I am so happy to be a part of the INFORMS DEI Ambassadors Program (2020–2021). I am one of nine DEI Ambassadors selected into this inaugural program. Each of the nine ambassadors’ proposals was accepted based on the quality of the proposal to show efforts to increase the number of women and minorities in the tech industry. After our initial meeting, I was extremely impressed with the quality of the members of the group and of the strength of each proposal.
Nine proposals were accepted by the INFORMS DEI Program committee, and nine proposals promulgated nine different strategies to increase the numbers of women and minorities in tech. I will be focusing on the dearth of African Americans in the field of analytics. This year will be an exciting year for the INFORMS DEI Ambassadors Program, where DEI Ambassadors are also encouraged to work with each other, dependent on the status of COVID-19.
Almost immediately, Dr. Pascal Van Hentenryck, a professor at Georgia Tech and a fellow DEI Ambassador, and I realized our similar efforts; and so, we decided to work together on similar projects. Moreover, the Ambassadors from UNC, NC State, Georgia Tech and Clark Atlanta University (my university) have teamed up to give presentations at the 2020 INFORMS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. (National Harbor) November 8–11. I am excited about the opportunities bestowed upon the INFORMS DEI Ambassadors Program and the ambassadors during the period 2020–2021.
As I mentioned above, I will be focusing on ways to increase the number of African Americans in the field of analytics. One of the major issues I found in the analytics domain is that of unintentional exclusion, such as that of African Americans, especially African American males. African American males seem to be almost nonexistent in the field.
After working as an associate professor of mathematics for about 28 years, I chose to go back to school (Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Harrisburg, PA) and obtain a Master of Science degree in analytics. During my matriculation through the program, I noticed there were no other African Americans in my program. There may have been one or two students somewhere matriculating through the program; however, I did not cross their paths. I believe it is safe to say that similar occurrences have been going on across the globe, with only a few exceptions, during the period from 2012 to 2020. It is my hope that numbers are quietly increasing. In the field of analytics, the numbers of African Americans and other minorities are just not substantial enough. Part of the reason is that analytics/data science is a STEM field, and STEM fields historically have had problems graduating African Americans and other minorities. Even though the number of women and minorities have increased in the other STEM fields, these same numbers are nonexistent in the field of analytics/data science.
This bothered me somewhat. As a result, I applied for and obtained a small grant as an INFORMS DEI Ambassador to find strategies to increase the number of African Americans in the field of analytics/data science. I am immensely proud to have been selected into this great program. During my tenure as a DEI Ambassador, I will disseminate knowledge of the field of analytics to African Americans at three or more HBCUs; I will facilitate seminars and/or workshops on the field of analytics at three or more HBCUs; and I will create three analytics classes at my university to prep undergraduate students to go on to obtain a Master of Science degree in analytics/data science.
Charles B. Pierre, Ph.D., M.S. AN
INFORMS DEI Ambassador Scholar
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Clark Atlanta University