Did You Know?

Newspaper

This week the Wall Street Journal reported on new findings that show a $16,819 pay gap between male and female doctors. According to the study, this discrepancy exists even when researchers controlled for factors like specialty, practice type, and the number of hours worked. But does that mean it’s discrimination, causing the gap? In the comments, one person pointed out that it’s unclear whether entire compensation packages were examined, since some women physicians may accept lower salaries in exchange for better benefits or fewer on-call responsibilities. Another pointed out that women may be less likely to negotiate their salaries, and consequently retain lower pay throughout their careers.

One female doctor commented that she receives less compensation than her male peers because she sees fewer patients, and she sees fewer patients because she spends more time with each one. In her mind this makes her a better doctor, and helps to keep her patients healthier. What do you think? Does salary research like this help or hinder the progress of women in the sciences?

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Did you know that women gain more from IT advancement within research universities than men do? This is according to a new study co-authored by Assistant Professor Waverly Ding of the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The study concludes that IT is an “equalizing force” for researchers and suggests innovations in IT may contribute to scientific productivity.

The study focused on more than 4,000 researchers in the life sciences from more than 150 universities over the past 25 years. Because the Internet was not common or widespread until the mid-1990s, the study’s authors looked at the availability of BITNET at a scientist’s institution.  (BITNET was the embryonic form of today’s Internet and used primarily at academic institutions to link scientists across universities; its purpose was to foster communication and collaboration, but it did not consist of email or any search engines, and was gradually replaced by the Internet.) The study measured productivity by changes in a scientist’s publication count – the number of articles published in peer-reviewed journals -- and the quality of the publications.  After a university installed the BITNET system, women's publications increased 19 percent while there was no statistically significant gain in access to BITNET for men. Furthermore, women gained 27 percent in obtaining new co-authors while men only gained 13 percent. Women researchers at non-elite universities in particular increased their publication counts by 18 percent when their institutions provided IT as a communications tool. 

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You’ve probably heard stories from or about women who had a brilliant business plan, a great team, and a solid strategy. Yet when they sought funding for their start-ups, many of these women were turned away. Now, research suggests that perhaps these women were the victims of unconscious bias. A new study from the University of Utah gave 222 MBA students the profiles of fictitious companies and asked them to assess the companies’ growth potential, risk, investment worth, leadership compensation, and other factors. The only difference between the profiles was that some had a male founder, while others had a female founder. What do you think the students said in their assessments? Go find out.

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Teacher Jason Wood would like to see some of his students at Jefferson and Washington high schools become video game designers. It’s a growing field that students in his business and computer science classes are interested in. It pays well, has job security and has proved to be relatively ‘recession-proof’ in recent years. So why not teach a class on it? His new course on video game marketing and design starts in the fall and joins a robust elective lineup that increasingly includes more chances for students to try careers before graduation. Prairie High School is exploring new electives as well, with an emphasis on emerging technologies. The electric car program has been a staple, and next year, the school will offer 21st-Century Problem Solving, which focuses on applying modern technology to solve real-life issues.”

Sounds great, right? Here’s the problem: these are elective high school courses, which means they won’t count towards math or science graduation credits, and may be overlooked by many students who might otherwise excel in them. Making classes like Jason’s available to more students not only would reward innovation on the part of K-12 teachers, it would open the doorway to a technology career for a greater number – and diversity – of students.

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Over at Forbes this week, Moira Forbes reflects on the new gender quota recently instituted at the Davos conference, which requires every World Economic Forum partner to include at least one female participant. Even with prominent women at the conference – including Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi, Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld, DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation, among others – women comprised just 16 percent of the participants. Forbes strongly insists that an increase of women thought-leaders won’t come until we accept that this isn’t just a gender issue, and institute appropriate accountability measures.

“Shame on us when we are surprised that the needle of progress hasn’t moved very far when we so willingly accept this autoplay rather than driving forward. Or at the very least, advocating for more responses and results beyond the five days of Davos, the proliferating number of women’s conferences or casual conversations amongst peers. And why do we so vocally stress accountability and the need for success metrics in all that we do in business, and yet have such trouble moving beyond general statistics when asked to do the same around advancing women within our own organizations and industries. This is made all the more surprising given that this issue extends beyond one of gender to one of human capital and talent innovation–that does in fact have meaningful impact on the bottom line.”

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.