|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 and Partner Opportunities
NCWIT Student Seed Fund
The NCWIT Student Seed Fund can help you take your WIC group on campus to the next level. Apply by tomorrow, October 30, and receive up to $15K for recruiting or mentoring projects. Newly formed or well-developed groups are encouraged to apply! http://bit.ly/StudentSeedFund
NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing
The applications deadline for the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing (AiC) has been extended to November 4! The NCWIT Award for AiC (sponsored by Bank of America at the national level and Microsoft at the local level) honors high school women who are active and interested in computing and technology, and encourages them to pursue their passions. Prizes include computing resources, gadgets, sponsor-branded items, and more. View eligibility requirements and application details at http://bit.ly/AiCHSAward.
NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award
The NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award (sponsored by AT&T) publicly celebrates educators of all kinds who encourage girls' interest and participation in technology pursuits. Educator Award recipients form a national community of peers, share practices, and empower other educators to encourage the participation of women in computing. The applications deadline is November 9. View eligibility requirements and application details at http://bit.ly/AiCEdAward.
SANS CyberTalent Academy for Women
NCWIT is enthused to support SANS CyberTalent Academy for Women, offering free, accelerated training to qualifying women for launching careers in cybersecurity. The Academy provides practical, hands-on training for earning certifications that are recognized by employers around the world. Those who are interested should complete the qualifying exam by tomorrow, October 30: http://bit.ly/SANScyberbrochure.
Women & IT News Snippets
Stereotypes and Environments Strongly Influence a Woman’s Decision
Author Elieen Pollack poses the following question in a New York Times article: What really keeps women out of tech? She turned to Sapna Cheryan’s work for some answers. Dr. Cheryan, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, has spent the last six years studying why girls in high school are significantly less likely than boys to take computing classes, major in STEM-related subjects, or even express an interest in computer science as a career.
Among Dr. Cheryan’s key findings, classroom environments strongly influenced a young woman’s decision to take computing classes. For example, one of the things Dr. Cheryan and her team found over and over again is that female students are more interested in enrolling in computer classes if they see a classroom decorated with neutral décor as opposed to classrooms decorated with “Star Wars” posters, science-fiction books, computer parts, and tech magazines.
Another key finding is that students compare their notions of who they are to the stereotypes of a major or professional and then decides whether or not they will fit in.
Ultimately, the article concludes, “To make computer science more attractive to women, we might help young women change how they think about themselves and what’s expected of them. But we might also diversify the images of scientists they see in the media, along with the décor in the classrooms and offices in which they might want to study or work.”
NCWIT has created a number of resources on how to create an environment to better retain women in Computer Science including “How Do You Retain Women Through Inclusive Pedagogy?”
Women are Assessed Differently Than Men in Evaluations
A recent Wall Street Journal article summarizes a study by Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research that found men and women are assessed differently at work — especially when it comes to providing feedback and selecting candidates for advancement.
The research team identified unconscious bias as one of the main reasons for these differences. As the article points out, “If bosses expect women to be more team-oriented and men to be more independent in their jobs, women may be more likely to be shunted into support roles rather than landing the core positions that lead to executive jobs.”
The research team is in the process of analyzing the language of hundreds of performance reviews from several technology and professional-services firms. “The magnitude of some of the differences and how consistent they were across the different samples was shocking,” says Dr. Caroline Simard, Director of Research at the Clayman Institute. As described in the article, here are several examples of what the research team has found so far:
- Women’s reviews had 2.5 times the amount of feedback men did about aggressive communication styles (e.g. “Your speaking style is off-putting.”).
- Men’s reviews contained twice as many words related to assertiveness, independence and self-confidence (e.g. words like “drive,” “transform,” “innovate,” and “tackle”).
- Women’s reviews had more than twice the references to team accomplishments, rather than individual achievements.
- Men’s reviews contained three times as much feedback linked to a specific business outcome and twice the number of references to their technical expertise.
One way to mitigate the gender biases that persist in performance reviews is for companies to avoid using vague criteria for evaluation — one of many tips offered in "Supervisor-in-a-Box Series: Performance Review/Talent Management.” View more feedback recommendations at-a-glance with “NCWIT Tips: 8 Ways to Give Employees More Effective Feedback Using a Growth Mindset.”
NYC Mayor Requires Public Schools to Offer CS within Ten Years
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently required all of the city’s public schools to offer computer science to all students within the next 10 years. This requirement is one of the mayor’s efforts to ensure all NYC kids have the skills needed to keep up with the city's fast-growing technology sector.
The New York Times outlined the city’s current computing education numbers as well as details of the mayor’s plans. With less than 10 percent of city schools currently offering any form of computer science education, Mayor de Blasio's plan will offer some type of exposure to computing to all students, regardless of their grade level or geographical neighborhood. (Computer science will not become a graduation requirement, and middle and high schools may choose to offer it only as an elective.)
The article identifies having enough qualified teachers as a key challenge that lies ahead. The city estimates that nearly 5,000 trained teachers are needed in order to meet the goal of providing instruction at every grade level. Additionally, many of those who are well-trained may choose a career in the industry over a career in education, as conveyed by Barbara Ericson, the Director of Computing Outreach at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing.
If this challenge is overcome, then not only will the number of candidates in the technology sector increase, but the pool of candidates will become more diverse. Gabrielle Fialkoff, the director of the city’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, said, “I think there is an acknowledgment that we need our students better prepared for these jobs and to address equity and diversity within the sector, as well.”
NCWIT resources available on increasing and engaging girls as well as other underrepresented students in computing include, "Top 10 Ways to Engage Underrepresented Students in Computing” and “How Can You Engage A Diverse Range of Girls in Technology?”
For the latest news about women and IT, links to new NCWIT resources and more, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.