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The Kauffman Foundation’s Kauffman Labs for Enterprise Foundation announced this week that it was launching a Women in Science and Engineering Business Idea Competition, designed to recruit highly educated and creative women with world-changing ideas consider entrepreneurship and commercialization of those ideas. Co-sponsored by Astia, the competition ends January 15, 2011, and the prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to TED 2011.
This announcement comes on the heels of recent survey figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reveal that women-led businesses are growing rapidly, but their revenues are not keeping pace. The survey data from 2007 show that women-owned companies comprise 28.7% of all U.S. businesses and generated $1.2 trillion in revenue. In contrast, men-owned companies employed 41.5 million people, more than five times the number employed by women-owned companies, and generated $8.5 trillion. Dana Lewis, executive director of the National Women’s Business Council, said the data shows women-owned businesses are a fast-growing segment of the economy. “But there is more work to be done.”

An article in the Poughkeepsie Journal on Monday stated that computing-related enrollments are up at its local colleges. SUNY New Paltz has seen a 53% increase in computer science majors since the spring, while at Dutchess Community College enrollment is up 43% in computer information management, 40% for computer certificate programs, and 10% in computer science. At Vassar College, 134 students – just over 5% — are enrolled in at least one computer science class, and half of these students are enrolled in more than one. Professors and students interviewed for the article mentioned belief in a strong job market and the omnipresence of computers as motivations for the increased interest in computing; what do you think? Are you seeing the tide turning at your school?

We wanted to give you an update on BizMovie, the application created by The BizWorld Foundation in collaboration with NCWIT and Kerpoof to teach 3rd -8th graders about the business of making movies. Launched last spring, BizMovie is already in the hands of more than 200 educators across the country and is quickly becoming an integral part of the curriculum in classrooms. Designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of starting and running a production company, BizMovie provides a standards-based simulation that teaches the basics of computer programming and computational thinking as students work through the steps of designing and creating their own online animated movies. The program is taught in as few as 12 hours and culminates in a “Box Office Day” where students sell tickets to their movies to younger classmates and parents, giving students an eye into the real world economics of movie-making.

We recently had a chance to delve more deeply into the “Technisource Women and Men in Information Technology Survey,” conducted on behalf of Monster, and the results (based on a survey of more than 500 Monster users) are worth consideration. For example, of those surveyed, 60% of the men had been in IT for 10 or more years, whereas 55% of the women had been in IT for fewer than 10 years.  Although two-thirds of the men and women polled agreed that they would spend the rest of their careers in IT, they disagreed about whether “Female IT workers face a different set of career challenges than their male counterparts” (74% of women strongly agree, but only 48% of men), and  about whether “Female IT workers are equally compensated for their work as their male counterparts” (46% of males strongly agreed with this statement, but only 22% of women did.) Women in the survey were slightly more likely than men recommend a career in IT to young women or to a family member, and they were slightly more likely to have an undergraduate (50% vs. 46%) or graduate (25% vs. 24%) degree. Check out the survey’s 17 slides to see all of the results.

Last week the Alfred P Sloan Foundation hosted a “Focus on Workplace Flexibility” conference, at which several research papers were shared that give some new perspectives on gender and the family-career juggle. A study from Harvard researchers Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F Katz, “The Career Cost of Family,” found that among highly educated women who drop out of the workforce to raise children, women with MBAs suffer the largest “mommy penalty”, while doctors suffer the lowest proportionate loss of status or salary. Women attorneys and those with PhDs fall somewhere in between.
Another study from the conference, authored by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, found that “women in the sciences who are married with children are 35 percent less likely to enter a tenure-track position after receiving a Ph.D. than married men with children, and 27 percent less likely than their male counterparts to achieve tenure upon entering a tenure-track job. Young scientists often make decisions about their career path while still in training.” They also found that “research-intensive careers in university settings have a bad reputation with both men and women,” with the majority of doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars polled indicating that they were concerned about the “family-friendliness of possible career paths.”

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