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.
Women & IT in the News
Startup Funding and Male Advocacy
Issie Lapowsky’s article on Wired.com, “This is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like,” was one of the more viral articles about women in tech this summer. One topic she covers in depth is how much harder it is for female founders to secure funding for their startups. She writes, “According to a recent report from Pitchbook, only 13% of venture-backed companies had at least one female co-founder. In the software sector, women-run businesses accounted for just 10% of all venture capital deals.”
Lapowsky also makes it a point to discuss the important role that men in tech play in solving this problem. According to one female entrepreneur she spoke with, “it’s been ‘heartening’ to see men in the tech community listen to women’s stories and begin to talk about the problem themselves.” That, she said, “may be the first step toward real change.” NCWIT has a number of resources about male advocacy, including, “8 Ways to Identify Male Advocates,” which features ideas taken from research NCWIT conducted with males in technical workplaces. You can find more on male advocacy and allies in the full report.
In a Slate article on the topic of interruption, Kieran Snyder argues, “at least in this male-heavy tech setting, men do interrupt more often than women.” Snyder conducted an interesting exercise, tracking interruptions during 15 hours of meetings. Snyder’s conclusion is that, “men are almost three times as likely to interrupt women as they are to interrupt other men.” There is more formal research on this topic, but Snyder’s informal approach is interesting food for thought.
There are many steps that companies can take to set up environments where healthy team discussions can occur and everyone can participate and be heard. Everyone needs to examine their communication patterns and managers need to set the conditions for healthy debate to occur. NCWIT’s “Supervising-in-a-Box: Team/Project Management” is a great resource on this topic, with tips and tools for creating effective relationships with a diverse range of employees.
Majoring in Video Games
An article from Think Progress by Andrew Breiner profiled the new video game design major offered by NYU, and asked if an artistic approach to training could help with the issue of diversity in the gaming industry. Breiner wrote, “Department Chair Frank Lantz said ‘it’s a challenge’ to address diversity adequately. ‘Thinking about these issues is central to thinking about what makes a healthy form of culture.’ He believes the Game Center’s film school-like approach to the study of games will better equip students to understand where their work fits into society. ‘Who makes these and who is it for?… What’s the political and economic infrastructure that’s often invisible?’”
Breiner also interviewed Katherine Isbister, an NYU Game Center professor, who explained that it is not only the student body of the program that will be diverse. She said, “We have female and non-white people teaching classes, same thing with admissions… We’re not trying to recapitulate what the industry looks like now.” This echoes a tip featured in NCWIT’s “Top 10 Ways to Engage Underrepresented Students in Computing,” which says, “Provide role models for underrepresented students. Letting students hear from a variety of role models helps to ensure they find someone to whom they can relate.”
NCWIT in the News
Diversity at Apple
In a press release entitled, “Inclusion Inspires Innovation,” Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed his company’s diversity data. Women make up 20% of tech roles at Apple, and 30% of the workforce overall, numbers that Cook acknowledges need improvement. “As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page. They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them. We are making progress, and we’re committed to being as innovative in advancing diversity as we are in developing our products.” Cook also pointed to Apple’s sponsorship of several diversity focused groups, including NCWIT, and wrote, “The work we do with these groups is meaningful and inspiring. We know we can do more, and we will.”
On August 12, 2014, NCWIT announced via press release the eighth round of winners of the NCWIT Student Seed Fund, sponsored by the Symantec Corporation. Each winner will receive $1,000 for outreach programs that recruit, retain, and encourage girls and women in computing. Plans include programming workshops, after school programs, student mentoring, peer support, professional training, and other opportunities serving thousands of elementary, middle school, high school, undergraduate, and graduate students.