It was a special year for UNO in 2014 with countless events, achievements, special guest visits and national recognitions for students, faculty, staff and alumni.
In October, UNO's College of Information Science & Technology proudly announced the success of its Women in IT Initiative.
Over just 18 months, the initiative raised more than its $400,000 goal. This money will go toward encouraging women to consider education and careers in information technology.
"Women in IT Initiative Exceeds Goal"
The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) College of Information Science and Technology (IS&T)’s Women in IT Initiative announced today that it has surpassed its goal of raising $400,000 to be used towards encouraging women to invest in information technology education and careers.
“This milestone demonstrates a significant commitment by both the University and businesses in Omaha to increase diversity in the IT workforce,” said Hesham Ali, dean of the College of IS&T. “We’ve already been able to put this investment to good use: with the launch of our immersion program for 8th and 9th grade girls, scholarships, mentoring programs and more support for our Women in IT programs across the college. We are getting a lot of interest from local IT professionals and organizations to see how they can be involved with the IS&T, demonstrating that as a college and a community we are moving in the right direction.”
The Women in IT Initiative was launched in May 2013 by IS&T and a community-led task force with the goal to double the number of women enrolled in UNO IS&T programs and help fill the IT workforce deficit in Omaha.
Over half of the country’s college enrollment is female, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), yet women comprise just 18 percent of all computing and information sciences degrees earned and hold only 25 percent of all computing-related occupations in the United States.
Importantly, there are a variety of opportunities for jobs in IT: by the year 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will 4.2 million jobs in computing and information technology in the United States. In Omaha alone, nearly 1,500 professionals will be hired in the next 2 years, according to a recent study by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
“This initiative is important to the IT landscape, and more importantly the entire community,” said Sue Thaden, President and CEO of CRi and chair of the Women in IT Initiative. “We know that diverse teams lead to more innovative solutions and higher financial performance. Through this initiative, we will be able to introduce the exciting breadth of IT careers to more girls and in growing a diverse workforce.”
In order to fill the need for more qualified IT professionals, the Women in IT Task Force developed a plan consisting of a variety of initiatives that were adapted from proven programs from around the country and tailored to meet Omaha’s unique needs.
Over $250,000 was raised in just four months during Phase I in order to fund a multitude of activities designed to introduce young women to IT. These activities include an immersion experience for middle and high school girls, the IS&T National Center for Women and Information Technology Aspirations Award, participation by current IS&T women in the Grace Hopper Conference, a mentorship program for IS&T female students and funds to specifically recruit young women into IS&T programs. The funds also include scholarships for women at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels who are interested in pursuing IT related degrees at IS&T.
Phase II’s goals, raising $150,000 in order to plan a continuation of these programs, was completed this October. The initiative will continue to raise funds past its $400,000 goal.
“No matter what your background is, there’s a place for you in IT.” Susan Courtney, Senior Vice President Technology and Operations and Chief Information Officer of BlueCross BlueShield commented. “We are proud supporters of the UNO Women in IT Initiative and excited about showing more young people that they have a place in IT. With programs such as this, the Omaha business community can ensure that we are helping fill the IT talent pipeline with qualified individuals as well as aiding in its much needed diversity.”
The Women in IT Initiative is funded by private donations and implemented by the NU Foundation in consultation with the Women in IT task force. These donors include:
Baldwin, Hackett & Meeks, Inc.
BlueCross BlueShield of Nebraska
Frank and Shirley Hartranft
Interpublic Group of Companies
The Lozier Foundation
Northrop Grumman Corporation
Physicians Mutual of Omaha
Jim and Shirley Young Family Foundation
Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN)
The Women in IT Fund taskforce members include:
President of Baldwin, Hackett & Meeks Inc.
Senior Vice President Technology and Operations and Chief Information Officer for BlueCross BlueShield
Senior Vice President for Markets, Products and Technology for Physicians Mutual
Assistant Vice President of Systems Engineering for Union Pacific Railroad
Executive Director, Software Development and Services for Gallup
Executive Director, Infrastructure and IT Security for Gallup
Chief Technology Officer for Interpublic Group of Companies
Vice President of Information Technology for ConAgra Foods
Director of Development for the University of Nebraska Foundation
Hesham H. Ali
Dean, College of IS&T
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Community Engagement & Internationalization Officer, College of IS&T