NEWS: Shohreh Bozorgmehri, UC Irvine, is the UC Tech 2023 golden award winner for leadership in diversity, equity and inclusion

Shohreh Bozorgmehri receiving award

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the tech community at UC Irvine, Shohreh Bozorgmehri, director of Student & Academic Services, won the prestigious UC Tech’s Golden DEI Leadership Award. Her UC Tech 2023 Awards DEI Leadership nomination highlights her contributions. This article, based on her nomination, provides more information about Bozorgmehri’s visionary leadership and the impactful initiatives.

Project summary

IT is a pivotal part of University of California success, but women in technology still face significant challenges. Only 28% of computing and mathematical roles are held by women, and half of women who enter the tech industry leave by age 35. Additionally, women are promoted to manager positions at a much lower rate than men. Bozorghmehri recognized these challenges and took action to create a culture that supports the development, leadership, sponsorship, and empowerment of women in IT throughout the UC community. 

Project description: Women in Technology programs

Bozorgmehri’s journey began with the founding of Women in Technology @ UC Irvine (WiT@UCI) in early 2020. She recruited a diverse advisory board including Max Garrick, Julie Eastman, Jennifer Lane, Debra Richardson, Jason Valdry, Jennifer Wong-Ma, and Julie Youm. Bozorghmehri found executive sponsors within Human Resources, Equal Opportunity & Compliance, Office of Inclusive Excellence, and the Office of Data and Information Technology. 

As the pandemic pushed work online, Bozorghmehri did not want remote work to stall female career advancement. She partnered with Debra Richardson, founding dean of the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science, to organize WiT’s first webinar. This first event had 240 attendees and featured a panel discussion with Van Williams, University of California’s chief information officer, and Jenn Stringer, UC Berkeley’s chief information officer. 

Bozorghmehri’s second webinar featured Karen Catlin, author of Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive Engaging Workplaces. This event attracted over 300 attendees, with one third of male participants, which highlights Bozorghmerhi’s ability to generate participation and create an inclusive workplace community. Catlin was joined by Jason Valdry, assistant dean in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, and Jennifer Wong-Ma, associate professor of Teaching in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, Catlin provided valuable insight on practical topics such as dealing with interruptions during virtual meetings and responding to male colleagues being addressed by their professional or professorial titles while female colleagues are not. Catlin also emphasized an ally’s responsibility in promoting an inclusive culture. The event sparked a book club and a mini movement of allies dedicated to creating a supportive environment for campus employees.

Bozorgmehri’s leadership extended to the creation of two groundbreaking programs: Applause and Leadership, Equality, Allies, and Presence (LEAP). The Applause program serves as a platform for recognizing and celebrating agents of change for women in the technical community at UC Irvine. The LEAP program was developed in collaboration with Stacy Rose, assistant director, Network Services at UC Irvine. This program addresses the critical need for developing future women technology leaders. LEAP empowers women leaders through comprehensive sessions, shaping organizational culture, creating actionable plans for success, and fostering valuable networking opportunities. LEAP inspired the creation of the Women in Technology Inclusive Networking (WiTIN) initiative, an impactful networking and mentorship program founded by LEAP alumni with ‘s vocal support. WiTIN, under the WiT@UCI umbrella, facilitates connections, supports skill-building, and nurtures inclusivity in various tech-related domains.

The UC Tech’s Gold DEI Leadership Award is a testament to Bozorgmehri’s  dedication and accomplishments. Bozorgmehri’s leadership has resulted in the growth of a vibrant WiT@UCI community, boasting 200 members and hosting successful events and programs. Her commitment to recognizing contributors and fostering inclusivity has made WiT@UCI a proud group for women in IT and their allies at UC Irvine. In 2022, Bozorghmerhir was featured on UC Irvine’s news to promote Women’s History Month and the founding of Women in Technology at UC Irvine. Read more about her spotlight here.

It is important to note that Bozorghmerhi could not have achieved this success alone. She is grateful to the numerous volunteers, sponsors, and advisors who have contributed to the growth of WiT@UCI. Her dedication to recognizing their contributions speaks to her leadership style and commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive community.

About the UC Tech Awards Program

The UC Tech Awards program will open shortly for the 2024 season. The season, including applications and judging, will culminate with an awards ceremony to be held at the UC Tech Conference between October 27 – 29, 2024. Learn more about the UC Tech Awards program.


Shohreh Bozorgmehri 
Division Director, Student and Academic Services
UC Irvine