Professor Sharon Mason is an Associate Professor in the Department of Information Sciences and Technology at RIT where she has served on the faculty since 1997.  Sharon has been involved in computing security education at RIT since its inception.  She is the PI of for the Department of Defense (DoD) Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP) awards to RIT.  These scholarships enable students to study and do research in graduate programs in security, forensics and information assurance. To date, scholarships to RIT students total $814,650. 

Sharon was also the PI of a 2007 funded NSF Scholarship for Service Capacity Building Grant titled, “Faculty, Curriculum and Lab Exercise Capacity Building Partnership.”  This grant partnered the NSSA faculty with three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to build the national capacity for security experts by training faculty and developing lab infrastructure to support curricular needs at the partnering universities. Preliminary results from grant surveys and informal feedback indicate that our efforts are very successful.  In addition to building national security capacity, these partnerships have led to the recruitment of several graduate students from underrepresented populations into our NSSA programs from our partnering universities.  

Professor Mason was responsible for developing much of the security curriculum as part of the NSSA degree programs.  She co-chaired the committee to design and develop the Bachelor of Science degree in Information Security and Forensics and has participated in numerous security working groups, conferences and training programs.

Sharon is a co-PI on a $3.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation for the project “CONNECT: Increasing the Representation and Advancement of Women Faculty at RIT.”  The NSF ADVANCE IT project, Creating Opportunity Networks for Engagement and Collective Transformation:  Increasing the Representation and Advancement of Women Faculty @ RIT (Connect@RIT), is an effort across RIT’s nine colleges, all of which include STEM/SBS disciplines.  The project’s goal is to increase the representation and advancement of women STEM/SBS faculty, widely represented across ethnic, social, and cultural backgrounds, by removing barriers to resources that support career success and creating new interventions and resources.  An additional emphasis will be upon adapting interventions to address the needs of key sub-populations including women of color and deaf and hard-of-hearing women faculty.  The project aims to: 1) refine and strengthen targeted institutional structures; 2) improve the quality of women faculty’s work life; 3) align institutional, administrative, and informal systems of power and resources to support and sustain progress towards the project goal; 4) enhance the working environment and support career advancement for women faculty; and 5) establish a sustainable, inclusive, accessible RIT network that supports career goals for all RIT faculty.

Sharon was a co-PI (along with Margaret Bailey, PI, Stefi Baum, co-PI, Maureen Valentine, co-PI and Jacqueline Mozrall, co-PI) for the NSF funded ADVANCE IT-Start project, “Establishing the Foundation for Future Organizational Reform and Transformation @ RIT” (EFFORT@RIT).  From the abstract, EFFORT@RIT was a multi-year study across five RIT colleges which include Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.  The project involved collecting and analyzing data on the factors that women seek in an academic position and determining how well RIT provided (or failed to provide) for these through RIT faculty climate survey activities and objective data review and then benchmarking against these factors.  The overarching mission was to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic engineering and science at Rochester Institute of Technology.  In order to achieve the mission, the goal of the institutional transformation start-up project was to develop an evidence-based approach to address factors resulting in the under-representation of women in STEM faculty positions at RIT.  The objective supporting achievement of this goal was to identify barriers for our current women STEM faculty in regards to rank, tenure and leadership role progression in order to establish how well RIT does in addressing factors that have been found to be important in the recruitment and advancement of women faculty within STEM fields

In addition to her security expertise, Professor Mason served for five years as the GCCIS Faculty Associate for Student Scholarships, Issues and Advising.  In this role, Sharon was responsible for distributing student scholarship dollars in accordance with the donor’s wishes.  Sharon managed all GCCIS student issues, including grievances, grade appeals and student-faculty conflict situations.  

She also served as the founding Executive Director of RIT’s Women in Computing (WiC). In this role, Professor Mason cultivated programs for the support and retention of women students, faculty and staff in the college and outreach to K-12 women in the community.  

Sharon led the initiation of a website to support WiC, coordinated programming and activities for GCCIS women students, faculty and staff, facilitated several GCCIS WIC scholarships and worked with students to enable their academic success.  Sharon travels annually with GCCIS women students to the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.  

Locally, Sharon serves on several university groups supporting women including the President’s Commission on Women and the RIT Center for Women and Gender Board of Directors.  Sharon has presented on numerous panels, reaching out to female students, parents, teachers and guidance counselors interested in technical careers.  

Nationally, Sharon serves on the Executive Committee of the National Center for Women and Information Technology.  This organization, funded by the National Science Foundation and corporate sponsorship, was formed “to ensure that women's knowledge and skills are fully represented in the creation, development, and consumption of information technology.”  (http://www.ncwit.org)  Sharon has also served as a seed fund reviewer for this organization and actively participates in the annual Summit.  She also works with the NCWIT researchers to provide a series of recommendations for improving recruitment and retention efforts based on an assessment of GCCIS programs.

All of these activities provide Sharon with a direct conduit to recruiting, retaining and advancing diverse students and faculty from underrepresented populations. 

© spm 2012