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.
NCWIT Honors MetricStream CEO Shellye Archambeau with the 2015 NCWIT Symons Innovator Award
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) celebrated Shellye Archambeau, CEO of MetricStream, as the 2015 NCWIT Symons Innovator Award recipient. This award honors an outstanding woman who has successfully built or led an IT business, inspiring others to pursue IT entrepreneurship and emphasizing the importance of women’s participation in IT innovation and business.
Shellye received the Innovator Award at an awards ceremony at Andreessen Horowitz in Menlo Park, which included a presentation on Ten Things to Know About Girls, Women, and Computing by NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders.
“We’re privileged to recognize Shellye for her outstanding tech leadership,” said NCWIT CEO and Co-founder Lucy Sanders. “Although the tech industry has yet to fully capitalize on the benefits of diversity, Shellye’s work serves as a testament to the importance of having women in management positions to enhance innovation and financial performance.”
A recent International Business Times article discussed the current state of diversity in Silicon Valley a year after the first wave of tech companies released their diversity numbers and publicly committed to addressing the underrepresentation. Not surprisingly, the results thus far, indicate that the Valley remains a hard place for women, African-Americans, and Hispanics to get or retain a technical job.
While this may be disappointing for many, it is also important to set realistic expectations and to critically examine this type of media report. For example, it is virtually impossible for companies that employ tens or hundreds of thousands of employees to register percentage increases in their overall technical workforce in one year, even if they hire a significant number of underrepresented employees. Demanding that they do so can be unrealistic and can cause companies to spend time and money on efforts that “save face” rather than efforts that are truly effective. It is important to take a more nuanced view and examine more sensitive measures where change might actually show up in a year (e.g., how many underrepresented employees advanced or were hired into technical occupations THIS year as opposed to last year, or increases on measures of company climate). To assist the public in understanding these subtleties, companies would do well to go the extra mile and be transparent about their progress on some of these kinds of measures as well, rather than just reporting their overall diversity numbers. Holding companies publicly accountable and reporting the overall tech diversity numbers remains very important, but it should be viewed as more indicative of longer-range progress rather than reflective of short-term results.
Exposing Every Student to STEM
A recently published TechCrunch article emphasizes the need for students to absorb the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills of STEM disciplines, regardless of whether or not they are considering computing careers.
“Everything we know about the way the world is evolving is saying that STEM is becoming a more important part of not only the technology sector, but every sector of the economy — and, frankly, solving most of the world’s most important problems,” Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department Education Jim Shelton says. “So STEM education is important for every student, no matter what they want to do in life.”
It’s important to note that while STEM literacy offers a great opportunity for exposure to critical 21st century skills, schools need to move beyond literacy and teach computer science in order to prepare students to create the technologies that drive the economy. View NCWIT’s Talking Points, “Moving Beyond Computer Literacy: Why Schools Should Teach Computer Science,” to help educators encourage schools to teach computer science and schools successfully implement computer science education: http://bit.ly/teachcsk12.
Misconception Discourages Girls from Studying STEM Fields
This article from FSUNews.com discusses a recently published study by Florida State University that suggests many American girls are discouraged from pursuing a college degree in STEM fields because of a widespread misconception that one must be born gifted with the ability to master difficult mathematics. Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, the study examined a broad group of more than 4,000 U.S. students and followed their educational records from 2002 to 2012. The results indicate the potential for more women to move into STEM fields if they perceive their mathematics ability as strong and open to growth.
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