Did You Know: (Un)biased Hiring, Acing the Tech Interview, Pitching Barbie to Dads

Marketing Barbies to Dads

Did you know that Mattel increasingly is marketing its toys for girls to a different set of purchasers -- dads? With nearly 40% of working wives out-earning their husbands, according to the latest census data, and with more fathers becoming more involved in their children’s lives (including selecting and playing with their toys), fathers have become a new target market for manufacturers. “Fathers are doing more of the family shopping just as girls are being encouraged more than ever by hypervigilant parents to play with toys (as boys already do) that develop math and science skills early on,” according to The New York Times.

What do you think? If the marketplace is catering more to dads, might the workplace begin to cater more to moms?

(P.S. You may recall the accusations of sexism earlier this year when Lego released its “Friends” sets, with softer edges, pastel colors, and pre-selected storylines targeted to girls. Yet Lego says it sold twice as many sets as it was expecting this year).

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The Leaky Pipeline for Faculty Women

Did you know that the University of Minnesota’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering has offered faculty positions to 14 women over the last three years, but only half of them have accepted? “The Only Woman in the Room,” a recent article in the Minnesota Daily, takes an in-depth look at all the factors that contribute to the dearth of women among academic science and engineering faculty.

Some point to the lack of women in the pipeline as the problem (Minnesota’s bachelor’s CSE class of 2012 was less than 21 percent women).  Some point to bias (though faculty hiring committees are trained to combat bias, and each committee includes at least one woman and is required to interview at least one woman candidate). However, identifying female candidates often isn’t as difficult as getting them to accept an offer; most potential candidates decline offers because of the “two-body problem” -- that their spouses also need to find positions.

Chemistry professor Christy Haynes, who has struggled with the stubborn social stigmas for women around pregnancy and motherhood, says she “felt judged” by people who questioned whether she was serious about her career, and worked even harder to show that she could be both a mother and professor. “It can be really lonely,” she said.

Has your department been successful in hiring more female computing faculty recently? What works, in your experience?

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Acing the Technical Interview

Did you know the five signs of competence that hiring managers look for in a technical hire? In a guest post at Skillcrush this week, Girl Develop IT founder Vanessa Hurst lays out the attributes you should be sure to show off when you’re job searching: 

  • That you’re smart
  • That you’ve shipped (that you get things done)
  • That you can solve “hard” problems
  • That you can communicate your solution
  • That you’re passionate

Over at Women 2.0, Gayle Laakmann McDowell gives some supporting advice for acing a technical interview: read real interview questions, practice with pen and paper, talk out loud, and be confident.

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AP STEM courses in 800 Schools

Did you know that Advanced Placement STEM courses will soon be offered at over 800 public high schools, thanks to a $5 million grant from Google? The gift is part of Google’s Global Impact Awards, and will help serve underrepresented students who previously may not have had access to STEM courses, including minorities and women. The College Board and DonorsChoose.org will work together to distribute the funding to qualifying schools, where the money will go towards professional development for teachers or classroom resources.

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Take a Closer Look at Hiring

Did you know that employers making hiring decisions generally place more value on a candidate’s ability to fit into the office culture than on the candidate’s job-related skills? According to a study based on interviews with hiring professionals, these professionals “often valued their personal feelings of comfort, validation, and excitement over identifying candidates with superior cognitive or technical skills.” In fact, a majority of the hiring professionals ranked cultural fit—the perceived similarity to a firm's existing employee base in leisure pursuits, background, and self-presentation—as “the most important criterion at the job interview stage.” 

According to The Wall Street Journal, some companies are bringing in consultants and trainers to teach managers how to conduct interviews with standardized and effective processes. Researchers from Harvard Business School found that “the worst interviewers—those who let their own insecurities or unconscious biases drive the process, for instance—can have a worse effect on hiring decisions than if a candidate were simply chosen at random.”

Have you audited your hiring process for unconscious bias? We can help. Check out our resources on eliminating bias in recruitment and retention.

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.