Did You Know: How Many Golf Balls Fit Inside a School Bus?

Where We See Bias

Did you know that both men and women view gender discrimination as a reason why women pursue careers in physics in smaller numbers than they pursue careers in biology? Men and women disagree, however, about when the gender discrimination occurs in a woman’s career: most men believe that the discrimination took place during the beginning stages of a girl’s education, while many women believe that the discrimination is still taking place in higher education. Differences in mentorship for students of biology and physics as well as “inherent differences between men and women” are some of the reasons that people gave to explain the disparity of women in the two fields. These findings come from a study of over 2,500 scientists at 30 institutions in the U.S.

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Building a 2-year-to-4-year Pipeline

Did you know that several universities are turning their focus to community colleges to encourage students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields? The University of Maryland Baltimore County, the City Colleges of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Mount Holyoke College all have received grants to help increase the number of students transferring from community colleges into four-year STEM degree programs. Although transfer students can face difficulties with class size and transferring academic credits to a new school, studying STEM subject areas in community college is a viable academic path to a four-year degree and can greatly increase student diversity. 

NCWIT can help you establish and increase the success of articulation agreements between your institution and a community college or four-year school. Download Pipeline-in-a-Box: Promoting Advancement of CS/IT Students from Two-Year to Four-Year Institutions to get started.

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Impostor Syndrome

Did you know that women and men engineering students have similar grades, but women are less confident in their expertise and their career choices? A study from Stanford University found that women have less "professional role confidence," or faith in their ability to “go out into the world and be professional engineers,” and have less confidence that “engineering fits their interests and values.” This lack of confidence -- unsupported by actual performance -- is sometimes called “impostor syndrome,” or the feeling that “I don’t belong here.”

One way to combat impostor syndrome is with the old adage, “fake it to make it.” NCWIT provides some research-backed tips for being successful your career: “Top 10 Ways Successful Technical Women Increase Their Visibility.”

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How Many Golf Balls Fit into a School Bus?

Do you know how many golf balls fit inside a school bus? You could be faced with this type of “puzzle interview” question when applying for jobs in the tech industry. Many companies, notably well-known tech companies, ask these kinds of questions to gauge candidates’ creativity, flexibility, critical thinking, and ability to work in unexpected or stressful situations. The reasoning is that since it’s more difficult for applicants to coach themselves for puzzle questions, they typically are less prepared with the “right” answers and provide more authentic replies. However, a study shows that undergraduates sometimes view the questions as unfair and irrelevant, which could lead to negative consequences such as avoidance of companies that ask puzzle questions or even a hiring lawsuit.

What do you think? Do the benefits of understanding a candidate’s thought process or analytical abilities outweigh the risk of missing out on deterred but otherwise qualified applicants? For some basic tips on how to avoid gender bias in your recruitment and hiring process, check out http://ncwit.org/biasselection

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Common Core Standards

Did you know that using common educational standards in math could help U.S. students remain competitive with other students around the globe? According to a Michigan State University study, “states whose previous standards were most similar to the Common Core performed better on a national math test in 2009.” The Common Core set of standards requires that students be tested by proficiency guidelines to certify that they are really learning the math concepts. This is important, as some states previously had adopted rigorous standards but then implemented low proficiency standards. 

The Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) is an effort developed by state leaders to ensure that U.S. students are prepared for a global economy. Unfortunately, as Computing in the Core has pointed out, the CCSSI doesn’t include standards for computer science education -- either on its own or as part of mathematics instruction.

You can help make the case on the local level for why we need computer science education at the K-12 level. Check out Moving Beyond Computer Literacy: Why schools should teach computer science.

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It’s Not Always About the Money

Did you know that pay is not the primary motivating incentive for many employees? A University of Illinois study suggests that once an employee receives an income that meets his or her needs, the amount they make beyond that is not as important as the social ramifications of that income. The study’s authors suggest that although organizations believe that “actual pay” is the No. 1 incentive, for many employees it’s actually  the “social aspects” of pay that are more important to them … “their pay relative to their co-workers’ pay, relative to the effort they put in, and relative to what they sacrifice in order to work.”

Findings from the study show that employers can improve employee satisfaction not through pay raises but with other kinds of benefits that lessen perceived work-life stress. “If employers can understand the trade-offs employees perceive to be doing – sacrificing family for work, for example – then they can offer different work arrangements and policies that compensate for that. It also might be ideal to tailor policies and benefits based on different needs of employees, since each employee will perceive that they are making different trade-offs.”

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Volunteer to Help Identify the Technology Stars of the Future!Sign up NOW to be a volunteer reviewer for the Award for Aspirations in Computing! Take a few hours to grade applications (you can count it towards your CSEdWeek pledge) between November 19 and December 3, 2012. Go to http://www.ncwit.org/review to register.