SALT LAKE CITY, August 2, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Western Governors University (WGU) announced today that the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition awarded the university $915,000 “Building bridges and breaking barriers for women in technology” (B4 Women in Technology) scholarship. The money will support a significant increase in the number of Black, Latina, and Native American (BLNA) women earning bachelor’s degrees from the nonprofit online university’s College of Information Technology by 2025.
African American, Latina, and Native American women make up about 16 percent of the total US population, but make up only 4 percent of students earning bachelor’s degrees in computing. At the national level, only 25 percent of tech graduates are women, with a 37 percent dropout rate for tech classes compared to 30 percent for other programs. If this trend continues, the number of underrepresented women of color receiving computer science degrees will not double until 2052, at which point they will represent a very small proportion of all graduates. Additionally, when looking at programs that focus on reaching women and girls, companies focus 66 percent of their philanthropic funding on K-12 programs, compared to 3 percent in college-level programs. This points to a missed opportunity for tech companies to invest in the workforce in the short term.
Reboot Representation Executive Director Dwana Franklin-Davis said, “At Reboot, we believe that supporting students to complete their computer science degrees means understanding and addressing their life circumstances. We are proud to partner with Western Governors University to prepare African American, Latina and Native American women for the field of technology and the careers that lie ahead.”
While 61 percent of WGU’s students are female, the university’s BLNA enrollment in its College of Information Technology closely matches the national average. Like much of the post-secondary education sector, the university is focused on changing that through targeted outreach and personalized student support from enrollment to completion.
“As a university with a mission to change lives for the better by creating pathways to opportunity, WGU recognizes the urgent need for more women of color to have access to industry-relevant technology education to prepare them for prosperous and in-demand careers. in the technology sector,” said Ashutosh Tiwary, senior vice president of the WGU College of Information Technology. “With the support of this grant, we aspire to increase our BLNA enrollment to reflect the national representation of women of color.”
WGU is committed to being the most student-focused university in the world and intends that all students have the resources to learn at their own pace and persist through graduation. To support more BLNA women pursuing bachelor’s degrees in IT, the university will provide increased peer and coach support, admissions process support, leadership development training, and financial aid grants if needed. Also, WGU Academy —the university’s college preparatory program— will provide a pathway for students in need of additional support, while also serving as a re-entry point for BLNA students from the WGU College of Information Technology who previously stopped earning bachelor’s degrees.
“At WGU, we believe in educational equity and are always on the lookout for transforming our systems to improve access for all students. Gifts like this ensure that, given the opportunity, each individual has something meaningful to contribute,” said Annalisa Holcombe, president of WGU Advancement, the university’s fundraising and development arm.
WGU pioneered competency-based online education, a model that allows students to advance their education and careers on their own schedule, no matter where they live. This approach allows students to apply their prior learning and work-based skills to coursework, allowing them to build on what they know and spend more time learning what they don’t know. All WGU students will be paired with a program mentor who has experience in their chosen degree program and supports students in learning and navigating their educational journeys from enrollment through graduation.
Shaira Lacour, WGU information assurance and cybersecurity student, mother, and Marine Corps veteran, said, “WGU works for me because I can get exactly what I need with no bullshit. I don’t have to worry about sitting in a class where I feel like I already know the material and they give me all the tools I need to be successful. The learn-on-demand, go-as-you-learn model is definitely beneficial for someone like me, and I’m excited to have an institution like WGU by my side to help me achieve my goals.”
The WGU College of IT offers bachelor’s degrees in Cloud Computing, Computer Science, Cyber Security and Information Assurance, Data Management/Analytics, Health Information Management, Information Technology, IT Management, network operations and security, and software development.
To learn more about WGU’s B4 Women in Tech initiative and to sign up, visit www.wgu.edu/b4women.
About Reboot Representation Reboot Representation Tech Coalition is a group of 22 leading technology companies that are committed to doubling the number of African American, Latina, and Native American women receiving computer science degrees by 2025. The Coalition works toward that goal through investments specific philanthropic efforts on the often-overlooked programs and institutions that make computing education and careers more equitable. Since its founding in 2018, members have collectively committed more than $21 million to Black, Latina, and Native American women in computing, including joint contributions of $12 million awarded again by Reboot.
About WGU Established in 1997 by 19 U.S. Governors with a mission to expand access to affordable, high-quality, online, nonprofit higher education, WGU now serves more than 131,000 students worldwide. country and has more than 257,000 graduates in all 50 states. Driving innovation as the nation’s leading competency-based university, WGU has been recognized by the White House, state leaders, employers, and students as a model that works in postsecondary education. In just 25 years, the university has become a leading influence in changing the lives of individuals and families and preparing the workforce needed in today’s rapidly changing economy. WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, has been named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, and has been featured on NPR, NBC Nightly News, CNN and The New York Times. Learn more atwgu.edu.
Matt Griffin Western Governors University (615) 472-6055 [email protected]