Did You Know?

Woman shouting

Will the next Google be started by a woman?  That’s the question posed by an op-ed piece from Reuters columnist Tereza Nemessanyi, founder and CEO of Honestly Now Inc. She starts out by looking at the recent investment of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers in a new business run by Kathy Savitt, former CEO of American Eagle Outfitters.  Savitt, who is 47 years old and mother of two, breaks the mold for typical Kleiner Perkins investments - “white male nerds who’ve dropped out of Harvard or Stanford” – and given the VC firm’s record for investing in dot-coms that go on to become the next big thing, could she represent an emerging class of entrepreneurs? The piece goes on to provide a nice summary of the reports and commentary on women and entrepreneurship that have peppered the news and the blogosphere over the last few months.

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This summer, the nine women who make up Brown University’s junior class of computer science majors all decided to intern at Microsoft.  In forming a cohort within their internship experience, the women – a minority in their department and their classes – reveal some other common attributes: several of them stumbled upon computer science by way of another field; many of them suffered a lack of confidence prior to this internship experience, which now has them excited about computing careers; and all chose to intern at Microsoft as a result of Microsoft’s personalized recruiting and outreach.

Do you have a story to share about women in your organization? We want to know.

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The results of the 2010 ACT – a test of college readiness taken by high-schoolers nationwide – are in, and they are interesting.  Many major media outlets have reported on the results, in different ways: The Wall Street Journal highlighted college readiness (or the lack thereof); Education Week focused on the growth and gap for minority groups; and The San Jose Mercury News looked at the performance of Santa Clara County students – the kids in Silicon Valley’s backyard. Here are just some of the interesting data to consider:

  • A chart mapping the educational and career aspirations against projected demand actually breaks out computing (it’s one of the top five fastest-growing sectors), and shows that the projected demand for hires with a computing degree is FIVE TIMES greater than the projected supply.
  • Students aspiring to pursue computing fields had higher math and science achievement scores than those pursuing the other fastest-growing sectors.
  • Students who took the “core curriculum” in high school were much more  likely to pass all four ACT benchmarks (English, reading, math, science) and earned higher ACT scores, just one sign of how important it is to ensure that computing becomes a part of that core curriculum; however, still less than a quarter of all high-schoolers who took the test scored high enough to be deemed college-ready, which may indicate that even our core curriculum needs a boost. (For more on how you can help implement CS Principles, a proposed new computing course from NSF and AP, we encourage you to check out www.ncwit.org/csprinciples.)
  • Although still low, the numbers of Latino students who both took the ACT and passed the benchmarks have jumped significantly.

You can find all the results at the ACT website.

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A study from Rice University on men and women scientists in academia provides some remarkable insights into gender differences in perception of family life, careers, and happiness. Focusing on departments of physics (traditionally a low proportion of women) and biology (traditionally a higher proportion of women), the researchers surveyed men and women scientists about whether they chose to have fewer children as a result of their career choices, whether they were satisfied with their careers and family, and the degree to which they experienced work-life tension and support from their departments.  The survey results are fascinating – and in some cases surprising:

According to the survey, "a lower percentage of female scientists have children, and of those who do have children, they have fewer on average than men, averaging 1.9 versus men's 2.1." Ecklund and Lincoln sought to use the data to draw broader conclusions. "These analyses suggest that experiences of parenthood are different for male and female scientists, that women who have successfully pursued academic science careers have different expectations for parenthood possibilities or that people who persist in science careers are different from those who drop out along the way," they wrote. 

They found that fewer male physicists than male biologists (79 percent vs. 87 percent) are married, are less likely to have children and have fewer children. "Male biologists, however, report working more hours per week than male physicists, are somewhat less happy with their jobs and are significantly more likely to report a lack of departmental and university support," Ecklund and Lincoln wrote. "Because there are proportionally more men in physics when compared to biology, this latter finding is consistent with the general organizational finding that individuals are happier when they work with those who are similar to them."

Did You Know? is a brief round-up of news, events, resources, and other factoids that crossed our radar this week and we think are worth sharing. Got an interesting to share? Let us know.