outcomes. A learning, graceful, tactful and growing culture in technology is perfectly suited for women managers and business leaders.
4. Chasing a technology fad is not necessarily a strong career move – The ability to analyze, organize and communicate is key to future of work and a better career. The ability to code, learning about Internet of Things, Artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies is important but abilities like critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, teamwork and communication skills are most important in the digital economy.
5. CIOs must become more agile and be comfortable with experimenting – Woo reminds us that 18 month projects are no longer an option. To better serve the customer, we have to better understand the business and stakeholder needs, and then to execute with urgency and faster pace of innovation. CIOs must listen more, be empathetic, and educate and inspire the community to be more comfortable with use of technology to deliver better experiences and business outcomes.