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SPS Students Win Nasdaq’s Gender Diversity Innovation Challenge

Students from a range of SPS master’s programs, including Applied Analytics, Enterprise Risk Management, Nonprofit Management, Sports Management, Strategic Communication, and Sustainability Management, recently entered the Gender Diversity Innovation Challenge.

Sponsors of the Challenge included Nasdaq and, as well as three senior members of the Columbia University community: ​Dr. David Madigan, EVP and Dean of School of Arts & Sciences, Thomas Deely, Executive Director for Corporate Partnerships at Columbia SPS, and Dr. Sharyn O'Halloran, George Blumenthal Professor of Political Economics and Professor of International and Public Affairs.

Students were asked to measure gender diversity at the leadership level among universities and early-stage tech firms. The Challenge involved four components:

  1. Measuring​ how diverse organizations are at the senior level ​and board level using publicly available data sets and sponsor-provided APIs;

  2. Aggregating and defining strategies to​ build a community/movement​ around existing initiatives within corporations, academia, and nonprofits;

  3. Defining strategies​ to drive adoption of greater gender diversity​ within organizations, including publicizing models, indexes, tools, and engaging media and investor community;

  4. Leveraging methodologies, such as open source, crowdsourcing, and technologies like machine learning to build a highly accurate, automated, transparent, sustainable process​.

Dr. Yvette Burton, Academic Director of the new M.S. in Human Capital Management program, joined the judges’ panel with Nasdaq’s SVP and Chief Human Resources Officer, Global Head of Talent Acquisition, and Head of Global Talent Management, as well as the Founder and CEO at and other senior leaders.

Congratulations to Yunyu He, Didan Yang, Wenbo Cao, Anke Xu, Jiaqi Chen, and Chen Ye, the “Gender Inclusion Ratio Lifters” (Team GIRL), a cross-disciplinary group of master’s degree students from SPS and the Department of Statistics who built an index and visual dashboard to measure faculty diversity at U.S. universities, for winning the overall prize.