Did You Know?

Woman shouting

Did you know that  new research on men and women in information systems occupations finds that cognitive differences between the genders cause them to think about women’s technical participation in fundamentally different ways? Researchers from the University of Arkansas, Florida State University, and Baylor University conducted multiple single-gender focus groups with men and women in information systems jobs and developed a system of causal mapping, which “revealed very different cognitive patterns in the way men and women think about these challenges to women’s participation in the information systems workplace.” The researchers found that men displayed a “general awareness” of the challenges women encounter, but male managers did not state specifically how these concepts fit into the larger system or connect to other concepts. “The men appear not to ask themselves how or why these challenges exist or what can be done to address them; they just accept that they exist. They appear to believe that it is largely the responsibility of the company’s leadership to change these conditions.”

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Did you know that AA member Virginia Tech has created a formal partnership with a local science museum to help provide science education? Virginia Tech and the Science Museum of Western Virginia have partnered to provide informal science education and outreach to young people, with particular focus on underrepresented groups. The museum already attracts tens of thousands of elementary and middle school students each year, as well as providing instructors to visit classrooms. The partnership will allocate both funding and resources, but as the museum’s board chair says, “A lot of it is about STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — it’s what we’re focusing on here…We need to be able to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers in our region. We’ve got to do it early, that’s the thing.”

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Did you know that enterprises less than five years old are responsible for creating all net jobs in America over the past 30 years? This according to Scott Case, co-founder of Priceline and newly selected CEO of the Startup America Partnership. The partnership, a public-private non-profit organization designed to help catalyze the Obama administration’s challenge to encourage more Americans to start high-growth businesses, will “work with the private sector to ensure that startups have every best chance to succeed."

In a visit to the DEMO conference this week Case heard suggestions from the audience, including those to scale existing mentoring and seed-investment programs such as TechStars, build more innovation centers around universities with strong entrepreneurship programs outside the usual Silicon Valley/Boston axis, and build the capacity of organizations that support women entrepreneurs such as Astia and Springboard Enterprises. What would you suggest?

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Did you know that the BigShot is about to hit the market? The BigShot Digital Camera is a low-cost ($50) self-assembly camera developed by Shree Nayar of the Computer Vision Laboratory at Columbia University, and designed to give kids a hands-on way to learn about fundamental concepts like optics, mechanics, electromagnetism, electronics, and image processing. By building the camera themselves, kids associate the creativity of taking pictures with the creativity of the scientific concepts that make the camera function. We love the idea of this little camera and hope it can find a successful business model as it works toward its mission to attract more students to math and science by inspiring learning and expression.

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Did you know that the White House released a report this week called “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being”? The White House calls the report, based on broad sets of federal data, “one of most comprehensive sources for information on women’s lives today” and hopes it will assist in the administration’s goal of “catalyzing the private sector.” The report reveals that even while women have made significant gains in terms of their participation in the labor force and their educational attainment, they still earn less than men and are more likely to have competing family responsibilities than men.

Forbes magazine points out that this socio-economic inequality penalizes not just women, but everyone. Using an example from Pepsico where the company actively sought to diversify its ranks upon discovering that a vast majority of its customers are women, Forbes comments that women’s participation wasn’t “an issue of diversity as much as it was an issue of competence. When women are 60% of talent and 90% of customers, it’s not diversity: it’s the future.”

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.