Since 2001, the National Science Foundation has invested more than $130 million to support ADVANCE projects at nearly 100 institutions of higher education and STEM-related, not-for-profit organizations across the U.S. CONNECT@RIT (Creating Opportunity Networks for Engagement and Collective Transformation) focuses on improving conditions for female STEM faculty, with a unique emphasis on women who are deaf and hard-of-hearing at the university. RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) will address issues of recruitment, retention and advancement of female faculty through reassessment of some of its academic and human resource policies, expanding a newly established faculty mentoring program and increasing professional development and leadership opportunities.
Part of the NSF research included looking inward at RIT where a climate survey and examination of HR data trends led to the identification of barriers for women faculty. These ranged from the recruitment and advancement of women faculty to balancing work and life. RIT had only 23 percent of its female tenured and tenure track faculty in STEM disciplines, below the 30 percent average represented in U.S. colleges and universities, even though the number of female faculty had tripled at RIT over a 15-year period. Further data revealed gender-based, average salary gaps existed at each faculty rank, and that women left the faculty ranks at a rate nearly twice that of their male colleagues. These findings mirrored national trends for women in STEM careers in academia and in industry.
Among the Connect@RIT project goals includes attracting 30 percent female applicants for RIT STEM faculty positions, at least 75 percent of STEM departments achieving a critical mass of female faculty, retention rates for female faculty that closely mirror those of male faculty, and an increase in the percentage of women in academic leadership positions to a level which maps to their overall representation at RIT. The finish line for the project is five years out and the researchers have plenty of work ahead. But we are confident they will have a similar finish to last year’s race team.
In summary, a diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. This is especially true for colleges and universities, like RIT, that specialize in innovation. RIT has historically been a leader in developing new technologies, systems and approaches. RIT faculty and research teams often partner with business and industry leaders on research and development initiatives. In order to effectively continue in this capacity – to cultivate the best and brightest minds and to be an innovation resource for industry – everybody must proactively encourage diversity.
Diversity isn’t an altruistic aspiration; it’s a competitive demand.
- Article from Bill Destler, president of RIT (huffingtonpost.com)
- Women in STEM: Academics’ Advice for Young Women (nerdwallet.com)
- STEM Programs for Women (nerdwallet.com)
- CUNY Faculty Vote No Confidence in Transfer Program (insidehighered.com)
- Harvard Faculty Request Faculty Oversight of HarvardX (Their Usage of edX) (mfeldstein.com)
- Sigma-Aldrich Awards Grant to Girlstart, Supporting Its Nationally-Recognized Summer and After School STEM Program (prweb.com)
- Columbiana University Seeks to Improve Its Curriculum Through Biannual Faculty Meetings (prweb.com)
Language in job description to exclude women
When Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm, wanted to make sure its job postings were reaching the most diverse audience possible, its partners did what most people in Silicon Valley do when they spot a problem: they turned to software.
They used programs that analyze the language in job descriptions to catch phrases that might turn off certain types of applicants:
- Looking for a candidate who is “off the charts”? Chances are, not that many women will apply.
- “That’s just not how women talk,” said Margit Wennmachers, a partner at the firm: “They say, ‘Must be highly competent.’ ” .
It is an example of many homegrown efforts across the Valley to change the face of the tech industry. There have always been big organizations hosting conferences and networking events for women. But newer efforts are springing up from inside companies.
To coach women leaders in Silicon Valley
There are programs to teach girls to code, like Girls Who Code, for which companies like Twitter and Google lend office space and teachers. CodeChix, started by engineers at companies like VMware, hosts coding workshops that promise to be “non-alpha.”
The Club is an application-only group trying to provide an alternative to golf courses and men’s membership clubs by coaching women leaders in Silicon Valley. It was founded by Annie Rogaski, a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend, a Valley law firm.
Rachel Sklar, who started a group called Change the Ratio, is introducing an organization called The List where members who pay have access to other women for advice, financing and conference speaking gigs.
“It’s to achieve the function of the classic old boys’ club, which funnels very easy advice and access and opportunity,” Ms. Sklar said.
People to review all job descriptions
At Andreessen Horowitz, the firm asks real people, not just software, to review all job descriptions, too — so in addition to the hiring manager, people who are women, African American and from other minority groups in Silicon Valley have input.
The firm also has a partner in charge of diversity who helps acquire a broad set of candidates for the firm’s talent agency, which its 200 portfolio companies tap for engineering and leadership roles. Despite those efforts, all of the firm’s investing partners are men.
“There’s a huge talent war going on, so we are doing a lot of things to try to surface all kinds of diverse talent and bubble that up to our portfolio companies,” Ms. Wennmachers said.
See articles from Claire Cain Miller
- Opening a Gateway for Girls to Enter the Computer Field (dealbook.nytimes.com)
- Why So Few Women in Silicon Valley? – NYTimes.com (girlsplaybaseball.wordpress.com)
Why you should listen to her
Could technology be more touchy feely? Mechanical engineer Katherine J. Kuchenbecker answers this question with a resounding ‘yes’. Katherine researches the design, control and performance of robotic systems that enable a user to touch virtual objects and distant environments as though they were real and within reach. These interfaces combine electromechanical sensors, actuators and computer control, allowing for technology that can fool the human sense of touch, otherwise known as ‘haptics.’
Imagine a tablet computer that lets you feel fabrics and textures, robotic surgical tools that let doctors use their incredibly well-honed sense of touch, video games that allow you to feel hits and computer programs that teach you the movements of a sport. By researching these areas — as well as applications in stroke rehabilitation and assistance for the blind — Katherine seeks to improve our understanding of touch and uncover new opportunities to use it in interactions between humans, computers and machines.
She graduated from Stanford University. She started as assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, Katherine has been named to the Popular Science Brilliant 10. She is also an avid photographer, and played volleyball at Stanford for two seasons.
The future of touch screens in USA
As we are used to communicate by screens and keyboards a lot of the perception of the world misses the real touch. No matter that the surface of smartphones‘ touchscreen always feels the same. No matter if we look at dog, a mountain, a tree, a baby, a cake, the usual playing cats or a volcano. All we can feel with our hands is a touchscreen.
Without the representation of the haptic experience, a lot of perceptions cannot be appreciated. Have a look at this inspiring TED talk by Katherine J. Kuchenbecker about the technology of touch to see how innovative technology can leverage the sensations the world produces on our skin and how our bodies orient on them.
Learn about the field of haptics, and how it could change everything from the way we shop online to how dentists learn the telltale feel of a cavity. Maybe these ideas will be the basis for touchscreen that really let us touch the world.
Virtual reality you can touch in Europe
Researchers at the Computer Vision Lab at ETH Zurich have also developed a method with which they can produce virtual copies of real objects. The copies can be touched and even sent via the Internet. By incorporating the sense of touch, the user can delve deeper into virtual reality.
Related articles of this post
- Haptics Capture Touch Like Cameras Capture Pictures (itsabeautifulearth.com)
- Day 88- The technology of touch (365daysofted.wordpress.com)
- The Power of Touch (coupleconsult.wordpress.com)
- Microsoft Research Shows Off Force Feedback 3-D Touchscreen (extremetech.com)
- From touch displays to the Surface: A brief history of touchscreen technology (arstechnica.com)
In the early 1980s, women accounted for just over 37% of all US college students earning bachelor’s degrees in computer science. By 2010, that percentage had fallen to a little more than 17%, according to latest available data from the National Science Foundation.
Sheryl Sandberg is calling on women to be more assertive, or to “lean in,” as she writes in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The book comes out at a time when women are significantly under-represented in US data centers.
Last year, women held only 26% of the jobs in computer-related occupations, up from 25% from 2011. That slight uptick notwithstanding, the overall number of female IT professionals has declined steadily since 2000, when women’s share of the computer-related jobs pool hit a peak of nearly 30%, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
Sandberg’s book has been criticised for its focus on “changing the women rather than changing the system,” said Jenny Slade, communications director at NCWIT. “But frankly, if she’d written a polemic on institutional bias in the workplace, she’d have been criticised for painting women as victims.”
Kim Stevenson, vice president and CIO at Intel, one of 24 female CIOs in Fortune 100 companies, said her company’s success in increasing the number of female employees in mid- to senior-level technical jobs since 2004 isn’t a fluke. Stevenson noted that Intel offers mentoring programs and opportunities for network-building for women – activities that Sandberg champions. The Women at Intel Network has 22 chapters.
Stevenson doesn’t share Sandberg’s view that progress for women has stalled, though she agrees that more can be done.
Karie Willyerd, vice president of learning and social adoption at SAP, said that unflattering stereotypes, like the depictions of engineers in the popular comic strip Dilbert, may have discouraged young girls from thinking about IT careers. But recent moves by building block maker Lego and other companies to create products aimed at exposing young girls to engineering could begin to change the cultural message, she added.
- Sandberg’s book prompts discussion on dearth of women in IT (techcentral.ie)
- Sheryl Sandberg: Women can lead and nurture (bizjournals.com)
- Sheryl Sandberg: Women have not made progress in corporate America in a decade (newsday.com)
- Sheryl Sandberg Leans In on Work-Life Balance for Women (fora.tv)
Aspirations in Computing is a talent development initiative of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
The program increases women’s participation in technology careers by providing encouragement, visibility, community, leadership opportunities, scholarships, and internships to aspiring technically inclined young women.
Since 2007, NCWIT has inducted more than 2300 young women into this unique community.
See more details
- NCWIT Award (caterina.net)
- Michigan Tech Picked For Women In IT Pacesetters Program (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- Sandberg’s book prompts discussion on dearth of women in IT (techcentral.ie)