Did You Know?

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The "Matilda Effect"

Did you know that although recent research on women and scientific awards found that women won 78% more awards than they did 20 years ago, they still have a ways to go? 

Researchers looked at award committees and processes within seven scientific societiesand found that women were less likely to win an award from a panel headed by men (winning 5% of awards in those cases) than a panel headed by women (when they win 23% of awards). The researchers also found that women were nominated at similar rates as men, and won 32% of service awards and 37% of teaching awards between 2001 and 2010, but received only 10% of prestigious scholarly awards. 

"Our findings suggest that the 'Matilda Effect' persists – men receive an outsized share of scholarly awards and prizes compared with their representation in the nomination pool, despite efforts to increase nominations of women…although overt gender discrimination generally continues to decline in American society, our research is consistent with other studies that document the culturally held belief that women's scholarly efforts are less important than those of men. A consequence of this belief is that women continue to be disadvantaged with respect to the receipt of scientific awards and prizes, particularly for research."

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Is Gender Bias Deeper than Racial Bias When it Comes to Math?

Did you know that a recent study using data on 15,000 students from the National Center of Education Statistics found that teachers consistently rate girls as less good at math than boys, even with similar grades and test scores? Researchers in the study found that while on average teachers rate minority students lower than their white male counterparts, these differences disappear once grades are taken into account. However, they found patterns of bias against white girls that can’t be explained by their academic performance.

According to one of the study's authors, the misconception that white girls can’t handle math persists “Because the idea that men and women are different in this regard is considered natural, and not discriminatory.” At the same time, teachers may be more aware of race and ethnicity – and the problems of racial discrimination – than they are when it comes to gender. 

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Watch the Holla Back

Did you know that the Twitterverse lit up last week as two incidences involving startups, whose founders probably thought were harmless jokes, blew up into PR nightmares? In one, a company advertising a hackathon included this tempting line in the event description: "Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you." In the other, a woman pointed out to a company that she thought a video posted online of a scantily dressed woman wearing the company's logo was sexist, and in exchange ended up having a public spat with the company's founders on Twitter.

As Forbes writer Meghan Casserly notes, "In the past week, social media has simply shone a light on what the tech environment is really like. Women put up with sexism, offensive remarks and intimidation all the time in the workplace, especially in male-dominated fields and at start-ups, where HR often doesn’t exist. That means they’re often either suffering in silence – or giving up." Both these examples illustrate that advertising your company culture with a stunt that women might find unfunny or in bad taste doesn't just fail to attract women to your company, it's bad for business. 

How Companies Can Help Improve K-12 STEM Education

Did you know that 61% of middle-schoolers would rather take out the trash than do their math homework? In looking at the mismatch between job growth in STEM fields and the lack of rigorous education or student interest in those fields, Fast Company looks at one company that has gone beyond check-writing and identified a business case for investing in K-12 education. Microsoft’s Partners in Learning program has reached more than 196 million teachers and students in 114 countries, to the tune of $500 million.  According to Microsoft Senior Director of Community Affairs Akhtar Badshah, the program has also boosted employee morale. “The idea that as a company, we are helping to fill a massive gap is really a catalyst for us,” says Badshah. “We can now better measure, manage, and grow our impact, and feel great about what we are doing at the same time.”

The article's authors caution that it's important for companies to create a virtuous cycle where they share their human and technical capital in exchange for seeing increased demand for their products, rather than just writing out a check. “There’s this tendency to think that we can throw money at the problem and fix it. That’s simply not true. We need capacity building--companies sharing their unique resources in order to fill critical gaps.” 

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Women and STEM Jobs Need Each Other

We often talk about the need to attract more women to computing because diversity enhances innovation or helps fill the need for talent, but did you know that a recent report recommends more women to computing for economic reasons, too?

The Institute for Women's Policy Research wants more STEM programs to actively recruit women, especially low-income women and those with children, so that they can receive the training required to enter lucrative and stable scientific occupations. In a recently released report, the Institute found that 27.5% of Associate’s degrees and occupational certificates in the STEM fields were awarded to women in 2007, down 10% from 1997. The study recommends that community colleges, which enroll a disproportionately larger number of non-traditional female students, do more to attract low-income women and mothers to STEM fields – such as offering child care services or financial incentives.

If your institution doesn't already have an articulation agreement with another school that encourages more non-traditional female students into computing, we can help. Check out our Pipeline-in-a-Box

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.