Workplace Interruption, Census Data on STEM Graduates, Silicon Valley and the LGTB Community, Startup Funding and Male Advocacy, Computer Science as a High School Requirement

Workplace Interruption

In a Slate article from earlier this month on the topic of interruption, Kieran Snyder argues, “at least in this male-heavy tech setting, men do interrupt more often than women.” Snyder conducted an interesting exercise, tracking interruptions during 15 hours of meetings. Snyder’s conclusion is that, “men are almost three times as likely to interrupt women as they are to interrupt other men.” There is more formal research on this topic, but Snyder’s informal approach is interesting food for thought.

There are many steps that companies can take to set up environments where healthy team discussions can occur and everyone can participate and be heard. Everyone needs to examine their communication patterns and managers need to set the conditions for healthy debate to occur. NCWIT’s “Supervising-in-a-Box: Team/Project Management” is a great resource on this topic, with tips and tools for creating effective relationships with a diverse range of employees.

Census Data on STEM Graduates

A recent USA Today article covered a report released by College Factual announcing the 10 highest-paying college majors. STEM fields are well represented on the list, with Computer Science coming in at number two, and Computer Information Systems at number eight. Despite these figures, a U.S. Census Bureau Report released earlier this month found that, “nearly 75 percent of all holders of bachelor’s degrees in STEM disciplines don’t have jobs in STEM occupations,” as reported by the Washington Post. The same article says that, “STEM degrees provide a range of career options,” and, “STEM degrees are becoming ‘universal degrees.’”

The “NCWIT Scorecard: A Report on the Status of Women in Information Technology,” contains an entire section on “Why Computing is a Good Career for Women,” which also includes charts about the highest-paying jobs. This resource concludes, “Low unemployment, high profitability, and a society that is increasingly IT-dependent means that computing is a good career for girls and women.” Use charts and slides from the Scorecard to create awareness about the current state of girls and women in computing and to inspire individuals to improve the situation.

Silicon Valley and the LGBT Community

A recent article from The New York Times details the efforts being made by a number of large Silicon Valley tech companies to become more welcoming to LGBT employees. In her interview for the article, Sara Sperling, Facebook’s senior manager of diversity, mentions a two-hour training course for Facebook employees about unconscious bias. “It’s not about telling them they’re bad,” she said, “it’s recognizing bias and what are you going to do about it?”

According to Leanne Pittsford, a founder of Lesbians Who Tech, it’s not just overt homophobia that is the challenge. “When there’s a panel of women and they talk about their husbands and how he should be supportive...that’s outside of lesbians’ experiences,” she explains. Despite the on-going challenges, Pittsford and other LGBT leaders are optimistic about the progress thus far.

NCWIT has a variety resources about unconscious bias, including our first interactive video resource which features interactive experiments and links to other tips and information on the subject. (A big thanks to Entrepreneurial Alliance member Rapt Media for their production support.)

Startup Funding and Male Advocacy

Issie Lapowsky’s article on Wired.com, “This is What Tech’s Ugly Gender Problem Really Looks Like,” was one of the more viral articles about women in tech this month. One topic she covers in depth is how much harder it is for female founders to secure funding for their startups. She writes, “According to a recent report from Pitchbook, only 13 percent of venture-backed companies had at least one female co-founder. In the software sector, women-run businesses accounted for just 10 percent of all venture capital deals.”

Lapowsky also makes it a point to discuss the important role that men in tech play in solving this problem. According to one female entrepreneur she spoke with, “it’s been ‘heartening’ to see men in the tech community listen to women’s stories and begin to talk about the problem themselves.” That, she said, “may be the first step toward real change.” NCWIT has a number of resources about male advocacy, including, “8 Ways to Identify Male Advocates,” which features ideas taken from research NCWIT conducted with males in technical workplaces. You can find more on male advocacy and allies in the full report.

Computer Science as a High School Requirement

A recent article from The Week argues that making computer science a required course in high school is key to changing the diversity issues seen in higher education and the computing workforce. The article’s author, Hayley Munguia writes, “Clearly, we have a diversity problem in the tech industry, and it's one that needs a solution that goes deeper than initiatives to hire women and minorities. The real challenge is encouraging them to dive in to computer science courses in the first place, and in this case, perhaps the best encouragement comes in the form of a requirement.” Munguia highlights the TEALS program as an encouraging step in this direction. TEALS (Technology Education And Literacy in Schools), features volunteer programmers who teach computer science classes part-time and help teachers build their own programs.

It’s also important that schools with existing computer science programs focus on recruiting girls. You can use NCWIT’s resource, “Top 10 Ways of Recruiting High School Women into Your Computing Classes” to learn how to achieve that goal.