Bridge the Gap: Corporate Networking Night for Underrepresented Undergraduates

Photos from the Fall 2023 Event

Thursday, September 5th, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM
614 E. Daniel Street, Champaign

Only 26% of the STEM workforce is composed of women. The iSchool at Illinois aims to help organizations bridge that gender gap at this niche event on September 5.

What makes the iSchool a unique STEM school:

  • Of our undergraduates (and this fall we expect 650-700), 44% are women or nonbinary, and 15% are Black or LatinX, all groups underrepresented in STEM.*
  • Women fill 85% of iSchool leadership roles at the iSchool. When looking at aggregate numbers for all our academic programs, women (60%) outnumber men (38%).
  • Our undergraduate programs have taken unusual steps to ensure the iSchool accessibility. We do not require calculus as a pre-req to admission, as the subject is not taught in a number of Chicago area schools. Instead we require BSIS+DS students to take the course on campus. This creates a more accessible program for a wider variety of students.

This special event is designed to provide students and employers with an opportunity to connect at a smaller event in a more relaxed setting. Students with disabilities, or who are Black, LatinX, women, or members of LGBTQ+ communities AND one or more of the communities below are invited to attend:

  • Students enrolled in the iSchool
  • Members of PHM–the Information Sciences Professional Fraternity
  • Members of the Women in Data Science (WiDS) club and the Illinois Data Science Club (IDSC)

When preparing for this event, please keep in mind:

  1. Women are LESS likely to apply to jobs unless they meet 100% of the advertised requirements (men tend to apply if they have 60% of the qualifications), so consider reviewing job ads carefully, be sure to post them well in advance of the fair, and connect them to your registration.
  2. Women are 29% less likely to ask for a referral than their male counterparts, so consider providing a mechanism for attendees to make connections with Illini alums at your organization.
  3. Women are less likely to apply for jobs when the language includes words like assertive, challenging, confident, competitive, and superior. Conversely, words such as committed, interdependent, interpersonal, responsive, and together can increase appeal, according to a 2011 study from the University of Winnipeg. 
  4. Our female students have reported frustration with traditional career fair events –they have reported difficulty in seeing and being seen (due to height differences) and being heard. This event provides an opportunity to overcome some of those barriers to success.
  5. At this event we turn the tables. Each employer gives a 30-second pitch to the room about their organization and what/who they’re looking for at the beginning of the evening. After all pitches are complete, students will join you at your table to learn more about your organization and opportunities.

We hope you can join us at this special event. Registration for Bridge the Gap is available as an add-on to your fair registration which opens on Handshake, May 1.

Want more? Partner with the RSO Women in Data Science (WiDS) and offer an event designed to prepare students for success at this niche netoworking event. Sign-up form available May 1.

*The iSchool does not provide data on LGBTQ+ students or students with disabilities.

Photos from the fall 2022 event