Did You Know? Google Women Drop Knowledge, Stanford Diversity Grows, Paternity Leave

To Attract Women, Offer Perks for Men  

Did you know that UK-based (and Sequoia Capital-funded) startup Songkick offers its male employees nine months of paternity leave? Though the legal requirement for parental leave in the UK is two weeks, Songkick now offers six weeks of paid leave and up to 46 additional weeks (the same as its maternity leave plan.)

"None of my male friends worry about what will happen to their careers when they have kids,” said Songkick co-founder Michelle You, “but in particular there is this expectation on women to be a mum, stay at home and shoulder the responsibility of childcare. That is reinforced by the unequal parental leave policy. If the mother can take nine months but the father can only take two weeks, then who is going to do it?"

Songkick has one female and two male founders, and currently has 25 men and 6 women on its staff. The founders think of the egalitarian policy as an investment with long-term impact and describe it as akin to giving employees equity in the business. “Anything about gender [imbalance] is really hard to do, and there's a real latent misogyny in the startup space. We are good at establishing those kind of norms around how business is done and shifting expectations of how a business should treat you.”

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Stanford Faculty Diversity Grows

Did you know that just over the last five years, the number of faculty members from underrepresented groups at Stanford University grew 43 percent? Stanford’s Faculty Development Initiative has increased the number of African American, Latino, and Native American faculty members from 102 to 146 since 2008. However, a study based on interviews with minority faculty found that some minority faculty members still experience research isolation, diminished peer recognition and lesser collegiality.

For example, many interview participants said that hiring additional faculty members of color would "prevent overburdening the existing underrepresented minority faculty with service demands," who perform a disproportionate amount of diversity-related university service and that their service is not always recognized by unit leadership. "Promotion of diversity and support for students of color is seen as the responsibility solely of faculty of color, rather than as a responsibility shared by all faculty members," according to study participants' accounts.

The study also found that both female and minority faculty are less likely to promote their own work, leading to “misperceptions or lack of recognition of their scholarly success in Stanford's culture." Faculty members pointed out that feeling as though their work is valued and respected helps create a collegial environment, which increases the likelihood that they will stay with the university.

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Holistic Review

Did you know that a handful of U.S. medical schools have been experimenting with an admissions process called “holistic review,” which has resulted in a doubling of the number of underrepresented students without significant changes to MCAT scores or grades? Traditionally, medical schools use grades and MCAT scores to funnel down the applicant pool. However, an increasing number of schools are now assessing those metrics in the context of life experiences, socioeconomic status, cultural and ethnic background, gender identity, and the medical school’s mission (for example, training research scientists or compassionate clinicians.) Faculty at the schools using this admissions process note that students seem more collegial and supportive, open to new ideas and perspectives, and engaged in community activities, while being just as prepared as past students.

The holistic process is not without additional effort. “You could sort every female applicant in Wyoming by MCAT score with three keystrokes,” said Dr. Henry M. Sondheimer, co-author with Dr. Witzburg of one of the articles and the senior director of Medical Education Projects at the Association of American Medical Colleges. “It takes more time to get to know the students.” Yet nearly one-third of all medical schools in the country have expressed interest in implementing holistic review. “No one is saying that skills and inclination in science is not important,” said Dr. Robert Witzburg, associate dean and director of admissions at Boston University School of Medicine. “But in this rapidly evolving and diverse society, they are insufficient.”

Does your university engage in some kind of holistic admissions review? How do you think this approach would impact diversity in computing? Read tips and case studies on how admissions criteria can affect women’s admission to computing programs with NCWIT practices, articles, and workbooks.

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Advice from Google’s Women

Did you know that Johanna Wright -- a Google search engineer who is now a VP at Android -- at one point moved in with her in-laws after her startup company failed? “[Tech is] a disruptive industry,” Wright said. “You, too, might someday be unemployed on your father-in-law’s couch. What matters is the energy and tenacity with which you pick up your next job.”

Wright was one of seven Google women who proffered advice from the field during a Women Techmakers session at last month’s Google I/O conference. She says employees should seize opportunities, and managers should inquire about and support employees’ goals.

Anna Patterson, a vice president of engineering and artificial intelligence at Google, urges women to persevere. “After having my fourth child, I did what everybody does when they have four kids and they’re on maternity leave,” she said. “I started a company.” Diane Greene, founder of VMware and now a Google board member, advises women to follow their passions. “I’ve always really loved adventure, so I took a brief interlude and went to use my computer skills to be the computer expert on a marine archeology expedition, where we excavated a Spanish galleon and found gold.”

Susan Wojcicki, Google’s senior vice president in charge of advertising, encourages women in tech to aim high. “Do something important, think big, have an ambitious goal about how you can change the world.”

Want more tips for how to thrive in your technical career? Check out a few more.

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Aspirations Educator Award-winner Recognized with Raytheon Grant

Did you know that a computer science teacher at the Advanced Math and Science Academy (AMSA) Charter School in Boston will receive a $5,000 grant from Raytheon and The Hall at Patriot Place? Kelly Powers -- the department chair at AMSA, founder and co-chair of the local CSTA chapter, and a winner of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Educator Award -- has been named Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year.

Powers has been an active proponent for increased STEM education and an advocate for increased representation of girls and minorities. She brought the GEMS Program (Girls Engaged in Math, Science and Computer Science) to her school, which involves high school seniors mentoring middle school girls in mobile app development, and launched the Technovation Challenge program at AMSA, which connects high-tech professionals with high school girls and underprivileged minority children and their families.

Powers will be honored in a pregame ceremony at a 2013 New England Patriots game, and at the 2013 Massachusetts STEM Summit. (We love the idea of a computing educator being honored at a major sporting event with “rock star treatment”! How else might we elevate the status of STEM educators?)

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It’s Not Me, It’s You

Did you know that women will undervalue their contributions when they collaborate on teams with men, but not when they work with other women? A recently published study from researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and New York University found that when women in a group receive praise for the group’s performance, they’re more likely to credit the group’s men than acknowledge their own contributions, unless their individual roles were incontrovertible. That women do not undervalue their contributions to group successes when working with other women debunks the idea that women are simply modest in group settings, according to the study’s authors.

"Rather, it underscores how the expectations women hold of themselves, and those they work with, influence how they process group feedback. What we have found is that sometimes outcomes and performance – no matter how stellar – are not enough to trump the biasing effects of stereotypes, particularly when the nature of individual contribution is unclear."

In a workplace setting, this means women on teams may be less likely to take credit for the team’s accomplishments or tout their own contributions -- which in turn can affect whether they vie for or are nominated for challenging projects, promotions, or accolades. How can you prevent this at your office? Learn more about how to provide technical women with encouragement, visibility, and advancement based on merit (rather than self-reporting.)

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