Women in Tech Form a Systemwide Committee, Build a Movement

By Jessica Hilt. The University of California Women in Technology Committee (UC WIT) monthly call is about to start on Zoom. Faces pop up across the screen as women greet each other and catch up on weather, pets, and the usual before Annelie Rugg (UCLA), chair of the committee, starts the meeting and brings up the agenda. You can tell that this community carries weight with each of the women on this call as they discuss projects, outreach, and further education across the UCs.

Loosely formed in September 2018, UC WIT seeks to promote a supportive, inclusive environment to advance the professional goals and aspirations of UC women in technology. The committee spent a lot of time defining what it wants to achieve, drafting a charter and mission, and developing a governance process. In August 2019, it published a charter and elected Rugg as chair and Yael Berkovich (UCLA Health) as co-chair. Berkovich will become chair after a year.

Rugg and Berkovich have no shortage of support and women helping UC WIT realize its goals. Each campus selects up to four representatives from their local WIT groups. This systemwide collaboration means that each campus participates in imagining how UC WIT not only can improve outreach and recruitment of women across the system, but also how it can support their own campus activities and culture.

Rugg said, “With members from ten campuses, a dozen or more heritages, and literally tens of different professions and areas of expertise, UC WIT embodies and puts into practice the very diversity and inclusion that our community is meant to foster and champion. Every time we meet, discuss, or deliver, our results shine because they are reflective and inclusive of a richness of human perspective.”

Each member on the committee wants to make a difference for other women in technology at UC. They’re looking to do that this year by developing compelling educational programs and networking events, as well as writing blog posts for UC IT Blog. Topics they’re considering for this year’s programs include career mapping, how to attract more women during recruiting, and building emotional intelligence.

Allison Flick (UCSD), chair of the education subcommittee, summarized UC WIT’s education drive for the upcoming year. “When approaching diversity initiatives, it is easy to become overly focused on the minutia of affecting change in specific groups or people. This is often an unproductive approach that leaves folks feeling as though their actions and behavior are under a microscope,” she said. “Instead, I like to drive my efforts toward positively building community with inclusive language and actions that allow everyone to come to the table as equals and empower its members to build each other up.”

The committee held its first webinar in November 2019 with a great presentation by UC Merced CIO Ann Kovalchick, “The First Woman Man: Gender Labels and Workplace Expectations.” A spring webinar is being developed to feature Ahren Crickard (UCSD) and her talk about radical candor. The date is being finalized and will be communicated broadly. Additional programming is being planned for the upcoming UC Tech Conference at UCLA in August. This follows a precedent set over the last two years, with early members of the UC WIT group having coordinated a popular women-in-tech panel session at the conference, as well as social opportunities for networking.

A co-founder and passionate member of the committee, Yvonne Tevis (UCOP) looks forward to the coming year’s activities and furthering the committee’s goals. “Yes, UC WIT is about creating a supportive network for women across UC,” she said. “But it’s also about creating lasting change and fostering a work environment and practices that are fair and respectful for everyone.”

Join the conversation with UC women in tech on UCTech Slack, #women_in_tech.

Jessica HiltJessica Hilt is manager of applications development, Geisel Library, UC San Diego.

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