Did You Know?

Newspaper

If kids are the innovators of the future, then what tools should we be teaching them so they can grow up to create great things? According to one group, the answer is “design thinking.” An industrial design studio and a New York City grade school have cooperated to teach middle school kids creativity and problem-solving skills in the context of real-world challenges, with a curriculum that’s implemented across subjects – from math to art to social studies. "The theory is, if you have deep learning, you have more hooks to attach new learning onto," says Annette Raphel, head of the School at Columbia. "When you get out of school, that's what really happens. You don't learn math to pass a test but to solve problems that require math skills. That's bigger than a standardized test."

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What do you get when you mash up entrepreneurism, the DIY movement, shop class, and a co-op? You get TechShop, the place to be for maker geeks in the Bay Area (and coming soon to a city near you.) Founded by former software engineer (and Mythbusters advisor) Jim Newton, TechShop offers members (in exchange for a monthly membership fee) access to a wide array of digital and industrial tools along with the classes to use them and a community of like-minded folks with whom to collaborate. The San Francisco location houses the permanent office of a city-backed San Francisco nonprofit, SFMade, that helps inventors turn their ideas into businesses in hopes of creating more manufacturing jobs. Sound appealing? TechShop is expanding and you can get involved.

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As technology becomes ever more pervasive and our use of energy-sapping devices increases, we’re increasingly conscious of our energy consumption and ways to be more efficient. These demands may seem to be in conflict, but one computer science professor has received a five-year, half-million-dollar NSF CAREER grant to figure out how they align. Yu David Liu at Binghamton University is studying how programmers can create more energy-efficient software. “I think every researcher wants to make the world better, and we just put it into our own perspective,” he said. “Sometime in the future, every Computer Science 101 class may include a lecture or two on energy-aware programming. As an educator, I’m excited about helping to ensure that next-generation programmers are green-conscious from the beginning of their careers.”

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Here’s a developing example of how diversity is connected to the bottom line. Most of us are familiar with buzz terms like Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability. But have you heard of ESG? ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance, and financial services company Bloomberg wants to make it an essential investment indicator.

As companies navigate their need to cut costs and deliver value with their responsibility for ESG factors like diversity and equality, they’re discovering that these needs and responsibilities need not be at odds.  “There's increasing evidence -- and, correspondingly, a growing belief among portfolio managers -- that companies taking such factors into account are forward-thinking and well managed, and therefore places investors should consider.” Bloomberg's adoption of the indicators and its willingness to measure them reflects a growing recognition among companies that good internal practices can lead to good profits, and that accountability is imperative. As the program’s director says, “what's measured gets managed.”

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The Washington Post recently asked a panel of writers to answer the question, What’s the greatest workplace barrier for women? If the article is any indication, it seems there's no consensus:

  • A writer who works in CSR (corporate social responsibility) cites the gender imbalance in her field and within IT as examples of where men and women should break through accepted stereotypes to develop other skillsets and bring new perspectives.
  • Another writer says it’s women’s guilt as working mothers, and their antagonism toward each other, that’s to blame.
  • A third writer states the need for us all to be more aware of unconscious bias and not use gender as a filter for judgment.
  • A fourth writer says it’s women’s success to-date in climbing the ladder that creates the illusion that there are no more barriers.
  • A fifth writer puts the question in the context of the sex discrimination suit against Wal-Mart by postulating that there are so many imbedded barriers to women’s advancement, legislation alone can’t possibly address them all.

What do you think is the greatest workplace barrier for 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.