Gender Equity Makeover, Lessons from an Aerospace Engineer, Startup with a Cause, Misinterpreting the STEM Crisis, Career Advancement and Junior/Mid-Level Women in Tech

Gender Equity Makeover at Harvard

Did you know that Harvard Business School recently conducted a case study on gender equity within their business school? This study was the result of an undeniable problem; administrators could not ignore the fact that each year women and men entered the business school with comparable grades and test scores, yet the women fell behind. Recruiting and retaining female professors was equally problematic.

To address these issues, the school made a conscious effort to “remake gender relations at the business school… [and] to change how students spoke, studied, and socialized.” The administrators began to see real results. Frances Frei, a Harvard professor, states:

“By graduation, the school had become a markedly better place for female students, according to interviews with more than 70 professors, administrators and students, who cited more women participating in class, record numbers of women winning academic awards and a much-improved environment, down to the male students drifting through the cafeteria wearing T-shirts celebrating the 50th anniversary of the admission of women.”

 

Eight Important Lessons from an Aerospace Engineer

Did you know that recently Natalie Panek, a robotic operator and aerospace engineer at MDA Space Missions, shared her lessons learned from many years of working in tech with The Next Women business magazine?

One lesson addressed perspective:

“There is incredible value to the insight that perspective can bring, especially when working in a team environment. After all, perspective fosters objectivity, which ultimately gives way to progress. Perspective allows you to follow as well as lead, to sell your own vision, but also support and listen to the vision and dreams of others.”

Natalie shares many other insights with women in tech here.

Natalie’s career in technology included working with a team on a project for a solar-powered car. The car was capable of traveling at speeds of up to 100km/hour.

 

Startup With a Cause

Did you know that it is a common struggle amongst startup founders to create a company that is not only profitable, but also socially aware? Recently, The Accelerators blog posed a question to mentors asking them how best to ingrain a sense of philanthropic duty into a startup culture. Amongst the responses was an entry from Kevin Colleran, venture partner at General Catalyst Partners: “By making cause-based initiatives an important part of the business plan from the beginning, startups have an opportunity to engage a coveted younger audience—an opportunity that their established competitors may not have.”

This article explains that by incorporating these initiatives into a startup culture early on, they are more likely to become an essential component of the culture. This can be more difficult to accomplish when the company is older.  

 

Are We Misinterpreting the STEM Crisis?

Did you know that working to increase degree recipients and employees in STEM might not be the best way to address the problem? It all depends on how you “crunch the numbers,” according to Robert Charette, President of ITABHI Corporation, in this article featured in US News.

Charette writes that the Department of Commerce counted 7.6 million people working in STEM jobs in 2010. However, unlike the National Science Foundation, who counted 12.4 million people working in STEM jobs, the Department of Commerce did not include STEM jobs held by health-care workers, psychologists, social scientists, and more. Additionally, government data didn’t count STEM jobs held by entrepreneurs in traditionally non-STEM fields, according to Devin Voorsanger, a digital strategist to Fortune 100 companies.

Is there really a crisis? Workers in the STEM field say yes, but the real problem is “a lack of skills and experience.”

"In Silicon Valley, where many STEM jobs are, we have to fill the positions with foreigners through H1B visas," Gillian Flatos Doornbos, a technical publications manager in the San Francisco area, says. "We can't find enough Americans to fill the positions. So yes, there is a shortage."

Charette concludes that STEM skills should be a focus at all educational levels, not just in higher education and into the workforce – an idea behind the Computer Science in STEM Act introduced in August.

Check out our advocacy materials concerning the critical need for computer science education in K-12 schools.

 

Career Advancement and Junior/Mid-Level Women in Tech

Did you know that Evolved Employer released a June 2013 report on mid-level women in tech aspiring toward career advancement? About 200 women in tech with perceived “ambitions” in career advancement were surveyed. The report provides insight into the approach these women take toward progressing in their careers, as well as the role employers can play in providing support for these women. In conducting this research, it became apparent that while these technical women aim to be promoted and/or hold senior management positions one day, they felt that their employers were not necessarily supporting these goals.

For example, only about a quarter (24.5 percent) of these technical women felt their employers were “walking the talk” in regards to supporting the advancement of women within their company. The article states, “Our research shows that following through on a promise to support employees is an important part of how companies can ignite women’s desire to lead in the long term.”

Top 10 Ways Managers Can Increase the Visibility of Technical Women” highlights ten important recommendations supervisors or managers can readily adopt to improve visibility of their employees. These recommendations are particularly useful for improving the visibility of women, as well as employees from other underrepresented groups.