Did You Know?

Newspaper

Research from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln this week illustrates a unique type of stereotype threat: being ogled. In a study supposedly looking at “teamwork,” researchers asked specially trained assistants to partner with members of the opposite sex and give them not-so-subtle once-overs. Women who received an objectifying glance from their male partners scored lower on a subsequent math test than women who didn’t, while the men’s scores were unaffected. In addition, the women who were ogled were more likely than those who weren’t to express interest in interacting more with their male partners.

The researchers point out that "When it comes to something subtle like this, it's very difficult to combat … It's sort of expected that men are going to do this to women and that really it's just not that harmful. Even though it is just a look, it has meaningful consequences for women." How do you think employers might address this phenomenon, which is more subtle than sexual harassment but still influential? How do you think it might affect co-ed classroom environments?

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Congratulations to our friends at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, an Academic Alliance member which earlier this week announced that it had experienced a 23 percent increased in applications from women! The college has been ranked as the top undergraduate engineering school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and for the first time received more than 4,000 freshman applications. “We are very excited about the prospect of more women interested in the engineering profession,” said Jim Goecker, vice president of enrollment management. “Our women’s enrollment has historically been at or slightly above the national average. To have this sudden surge of applications from women is great for Rose-Hulman and the engineering profession.”

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Google announced last week that it was accepting grant applications for its CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) program, which seeks to increase the number of students choosing to major in computer science by increasing the number of K-12 students who study computing. The grants are designed to fund a university, community college, or technical school to put on a CS4HS workshop for local middle and high school teachers, who can then expend and improve their teaching.  The grants are unrestricted and can be applied towards all sorts of resources, including teacher training, supplies, and curriculum development materials. Google is accepting applications until February 18, 2011, and strongly encourages K-12 teachers to work with local universities to submit an application. Our own University of Colorado did a CS4HS workshop last year – how about you this year?

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Jessica Livingston, a founding partner at Y Combinator, blogged this week about why there are so few women founders.  Rather than generalizing among all women, she wrote about her own experience and provided a few suggestions for women – not just those who are thinking about starting companies, but in particular those to whom the thought hadn’t occurred. What struck us was her identification of two major pitfalls: not realizing that a startup founder could have been someone “like me”, and not knowing any technical cofounders. One of these seems like a confidence/self-perception issue; but what if they both are? Maybe women wouldn’t feel the need to seek out technical cofounders if THEY were the technical cofounder?

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The New York Times has been featuring an interesting series of articles with the International Herald Tribune called The Female Factor, and this week there were several stories reporting on women in the workplace in various countries around the world. One story, “The Code That Needs to Be Broken,” reports on the unwritten rules that determine success and advancement, and how men and women read them differently. At CH2M Hill, “Female engineers hung back, failing to push for promotions and mentors while male colleagues aggressively worked the system. Women sought more experience to rise, while men with less training demanded more responsibility.” A recent survey of global companies from Catalyst found that despite the “high-minded corporate talk about balancing work and life,” women were more likely than men to rate visibility as important for advancement, and to seek visibility by working long hours and spending time physically in the office.

Another story, “For Women in the Workplace, An Upgrade Problem,” looks at ways that European countries are working to get more women into managerial and leadership roles. A recent survey of 600 large companies from the World Economic Forum found that a “masculine or patriarchal corporate culture” and “lack of role models” were the biggest obstacles cited for would-be female leaders. “Dismantling such barriers requires employers — and particularly senior leaders, who are mostly still men — to take a hard look at gender initiatives and whether they translate into more promotions for women.” Programs that “fix the women” by sending them through leadership training or building affinity networks for them may not be enough. “European companies…are realizing that it’s really about changing the culture — and not just to one that is friendly to women, but to one that women would want to be a part of.”

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. Please join the conversation in the comments.