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Last modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011

IU informatics dean to be honored at White House for advancing tech opportunities for women

EDITOR'S NOTE: To watch the Champions of Change event live, visit at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time Friday, Dec. 9. A video will also be available on YouTube following the live event. Blogs by each Champion of Change, including Dean Schnabel, can be found here beginning Friday.

Dec. 8, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Indiana University School of Informatics Dean Bobby Schnabel will be one of 12 people honored at the White House on Friday, Dec. 9, for leading efforts to recruit and retain girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Robert B. Schnabel

Bobby Schnabel

Print-Quality Photo

Schnabel and the other honorees will be recognized at the White House as Champions of Change, a program created as a part of President Barack Obama's Winning the Future initiative. The group includes teachers, industry leaders, students and nonprofit leaders who have each taken great strides to reduce the barriers that drive many girls and women to turn away from high-paying, highly rewarding careers as the nation's top innovators, according to John Holdren, assistant to the president for science and technology and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"These 'Champions of Change' are community heroes, helping to build the ranks of women in the nation's STEM workforce and ensuring that America's science and engineering enterprise is fueled by the diverse talents of all of its citizens," Holdren said. "The bold work of these champions epitomizes the president's vision of an 'all hands on deck' effort by government, academia, nonprofits and industry to maintain America's leadership in STEM fields for decades to come."

Schnabel leads a school of approximately 100 faculty members and 2000 students at the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, including undergraduate and graduate programs in computer science and informatics.

"Bobby Schnabel has been an outstanding leader and mentor in advocating for education programs at the local, state, regional, national and international level designed to make improvements for girls and women in identifying the rich opportunities that exist in the STEM fields," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Diverse groups must come together to solve complex problems, and Bobby personifies the spirit of leadership needed to foster and inspire others toward both personal success and the desire to achieve these greater goals that benefit all of society. Indiana University is honored to be associated with a leader like Bobby Schnabel who embodies this spirit."

Schnabel is co-founder and executive team member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a national nonprofit organization aimed at increasing the participation of women and girls in information technology education and careers. He also serves as chair of the Association for Computing Machinery Education Policy Committee and chair of the advisory committee for the Computing Alliance for Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and he was a co-founder of the Alliance for the Advancement of African-American Researchers in Computing. He served as founding director of the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the headquarters of NCWIT, from 1997 to 2007.

Honorees will spend the beginning of the day at the White House in working groups. They will then attend a Champions of Change event in the South Court Auditorium that will offer networking opportunities, followed by a formal ceremony where guests will offer remarks about their experiences in retaining women in STEM fields. Administration officials will then offer remarks, followed by an on-stage panel discussion with all of the honorees.

"My opportunity to visit the White House with a group of like-minded individuals is simply as a representative of the many talented, dedicated people that I have been fortunate to work with, both at IU and across the nation," Schnabel said. "I am continually impressed by the commitment of so many people to ensuring that women and other underrepresented groups are provided the opportunity for full participation in identifying and obtaining rewarding careers in computing in particular, and more generally in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I thank all of these people for their efforts, and Indiana University for its wonderful support of these initiatives."

In October, IU Bloomington's School of Informatics and Computing announced a doubling of the number of women enrolled in computing-related majors over the previous 18 months. That achievement came six months ahead of a self-imposed two-year deadline put in place for doubling women in technology majors.

The enrollment commitment came after the school joined a group of universities and corporations in November 2009 as founding members of NCWIT Pacesetters group. At that time, Pacesetters were asked to lock in a two-year, self-determined goal to increase net new women in computing, and the School of Informatics and Computing's goal was an unprecedented doubling of the number of undergraduate women in programs on the Bloomington campus from 75 to 150 students.

Profiles of all 12 Champions of Change will be available here Friday.

For more information, please contact Steve Chaplin, University Communications, at 812-856-1896 or Tweeting IU science news: @IndianaScience.