UMBC joins national effort to improve pathways for women of color in tech

Published: Dec 21, 2023

Groups of students sit at tables outside a concrete and glass building.
Students gather outside of the University Center on the UMBC campus. (Marlayna Demond '11/UMBC)

Earlier this month, UMBC joined dozens of other founding institutions at the kick-off meeting of a newly launched initiative to ensure sustained resources and opportunities in tech fields for women of color.

The effort, called the Action Collaborative on Transforming Trajectories for Women of Color in Tech, is organized by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine and guided by the findings and recommendations detailed in a 2022 National Academies report. According to the report, while women of color make up a substantial and growing percentage of the female population in the United States, they earn a small percentage of computing degrees, and remain significantly underrepresented in the tech workforce.

UMBC has a history of success running programs, such the nationally recognized Meyerhoff Scholars Program and the Center for Women in Technology, that work to advance equity and inclusion and increase diversity among future leaders in science, technology, engineering, and related fields.

“Tech jobs are a vital part of our society,” says Anupam Joshi, the acting dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology at UMBC. “We need to tap the entire talent base of the country to fill these jobs.” 

UMBC’s efforts as part of the action collaborative will be a continuation of the university’s commitment to supporting students from underrepresented groups as they pursue technical education, he says. “UMBC has a solid foundation that we can build on.”

The action collaborative will offer participating institutions—representing higher education, national laboratories, and government—a platform to exchange ideas and promising practices for increasing the recruitment, retention, and advancement in tech fields of women who identify as African American, Black, Hispanic, Latina, Native American, Asian American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. 

The action collaborative’s member institutions will collaborate over the coming four years to share novel, promising, and evidence-based practices, discuss and advance research priorities, share data collection practices, and more.

“This initiative will require dedication and collaboration from all of us,” said National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt, in a press release. “We are committed to facilitating research, collaboration, and action that reflect the representation and lived experiences of women of color, in hopes of driving substantial change in the tech and engineering ecosystem.”

More information can be found on the action collaborative’s website.


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