I2S Honored to be Named Member of National Women in IT Organization

KU’s Institute for Information Sciences was recently welcomed as a new member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT, “en-cee-wit”). The nonprofit organization convenes, equips, and unites leaders of change in organizations to increase the influential and meaningful participation of girls and women in the field of computing, particularly in terms of innovation and development. 

In becoming a member representative, I2S joins a community of more than 2,400 postsecondary faculty from 700 institutions committed to equity in computing and technology. According to Jennifer Lohoefener, Assistant Research Professor at KU’s department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Associate Director at I2S, it is no secret that the field of computing is lacking in diversity. “One of the priorities of I2S is to broaden participation in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) education, research, and workforce,” she says. “Given that NCWIT is composed of change leaders focused on a similar mission – to advance innovation correcting underrepresentation in computing - it is a natural fit for our institute to pursue membership.” 

While Lohoefener has not previously attended any of NCWIT’s in-person events, she has attended several virtual talks and presentations and plans to attend their summit in Kansas City in May. One example of a virtual event she has attended was their Meeting of the Minds series, a discussion targeted toward faculty, staff, researchers, and students based on the challenges related to broadening participation in computing. That series was free and open to the public. 

Lohoefener believes that the mission of NCWIT is crucial. “The problems associated with broadening diversity in computing are not unusual,” she says, “but they require unique solutions. Having a network of post-secondary institutions dedicated to a similar mission greatly increases the chances for success, not only within higher education, but in industry and society.”