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Posts Tagged ‘diversity

A healthy trend at medical schools

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By Kemba Dunham, Boston Globe

As a child, Ryan Rasmus dreamed of being a doctor. Now, the 22-year-old is a first-year student at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

“There is a great responsibility that comes with this education,’’ said Rasmus, an African-American who is originally from Houston. ’’It will enable me to impact my community in ways that may increase their quality of life and their longevity.’’

More minority students like Rasmus are enrolling in US medical schools, according a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges, a nonprofit that represents all 150 accredited medical schools in the United States and Canada. Native Americans had the largest enrollment growth, at 24.8 percent, followed by a 9 percent increase for Hispanics; 2.9 percent for African-Americans; and 2.4 percent for Asians. The growth is in part due to a push by schools to attract more underrepresented minorities — African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans, and mainland Puerto Ricans — to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population.

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Written by Symphony

December 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Razorback Bridge Scholarships Awarded to Incoming Freshmen

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SOURCE: University of Arkansas

The first group of Arkansas high school students to earn Razorback Bridge Scholarships will begin studying at the University of Arkansas when classes begin Aug. 23. A total of 24 students from underrepresented populations across the state have been chosen to receive the renewable scholarship and enter an academic program specifically designed to enhance their educational experience and performance.

The Razorback Bridge Scholarship program was established by the university this year. It is sponsored by the Office of Diversity and coordinated by the University of Arkansas Multicultural Center. The program was enhanced by a $400,000 gift to the university from alumnus Richard E. Greene. His gift will fund six Camden E. and Dortha Sue Greene Foundation scholarships, named in honor of his parents. In addition to the scholarship, Greene’s gift will provide these students with funding for trips to visit significant historic sites. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Symphony

August 26, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Broadway Sees Benefits of Building Black Audience

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by Patrick Healy, New York Times

They thought it was about Elvis.

That’s what a focus group of a dozen African-American women concluded about the musical “Memphis” last summer when they were asked to assess the show’s tagline, “The Birth of Rock ’n’ Roll.”

But after seeing artwork featuring Felicia, the black R&B singer in the show, and after hearing about the turbulent romance between the character and a white D.J., the women in the focus group said the show was much more up their alley.

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Written by Symphony

June 29, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Posted in Arts

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WNBA earns an A-plus in female and minority representation

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by Mark Medina, Los Angeles Times

wnba-logo1The WNBA is deemed the top professional sports league in women’s and minority representation for the second year in a row, according to a study released Thursday — a finding that league President Donna Orender said is a “validation of the good work that we do.”

The league earned a combined grade of A-plus in an annual report on race and gender in the past two years, marking the sixth time the WNBA reached that mark. The league also received an A-plus in 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006 — a grade no other professional sports league has reached once.

“They have been consistently getting better and better, and there’s not a whole lot more room to grow,” said Richard Lapchick, co-author of the study, which was released by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.

The study found the WNBA remained the lone professional sports league that had a percentage increase in 2008 in women and minority representation. That included a 10% increase for women head coaches (46% overall), a 10% increase for women chief executive/president (43% overall), a 10% increase for African American general managers (33% overall) and a 2% increase for African American head coaches (38% overall). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Symphony

July 24, 2009 at 9:32 am

Posted in Athletics

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Microsoft Raises Bar for Fostering a Diverse IT Industry with Changing Face of IT Campaign

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Web Wire

Company promotes more diverse, inclusive IT workforce by launching new diversity recruitment initiative, hosting awareness-raising online discussion with leading industry experts.

REDMOND, Wash. – May 2008 – Microsoft Director of Diversity Recruiting Kelly Chapman recalls taking six female African American employees on the road earlier this year to talk about their experiences working for the company to a meeting of the North Atlantic chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for female African American college students. “The exciting thing was that it gave people a very real glimpse into diverse employees’ experiences,” she says.

For many present at the Philadelphia event, it was revelatory, recounts Chapman.

“One woman stood up and said, ‘I thought Microsoft was this big place on the hill. It wasn’t until I saw you six ladies here that I could actually picture myself at Microsoft.’”

Ali Curi, president of the Hispanic Professionals Networking Group (HPNG), has witnessed a similar effect in the interviews he conducts with Hispanic professionals, including Microsoft employees, at monthly meetings of his organization: “People can finally see Microsoft up close and personal. All of a sudden, they can put a Latino face on people who’ve had success [with the company].”

This is the kind of impact – inspiring minorities to pursue careers at Microsoft and across the information technology industry – which the company is hoping to achieve with its groundbreaking new online diversity recruitment initiative, designed to highlight “The Changing Face of IT,” being launched today.

Real Life Stories

www.youatmicrosoft.com deliberately puts a human face on the issue of diversity in the IT workforce, spotlighting the personal stories of diverse individuals at Microsoft who have beaten the odds to forge successful careers in IT.

“We wanted to feature the authentic voices of real Microsoft employees,” explains Chapman.

“They’re kind of edgy actually.”

It’s an approach that Arif Gursel, a technical evangelist who works with global independent software vendors to help them develop applications on Microsoft’s media and entertainment platform – – found refreshing. Gursel is one of 15 employees who tell their stories on the site.

“Anyone can tell when human resources or PR has gone out and done a pre-canned diversity thing. The difference here is that people can read and hear our stories and understand that they’re the true stories of people who have been successful in the company and of the challenges they’ve faced and overcome.”

Raising Awareness

To further raise awareness of the issue, Microsoft also hosted a webcast today, featuring Chapman in conversation with Carl Mack, executive director of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), HPNG’s Ali Curi, and Michelle Tortolani, president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), in a roundtable discussion moderated by former CNN producer Kim Bondy.

Diversity represents the wave of the future demographically. By 2050, the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering projects that half of America’s college-age population will be members of an underrepresented minority group. But the IT profession has been slow to reflect this growing diversity in its own ranks.

African Americans and Hispanics comprise 6.2 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, of the science, technological, engineering and mathematical (STEM) workforce, versus 10.7 percent and 12.9 percent of the US workforce at large, according to the most recent data from the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. Meanwhile, although women constitute more than half the overall US professional workforce, they hold just 26 percent of “computing-related” positions, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). Underrepresentation is particularly acute among minority females, NCWIT has found: only 4 percent of computer scientists were African American women in 2003; and Asian and Hispanic females composed just two percent and one percent of their ranks, respectively.

At the same time, the IT industry faces a pressing need to widen its pool of prospective recruits. Network systems and data communications analysts will be the fastest-growing occupational group from 2006 to 2016, according to the US Department of Labor projections, with applications software engineers and systems software engineers representing the third and 25th-fastest-growing occupations, respectively. Between them, these categories are expected to add a total of 465,000 new jobs during this period.

Commitment to Diversity

For Microsoft’s part, today’s initiatives form part of its sweeping Diversity Recruitment Initiative Via Excellence, or DRIVE campaign, under which the company is coordinating efforts on multiple fronts to promote a more diverse, inclusive workforce within Microsoft and across the IT industry and encourage women and minorities to enter the field.

The company has invested more than US$150 million to help prime the pipeline of future diverse IT talent, cultivating promising young minority and women engineers, and recruiting and retaining qualified diverse employees. This includes sponsoring DigiGirlz, a technology camp for high school girls, hosting an annual Minority Student Day, partnerships with community organizations, a software grant to NSBE, and underwriting college scholarships for minority and women students. Within Microsoft, diverse employees can draw upon internal resources that include more than 40 Diversity Advisory Councils, offering mutual support plus mentoring, networking, professional development and community outreach opportunities.

Last year, NSBE members voted Microsoft, the organization’s “number-one employer of choice.”

Proactive Outreach

Companies cannot simply sit back and wait for minorities and women to come to them, points out principal program manager Israel Hilerio, another employee featured on the youatmicrosoft site, who serves as an interface between Microsoft business customers and the company’s developers, “translating real-world problems into technical solutions.”

Hilerio also serves as co-chair of the more-than 800-strong Hispanic affinity group at Microsoft (HOLA), in which capacity he helps spearhead outreach to Hispanic communities and schools serving Latino students.

“If you don’t build that pipeline from grade school, it’s not going to happen; you’re not going to magically get this pool of [new people].”

African American and Hispanic students may disproportionately attend under-resourced schools staffed by less experienced teachers, and stand at greater risk of dropping out before completing their studies. In 2005, 10.4 percent and 22.4 percent of African American and Hispanic 16 to 24 year-olds, respectively, were not in school or had not finished their schooling, compared to six percent of their White peers, according to the US Department of Education’s research arm, the National Center for Education Statistics.

This demands that companies get out into schools to excite student interest in STEM disciplines, ensure kids are exposed to technology early on, and raise awareness about careers in IT in underserved communities that may not necessarily have traditionally considered them, say experts.

Reaching Kids Early

NSBE’s Mack emphasizes the importance of catching kids as young as possible to capture their imagination about STEM subjects and ignite their interest in related careers.

This was the intent behind the three-week Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) camp, put on by NSBE last year. The pilot program gave around 250 third to fifth-grade students from Washington, D.C. a hands-on opportunity to test out scientific hypotheses, conduct experiments, get a grounding in fundamental science and engineering principles and methodology, and receive expert instruction from NSBE members.

“At this point, [kids] haven’t yet been stricken with the inferiority complex that says, ‘I can’t do math or science,’” explains Mack. “By exposing them early with positive role models, all of a sudden new possibilities come into their lives.”

Engaging Girls

Galvanizing female interest in IT, experts say, involves finding more effective ways to reach girls, who, many fear, are being lost to computer science, in part, because of the way the subject is customarily taught in schools.

“Girls tend to use computers to get information and for social networking, [among other things, whereas] young boys may use them for games and programming,” says Tortolani of SWE. “We tend to teach computer science more to the motivators of young boys.”

Tortolani also underscores the critical role played by relevant positive role models that minorities and women can identify with and aspire to emulate; helping to dispel the myth that IT is the preserve of male geeks, for example. “Role models are vital when it comes to building diversity, giving kids someone like themselves that they can relate to and ask questions.”

She adds that the industry itself must do a better job of self-promotion in ways that are appealing and resonant to a broader cross-section of people, beyond the narrow focus – often implicitly skewed toward boys’ interests – of traditional efforts.

Tortolani points to recent research into high school girls’ career aspirations that identified what they were looking for from prospective careers: “They want to work with people, make a difference and do creative, challenging work that offers them flexibility. These are all positive points of careers in science, engineering and IT, but we just don’t talk about them. The messaging should address those indicators.”

Rich Career Possibilities

In his outreach, Hilerio makes a point of trying to expand kids’ horizons about the breadth of career possibilities in IT, stressing that opportunities are not confined to hard-core techies.

“So much of the time, the focus is on geeky computer guys, but one thing I tell kids is, ‘hey, if you’re a great artist, musician, storyteller or like to sell, there are lots of great opportunities at technology companies.’”

Indeed there are few fields that would afford the opportunity to work as part of a team with Oscar-winning Hollywood director Peter Jackson as Kiki Wolfkill is on an upcoming project.

Wolfkill, a Group Manager on the Halo Franchise Management team, is another featured subject on the youatmicrosoft site. She’s currently in the throes of assembling a crack team, comprising an art director, creative director, development lead, audio director and other functions, that will develop a new game for the Xbox 360 console in collaboration with Lord of the Rings director Jackson.

With a BA in Chinese History, including a minor in Fine Art, from the University of Washington, Wolfkill hardly fits the stereotype of the games industry employee.

Embracing Different Perspectives

But Wolfkill and others bring a perspective to the table that offers invaluable input across every facet of the design process and beyond as the game industry, like others, looks to broaden its market.

“From portfolio planning, to how we market our games, to how accessible we make them at the feature-design level, we have the ability to develop games that can appeal to more than just the hard-core market,” she explains.

By her own admission, Wolfkill has enjoyed a career at Microsoft that she could scarcely have imagined on starting out with the company 10 years ago as Art Lead on a PC game. She’s been able to flex her skills across multiple projects and take on myriad responsibilities and roles. Before taking on her current role, she was Director of Art for Microsoft Game Studios.

“I’ve always felt completely supported and empowered,” says Wolfkill, who sits on the board of the Women at Microsoft group in the company’s Entertainment and Devices Division.

Fostering an environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves is critical, Wolfkill points out.

“Game development is hard,” she explains. “It’s very complicated and [because] it’s become such a competitive market, it’s an intense experience. On top of that, it’s a creative team endeavor. You cannot build something creative without everyone’s personality and values being tied into the process. Everyone has to bring everything they have.”

Competing Globally

Incorporating a multiplicity of voices spanning disparate multicultural viewpoints with a grasp of different communities’ cultural nuances, the infrastructural challenges they face, and the context in which they use technology, represents a business imperative in today’s global market, say Wolfkill, Hilerio, Gursel and others.

“If a company is going to push forward and be innovative, they need every perspective, age, gender and ethnicity brought to the table,” Wolfkill says. “The world is just so big now that you cannot create anything in a vacuum anymore and expect it to have success. There are no lines in [today’s] world and to build experiences and software that supports a culture that lives without those lines, you have to have extreme diversity in the thought process.”

Written by Symphony

June 9, 2008 at 10:04 am

Dwayne Ashley: Funding A Dream

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by Denver Louis
Black Voices

For many college students, entering this uncertain job market can often be a daunting and nerve racking experience. But with graduation around the corner for some and summer fast approaching for others, too many bypass one of the most critical stepping stones along the way… getting an internship.

Earlier this year, The Thurgood Marshall College Fund released the book, Dream Internships: It’s Not Who You Know, It’s What You Know, which teaches students the significance of landing internships as well as giving them a crash course in how to interview for one.

Recently, Black Voices had an opportunity to sit down with Dwayne Ashley, the Chief Executive Officer and President of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund as well as the author of the book.

Mr. Ashley, who has been named to Ebony magazine’s “100 Most Influential Black Americans” list for five consecutive years, shares some of his insights on the internship landscape as well as the importance of capitalizing on opportunities.Are internships something you feel that young people are not capitalizing on?

Yes I do. I think that a lot of times, first generation college students don’t know about internships and that’s just across the board. And I think that people really don’t know the fact that a lot of internships are unpaid, which most students don’t even think about. If you’re a first generation college student, you need to work during the summer, you need to make money. So they’re thinking about, “what can I do during the summer to make some additional dollars so that when I go to school, I’ll have some money around?” But the way to get your foot in the door is to be willing to take part of that summer and volunteer to do an unpaid internship. It gets your foot in the door and nobody’s turning down free labor at this time in the country.

Would you suggest a paid internship as an initial internship?

I think paid or unpaid. Any way that you can get your foot in the door with an area that you’re interested in pursuing a career, I think you have to use those opportunities. You’ve got to sell yourself and you’ve got to be willing to work for free if you have to. You have to be willing to market yourself that way and show people that you are willing and that through your efforts that you are worth being paid. A lot of times when kids go through an unpaid internship, the company will find a way to try to get them a stipend at the end of it or at end of it, the next summer they’ll come back and hire them and pay them to work the next summer, because they realize that this person is really good. Often it is just that first initial stage that you make it in that is often unpaid. Usually if you’re really good at what you do, that company is going to find a way to reward you.

Is there a science to getting that dream internship?

It’s not a science, but there are certain steps that you have to take. You’ve got to have a really good letter to introduce yourself. Your resume has got to be tight. If I’m coming in a freshman or sophomore, I don’t need to send a two-page resume. I haven’t had a career long enough to give me enough experience to have a two-page resume. So make sure your resume is short and simple and focuses on the key things. People don’t want to hear about every award you’ve gotten while you were in high school and college. Talk about the key leadership roles you’ve been in while you have been in college. Talk about those things that you’ve done where you’ve overcome obstacles and some program you’ve managed that allows you to use those tools desirable to the workplace. That’s what people really want to see.

How do things change depending on your experience and your time in college?

I think, if you don’t have work experience, whether you’re a freshman or sophomore, because this book is applicable to high school students too, you’ve got to talk about your community involvement and where you’ve had a leadership role and where you’ve guided a group of people, because that’s a transferable skill. If you’re the president or the vice president of your organization and you’re leading a group of people to accomplish a goal, that’s a situation with management and the workplace. So you can talk about how you inspire people and how you get people to line up behind a goal.

Why are companies not recruiting as heavily from HBCU’s as other colleges?

Well the first thing I want say is that, this book is not just for HBCU students. I think that companies have a recruiting budget and we did a study last year to look at how companies recruit. Most companies and government agencies look at ten universities annually. When they go to those universities, a lot of times those are universities where people in executive roles attended those schools, so of course they are going to want you to go back to they alma maters. Secondly, because of budget limitations, they are really trying to look at where they can get the greatest return on their investment. So if they’ve had a successful track record from going to four of five universities, and they’re able to meet their needs, they are going to go where that success is. The key to it is really getting them to open that door and be able to look at some new talent. And that’s the role that the fund plays, to really try and synergize that talent that comes from our 47 institutions with the needs that government agencies and corporations have for recruiting talent.

Is the fund strictly for African American students?

Well the fund is for students attending any HBCU, whether you’re black, white, Hispanic, American, Asian or whatever. It’s for students attending HBCU’s whether its undergrad grad or graduate. We don’t award our scholarships by race, we award them based on attending our institutions. We do have scholarships where the donor has said that they would like that the student be able to go to any school, but I would say that 80 percent of our scholarships are restricted to public black colleges.

Who are the best HBCU’s when it comes to establishing a business relationship with Wall Street?

I think all of them do a good job, but it really depends on where the school is located, what schools they have that appeal to those firms. I can’t identify one school over the other because I think all of our schools do a good job of placing students through the partnerships that they have. Now you have some schools that are in urban cities and of course they are going to be more accessible to corporations versus a school that is a rural area. Urban schools can do a better job of in terms of being able to have direct contact with those corporations in those big cities.

How diverse would you say the internship landscape is as far as minorities are concerned?

It’s not diverse enough. Corporations need to make a commitment to really bringing a diverse group of interns annually. Some corporations do it better than others because they really do have programs to fuel a pipeline of students that are diverse. Some of them work with corporations like the Thurgood Marshall Fund to really identify that kind of talent.

Regent’s MBAs, rich in diversity, buck national trend

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by Philip Walzer
Hampton Roads

When Regent University awards master’s degrees in business administration today, more than one in five recipients will be black.

That 22 percent figure makes Regent a virtual beacon of diversity in MBA education.

It’s more than four times the national average. It’s also the largest proportion in the region, aside from historically black Hampton University, where blacks make up 92 percent of Sunday’s MBA recipients.

Old Dominion University estimates that 11 percent of its MBA students graduating today are black.

“Economics does play a role” in depressing black MBA enrollment, said Sid Credle, Hampton’s business dean. “After you’ve gone to college for four years, you may not have the resources to tack on another two years.”

Hampton’s solution: A five-year combined bachelor’s/MBA program.

Other barriers include a lack of family experience with graduate degrees and a reluctance to leave – or delay entry into – the work world.

Jennifer Holland, who is black, will finish her MBA requirements at Regent in December . She was drawn to the Christian school because of its focus on entrepreneurship and its “diversity on a lot of different levels” – racially, agewise and internationally.

“When you come here, you’re welcome; you feel safe,” said Holland, 24, who went to high school in York County and graduated from Vanderbilt in Nashville. “You’re expected to contribute your experiences and your background, and it’s valuable.

“Being an African-American,” she said, “I didn’t have to worry about whether people were going to play the race card – ‘what’s your African-American experience?’ Of course they’ll ask those questions, more so because they truly want to understand my culture. But not only my culture, but what makes me me.”

Regent does not target minorities in recruiting business students. Nor does it use racial preferences in admissions, said Bruce Winston, dean of the School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship .

“We don’t specifically go out to obtain certain quotas of students,” he said. “We just make sure we don’t have any barriers for anybody.”

Regent, for example, does not interview applicants. “We let the data on the application speak for itself,” Winston said.

At ODU, Arnum Wapples is sometimes the only black male in his MBA classes. He doesn’t mind too much. “The students are always open and the professors are really caring,” he said. “It’s a great environment.”

Wapples, 25 , who expects to graduate next year, explained the low numbers this way: “Most of us have been told to get an education and get a good job. A graduate degree, for most of us, is something that nobody in our family has. A lot of people figure once you get your degree, that’s good enough to get a good job.”

Many top MBA programs require full-time work experience, said Nicole Lindsay, with Management Leadership for Tomorrow , a nonprofit organization based in New York. Yet “minorities are less likely to leave a very good job to go back to school,” she said. “There’s resistance to do that and to take on debt.”

Lindsay called Regent’s numbers for minority enrollment “pretty impressive.” Her organization aims to increase the ranks of minority CEOs, who she said make up 3 percent of the total. One key, she said, is to encourage college students to consider MBA programs.

Judy Olian , dean of UCLA’s management school and board chairwoman of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, said UCLA’s mentoring starts in high schools.

Expanding the pool of minority executives, Lindsay said, will best ensure “a work force that’s able to compete. It’s critical for the United States to have a business school population that translates into management positions that represent our breadth and diversity as a nation.”

Written by Symphony

May 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm