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Call to Action: Diversity and Inclusion in STEM

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Presenter: Kisha Hortman Hawthorne, PhD, FACHE, SVP & Chief Information Officer at CHOP


Speaker: Paulette McRae, PhD, Assistant Director of the Office of Academic Training and Outreach Programs Specialty Programs and Diversity Tier

Slide One

We are honored to have Dr. Kisha Hawthorne with us for she is the Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at CHOP. So it is a great pleasure to have you, Kisha. In addition to her day job, she is also the Executive Sponsor of MPN, which is another employee research group. She has accumulated numerous accolades over the years, one including being named One of the Most Influential Women in Health IT and that was just this past year, so that is really exciting. Today she is going to be speaking about her personal STEM journey and why diversity is important in STEM.

Speaker: Kisha Hortman Hawthorne, PhD, FACHE, SVP & Chief Information Officer at CHOP

Slide Two

I wanted to thank Paulette and Jeff for inviting me. We worked together on lots of different things both related to CHOP work items, but also on diversity and inclusion. And then we just share a love for all things Philadelphia so I appreciate you inviting me. I am especially excited to join you guys after 16 or 18 weeks. I know we’ve been home a long time so we will do the best we can. I wanted to start with as a little girl, she was the only African American cheerleader, Girl Scout, and student in AP German. She was one of two African American students in AP Calculus. She was part of a group of siblings that never got the summer off. However, this same little girl had the opportunity to participate in education and STEM programs like Investing Now, like the University of Pittsburgh Medical School’s program, and the Pennsylvania’s Governor School for Health Professions.

Slide Three

So was this little girl alone in this experience? Could it have been where she grew up? The school she went to? How many of you on this call have had this experience? So as a young lady continuing on with her life, she was the only person after majoring in biology as an undergrad, the only African American student in her graduate school program in both the first and second year cohorts. She was the first African American grad fellow at a corporate group purchasing office right out of graduate school and the only first African American hospital executive at her first hospital job at 22. However that same lady had the opportunity to participate in the Ronald McNair program at her HBCU through the graduate feeder program into her graduate university she was provided with a full scholarship. And at her first job, she was mentored by an African American general counsel and sponsored by her first mentor. He taught her the importance and what it meant to be a mentor, and by the way he was a Caucasian man.

Slide Four

As a woman, she was now used to being the only one in the room. She was the only African American health executive at two different health care organizations she worked with. Often she was the only African American female in the room at professional meetings and conferences, and sometimes the only African American female at technical leadership meetings. However, this same woman at 29 was recognized locally in her city for 40 under 40 and served on her first two boards. She also is the first African American female Chief Information Officer at her organization. And as Paulette already gave away, the winner of the Health Information Management Systems and Society Most Influential Woman in Healthcare IT awardee. So this little girl, this young lady, and this woman is me. So I wanted to share my personal story of how I got here. Before I go into the next slide, I’m hopeful that this resonates with some people and I want you to know that you are not the only one in the room, not the only person in the class. I don’t speak for your lived experience, but there are more of us here together and as we continue to mentor and network and grow groups like this, I think we will all achieve great things.

Slide Five

I am the Senior Vice President Chief Information Officer. In my department is Information Services, HIM, and Biomedical Engineering. We handle about 550 STEs and, at any given time, over 100 contractors. Like many of you, we are a 24/7 operation and we support all of the CHOP sites.

Slide Six

I wanted to share some statistics about our department. So we count how many users we have. I know many talk about our employees and physicians. My life is run by the Active Directory account, and I know some people will laugh. We have 20,000 people who have Active Directory accounts here at CHOP. We have over 22,000 biomedical devices, almost 40,000 computers and phones in use. From a patient record perspective we have over 5.5 million medical records. From a data center load perspective, we have two centers. We have 4.3 million kilowatts, 95% of our servers are virtualized. We have 869 miles of dark fiber so just imagine we could be to New York and back and Boston and maybe even get a trip to Baltimore as well. We have storage, and there is a little note here which I think will be of interest to this group, we have 44.5 petabytes. Now this is an older slide so who knows what it is today and we are running out of the types of bytes. We just keep changing the name, but 25% of that is research. So there is a large portion of our colleagues in research. Our biomedical devices are network and our patches on the main campus of cables run 71 miles. And as you know we have 50+ locations and we are building the new hospital in King of Prussia. We are hoping to build the HUB on the main campus amongst some other things and IT is involved in all of those projects.

Slide Seven

Specifically in CHOP’s Information Services, we do have a few programs where we’re focusing on how do we change diversity, get people to become a part. So a few programs that I’m proud of, one of them is our Co-Op Program. We unfortunately could not take co-ops this year because of COVID19, but we did offer them for next year in June. I don’t want you to think that we walked away. We had 25 students on tap to come this summer so we have a really big program. The best thing about this program is we have 30% of the students have been hired at CHOP and not always in IS. Sometimes I’ll be walking down the hall and I’ll say, “Oh, I think you were in co-op.” And they will say, “Yeah, I got picked up by Pharmacy.” Or we just had someone get picked up by Internal Audit. So we have people all around the organization that started in the Co-Op program. This is near and dear to my heart. I talked about in roads and Investing Now. I’ve been a co-op. I’ve been an intern. It gives you that extra umf that you need and experience you need when you are trying to get into the intro-level positions. We also feel like we need to start young and early. So we have a pretty big program, Day Your Child to Work Day. We say it is sold out every year, but it is free. It is just sold out every year. So the last couple of years we have gone and done it with you guys so iSTEM has partnered with us. I think the Facebook link and some other things that goes out are usually filled within an hour. And then the last program is the CHOP Tech program. So once a year in the Fall it is a part of Health Information Technology. Again, we invite partners from nursing, from research, from your group to partner with us to work with young ladies that are locally here in middle school and up through high school to really expose them to healthcare IT, healthcare research, and to give them some perspective on things. Not that nurses and doctors are not what we want, but, in addition to nurses and doctors, what are some of the other roles in healthcare.

Slide Eight

So why do we need women in STEAM, which is our next slide. And I’m saying STEAM because we want to add the arts in there. I think, yes we have the science components, but we also want to make sure we have people in the arts. So here is just a couple of statistics. Only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees versus 17% of men. Men are 2.5 times more likely to enter these high paying fields. And women hold less than 25% of STEM jobs.

Slide Nine

From a demographics perspective, you can see that over half the population are women. We just woke up, checked that around in your own neighborhood. One of the positive things at CHOP when we look at our physicians, we have a 50/50 split and sometimes that teeters on 51-52% leading towards women in the field. But if you look at leadership, we do not have the same reflection of race and color. You can also see some of the minority populations in terms of underrepresented minorities.

Slide Ten

These are some statistics that when I was doing research for this presentation we reasons why people were not in STEM. You may see things that you have experienced. People face discrimination you know from their hiring, promotion, and recruitment. A lot of young folks are not encouraged to pursue STEM at an early age so I’m sure we will have the conversation. I was just reading an Instagram listserv about some schools on the Main Line where people are talking about some of their experiences. And I’m not from this area, I am from Pittsburgh, but I was even told you shouldn’t go to that high school or that college. Why would you go to an HBCU? You should go somewhere else? So there are sometimes people in our lives, in our families who don’t make it easy. Some of the reasons women are not in STEM are some of the same reasons that minorities, Black and Hispanic, are not in STEM, but we have a long history in the STEM field.

Slide Eleven

Here you will see some of the ladies that are Hidden Figures, but us growing up, a lot of us were not hidden figures. There are mothers, aunts, relatives. On the lower left hand corner you can see Mary Jackson, NASA just named a building after her yesterday and made the announcement. And I know Katherine, she is in my sorority so we celebrate her a lot. But they were featured in a movie, but this work has been done over years. You will see pictures of people from the Harvard Observatory in the 1800s, work that has been done by women early on in the US Army, and then my personal favorite, women at the Bell Labs.

Slide Twelve

So here are some data about women participating in the STEM field. They are increasing but the participation in computing has been falling.

Slide Thirteen

Initially, I was doing this presentation for Drexel, but the conference got cancelled. As a proud alumni from Drexel, we have put in a program specifically targeting women in computing. And we had a few ambitious goals that we’ve been doing well. One is increasing our undergraduate women by 50% in the College of Computing and Informatics. We also wanted to build pipelines. We are doing lots of giving. Making sure there is a lot of internal support system for these students. And we have surpassed the goal with increase of 70% in less than 3 years. That statistic is from last year. That is just one example of a particular program that people are doing.

Slide Fourteen

I want to make sure I give you some tips to take with you and we can talk about these later. So I always believe in study and work hard, but play even harder. So major in something you are interested in and enjoy, take your prerequisites, study abroad, take time to rest, relax, and renew. Also, find a sponsor and be a mentor. Find a sponsor, someone who can help you, and a mentor, you need both. A sponsor is going to help you get to that next level, get to that promotional opportunity. A mentor is going to be someone who says, “Come here, let me help you and how you were experienced in a meeting or something you didn’t follow up on.” And then for yourself, you should be a mentor or champion for other female minority youth students or data scientists. The third is pay it forward. Participate in some community programs, I talked about a few. Give back to your alma mater with money and time because we are trying to pay for the next generation. Offer internships if you are in a position that you can do it for underrepresented minorities and data science and other STEAM fields. And create a pipeline. I went to a Historically Black College and University. I was exposed to that. Lucky enough my parents were grads. I had some cousins. So, all of my brothers, we all started off at HBCUs. And while I went to a traditionally White institution for my graduate degree at the University of Minnesota, I had that early on experience of working with other minorities. I know it is historically black, but where I went San MU, there are every color under the sun, every background, every ethnicity is there so I had a good early footing as a biology major. So take opportunities, say yes and rock the boat. Some of you may have read Shonda Rhimes’s book, Year of Yes. If you haven’t, pick it up and read it. It is a good one. And the next one is network, network, network. You might be shy, you might say I am an introvert, but you want to be able to share stories and experiences, listen to ideas, and invite feedback and learning from others. And finally, build the ability to reach out.