Did You Know?

Did you know that the Wikimedia Foundation has created a Public Policy Initiative to improve and diversify editing at Wikipedia? You may recall that in the beginning of 2011, the Wikimedia Foundation — which supports Wikipedia — released the results of a survey showing that only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors/editors identified themselves as women. Now the Foundation has launched the Public Policy Initiative, in which faculty at universities across the country enlist student “ambassadors” to contribute to Wikipedia articles as part of their curriculum. The goals of the initiative and the ambassador program include broadening the diversity of contributors and shrinking the gender gap; so far, Wikimedia Foundation Director Sue Gardner has said that the ambassadors are “50% women.”

Did you know that race matters when it comes to recruitment and retentionof female engineers? A group of researchers at the University of Washington (including Liz Litzler, NCWIT external evaluator and research director at the University of Washington Center for Workforce Development) has found that among more than 10,000 students surveyed from 21 U.S. colleges and universities, undergraduate women report differing experiences based in part on their race. For example, Latinas report feeling “like they were taken less seriously,” while Black women report feeling “singled out in the classroom.” Native American women were the least likely to approach their professors for help, while Black women were less likely to be uncomfortable doing so.

“These findings advance our understanding of race and experience of undergraduate engineering education,” Litzler said. “I don’t think this suggests huge differences. But having a better understanding of where students may be coming from may be able to help us direct them, and give them suggestions that may lead to them staying in engineering.”

Did you know that even women who become successful angel investors may find their investment behavior influenced by stereotypes? Evaluating angel funds with various proportions of women investors, researchers at Oregon State University expected to find that funds with a higher proportion of women made fewer, or less risky, investments (multiple studies have found that women are more risk-averse than men). However, what they found was the opposite: that when women comprised more than 10 percent of the fund’s investors, their presence was associated with increased investments. The researchers actually believe that when women comprise a very small minority of angel investors (less than 10 percent), they are subject to stereotype threat.

“When there is only a handful of women participating in these groups, their status as women, who are less aggressive investors, induces greater reluctance to invest,” said study author John Becker-Blease, “but as the proportion of women increases, women investors are made less aware of their status, and invest with greater confidence.”

Did you check out the all-female Hamptons Hackathon for Humanity? As Fast Company reports, hackathons typically don’t happen in an environment that attracts women. “Picture a group of hyper-focused twentysomething men craned over Macs, surrounded by empty 12 oz. cans of Red Bull, eventually passing out for a few hours on the floor.” Organized by Girl Develop IT co-founder (and NCWIT Summit speaker) Sara Chipps, the weekend convened 16 female designers, developers, and business specialists to produce “Commuting In Traffic,” an interactive game aimed at preventing human trafficking in New York City. 
Izzy Johnston, a 25-year-old independent software developer, said that she is always in the minority at hackathons, and commonly forced to subsist off Mountain Dew and Cheetos. She appreciated “the total lack of ego” among the women at the Hamptons Hackathon.

Did you see the new report from the Department of Commerce on STEM jobs in the United States? “STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future,” paints a rosy picture for those in or planning to enter a STEM field. For example:

In 2010, there were 7.6 million STEM workers in the United States, representing about 1 in 18 workers.

STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8 percent growth for non-STEM occupations.

STEM workers earn 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts.

STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, regardless of whether they work in STEM or non-STEM occupations.

More than two-thirds of STEM workers have at least a college degree, compared to less than one-third of non-STEM workers.

As CNN Money notes, however, this rosy picture presents a conundrum for the U.S., which faces a potential shortage of STEM workers unless it is able to boost the number of students choosing to enter STEM fields. Have you had a chance to peruse the report? What do you think?

Did you know that women’s influence as the drivers of digital trends and “brand engagement” is growing, according to the Washington Post? For example, Google now estimates that more than 33% of its Google+ users are women, despite the belief that women traditionally are not early adopters of new technology. It’s estimated that moms make up one in five Internet users, and are the fastest-growing buyers of iPhones. And a recent survey from NBCUniversal found that 71% of women solicit recommendations from friends when they’re considering a purchase, rather than consulting a review site. The survey also found that women are more likely than men to own a smartphone, a gaming app, and a Wii.
Know a really good way to factor women’s purchasing power and influence into your products and services? Include more women in their creation!

Did You Know? is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT’s radar this week that we think might be of interest to you. Practices or content of the news presented are not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.

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