News Roundup

Newspaper

Bloomberg BusinessWeek has a nice excerpt from Tuesday’s Astia We Own IT Summit explaining why venture capital needs more women in their firms, and why simply having one woman partner in a firm isn’t enough.  Take this anecdote from Cindy Padnos, founder of Illuminate Ventures and publisher of a whitepaper on women and entrepreneurship:

“When I go out with these women-led companies and introduce them to women [venture capital] investors, I frequently hear a comment that shocked me—and when I thought about it, I realized they were right. They say, ‘I’m a new partner here. I’ve already done one woman-led deal. I can’t do another.’ Now substitute another male-led deal, Indian-led deal, Asian-led deal; anything else and you would think that person was absolutely out of their mind. But in reality when they’re in a partnership where they’re the only woman partner…and they are a junior partner in the firm and they’ve made one bet already on a woman, they’ve got to see it through successfully before they feel comfortable taking on another.”

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This week both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times (Thomas Friedman) published articles suggesting entrepreneurship as a source of jobs for new college grads and a source of stimulation to a dragging economy; and both acknowledge that technology will drive successful start-ups. The Times piece focuses on how to nurture entrepreneurship here in the U.S., while the Journal piece looks at a HackNY, a summer program that gives college computing majors hands-on experience at New York tech start-ups.

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We were alerted this week to an interesting feature over at CIO Insight magazine, looking at some of the changes we’ll likely see in IT over the next 5-10 years.  Among the predictions are several related to the IT workforce which, interestingly, sound familiar to the messaging you hear from our community:

  • Fewer than 25% of employees currently within IT will remain
  • Several trends in IT demand and supply will change how organizations use technology to create value, and the roles, structure, and skills of the IT function
  • Technology knowledge and confidence in the workforce is broadening but losing its depth (more employees understand how to exploit technology, fewer have a deep expertise)

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Those of you who attended Sapna Cheyan’s presentation at the NCWIT Summit last month are familiar with the wonderful term, “ambient belonging,” which describes how a person’s environment may affect the degree to which he or she feels comfortable or interested in a particular subject.  Now The Boston Globe reports on a computer-based tutoring program designed to help students increase their performance and confidence in math by giving them feedback cues at critical moments.

“The researchers are examining whether changing the context of a math problem and other subtle environmental cues can influence students’ — especially girls’ — performance and confidence in their math ability. While studies have shown that girls are as good at math as boys, there is also evidence that, despite major gains over the past few decades, women are less likely to choose math- and science-oriented careers.”

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UC Riverside and Whittier College couldn’t be more different, in some ways – one a large, public institution; the other a small, private school – yet both have recently made tremendous strides in recruiting and increasing the graduation rates of Hispanic students.  This feature article on the schools' successes provides an interesting case study in the kinds of interventions that were effective for attracting and retaining underrepresented groups, from on-campus jobs to outreach at local high schools to refrigerators for commuting students.

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The nature-vs.-nurture debate rages on this week in a Wall Street Journal blog, where readers are debating the results of a research study on the differences between boys’ and girls’ career preferences. According to the study, “Males as young as 5 years show significantly more interest in jobs that typically pay higher salaries…Females of all ages, on the other hand, were more interested in jobs that would allow them to help and serve others.”

In the comments, some readers of the blog speculate whether it’s hormones or social influences that determine kids’ choices, while others debate whether certain jobs were even categorized correctly (Couldn’t a “scientist” job be considered altruistic as well as high-paying?) What do you think?