This newsletter provides a monthly recap of the biggest headlines about women and computing, news about NCWIT, and links to resources to equip you as change leaders for increasing women’s participation in technology. Practices or content of the news presented are not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.
Geena Davis Calls for Your Vote: Nominate a Leading Woman in Technology for the First-Ever Reel WiT Award
Voting is open through March 10, 2016 for the first-ever Reel Women in Technology (Reel WiT) Award for the best portrayal of a leading woman in technology, presented by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Google, and the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
As noted by Academy Award-Winning Actor and Advocate Geena Davis in this video, only 17% of onscreen technology roles feature women or girls. This award aspires to change that by recognizing the best portrayal of a leading woman in technology from a program (e.g. documentary, tv show, film, YouTube, etc.) who serves as a role model for girls and women with computing aspirations while disrupting the stereotypes of female ingenuity in technology fields.
Voting has been extended through March 10, 2016. Choose a leading woman from the following programs:
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.
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.
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.
Women & IT News Snippets
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.
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.
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.”