Did You Know: The Male Decline Myth, Your Bias Is Showing, Microsoft Employees Teach CS,

The Myth of Male Decline

Did you know about the “male mystique”? In an opinion piece at The New York Times last weekend, professor Stephanie Koontz argues that the much-hyped “end of men” is neither a foregone conclusion nor mutually exclusive with the “rise of women”. She cites a number of facts illustrating how women’s advancements are actually uneven and incomplete, including the fact that women’s share of computer science degrees is at the same level now that it was in 1970. Koontz says that in order for the genders to truly be considered equal, men must eschew a “masculine mystique” just as Betty Friedan advised women to forego the “feminine mystique” decades ago. By Koontz’s definition, this means that men need to consider jobs in female-dominated fields, take family leave from work, and shoulder more household responsibilities.

“Contrary to the fears of some pundits, the ascent of women does not portend the end of men,” she says. “It offers a new beginning for both. But women’s progress by itself is not a panacea for America’s inequities.” What do you think? Does the key to women’s advancement lie in the behavior of men?


University of Wisconsin Sees Female Faculty Gains

Did you know that the share of women faculty at the University of Wisconsin at Madison is now 31%, up from 18% in 1990? Between 2000 and 2011, women faculty in the biological sciences grew from 19% to 28%, and from 9% to 16% in the physical sciences. Although the article doesn’t include statistics for the campus’ department of computer sciences, it cites majority satisfaction with several initiatives the school has undertaken to increase faculty diversity.

Faculty cite mitigation efforts in the “leaky pipeline” between PhD attainment and professorship, improvements to outreach and recruitment practices, greater awareness of unconscious bias and the social science behind it, and implementation of mentoring programs. "The goal is having as many women as possible in any pool of applicants so we can evaluate them according to their accomplishments, and hire the best person. We've seen progress, but it's slow, and there are plateaus. This must be tackled from a whole range of perspectives."


Supervising-in-a-Box Series: Employee Recruitment/Selection includes ideas for recruiting a diverse pool of candidates.


Microsoft Employees Go Back to School

Did you know that Microsoft’s appeal to get more young people into technical careers has made its way into the classroom? The New York Times profiled Microsoft’s TEALS program - Technology Education and Literacy in Schools - which recruits tech professionals from Microsoft and other companies to volunteer teach in high school classrooms around the country. Since many industry professionals don’t have teaching credentials and many teachers aren’t certified to teach computer science, the program is designed to pair the industry pros with the education pros. Classes like AP computer science are now offered in 35 schools where they hadn’t existed, a big deal since, as a report from the ACM and Computer Science Teachers Association explains:

  • High schools are offering 17% fewer introductory computer science courses and 35% fewer AP computer science courses.
  • Only nine states currently allow CS to count for a required math or science course.
  • Currently high schools in the U.S. treat computer science as an elective or extracurricular activity, if it even exists at all, and no states require computer science coursework.

Would you like to get involved and lend your expertise to the TEALS program? Find out more.


When Bias Sticks Out

Did you know about the recent study on gender bias in the sciences, making the rounds in the media? As remarkable as the massive attention the study is eliciting is the fact that its results reveal bias to be so explicit and endemic. 

Researchers at Yale asked 127 science professors at six major research universities to evaluate an application from a recent grad for a position as lab manager. All the professors received the same application, but on half the applicant was named John and on half the applicant was named Jennifer. The professors not only gave “John” higher ratings -- they also offered him a higher starting salary and said they’d be more willing to mentor him. Remarkably, both male and female professors evaluating the applications showed exactly the same level of bias towards John.

Knowing that unconscious bias is so pervasive, would you be willing to erase gender from your own application screening process? What do you think would happen if you took a Sharpie to those resumes and crossed out the names? Check out NCWIT’s Promising Practice, How Can Reducing Unconscious Bias Increase Women’s Success in IT? Avoiding Gender Bias in Recruiting/Selection Processes.


Computer Science, Now with More Dragons

Did you know that you could teach computing with dragons and wizards? A new book called Computational Fairy Tales, aimed at middle and high school students and reviewed in Wired magazine, sets computing concepts in the context of a mythical story. Princess Ann is on a “quest algorithm” to rid her kingdom of “the darkness” that has befallen it, and on her journey she learns about variables, loops, binary numbers, recursion, commenting, stacks, and more. Like Lauren Ipsum, another fictional Alice-in-Wonderland-type story, it engages young readers with computing concepts by engaging them in a fun and relatable context. NCWIT has multiple practices for how to effectively introduce computing in an engaging way - you can check them out here.


Board Members Agree on Direction, But Not Diversity

Did you know that a new survey of 1,000 directors from boards around the globe has found that men and women directors have strikingly similar outlooks on matters such as business challenges and regulatory concerns? In fact, the data show that there were often greater differences between U.S. and non-U.S. directors than there were between men and women. Where the genders disagreed, however, was on diversity. Forty-five percent of men vs. 18% of women surveyed believed that the "lack of women in executive ranks" is the primary reason that the percentage of women on boards isn't increasing, whereas women respondents were more likely to explain that it’s because "traditional networks tend to be male-oriented."

“Women believe that board leaders must actively work to bring more women onto boards, while men see the lack of board diversity equally as a pipeline issue," said one of the study’s authors. "Women tend to put the responsibility squarely on board leadership, while men see it as both a pipeline and a leadership issue." Research shows that men have a pivotal role in helping to advance women, and that men can take concrete steps to increase women’s participation in leadership roles. Check out NCWIT’s Top 10 Ways to Be a Male Advocate.

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.