UCSC joins as founding member of new Action Collaborative to improve pathways for women of color in tech education and careers

Portrait of Sri Kurniawan smiling in front of a colorful bookshelf.
Sri Kurniawan, professor of computational media at the Baskin School of Engineering, is serving as UCSC’s senior faculty lead for the new Action Collaborative (photo by Carolyn Lagattuta).
UC Santa Cruz has joined a new Action Collaborative on transforming trajectories for women of color in tech which was launched by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and 35 other institutions representing higher education, national laboratories, and government.

Through the Action Collaborative, the various organizations will work together to improve pathways in tech education and participation in the tech workforce for women who identify as African American, Black, Hispanic, Latina, Native American, Asian American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. The effort will be guided by the National Academies’ report Transforming Trajectories for Women of Color in Tech, which provides evidence-based findings and recommendations for increasing recruitment, retention, and advancement of women of color in tech fields.

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for our students to see themselves in the faculty who teach them, in technology as in all fields,” said Lori Kletzer, Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor. “Women and people of color continue to face barriers that limit their academic pursuits and careers in technology. At UC Santa Cruz, diversity is a core campus value at the heart of everything we do. Our membership in the Action Collaborative will further strengthen this priority.”

Sri Kurniawan, Professor of Computational Media at the Baskin School of Engineering, is serving as UCSC’s senior faculty lead for this effort. As a founding member of the Action Collaborative, UCSC has already committed to four years of membership. 

“UCSC has a significant role to play in the new Action Collaborative as a founding member,” Kurniawan said. “I look forward to working with this dedicated group to brainstorm and develop meaningful practices that enable all women of color in tech on our campus, from undergraduate students to upper administration, to advance in their careers. I’m also excited to share data, resources, and best practices developed here at UCSC with our partner institutions.”

The Action Collaborative is focused on collecting and analyzing data about the experiences of women of color in tech at all stages of their academic and professional journeys and implementing strategies of support such as mentorship programs and professional development opportunities. The members will also work to build alliances with community organizations, technology companies, and advocacy groups to leverage resources and expertise.

The group will offer a platform for the exchange of ideas and promising practices, taking an intersectional approach that recognizes the multifaceted nature of barriers shaped by race, gender, and other factors.

“At Baskin Engineering we have long recognized the challenges and barriers facing people from communities historically excluded from engineering. Joining the Action Collaborative gives us another opportunity to understand and advance the success of women of color in tech fields,” said Alexander Wolf, Dean of the Baskin School of Engineering. “With sustained dedication and cross-sector engagement, this initiative will enable us to make data and experience-driven decisions to dismantle existing structural barriers and create a future where all women can thrive in tech.”

“In addition to capturing the perspectives of our students and faculty, we feel it will be crucial also to capture the perspectives and lived experiences of our female-identifying technical staff, many of whom identify with communities of color,” said Abigail Kaun, who is serving as the UCSC senior staff lead for the Action Collaborative.

Institutions interested in joining or learning more about the action collaborative can contact Jeena Thomas, director of the action collaborative, at JMThomas@nas.edu.