The Women in Tech Initiative is now the EDGE in Tech Initiative. The new name strives to better embody the program’s inclusive mission.
The Women in Tech Initiative at the University of California (WIT@UC) has changed its name to Expanding Diversity and Gender Equity in Tech Initiative (EDGE in Tech). The new name reflects the initiative’s inclusive programming and outreach and seeks to expand efforts to recognize the importance of addressing the multifaceted challenges facing many under-represented communities working in technology fields.
“I’m excited to see the Women in Tech Initiative rebranded to better reflect its mission of lowering barriers to success in the tech industry for a greater diversity of people,” said Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean of the College of Engineering and a co-founder of the Women in Tech Initiative. “EDGE in Tech will address issues of intersectionality, toward the goal of equitable participation, persistence, and advancement in STEM fields.”
The Women in Tech Initiative launched in 2017 as a collaborative effort between Liu and Camille Crittenden, the executive director of CITRIS. The initiative’s original mission was to increase the engagement and success of women in technology fields by promoting the adoption of metrics and best practices in industry, connecting with corporate tech leaders, and preparing students to meet the challenges of leadership in the tech sector.
During the past year, the program consulted with experts engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion across UC Berkeley, Davis, Santa Cruz, and Merced for feedback and guidance in the renaming and expanded focus. “Building on the success of the program launch a few years ago, it’s a data-driven natural next step to create more access and opportunities for additional non-dominant communities,” said Diana Lizarraga, director of CalNerds. “We have valued Jill Finlayson’s leadership and the initiative’s support for our TechnoInclusion framework, and look forward to strengthening our collaborations with EDGE in Tech.”
EDGE in Tech will continue its hallmark programming, including its annual Women in Tech Symposium, Leadership Roundtable conversations, and the Athena Awards. Building on this strong foundation, EDGE in Tech is collaborating with Berkeley Global to host its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion speaker series, facilitating student and faculty research, offering DeCal courses for UC Berkeley undergraduates, and partnering with the College of Engineering on the EMPOWER Program and mentoring programs to scale impact.
“The new name both better encapsulates the work that the initiative has been doing and the systemic-level impact we would like to achieve through our programming,” said EDGE in Tech director Jill Finlayson. “While maintaining our focus on the experience of women in tech, we are looking to promote practices to achieve more equitable workplaces and to foster the development of diverse teams, which are integral to innovating technology products and services that are inclusive and effective for all.”
Finlayson notes that because of the pandemic, Covid-19’s economic and personal consequences disproportionately affect women, and in particular, women of color. The barriers faced by women are also compounded by other less-represented identities in tech fields including race, age, income, disability, and other characteristics. To be more inclusive, less binary, and more effective, EDGE in Tech plans to evolve to better address the nuanced and complex challenges of intersectionality. “Diversity also firmly gives companies an ‘edge in tech’ by increasing profitability, reducing risk, reaching more markets, and making better products and decisions,” Finlayson said.
“Jobs in the tech industry are integral to how we live our lives today,” said Crittenden. “We need all of the voices in the room to fend off biases in creating and deploying the technologies that support and improve our lives. EDGE in Tech is prepared to help offer space to amplify these voices in industry and academia.”