Did You Know?

Newspaper

Earlier this year, SSAB member Jane Margolis was interviewed by The New York Times for a story reporting on the gender gap among Wikipedia editors. Did you know that a team at the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering has subsequently completed follow-up research on gender and Wikipedia? Using self-reported gender information from more than 110,000 editors over a period of time from 2005 to January 2011, the team found that:

  • Only 16 percent of new editors joining Wikipedia during 2009 identified themselves as female, and those females made only 9 percent of the edits by the editors who joined in 2009.
  • Female editors are more likely to stop editing and leave Wikipedia when their edits are reverted as newcomers.
  • Wikipedia articles about topics of particular interest to female editors are significantly shorter than “male” articles. 
  • Of editors who have substantial levels of editing experience, females are significantly more likely than males to become administrators. 
  • The articles females tend to edit are twice as likely to be about controversial or contentious topics. 
  • Female editors are significantly more likely to have their early contributions undone by their fellow editors, and are more likely to be indefinitely blocked by fellow editors. 

Said John Riedl, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering and a member of the research team. “As Wikipedia continues to be a critical information resource, it is important that all voices be heard. We feel that understanding the challenges caused by Wikipedia’s sizable gender gap can be a first step to finding ways to broaden participation.”

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Did you know about the term "linkbait"? Blogger Penelope Trunk-- well-known for her provocative take on gender and business -- recently authored a post suggesting that women at early-stage startups are "distracting." Many were quick to point to it as an example of deploying attention-getting content to maximize page views. But Jean Hsu, a former Googler and now an Android developer at startup company Pulse News, concisely explains why Trunk's argument about women as distractions insults both men and women at startups. As Hsu points out:

"The core group of people you have working at a startup affects everything — who sends you resumes, the reputation of the startup (engineers talk…), the office culture… everything. Having diversity among these early employees is of utmost importance, because the end result is that you come up with better solutions because you have a 360 view of the problem at hand. Honestly, there comes a point where if you have only 40 (or even 10) engineering guys working at a startup, it develops a certain type of culture, and it’s really hard to change that and make it an appealing place for someone who isn’t like them. Sure, sometimes it’s difficult to work with people who are different. It’s probably human nature to like people who are like you, but learning to work with people with different personalities, genders, and backgrounds makes for a stronger team, not a distracted one."

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Did you know that choosing a scientific career has an impact not just on women's family lives, but on men's, too? A recent study from Rice University which surveyed 2,500 scientists from more than 30 research universities found that 45 percent of women and 24 percent of men report they have had fewer children than they wanted as a result of having a career in science. Interestingly, the men surveyed were equally if not more bothered by the impact their careers have had on their family life (many surveys on this subject report only on women.) The researchers also were surprised to find that women with children work about the same hours as men with children (54.5 hours for women vs. 53.9 hours for men), and about 25 percent of both men and women are likely to consider a career outside of science entirely due to what is perceived as constraints on their family lives because of their science careers.

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Did you know that salaries and bonuses aren't the only, or most important, factors in retaining your star employees? As the war for technical talent continues to heat up, even in a down economy, a recent poll by HR consulting firm Mercer found that companies are planning to increase their star employees' salaries by an average of nearly 5 percent this year. However, salary isn't everything. "What people really want beyond being paid enough and being paid fairly is meaningful work," says Heidi Gardner of Harvard Business School. "The more volatile the world is, the more people are turning inward to seek a sense of purpose and meaning in their work." Professional training, workplace flexibility, constructive feedback, and intellectual autonomy are other effective strategies for showing employees that you recognize their value.

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Did you know that a Silicon Valley group is "building the future generation of entrepreneurs"? Last week Teens in Tech celebrated "demo day" for its first batch of six incubator companies, who spent the summer honing their businesses and technologies in a bootcamp-style program modeled after "grown-up" incubators like TechStars and Y Combinator.  Teens in Tech itself was started by two teenagers who felt that their demographic was mostly untrained in how to start a company and overlooked by prospective mentors and investors. It recently launched Teens in Tech Connect, a web-based social network designed to connect budding young entrepreneurs with each other and the tools to succeed.

Unfortunately, only one of the Teens in Tech incubator companies has a woman founder, only 5 of its 61 mentors are women, and none of the selection committee members are women. Do you know of other resources designed to encourage student entrepreneurship? Do they do a good job of recruiting young women?

Did You Know? is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT's radar this week that we think might be of interest to you. Practices or content of the news presented are not vetted or endorsed by NCWIT.