UCLA WIT Helps Improve Gender Diversity in Student Tech Bootcamps

  • January 15, 2021
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In 2018, the Office of Advanced Research Computing (formerly known as the Office of Information Technology), Community Partnership Programs envisioned and launched a new student tech program called Bruin Young Tech Professionals (YTP) that provides UCLA undergraduate students with the opportunity to learn practical skills that would help them not only land internships and careers after graduation, but be successful in them.  This included women and underrepresented minorities. However, in its inaugural bootcamp, the selection process yielded a nearly all-male student participant group with no underrepresented minority participation.  The selection committee knew things had to change and took action.  The team worked together to identify strategies to decrease gender and ethnic bias and incorporated the following principles: 
  • Added more female and ethnic minorities to its selection committee, including participating students
  • Ensured 1/3 to 1/2 of the industry coaches were female
  • Changed the outgoing language and images of the program flyer to attract more women, underrepresented groups, and non-STEM participants
  • Removed all candidate names and photos during review process to decrease or eliminate bias
  • Recruited at least 50% session speakers who were female and/or from a minority ethnic group
  • Advertised to a broader list of student groups, including those targeting females and humanities degrees
  • Provided testimonials from both male and female past participants
  • Included a 30-minute, interactive presentation from an industry leader on Diversity and Inclusion
This process was implemented during the 2nd phase of the bootcamp and has since yielded a better gender-balanced participant group (approx. 50% females), and slight improvements for ethnic diversity. The ethnic diversity statistics did not yield the results the committee was looking for, therefore, YTP continues to explore ways better solutions to this problem.