Racial Diversity Among Women in Tech, Support for Minorities in STEM, Issues with Making Tech Pink, Family Friendly Policies at Oregon Software Company, Ohio Makes Computer Science Count

Racial Diversity Among Women in Tech

The recent wave of tech companies releasing their diversity data signals more than just the need to focus on gender, according to a Huffington Post blog written by SSAB Member Allison Scott and Alexis Martin of Level the Playing Field Institute. The blog explains, “When data are broken down by both race and gender, significantly lower rates of participation in computer science (CS) occur for African American and Latina females than their White female or Black/Latino male counterparts.”

Class and race are critical factors in people's experiences and in societal barriers and expectations. It is important to avoid viewing women (or all any group) as a monolith. You can learn more about how companies establish organizational accountability for diversity from NCWIT’s resource, ‘How Can Companies Achieve Organizational Diversity? Establishing Institutional Accountability.’

Support for Minorities in STEM

A new initiative called TIDES (Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM) has selected 20 schools to get help in “how to better engage women and underrepresented minorities, such as African Americans​ or Hispanics, in STEM as well as to create curriculums​ that are more inclusive for these students.” Profiled in a US News & World Report article, “institutions and other schools in the initiative will receive guidance on how faculty can create atmospheres for supporting underrepresented minorities in STEM.” A number of the schools participating in this initiative are members of NCWIT’s Academic Alliance.

NCWIT’s resource ‘Top 10 Ways to Engage Underrepresented Students in Computing’ offers tips to engage students from historically underrepresented populations (females, men and women from racial/ethnic minority groups) in your computing courses.

Issues with Making Tech Pink

The San Francisco Gate published one of the more viral ‘women in tech’ articles of the past few weeks. Titled, ‘How Not to Attract Women to Coding: Make Tech Pink,’ the article features interviews with women at various stages of their technical education and careers who are frustrated at the use of stereotypically feminine colors and images to attract women and girls to coding. According to the piece, “Pink websites and polka-dotted flyers are what happens when an entire field overcorrects.” Elizabeth Losh, a digital culture scholar at UC San Diego, is quoted in the article. She explains, "It creates the idea that women need sort of a separate universe in which women can be tech professionals," she said. "Instead of trying to be inclusive, it's an alternate reality world." Still, there are others who believe that feminine imagery can be useful in presenting a different image of technology than the masculine one that women and girls see most often.

However you feel about this topic, NCWIT has a number of related resources including Talk with Faculty Colleagues About Stereotype Threat, and Top 10 Ways Managers Can Increase the Visibility of Technical Women. You can also follow NCWIT on Facebook to join the conversation about this and other articles.

Family Friendly Policies at Oregon Software Company

A recent Fast Company article profiling Palo Alto Software in Eugene, Oregon, focuses on the company’s unprecedented family friendly policies. At the 55-person tech firm, employees enjoy family-friendly policies including flex time, are allowed to bring their children to work during school breaks, and the company offers health club plans that include children’s programming. According to the company’s CEO Sabrina Parsons, “Palo Alto enjoys a loyal workforce with little turnover,” and “one-third of her development team is women versus Silicon Valley’s average of 7%.”

Work-life balance isn’t just relevant to women, and it is important to frame it as an issue for all employees. NCWIT’s Male Advocates Report contains an entire chapter about this, specifically that “women and men need to work together as allies in order to change work cultures that prevent all of us from realizing our full potential.”

Ohio Makes Computer Science Count

On July 7th, Ohio became the latest state to count Computer Science toward high school graduation, becoming the 23rd state to do so, according to Code.org, an NCWIT K-12 Alliance member. During a panel on STEM education at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference, panelists, including Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe and Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih, discussed the importance of introducing girls to computer science at a young age. You can watch a video of the panel discussion here.

According to NCWIT’s ‘Girls in IT: The Facts,” girls suffer more from the lack of computer science education in school, “because boys tend to have more informal opportunities for computer science experience.” In addition to that resource, you can find advice for engaging girls in computer science in NCWIT’s: