By Katie Chappell. Many of us consider ourselves allies to underrepresented groups. We recognize our privileges in terms of education, ethnicity, gender, and networks, and we want to support those around us who may be less visible or represented.
Between intention and action, however, there can be a disconnect. A recent event hosted by Women in Technology at UCI, featuring author and speaker Karen Catlin, aimed to provide guidance for real and daily actions each person can take to become better allies in improving the workplace for women in technology and other minorities.
Over 300 people attended the February 24 webinar, joining from UCI and dozens of other higher education institutions and organizations. Following Catlin’s keynote address (based on her book, Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces), two Women in Technology at UCI advisory group members facilitated a lively question-and-answer session with Ms. Catlin during a fireside chat: Jennifer Wong-Ma, associate professor of Teaching in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, and Jason Valdry, assistant dean in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, presented questions and situations about the challenges women and other underrepresented employees face on campus, and held a conversation with Catlin on practical ways that every individual can take action as an ally.
Sponsored by the Office of Data and Information Technology and Vice Chancellor Tom Andriola, and moderated by Shohreh Bozorgmehri, founder of Women in Technology at UCI, the event aimed to empower anyone to take action toward becoming a better ally to underrepresented coworkers and peers.
The event recording is available, and here are a few practical takeaways:
- Expand your network and get to know people from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Recognize that career advancement happens through professional and personal ties that are developed with a network, often outside of work.
- Join employee resource and diversity affinity groups and attend events for underrepresented employees, to listen and learn.
- Sponsor coworkers from underrepresented groups.
- Give someone a public shout-out or an endorsement, and amplify their visibility.
- Recommend someone for stretch assignments or high-visibility opportunities.
- Share coworkers’ goals with decisionmakers and speak about them when they’re not in the room.
The mission of Women in Technology at UCI is to create a supportive community that recognizes and brings awareness to gender imbalances surrounding women with careers in technology, and to develop innovative approaches and solutions by connecting, empowering, and developing women together.
Katie Chappell is manager, Communications and Web Services, Office of Information Technology, UC Irvine.