We Don’t Have to Think Pink
In a recent op-ed on Mashable.com, Katie Dupere questions a trend of “pinkifying” tech spaces as a means for sparking girls’ interest in computing. From toy aisles to unnecessarily gendered products, this is not a new gimmick, but many continue to debate the success of pinkification as a way to make computing more inviting for girls.
On the one hand, “The idea of pinkifying isn’t necessarily a negative,” says Mansee Muzumdar, a public relations associate at Shapeways. “I happen to love jewelry. I am very much a girly girl. If I were younger and saw this, that would be an entry point for me, for sure. And I think, for some girls, that’s something that really works.”
On the other hand, the article suggests that pinkification is a tool used to draw girls in, only because the tech space assumes that they would not be interested in computer science otherwise. Emily Reid, curriculum director of Girls Who Code, tells Mashable that this is problematic. “We don’t think using a stereotype to combat another stereotype is actually going to work to level the playing field for our girls.” Reid believes that the hook to bringing girls into computer science is by using what they truly care about, social good. “And we didn’t need pink laptops to do that,” she adds.
Describing those in the technology industry as individuals who do meaningful work on creative teams to develop cutting-edge products and solutions that save lives, solve health problems, improve the environment, and keep us connected is just one of several talking points offered in “Why Should Young Women Consider a Career in Information Technology?” View the full resource for more conversation starters with young people: www.ncwit.org/youngwomen.
Your Campus Computing Groups Could Receive Up to $15,000
Did you know, since 2011, the NCWIT Student Seed Fund has invested over $178,250 in 129 student-run programs for women in computing at NCWIT Academic Alliance institutions? Thanks to the generous support of Google.org, the Student Seed Fund awards are much higher this year — up to $15,000 each!
The NCWIT Student Seed Fund offers an opportunity to create or expand ACM-W chapters on college and university campuses. Encourage students following a computing pathway to apply by Saturday, April 30, 2016.
Applications are now open:
Trailblazer Award (up to $15,000): Funding at this level is for well-developed groups with a history of institutional support that are interested in institution-wide projects such as funding large-scale events or academic course development. Apply for the Trailblazer Award: https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/trailblazer.
Amplification Award (up to $5,000): Funding at this level is intended for existing groups interested in expanding their impact through existing and new programs on their campus and in their geographic region. Recipients of this funding will also have the opportunity to mentor an emerging WIC group at another institution. Apply for the Amplification Award: https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/amplification.
Start-up Funding (up to $3,000): Students looking to start a new ACM-W chapter on campus can apply for funds to help launch their group. Apply for Start-up Funding: https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/startup.
Spread the word in classrooms, campus events, and computing meetups!
We are thrilled to congratulate the January 2016 NCWIT Student Seed Fund Winners! Check them out here.
A Women in Computing (WIC) group on campus can increase members’ confidence and enjoyment of their studies, help reduce their feelings of isolation, dispel common myths and stereotypes, and empower members to actively recruit and mentor others. Use “How to Create and Sustain a Women in Computing Group on Your Campus” for guidance on overcoming common challenges.
One Woman’s Mission to Disrupt ‘Imposter Syndrome’
In a recent Forbes article, the first dean of the all-women’s Grace Hopper Academy, Shanna Gregory, discusses her mission to disrupt ‘imposter syndrome,’ often defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.
Gregory describes examples that she sees in her students, including:
experiencing lessening confidence to make a switch to programming
over preparing for applications
feeling less adequate in the role when a team is mainly male
“Women are less likely to pursue opportunities unless they meet 100% of the requirements, as opposed to men who will try even if they know that they are not fully qualified. Some studies also suggest women ascribe their success to external factors more than men,” Gregory tells Forbes.
Gregory encourages her students to focus on the value of their skills and what they bring to the table, in both school and the workplace, in order to help them overcome ‘imposter syndrome.’ She also advises them to connect with other women in tech who can relate to and understand the challenges.
NCWIT’s Top 10 Ways to Thrive in Your Technical Career offers tips that technical women can use to advance their careers, including:
Remember that you are not alone in your challenges. Use your network to find out how others have handled challenges you face. Be willing to talk with your manager or mentor about these challenges and different solutions that will advance your career goals.
Know what you are good at and promote that about yourself. Research shows that often women are raised to think that it is immodest to “sing their own praises.” Consult with mentors, your manager, and other colleagues about different ways to “pitch” your talents. Develop a succinct way to describe your strengths in a variety of situations.
Increasing Paid Maternity Leave Reduces the Departure Rate for Some Companies
According to a 2008 Harvard Business Review report, 52% of women in science, engineering, and technology jobs ultimately depart from their respective fields. But some companies are discovering ways to steadily decrease this departure rate. In a recent Quartz.com article, Alice Troung points out one way companies have managed to hold on to to their female talent: increasing paid maternity leave.
“It may sound counterintuitive, but the research — and Google’s own experience — shows a generous paid maternity leave actually increases retention,” wrote YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in a January 27 blog post for the Huffington Post. “When women are given a short leave, or they’re pressured to be on call, some decide it’s just not worth it to return.”
Work flexibility has been identified as another important factor for retention by more than half of all employees, regardless of gender. NCWIT offers a numbers of resources and tools that outlines additional ways to help managers retain technical women, including “10 Ways Manager Can Retain Technical Women” and “Resources for Retaining and Advancing Mid-career Technical Women Guide.”