WHILE DIVERSITY has been a major priority at television and technology companies for decades, the results have been mixed at best, due in part to prevailing social trends. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that women made up only 18% of undergraduate computer science majors in 2010- 11, down from 37% in the 1983-84 school year.
“The fact that we have so few women on the technical side literally starts with how science and math is promoted to young girls,” said Barbara Lange, executive director of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).
There are, however, some signs of change on campus. Over half the students in the SMPTE chapter at Rochester Institute of Technology are now women, reports David Long, associate professor and chair of the BS Motion Picture Science program at the School of Film and Animation at RIT.
Likewise, Herbert Jay Dunmore, the TV studio manager at the Greycomm TV Studios television station at Loyola University said that about 60%-70% of the students working on the station are women. The Loyola SMPTE chapter has also worked closely with a large number of organizations and nearby universities to attract a much more diverse audience of women and minorities for its meetings and programs.
“Companies that want to diversify should be reaching out to the many black colleges like Morgan State and looking at many of the excellent programs that aren’t in large metropolitan area,” Dunmore said.