[I asked the question. Even though I don't have the full answer, I want to share what we do, in case it is helpful.]
Throughout the entire graduate and undergraduate programs, there are female professors and guest speakers, including women of color. In lecture, I highlight the work of all types of people.
Connecting Students to Support Communities
When surveying students at the beginning of the semesters to get their preferred name, contact information, pronouns, etc., I ask them to optionally provide demographic information that can help me match them with conferences and special programs for which they are eligible.
We encourage students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the ACM Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, Lesbians Who Tech summits, AlterConf, etc., and we subsidize their attendance. In some cases, faculty attend with them.
Fighting the Impostor Syndrome
I educate students about the Impostor Syndrome, repeatedly. I tell them that it is normal to feel overwhelmed and incompetent at times. It does not mean they don't belong in CS; it means they're being challenged. When I correct students' mistakes, I let them know that I've made the mistake too.
When an event is in the news and on students' minds, such as the publication Susan Fowler's essay about Uber, I mention it in class and provide context. (On the negative side, her experience was awful. On the positive side, people are listening to her, which would not have been the case in the past.)
In the capstone course this spring, I assigned students the following readings (which, in hindsight, were overwhelming):
- Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women? by Liza Mundy, The Atlantic
Monthly, April 2017.
- Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber by Susan J. Fowler, February 19, 2017.
- Silicon Valley's not-so-secret bias: Ageism by Jon Swartz, USA Today, September 15, 2016.
- Squarespace staffer claims exec told them "you’re so black, you blend into the chair" by Rob Beschizza, March 15, 2016.
- Woman in Tech Tweets About Sexist Dudes in Tech. Dude Gets Fired. Internet Meltdown Ensues by Lindy West, Jezebel, March 21, 2013. [I chose this article for the summary of events, not the subsequent analysis. I told students they could stop reading after Richards' firing.]
- Ask For A Raise? Most Women Hesitate
by Jennifer Ludden, All Things Considered, February 8, 2011.
I asked them to write a one-page essay with their reactions to the readings and suggested the following optional questions:
- Are you concerned about your work environment after Mills?
people ever told you it will be easier or harder for you to get hired
because of your sex, race, age, or other non-work-related
characteristic? Do you think they are right?
- Why do you think people
sometimes stay so long in bad work situations?
- Have you or anyone you
cared about experienced mistreatment in the workplace? Was it
- Have you ever negotiated a job offer or raise? How did you
feel about your experience?
- Are there other articles on these topics
that you've read and would recommend? If so, cite and summarize them.
Their answers allowed me to discuss their specific concerns with them individually and in class. For example, some women of color worried that they would be given jobs for which they were not qualified, either directly from companies or through special programs targeting minorities. I let them know that I (a white woman from an upper-class background) got my first programming job through family connections: I was qualified for it, but there's no way I would have been considered (fresh out of high school) without connections. If their families lack connections (which is overwhelmingly the case for my students), they should take advantage of other ways to get a foot in the door, paying it forward later.
On the day we discussed the above readings, a recent graduate came to speak about her job and how she successfully advocated for herself, such as not letting herself get interrupted and telling people when they attributed to someone else an idea that she had originally suggested.
Pre-coaching for Industry
I advised students that they should maintain a network inside and outside their company, keep their resume up-to-date, and save some of their money (if possible) so they can move if necessary. If a bad situation arises, they should consult their support network for perspective/affirmation, document everything offsite, and not blindly trust HR or management. I let them know they could also come to us any time for advice.
When students are considering accepting jobs, I steer them to companies with good reputations for their treatment of people like them and where we have alumnae or friends in mid-level or senior positions who can help them. If a student gets an offer from a company I don't know, I use my network (LinkedIn, Systers, etc.) to find out the company's reputation.