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.
For the first time, Extension Services, an NCWIT program that addresses this severe gender imbalance in undergraduate computing, has been featured in Forbes and the Colorado NBC News Affiliate 9News. This builds upon publicity from last Fall, when a three-part series contributed by NCWIT Editorial Consultant Angela Galik was published in EdScoop.
In partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NCWIT, CRA announced an initial launch of BPCnet.org, a resource portal designed to amplify the NSF CISE Directorate’s efforts in broadening participation in computing (BPC). CRA anticipates that BPCnet.org will provide a much-needed clearinghouse for the community to learn about and engage with ongoing projects to diversify computing.
The U.S. Department of Defense recently launched a Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC)—more than a dozen organizations that will strengthen kindergarten through college STEM education and outreach programs across the United States. As a part of DSEC, NCWIT will provide coding camps concentrating around the three target regional hub areas: San Diego, Baltimore/DC/Virginia, and Dayton. Support includes NCWIT AspireIT coding camps and specific outreach to U.S. military bases overseas through NCWIT Aspirations in Computing—a program providing technical girls and women with ongoing engagement, visibility, and encouragement for their computing-related interests and achievements from high school through college and into the workforce (www.aspirations.org).
“NCWIT AspireIT encourages K-12 girls to contribute their unique perspectives and ideas to future innovations,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Since 2013, more than 9,500 girls have received an estimated 295,000 instruction hours through 436 AspireIT programs in 43 states; and, we are honored to align our expansion efforts of this program with DSEC goals.”
Communicating Research-based Interventions to Change Agents //www.ncwit.org/communicating
This guide was created to support the use of evidence-based interventions by change leaders. It can help researchers to avoid jargon and communicate effectively. This resource is intended to help readers design an overall communication strategy. Steps include identifying goals and philosophy, deciding whether to translate at all, carefully analyzing specific audiences, and based on these, developing a user-centered communication strategy.
TECHNOLOchicas 3.0 Posters // www.ncwit.org/technolochicas3posterset
Highlight the stories of TECHNOLOchicas, Latinas from diverse backgrounds and environments who are in technology fields and recognize the power of innovation to change the world.
Sometimes people just want to make others laugh. We all want to laugh. It feels good. It’s the best medicine. So why not repeat that hilarious sexist, racist, or homophobic joke?
Because no matter who cracks them, sexist jokes are a form of sexism. Racist jokes are a form of racism. Homophobic jokes are a form of homophobia. These jokes matter: they can shape our beliefs and our actions:
They present and perpetuate stereotypes, repeating oversimplified, usually negative views about a group. Through these jokes, false and disrespectful statements are brought into the present conversation and hearers’ working memory. Everyone who heard the joke is reminded of the stereotype. The effect is to continue to legitimize prejudice in society.
They set up a duality: us against them. The sense of division can make people forget about the values that unite them.
They hold one group up as the standard by which the “other” should be judged, and paint the “other” as falling short. The “other” is seen as inadequate and deviant compared to their more highly valued peers.
They portray the groups as less human and less worthy of respect, legitimizing poor treatment.
They disguise insult and disrespect, and because they take the form of humor, any negative intention can be denied.
They oppress and subordinate the target group to maintain the status quo.
Everyday conversation is filled with subtle meanings that preserve and maintain the status quo. These meanings are often so implicit that speakers do not recognize the force of their words. Sometimes people clearly recognize the problematic nature of their jokes, claiming that they are tired of being “politically correct.” But, what this phrase does is effectively dismiss the real hurt that words and ideas can cause while maintaining the superiority of a dominant group. It positions anyone who objects as being “overly sensitive” to the portrayal of their inferiority in society. Members of the target group sometimes say it is okay to tell problematic jokes because they themselves are part of the group. Being a member of that group, however, does not give one permission to harm others.
When sexist, racist, religious, homophobic, and other group-stereotyping jokes are told, a person who is a member or ally of the target group may feel they are caught in a trap: they can laugh along with everyone else and be complicit in the harm caused, or they can raise their objection openly, killing the happy mood and being ostracized for having no sense of humor. This trap may lead many of us to remain silent instead of seizing the opportunity to interrupt the perpetuation of biases.
Interrupting bias can be tough, especially when doing so feels like a public confrontation or when there are obvious power differences in the relationship. Being prepared ahead of time can help in those moments when emotions may run high. NCWIT offers several resources that can help prepare you for these situations.
“Interrupting Bias in Academic and Industry Settings” from NCWIT can help you decide whether and how to confront bias. These resources will help you assess the situation and your relationship to the person who introduced the bias and share some specific bias-interrupting techniques you can put to use right away:
Ask a question (e.g., “Where did you find data to confirm that?”)
Invite clarification (e.g., “What do you mean by that?”)
Point out dissonance (e.g., “I’m surprised you would say something like that, considering how supportive you are of women in computing.”)
Change the focus back to where it should be (e.g., “I think Jamie had a thought she wanted to finish?”)
Essentialism (the overgeneralization of similarities among members of a group and the belief that these characteristics are innate)
Framing a societal issue as relevant only to one group.
Understanding why statements that we hear are often false can help you respond more readily.
If you want to practice on your own so that you are ready to intervene the next time you hear a biased statement or offensive “joke,” revisit 2018 NCWIT Summit Speaker Dr. Colleen Lewis’ workshop, “What Would You Say If… Helping Change Leaders Respond to Microaggressions, Bias, and Other Nonsense,” and these examples with suggested responses.
Finally, if you are going to speak in front of a group or are teaching a class, and you want to avoid inadvertently perpetuating biases, the NCWIT “Inclusive Speaker Orientation Course,” a series of narrated slides, can help you be sure you are being inclusive. This free Orientation Course, offered in three 20-minute, self-paced modules, presents content in a simple and practical way applied to the specialized needs of presenters. Topics covered include crafting presentation messages, scripting discussions, as well as presenting media and subconscious communications. The course is based on NCWIT’s ‘Unconscious Bias’ messaging, which encompasses the ideas of ‘Realize, Recognize, and Respond.’ (The Orientation Course was developed in partnership with the Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration.)
Are you a professional looking to facilitate computing programs at the local level? Become an AspireIT Partner Organization. AspireIT Partner Organizations get to strengthen and build upon local connections in order to take part in creating a more diverse technology workforce by supporting future innovators today.
AspireIT Partner Organizations:
mentor young women to lead by sharing experience and expertise
oversee programs, particularly in safety and participant satisfaction