Representation of positive role models of all genders, races, and ethnicities is crucial for the recruitment, promotion, and retention of females in IT fields. Whether ages five or twenty-five, exposure to positive portrayals in media inspires curiosity, enhances ideas of what a career in IT could look like, and encourages young women to explore this field in school. Fiction, non-fiction, and biographical texts can highlight careers and social impacts while debunking myths, stigmas, and misconceptions about females in IT. The STEM librarian and Education librarian teamed up to change the library's outdated collection to better represent women of all backgrounds in IT. By strategically purchasing new over 100 titles that focused on women, the librarians sought to enhance and promote collections that were inclusive and reflect the diverse campus community they serve. The audience will learn about the background of this project, including the importance of curating library collections that intentionally represent women in IT in both P-12 books as well as research-level resources and how the library is helping to meet larger STEM campus-wide priorities. Funding, outreach and promotion of the collection, assessment, and future initiatives will also be included.
Importance or relevance to other units or departments: The national increase in the number of women in STEM programs necessitated a new and on-going assessment of the library's collections to ensure they reflect the needs and population of faculty, staff, and students. Traditionally, most library collections reflect the majority white male population that has dominated the STEM fields for decades and tell the stories of women as minority voice. Students encounter diversity on a regular basis in their interactions with others at home, in class, or around campus. As the IT field continues to seek gender diversification, it becomes more important to curate and promote collections that reflect this diversity and support women of all backgrounds. Librarians have an obligation to select and support the access to materials on all subjects that meet the needs, interests, and abilities of all persons in the community they serve. By supplying our campus community with narratives of historic and contemporary women succeeding in IT, we encourage female readers of all levels to see themselves participating in IT fields. Patrons in general also gain a broader understanding of how women have shaped the field and may explore new topics due to the availability of alternatives. Faculty may assign new texts in a class that focus on female IT professionals or students may opt to select a different research topic after seeing a book on a female pioneer they had not heard of before. From books for preschoolers that share positive messages about girls who build robots to biographies of female pioneers in computer science for undergraduates writing essays, the new collections promote gender equality in IT and support the campus priority to actively recruit, retain, mentor, and prepare STEM students who will become STEM professionals and educators.
Blackburn, Heidi and Salsbury, Meghan, "We can see ourselves here: Strategically building a library collection to support Women in IT" (2017). Criss Library Faculty Proceedings & Presentations. 88.
Women Advance IT Conference, 2017.