iSchool Professor Receives NSF Grant

Yolanda Rankin headshot Dr. Yolanda A. Rankin, an Assistant Professor in the School of Information, has been awarded a $342,566 Grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund her research which examines the lived intersectional experiences of Black women in computing. Her project, titled “Building a Sisterhood in Computing (BASiC),” aims to develop a deeper understanding of the social networks of Black women by finding ways to leverage their social capital as a mechanism for retention in the field of computing.

BaSiC shines a light on the social factors that influence Black women’s persistence in the field of computing, identifying strategies to leverage and increase their social capital to create access to educational and professional development opportunities.  “We know that diversity, equity and inclusion is the goal in computing. The question is how do we achieve this goal. Gender-focused efforts fail to address the specific needs of women of color, especially Black women who remain vastly underrepresented in computing. As a Black women who attained a Ph.D. in Computer Science and worked in industry for many years, I have had firsthand experiences, some positive and some negative, navigating this field.  Unfortunately, computing is a hostile environment for most Black women and other women of color.  I want to change this so that other Black women know that they can be successful in this space and can thrive in their careers.”

Additionally, Dr. Rankin will be advised by a highly esteemed Advisory Board of Black women experts (Dr. Quincy Brown, Dr. Jamika Burge, Dr. Nicole Joseph,  Dr. Kimberly Scott, and Dr. Jakita O. Thomas) who study the underrepresentation of Black & Brown women and girls in STEM. One of the outcomes of this research will be the creation of a digital archive that reflects the personal experiences of Black women in different stages of the computing pipeline. The digital archive will serve as a resource to aspiring Black women who seek careers in computing, fostering a sense of community among Black women as they successfully navigate the computing pipeline.

This project is supported through the NSF EHR Core Research Building Capacity in STEM Education Research (NSF ECR BCSER) Program that is designed to build individuals’ capacity to carry out high-quality fundamental STEM education research, broadening participation in this field. This project will take place between January 2020 through December 2021.