Did You Know?

Woman at Work

Did you know that a recent study of doctors in ICU environments finds that having a physician "co-pilot" can reduce the patient mortality rate by 50 percent?  Researchers at Northwestern University discovered these positive results by sending doctors on ICU rounds with both a checklist of issues and a resident physician to prompt attention to the checklist (the checklist alone did not result in lowered death rates.) "Attending physicians are good at thinking about big picture issues like respiratory failure or whatever diagnosis brought a patient to the intensive care unit,” says Curtis Weiss, fellow in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Northwestern University. “But some important details are overlooked because it’s impossible for one person to remember and deal with all those details.”

Do you think an analogous approach might work when encouraging organizations to implement strategic changes in their universities or companies? What if NCWIT explicitly suggested both "checklists" and "co-pilots" to those working on changing their environments?

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Did you know that the University of Texas at Austin has 15 percent more women in its computer science program this year? Earlier this week UT Austin kicked off its First Bytes Summer Camp program, which brings Texas high school girls to the campus to get excited about computing and learn more about tech careers.  Taylor Barnett, an incoming computer science freshman and First Bytes program assistant, said attending the camp in high school inspired her to pursue a computer sciences degree. “It was like a breath of fresh air being around girls who also enjoy science and math,” Barnett said. “It made me even more interested to see all the different things you could do with a computer science degree that I really wasn’t exposed to in high school.” 

Do you have a summer camp or similar outreach program going on this summer? Please share!

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Did you know that there's more legislation in the pipe to support STEM education? Congressman Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3) recently introduced the STEM Support for Teachers in Education and Mentoring Act, or STEM2 Act, which is designed to identify the STEM skills needed by businesses and industry and support curricula development, teacher training, and mentoring to improve student learning in these skills. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico also has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. One thing that's interesting about the Act is how it's structured: lots of public-private partnerships, support for collaborative efforts to increase efficiency and reduce overlap, and establishment of a network for sharing resources and connections. Sounds like music to our ears.

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Did you know that the best way to boost the "collective intelligence" of a group — the ability of a  team of individuals to solve problems or generate effective ideas, together — is to add women? Research recently profiled in Harvard Business Review found that, contrary to expectation, there's little positive correlation between the IQ of individuals in a group and the collective intelligence of the group; nor were common "dynamics" such as group motivation, satisfaction, or cohesion correlated to strong group performance. Rather, researchers found that the more women were in a group, the better it performed in a series of brainstorming, decision-making, and complex problem-solving tasks. The researchers think these results may reflect an important quality called social sensitivity, or the ability of group members to listen to each other, share criticism constructively, keep an open mind, and avoid autocratic behavior. Social sensitivity isn't unique to women, of course, but the presence of women in a group may enhance it. 

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Did you see that the 2011 NCWIT Symons Innovator Award-winner, Audrey MacLean, was interviewed in The New York Times? MacLean, who founded the tech companies Adaptive and Network Equipment Technologies (NET) and who currently is an angel investor and Stanford professor, gave an inspiring speech when she was honored with the NCWIT award on May 25. There, as in this interview, she mentioned being an "accidental technologist" as well as a "mentor capitalist" who believes not only that technology is a meritocracy, but that women have important skills and perspectives to bring to it.

For those of you who couldn't join us for the Award celebration at MTV Networks in New York, the NCWIT Symons Innovator Award and the NCWIT Entrepreneurial Heroes interviews that identify candidates for the Award are projects of the NCWIT Entrepreneurial Alliance, sponsored by EMC. These projects are designed to raise the visibility of women founders and provide encouragement and inspiration for more people to start tech companies, and it's wonderful to see them succeeding.

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.