Led by Davida Johnson, Managing Director, UCLA Office of Information Technology (OIT), Organization Practices and Programs, the UCLA Women in Tech initiative is designed to promote success for women tech leaders and female tech founders across various industries, focusing on leadership, innovation, economic advancement, workplace culture, and diversity. Our definition of a “woman in tech” is a female working in a technology role, such as an engineer, designer, or developer, or one working for a technology company or organization.
The UCLA Women in Technology initiative began as an idea from UCLA Engineering Professor John Villasenor, who wanted to address the gender gap in technology. He partnered with J.R. De Shazo, Professor of the UCLA Luskin School for Public Policy and Director of the Luskin Center for Innovation, and his team (Colleen Callahan, Rebecca Sadwick, Christian Zarate, Rhianon Anderson, and Kiana Taheri) to organize the first-ever UCLA Conference to Advance Women in Technology, which explored the role of public policy in addressing this gap. The UCLA Office of Information team (Davida Johnson, Stefanie Pietkiewicz and Chloe Reynolds) joined the Luskin School to help plan the inaugural conference. The inaugural UCLA WiT Conference brought together over 250 leaders and stakeholders from across the country at UCLA to focus on developing strategies that would have a systemic impact on the gender and minority gap in tech. The conference, titled “What Are We Missing: Rethinking Public, Private, and Nonprofit strategies to Advance Women in Technology,” was held on April 15, 2015 at UCLA Carnesale Commons. The conference was co-hosted by the Luskin School for Public Policy and the UCLA Office of Information Technology. A conference report was published in March 2016 by the Luskin Center for Innovation and provides details of their research and specific public and private strategies and policies developed at this conference.
The UCLA Office of Information Technology continues to lead this initiative and hosted the 2016 UCLA Conference to Advance Women on August 12, 2016 at UCLA Pauley Pavilion. The 2018 Advancing Women in Tech Conference and Dinner was cohosted by UCLA Anderson's Easton Technology Management Center and UCLA Office of Information Technology on May 22, 2018 at Carnesale Commons, bringing together 250+ leaders and stakeholders at a dynamic conference exploring ways to advance women of all ethnicities, leadership levels, backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses by addressing three of the most requested topics for strategic discussion by women across all industries: (1) leadership and empowerment, (2) effective negotiation strategies, and (3) creating a culture of diversity and inclusion.
The UCLA Office of Information Technology continues to build on and strengthen this initiative by addressing key areas that women and minorities face in the technology sector, such as lack of access to funding, workplace culture, and flexibility. Our biennial conference grows each year as we partner with policymakers, academia, and technology leaders and innovators, all focused on closing the gap.