written by
Michele Heyward

How To Use Data To Engage More Black Women Graduates In STEM?

WocInSTEM 4 min read
“Diversity isn’t a talent pipeline problem. There are more and more talented women of color graduating in STEM. But why are there still fewer black women in the workforce? The answer lies in the data companies have and how they are using it.”

The debate surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion is a trending topic in corporate America today. Every company is talking about recruiting more diverse candidates (and maybe how to retain them), but more than half the companies aren’t doing the actual work to create inclusion. There is still a need to engage more recent black women graduates and help them advance the corporate ladder. So, how to do that?

Using data effectively is the solution to bringing more Black women into STEM and advancing their careers. Here is how your company data can help you get more recent black graduates to your company talent pipeline:

Where Are You Getting Your Interns? If you want to hire more recent black women graduates from STEM, your internship data is the way to go. First, look into your internship demographics and see who are you hiring the most? Where do you recruit your interns mostly from? Are they from Ivy League schools and predominantly white universities? Are you only sourcing from a handful of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), Native colleges or Hispanic serving institutions (HSI)? If so, Black and Hispanics are the most underrepresented in higher education. Only 8% of black people make up the diversity in Ivy league schools, with the percentage of black women being far less than that.

Are you paying attention to this data? Are you making sure that you are breaking your stats to see where you are recruiting interns from and the representation of black women? If you want to make the selection criteria diverse, you also have to diversify the pool for internship applicants. You have to cast a wider net to attract black women and allow them to intern at your organization. You can only achieve the goal if you proactively look at your internship data and actively use it.

Are Your Interns Your Future Full-time Employees? The second step is to assess the percentage of interns you offer a full-time position and those who decide to take it. Next, evaluate the data and numbers that you get. The answer here is how well are you doing with your interns in terms of recruitment? Also, what percentage of your interns return? According to your data, determine the demographics of interns who return. After this analysis, find out why they returned. Not just this, but if interns are having a bad experience they might not return. To counter this, the employers can find out about their experience during the internship. This should be a deliberate action that you took in multiple phases during their internship with your company so you can be sure that they were treated well throughout the process. Simultaneously, you can also do an exit interview or get in touch with them after they have left.

Check demographics in the percentage of interns you offered full-time employment in various manners. What was the division between genders? What was the division between races? Does there exist a gender discrepancy, especially from Black, Indigenous, and other people of color? Moreover, find out which interns decide not to opt for full-time employment. Depending on that, gauge their experience as interns. Were they just getting coffee and performing other less technical work? Where did you recruit them from? What were their everyday tasks? Who were they reporting to? Finally, you can also look into initiatives and ways through which you can get these interns back. It can be as simple as asking them what would make them intern or work for you again.

When you answer these questions authentically using data, you will eventually find out why you are unable to retain your black female interns as future full-time employees.

Are You Building A Diversity-Friendly Brand? Another way to do outreach for black women to join your organization outside of your internship program is by targeting them directly. If you want to diversify your talent pipeline, you need to loop in the candidates. Identify your product/ service users and their demographics. Then create marketing campaigns that target them. Target your job opportunities to people who already buy from you. The ones that are already on your email list. You can also do an in-house job fair depending on the racial demographics of your area.

This is not your only outreach effort. You can personally reach out to black professionals, professional women, and STEM student organizations such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists, and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), black women graduates, and the likes on social media. Try using these communities as a way to expand your pool for diversity and ensure that your DEI initiatives succeed in not only bringing this fresh talent onboard but retaining them in the long run as well.

“More and more black women are opting for STEM degrees every day. But, that does not mean there is no disparity in the workforce. One of the most promising solutions to the diversity crisis in your organization by retaining fresh and young talent. Engaging more black women graduates and retaining them will ensure that you open doors for more diversity and inclusion.”