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 in the News
Apple CEO Tim Cook Interviewed by High School NCWIT AiC Community Member Rebecca Kahn
Inspired by the upcoming 2018 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) celebrations, Apple and NCWIT present a new “Innovator to Innovator” series of personal essays and stories of innovation, as told by AiC Community members by way of conversations with Apple executives. Two innovators are given the opportunity to talk about their personal philosophies, past experiences, and pivotal influencers — and discuss their shared mission to increase the meaningful participation of women in computing.
Find out what happens when Apple CEO Tim Cook is interviewed by AiC Community Member and High School Senior Rebecca Kahn in this inaugural edition of “Innovator to Innovator:” aspirations.org/innovatortoinnovator.
Nearly Four Hundred U.S. High School Women Are Recognized for Technological Achievements
NCWIT proudly announced the 2018 NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) national recipients, honoring nearly four hundred women in high school from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and all U.S. overseas military bases.
Each year, U.S. high school women in grades 9 through 12 are eligible to receive recognition for their demonstrated interest and achievements in computing, proven leadership ability, academic performance, and plans for post‑secondary education. This year, 41 winners and 350 honorable mentions were selected from more than 3,600 amazing, talented young women. View a complete list at aspirations.org/18HSrecipients.
News on the Radar
Survey Says: Half of Americans Think Young People Don’t Pursue STEM Because It’s Too Hard
According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 52 percent of adults believe the main reason young people don’t pursue science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) degrees is because of the “difficulty of the subjects.” Alternatively, 23 percent said the main reason is that young people think STEM subjects are not useful for their careers, while 12 percent said it’s that young people think these subjects are too boring.
As explained in the NCWIT Girls in IT: The Facts report, girls do not come by these perceptions, interests, and career decisions innately or in a vacuum. Indeed, these are shaped by the larger society and local environments in which they learn about computing and technology, and this significantly influences what appears to be their “choices” to pursue computing and computing careers.
What can you do to change negative perceptions and encourage computing interests? Girls in IT: The Facts also offers a glimpse of promising programs and recommendations that simultaneously address multiple barriers and have positive evaluative evidence. For example, have informal conversations with girls (and others) about media and popular culture representations of technology and computing. As appropriate, strike up informal conversations with youth and others about media portrayals regarding technology and technology professionals. Even small comments when running across these representations can “interrupt” the moment and help people question these representations.
Colleges Overflowing With Computer Science Students
In a recent Denver Post article, several Academic Alliance Member institutions, including Colorado School of Mines, CU Boulder, Purdue University, and Stanford University, weigh in on surging enrollments.
The article cites the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine: the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded nationally in computer and information science has increased 74 percent since 2009 at not-for-profit institutions, compared with a 16 percent increase in bachelor’s degrees produced overall.
The study of computer science has experienced boom-and-bust cycles, but the current enrollment surge has been more sustained than in years past.
“Everyone in our community feels this is something different from previous trends,” said Tracy Camp, computer science professor at Colorado School of Mines and NCWIT Academic Alliance member representative. “Computing skills have become ubiquitous in our society. Just about every engineering and science discipline needs computer skills, and now they are enrolling in our classes.”
Universities and colleges are looking for ways to handle the heightened demand for their services and to expand inclusively without inadvertently leaving underrepresented populations behind. (Stay tuned for news on the recipients of the NCWIT Surging Enrollments Seed Fund, who proposed to develop and test approaches to increasing diversity of incoming computing students despite the enrollment surge.)
“While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, all institutions of higher education need to make strategic plans to realistically and effectively address the growing student demand for these courses,” Susanne Hambrusch, professor of computer science at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. and NCWIT Academic Alliance member representative.
When considering approaches to attract and retain women through revising educational systems for an inclusive experience for all students, utilize resources recommended by NCWIT Extension Services for Undergraduate Programs: ncwit.org/recruit-and-retain-strategically.
Male (or other “majority-group”) allies are key for successful change efforts in majority-minority workplaces or environments. While anyone can make change, majority-group allies (e.g., male, white, heterosexual, able-bodied employees) often have more power and are in a better position to make significant change.
You can start small, and start now. The Action section of the Male Allies and Advocates Toolkit offers seven bias interrupters, like how to listen and correct personality penalties or interrupt task assignment bias… For example, you’ve probably heard someone being described as “pushy” or “bossy” or being told to “tone it down.” Or, perhaps someone has labeled you this way at some point. Research repeatedly demonstrates that women experience “personality penalties” (e.g., negative feedback regarding their personality, style, or tone) more often than men. Biases about race and class also result in different manifestations of these personality penalties. While these penalties often occur in formal performance evaluations, they also happen in casual hallway conversation or informal advice-giving, where any observer might intervene. What can you do? Utilize tips from the Toolkit.
NCWIT News and Opportunities
NCWIT AspireIT Applications Open
NCWIT AspireIT connects high school and college women with K-12 girls interested in computing. Using a near-peer model, AspireIT leaders teach younger girls fundamentals in programming and computational thinking in fun, creative environments that are supported by AspireIT partners from the NCWIT community.
Applications for Summer 2018 programs are now open and due March 11, 2018. Use the links below to start finding an AspireIT Leader or AspireIT Partner Organization to team up with now:
Are you a member of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community and ready to be an AspireIT Leader? Get all the details here.
Are you a non-profit organization, library, school, or college/university interested in mentoring and bringing CS programs to your community? Get all the details about becoming an AspireIT Partner Organization here.