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
A recent article from Fast Company written by Howard Ross covered the topic of unconscious bias. Ross wrote, “How can we hire, retain, and develop the best people and make the best decisions in running our organizations if we are not even aware of the forces that dominate the choices we make?” Ross acknowledged that while it may be impossible to completely eliminate bias, “there are things that we can do to mitigate the impact of biases on our organizational decision-making.”
Computer Engineer Barbie
On November 17th, the Daily Dot published a story about a Barbie book called “Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer.” The post, which was one of the most viral social media shares of the month for NCWIT, critiqued the book for reinforcing stereotypes of women in computer science, particularly the idea that women are only able to come up with ideas and need men to handle the programming. This story prompted numerous responses, including a letter from NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. She wrote, “This representation is not simply a misrepresentation, but is harmful to the young girls who love Barbie and read Barbie books, as well as their parents. We suggest that you replace the book with a story showing boys and girls in technical roles, interacting and sharing ideas respectfully, and making equal contributions to design, story, and coding.”
Women in Data Privacy
In a Fortune article from earlier this month, Anne Fisher wrote about the field of data privacy and a survey by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). Fisher wrote, “It’s also a Big Data-driven specialty that’s almost half (48%) female, a sharp contrast from other tech fields, where women are still a beleaguered minority. And that’s not all. Many female privacy mavens are senior managers who out-earn their male peers.” Fisher interviewed Merck Chief Privacy Officer Hilary Wandall who suggested that the field was appealing to women because it, “tends to attract people who are interested in how technology intersects with social issues and public policy.”
NCWIT in the News
When Women Stopped Coding
The research of NCWIT Social Science Advisory Board Member Jane Margolis was featured in a recent NPR Planet Money broadcast called, “When Women Stopped Coding.” The goal of the episode was to uncover why in 1984, “The percentage of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged, even as the share of women in other technical and professional fields kept rising.” In the accompanying article, Steven Henn wrote of Margolis’ research: “She found that families were much more likely to buy computers for boys than for girls — even when their girls were really interested in computers.”
Intel MakeHers Report
In a new report, the Intel Corporation identified “making” as a successful entry point to get girls and women interested in computer science. According to the report, “Making enables those who may not be naturally tech-oriented to discover how technology and computing skills can help them achieve goals.” NCWIT Chief Strategy and Growth Officer Ruthe Farmer is quoted in the report. Additionally, NCWIT research and programs are cited as examples for meaningful ways to engage girls. You can download the full report as well as an infographic via the official press release from Intel.
Rackspace on the NCWIT Blog
Lucy Mendel, software development lead at NCWIT Workforce Alliance member Rackspace, recently contributed a post to the NCWIT blog. In her blog post, “A Small Survey at GHC: What Companies are Doing to Enable the Success of Women in Their Workforce,” Mendel wrote about her experience at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC). Mendel was inspired by the numerous companies at GHC offering positions, but also had questions about how the job seekers would decide which positions and companies to pursue. She wrote, “I wondered where these thousands of women would choose to work, and what paths their careers would take. I wanted to provide a convenient resource for GHC attendees to see what various companies were doing to enable their success.”
NCWIT Programs, Supporters, and Resources
Introducing EngageCSEdu, an online tool developed by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) in partnership with Google: www.engage-csedu.org. EngageCSEdu encourages the development of more inclusive learning environments in introductory computer science (CS) courses by helping faculty to easily browse, contribute, and review materials that will engage all of your students. This dynamic collection offers thousands of projects, homework assignments, and other course materials that are searchable by computer science knowledge area, programming language, and more. All course materials are developed by faculty members nationwide and evaluated for quality by an interdisciplinary team of computer scientists, learning scientists, and diversity experts. Start exploring and contributing today at www.engage-csedu.org, and become a part of diversifying the technology workforce.
CSEdWeek takes place December 8-14, 2014 — a weeklong celebration to raise awareness about the impact computing can have on individuals and communities. Participants are encouraged to use fun and engaging activities to bolster computing interest, and NCWIT’s research-based resources are tools for change agents to introduce computing to students of all ages. Check out this blog post, which features NCWIT resources you can use during CSEdWeek, and all year long, to be a change agent at your institution or workplace.
You can choose NCWIT as your non-profit recipient on Amazon Smile. Visit http://bit.ly/chooseNCWIT, and NCWIT will receive 0.5% of the purchase price of your items. This is an easy way to support the work that NCWIT does with more than 575 member organizations to correct the gender imbalance in computing and technology.
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