Georgia Gwinnett College Virtual Peer Mentoring program earns $20,000 award

Pic of women in technology


Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) is one of two institutions to receive a $20,000 award from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Academic Alliance Seed Fund. 

GGC will use its award to establish a virtual peer mentoring (VPM) program designed to retain underrepresented minorities majoring in information technology (IT).

“The VPM program will complement existing programming that broadens participation and retention in IT,” said Dr. Sonal Dekhane, interim dean of the School of Science and Technology

The VPM program will target freshmen and rising sophomores, mainly in groups underrepresented in computing. This structured mentoring program will add value in the long term, both for traditional students who work long hours off campus and non-traditional students who enroll in new, online programs to be offered by GGC starting in summer 2021.

The program will help students develop skills, knowledge and a sense of belonging in the IT discipline early in their college career, while helping peer mentors enhance communication and leadership skills.

With support from Microsoft Research, the 2021 NCWIT Academic Alliance Seed Fund is focused on outreach initiatives supporting inclusivity in an online environment within postsecondary computing and information technology programs. 

“These Seed Fund programs leverage effective recruitment strategies to attract women to computing,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Ultimately, increasing women’s meaningful participation will lead to a more innovative and competitive technology workforce.”

In the U.S. in 2019, women earned 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees, but only 21 percent of bachelor's degrees in computer and information sciences. Engaging tech-related activities and opportunities can help to reverse this trend, reducing entry barriers by appealing to a variety of students and building on their existing interests and competence. 

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