BOONE, N.C. — A persistent gap exists between the number of men and women in the information technology (IT) field: At colleges and universities across the U.S., only 28% of IT faculty are women, according to the Association for Information Systems (AIS).
Dr. Lakshmi S. Iyer, acting associate dean of graduate programs and research in the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University, is performing research aimed at fostering gender equity in IT through a three-year project titled Increasing the Participation and AdvanCemenT of Women in Information Technology, or ImPACT IT.
Iyer, who also serves as a professor in the Department of Computer Information Systems, was awarded more than $100,000 in support of the project — funding that is part of a nearly $1 million ADVANCE grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
According to the ImPACT IT project site, equal representation among IT faculty will “enhance the quality of students’ education, the impact of university research, engagement with communities and the leadership of higher education institutions.”
In partnership with AIS, the ImPACT IT team — which includes Iyer and four other women IT faculty — is working to identify and eliminate organizational barriers that prevent diverse IT women faculty from fully participating in the field and advancing to the rank of full professor.
Iyer is leading the project’s best practices group, which reviews, develops, evaluates and recommends best practices for supporting associate faculty in their advancement to full professor — especially women and traditionally underrepresented groups.
Drawing from interview data and in conversation with AIS leadership, the group will develop and implement workshops to share best practice material with relevant stakeholders.
Iyer has previously demonstrated a passion to advance underrepresented students’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields through App State’s Innovate for Good program, the goal of which is to increase diverse students’ awareness about STEM education and career paths.
She is also founder and director of IT is for Girls, an outreach program through the University of North Carolina at Greensboro that aims to increase middle and high school girls’ awareness about education and career paths in computing.
Makayla Wilkins ’21, who is pursuing her Master of Science in applied data analytics at App State, will serve as a graduate research assistant on the ImPACT IT project. Wilkins, of Los Angeles, California, graduated from the university this spring with a Bachelor of Science in business administration in supply chain management.
The ImPACT IT model will be shared broadly and can serve as a role model for other associations seeking to increase the number of women promoted to full professor in higher education.
ADVANCE is part of the NSF’s strategy to broaden participation in the STEM workforce. Since 2001, NSF has invested more than $270 million in ADVANCE projects at more than 100 organizations nationwide, including higher education institutions and STEM-related, not-for-profits.
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About the Department of Computer Information Systems
At Appalachian State University, computer information systems (CIS) students gain valuable professional skills and capabilities that prepare them for careers in a wide variety of technology-related industries. Students learn how to successfully interface between the technical and management aspects within organizations. Part of the Walker College of Business, the Department of Computer Information Systems offers one of 10 undergraduate business majors at Appalachian, all of which promote solid business acumen and technical fundamentals. Learn more at https://cis.appstate.edu.
About the Walker College of Business
The Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University delivers transformational educational experiences that prepare and inspire students to be ethical, innovative and engaged business leaders who positively impact our community, both locally and globally. The college places emphasis on international experiences, sustainable business practices, entrepreneurial programs and real-world applications with industry. Enrolling approximately 3,000 undergraduates in 10 majors and 175 graduate students in three master’s programs, the Walker College is accredited by AACSB International – the premier global accrediting body for schools of business. Learn more at https://business.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.