Did You Know?

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Did you know that some neuroscientists -- concerned that research may be used to justify sexism -- may actually be refusing to acknowledge the existence and impact of sex differences? At the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in a panel called "The Promise and Peril of Research on Sex Differences," scientists discussed this and such issues as stereotypes (girls differ from boys, but girls also differ from other girls); monocausality (beware any explanation that relies on a single factor: hormones matter, but so does socialization); and comparison games ( boys have slightly better math scores than girls in the United States, Taiwan, and Japan … but between the three countries, Taiwanese and Japanese girls outscore American boys.)

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Did you know that you can accelerate the on-ramping process for new hires by creating "starter projects"? Introduce untrained employees to your "stack" (technology, infrastructure, process) with a starter project and you'll end up with engineers who can then join your teams in a useful way. "It’s a tax," say Douglas Merrill, the founder of ZestCash, "but after you pay it, you get top-notch talent trained exactly how you want." Get more of Doug's tips for finding and building great tech talent outside of Silicon Valley. 

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Did you know that money is not necessarily the best incentive for attracting professional women? According to a study by More Magazine, the majority of women aged 35 to 60 would rather have more flexibility than more money at their jobs. Even 68 percent of women without children also prefer more free time than a higher salary. How about you – if you had to choose, which would be more important to you? Does your company give employees flexibility or choices in their benefits?

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Did you know that when Stanford offered its Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class for free online this fall, more than 160,000 people signed up? So far, about 35,000 of those have stuck with it, according to the university. Now Stanford is considering making more of its computing courses free and available online, including Software as a Service, Computer Science 101, Machine Learning, Human Computer Interaction, and Probabilistic Graphic Models. What do you think about this? Have you checked out Stanford's delivery model? Has your institution considered making its computing courses available in an online format? 

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Did you know that the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs are both getting makeovers? The College Board says it has worked with high school teachers to tweak AP courses so that they place more value on critical thinking and appeal to a broader demographic, citing studies show that students from underrepresented populations who take AP science courses are more likely to major in a scientific field. Meanwhile, the IB program is expanding its requirements to include technical and vocational tracks that include liberal arts tenets: IB students are required to take at least six IB courses, including a foreign language and a theory of knowledge course that promotes critical thinking, as well as perform community service and write a 4,000-word research essay. The new program could "produce more articulate and creative engineers and computer scientists," its proponents say.

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.