In the News: What To Do After Releasing Diversity Data and Making Women’s Voices Heard


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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 News


Making Women’s Voices Heard

On January 12, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Professor Adam Grant authored a New York Times article titled, ‘Speaking While Female.’ They wrote, “When a woman speaks in a professional setting, she walks a tightrope. Either she’s barely heard or she’s judged as too aggressive. When a man says virtually the same thing, heads nod in appreciation for his fine idea. As a result, women often decide that saying less is more.” One of the most popular articles on NCWIT social media to start 2015, Sandberg and Grant’s piece concluded, “The long-term solution to the double bind of speaking while female is to increase the number of women in leadership roles.”


Venture Capital and Diversity

What better way to learn about the issues facing female venture capitalists than to hear from them directly? In a recent article from Upstart Business Journal, Cromwell Schubarth spoke with four such women about diversity in Silicon Valley. Cowboy Ventures Founder Aileen Lee pointed to unconscious bias when she said, “The reality is that in a tech environment that is 90 percent to 100 percent male, it’s not super-encouraging for females to be successful. It’s just a lot of things that contribute to that, things that people do or things that people say that they may not realize have unintended consequences.” Another interesting quote, this time about the benefits of diversity, came from Aspect Ventures Co-founder Jennifer Fonstad. She said, “When you have different thought processes and different experiences around the table, more options and more solutions are considered. That leads to better decision-making.”


Google’s ‘Security Princess’

Google’s Parisa Tabriz, whose official title is ‘Security Princess,’ was profiled on Inc. earlier this month. According to the article, Tabriz “is tasked with protecting Chrome’s more than 750 million users from ‘black hat’ hackers — nation states, groups, or individuals — who find and exploit vulnerabilities to steal data or sell those vulnerabilities to other criminals…” In addition to discussing her critical role at Google, Tabriz mentioned the subject of women in technology. She said, “It is a good time to be a woman in tech because there’s such a big discussion about it.”


NCWIT in the News


What to Do After Releasing Diversity Data

NCWIT Senior Research Scientist Dr. Catherine Ashcraft authored a recent Fast Company article titled, ’10 Actionable Ways to Actually Increase Diversity in Tech.’ The topic of diversity in tech has been making headlines of late, with many large companies releasing their diversity data. However, Dr. Ashcraft noticed that few of the articles on this subject deal with the steps companies can take after they release their statistics. She suggests, “Involve ‘majority-group’ members in change efforts. Increasing representation is not a ‘women’s issue’ or a ‘person of color’s issue.’ It is a human issue and a business issue.”


Intel’s Commitment to Diversity

During the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced a five-year, $300 million dollar plan to increase the company’s diversity. Details were explained in an accompanying press release, which reads, “To support this initiative, Intel has set a bold new hiring and retention goal to achieve full representation of women and under-represented minorities at Intel by 2020.” A related The New Yorker article used NCWIT research to explain that companies such as Intel must focus on retention as well, noting, “The percentages of female, black, and Hispanic tech employees at Silicon Valley companies tend to be lower than the percentages with computer-science degrees. This partly has to do with hiring practices, but women and ethnic minorities are also leaving tech jobs for other fields; according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, more than half of women with technical jobs leave their work midway through their careers, double the turnover rate for men.”


Latinas in Computing

On January 20, NCWIT hosted a Latinas in Tech Executive Roundtable, which was attended by prominent Latino leaders in technology and computing. The roundtable was the first step of a larger initiative to engage more Latinas in computing. As noted on Politico, “The initiative will include a national media campaign to raise awareness while connecting Latinas with resources to help get them involved in computer science.” An NCWIT blog post written by Thaddeus Arroyo, President of Technology Development at AT&T, and Dr. Elsa Macias, a research analyst specializing in the areas of education technology, science education, and information technology policy, delves deeper into the issue. According to Arroyo and Macias, “The economic interests of Latinas are aligned with those of our nation and therefore facilitating the success of this young and growing demographic should be a priority. As our economy undergoes rapid change, remaining competitive on a global scale will increasingly depend on targeting, developing, and retaining Latina talent.”


NCWIT Programs, Campaigns, Supporters, and Resources


NCWIT Programs

Collegiate Award: It’s here!

Thanks to Hewlett-Packard’s generous support, NCWIT proudly opened applications for the inaugural round of the Collegiate Award on January 1, 2015. Up to three winners will be selected annually for this new award that honors outstanding undergraduate women for their computing and technical accomplishments. In order to be considered for the Collegiate Award, applicants must be a member of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Community, a junior or senior at an NCWIT Academic Alliance institution, and a computing major. Prizes include:

  • $7,500 cash award
  • a trip to the Collegiate Award ceremony at the 2015 NCWIT Summit in Hilton Head, South Carolina

Students can apply online at no later than February 15, 2015.


AspireIT: Applications Are Now Open for Round Three

AspireIT (sponsored by Google, Intel, and Northrop Grumman) uses a near-peer model, connecting technical high school and college women with K-12 girls interested in computing. How does it work? Aspirations in Computing Award recipients or collegiate members of the AiC Community become program leaders and partner with NCWIT Alliance institutions for this unique opportunity to share their passion for computing with a younger generation of girls. Alliance institutions serve as fiscal agents, mentors, or potential in-kind supporters while program leaders create and lead camps, clubs, and workshops rooted in programming fundamentals and computational thinking.

Applications for Round Three are open! To get started, visit Round Three AspireIT programs may run from June 15, 2015 through October 14, 2015.


Student Seed Fund Winners

On January 15, NCWIT announced the ninth-round recipients of the Student Seed Fund. Sponsored by Symantec, the Student Seed Fund supports student-run programs designed to increase both the number and meaningful participation of women and minority students in computing at K-12 or collegiate education levels. For more information, including details about the recipients, check out the related press release.


New Resources

A new year means new resources, and NCWIT is excited to share these new releases:

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