March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD) — a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
The theme for IWD 2023 is #EmbraceEquity, which aims to forge worldwide understanding about why equal opportunities aren’t enough, and to show how fostering a gender equitable society means creating a more inclusive world. IWD’s website defines the difference between equality and equity as: “equality means each individual or group of people is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes that each person has different circumstances, and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.”
We asked several Drexel University College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) faculty, students and professional staff to share what embracing equity means to them and their personal commitments to creating a more equitable college environment and society:
Ellen Bass, PhD, interim senior associate dean for research & professor: “There are systematic inequities in society where demographics impact outcomes. Embracing equity means taking action to ensure that all are treated with justice, fairness and impartiality. I am working with my colleagues to increase the number of students from historically underrepresented groups in computing (HUGs, students who identify as women, Black, and/or Hispanic) in CCI.”
Dionne Gordon-Starks, senior academic advisor: “This means being brave and accepting the ways in which as a woman of color with some access to privilege that I help to give voice to concerns or advocate on behalf of under-represented students at the university to ensure not just equity, but more importantly inclusion. I remain an advocate/supporter of causes, programming and events that promote equity and inclusion.”
Karen DeVose, EdD, assistant dean for academic advising and student success: “Embracing equity means to first understand what equity means and then ensuring I align myself with the definition of equity and embracing its tenets. I will work to continuously create programs and initiatives that teaches faculty, professional staff and students the importance of valuing and supporting students from all backgrounds and ensuring fair treatment of all students.”
Casey Orlosky, social and digital media specialist: “To me, #EmbraceEquity means understanding that everyone has different needs, and ensuring they have the resources and opportunities needed to thrive equally. Equality is giving everyone a shoe, while equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits. I will commit to #EmbracingEquity by listening to others and hearing what they have to say. For some people, speaking up can be extremely difficult and is often the reason why they don't voice their concerns. Listening to others shows that you value them and their achievements.”
Marie Fazio, assistant dean of operations & faculty affairs and diversity officer: “By embracing equity, we look through a new lens to ensure that everyone has what they need to be supported, be included, to do their best work, be heard and to succeed. I will continue to be an active listener and work to amplify all the voices and ideas in the room.”
Samantha Coccerino, project coordinator, strategic initiatives: “As the mother of a young daughter, I want to be sure that my daughter grows up in an equitable world. In every lesson, we try to instill that she can do anything. She is a force to be reckoned with and I don't want anything to hold her back! I will commit to celebrating and lifting up women's achievements. I will also work hard to create a more equitable world for my daughter.”
Tyler Montgomery, program manager of academic ops: “To me, #EmbraceEquity means recognizing that everyone has different circumstances, opportunities, skills and abilities. We must work together as a community to ensure every person has the resources to not only excel but thrive. I promise as an ally to advocate for women, actively and wholeheartedly challenging discrimination and bias in all aspects of my life.”
Michaela Lee, recruitment specialist: “Creating environments where women feel safe and are empowered to become who they want to be. I will commit to embracing equity in celebrating women’s achievements.”
Will Ahern, program manager, advising: “#EmbraceEquity means it's time to commit to equity, not as just a concept, but as an action. Failing to actively practice equity across all levels is unacceptable. I will be thoughtful in how I practice equity in recruitment, hiring and training of peer mentors, and in how I advise my students. I will understand that all humans are the experts on their own lived experiences, and I will work to advocate for students that would benefit from my voice.”
Lois Kasten, academic advisor: “When I think about what ‘Embracing Equity’ means to me, I like to imagine what a gender equal world would look like. To me, it means a safe space that is diverse and inclusive for all. Together, with continuous work, I hope we can achieve this. I will continue to work and lead with an open mind — ALWAYS.”
Rhea Penu, BS computer science ‘23: “[Equity means] having the same opportunities as everyone else in the workplace. I will commit to embracing equity by actively being a part of the community and helping to break barriers in inequalities.”
Anca Scarlat, BS computer science ‘23: “To me, #EmbracingEquity means understanding that there still is an uneven start for some. It means intentionality in listening and authentic empathy. I will commit to #EmbracingEquity by challenging gender stereotypes, discrimination and bias. I will do everything that stays in my power to help all the women around me have their voice heard.”
Muneera Cadersa, BS data science & mathematics ‘24: “[Embracing Equity means] recognizing and addressing systemic injustice, bias and discrimination to promote inclusiveness as a result providing equal opportunities to all. [I will commit to embracing equity] by celebrating the success of others."
Drexel CCI remains committed to fostering gender equity and inclusivity, specifically through the Diversity in Tech Initiative and Women in Tech scholarships. On March 14, CCI will host Drexel alumna and tech leader Angela V. Harris for a talk on “Embracing Equity and the State of Women in Tech.” The conversation will be hosted by CCI Associate Professor Michelle Rogers, PhD, who is a leader at Drexel on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion with a particular focus on women in technology. Harris is the chartering president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. Greater Seattle Chapter, and a member of the Drexel University Alumni Board of Governors and Drexel University Black Alumni Council (DUBAC). She is a collaborative leadership coach, technology leader and philanthropist with more than 20 years of business experience in Fortune 500 companies. Learn more and register here.
IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Get involved and learn more on IWD’s website.