Friday News Roundup

There was a terrific profile this week on Texas State University’s implementation of ACTiVATE, the UMBC program (and EA member) that encourages women to start tech businesses by providing them with entrepreneurship training, mentoring, and skills. What a great example of how an entrepreneurship program brings together local technologies and local talent to nurture innovation and business.
Also this week, the White House hosted a Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, focused on bringing Muslim countries into the growing global economy.  But what about focusing on entrepreneurship here at home? Wanted: A Summit for American Entrepreneurs.
We really like Mark Guzdial’s blog post this week on “Education as a (Software) Engineering Endeavor,” which references the provocative USA Today story of a “tough-grading” professor being removed from her teaching post in addressing the issue of how to establish standards of learning for students.

“The challenge of Education is to get [students] to learn what society values, what we need citizens to know and value.  A great Teacher might inspire students to go forth and learn such that they are wonderful citizens in 20 years, but we might not be able to see what he or she was doing in the classroom now that was achieving that goal.  What if we held Educators to the same standards and discipline as Software Engineers?”

From the Economix Blog at The New York Times this week comes an interesting look at the gender pay gap from the perspective of personality – how traditionally male traits such as the “Machiavellian personality” can increase economic success, and how those who lack this kind of personality in an economy that rewards it represent a “bargain” (Do Nice Gals Finish Last?):

“Research suggests that women are less Machiavellian, more agreeable and more altruistic than men, with negative consequences for their earnings. These personality traits may impair women’s success in bargaining for higher pay…It’s hard to believe that they lower women’s overall contribution to society. Indeed, individuals who care about personal relationships and social benefits more than their own pay represent quite a bargain for the economy as a whole. They provide valuable services at a lower cost than those who work for money alone.”

Mitch Kapor – founder of Lotus Notes and husband of Freada Kapor Klein (founder of The Level Playing Field Institute and speaker at our meetings last year) – blogged this week on “Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley,” the recent New York Times article addressing women’s lack of participation in tech businesses and venture capital.  In “Bias in the Tech World: Mostly Subtle, Not Overt” he shares an opportunity to change your corporate culture by getting involved in a research project:

“The Level Playing Field Institute, a San Francisco based non-profit (I am on the Board), is seeking large IT companies and start-ups to participate in a new research study to understand how managers and professionals across various demographic groups define the boundaries of fairness, bias, and oversensitivity in tech work situations. The goal of the study is to help IT employers effectively interrupt the vicious cycle of biases and barriers and create more fair and productive workplaces. Participating companies will receive cutting-edge training on fair and biased treatment and will provide a comprehensive report with detailed, company specific findings. If interested in participating or learning more, contact [email protected].”

Brad Feld – Chair of NCWIT’s Board of Directors and a venture capitalist – has been blogging recently on the 20-something founders at one of his investment companies, and how they taught themselves to program in order to build their business.  This week he shared a reader’s suggestion that “storytellers make the best programmers,” because storytelling reflects creativity, the ability to think organizationally, and to include important details. Those of you who have used programs like Alice to teach programming to kids have probably seen this principle in action.  And if you’d like to find out how to put it into action, check out our practice, “Storytelling: An Engaging Way to Introduce Computing”.

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