Did You Know: A MOOC for Mentoring, Makerspaces, How to Get More Technical Women Speakers

Women Speak Less When Outnumbered

Did you know that when groups make decisions by majority rule, and there’s only one woman in the group, that woman contributes less than half of her share of the conversation compared to the men? When groups strive towards consensus decisions, however -- rather than majority rule -- they see near equal participation from men and women, according to a new study published in American Political Science Review.

"In [settings where women are a minority], often the group uses majority rule to make its decisions … These settings will produce a dramatic inequality in women's floor time and in many other ways. Women are less likely to be viewed and to view themselves as influential in the group and to feel that their 'voice is heard.’”


A MOOC for Mentoring

Did you know about the new mentoring platform launched by Harvey Mudd’s Maria Klawe and the online student community, Piazza? Called WitsOn -- Women in Technology Sharing Online -- the new platform seeks to give female students a “safe” space to ask questions, an online community of other women in the sciences, and access to professional women from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. The New York Times compares WitsOn to a MOOC, in that both “were meant to help form connections online rather than provide a formal curriculum. The participants shaped the content, often interacting in so many different online threads that no student or teacher could follow all of them.”

More than 30 universities and colleges (including several of you) already have signed up as lead institutions and WitsOn is encouraging faculty to sign up their female students or encourage them to participate.


Five Reasons Why It’s Great to Be an IT Chick

Did you know that Australian women’s participation rate in tech careers is similar to women in the U.S.? Women in Australia comprise about 18 percent of the ICT (Information Communications Technology) workforce, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics. Despite -- or perhaps as a result of -- being a minority, one woman suggests some advantages to being a woman in tech: 1) It’s flexible; 2) it’s well-paying, 3) it’s creative and challenging, 4) it offers great opportunities for entrepreneurship, and 5) there are no lines for the bathroom at conferences. Do you agree? What do you think are some of the perks of being a woman in tech?


More Women Speakers at Tech Conferences

You’re probably familiar with the lack of women on the stage at many technical conferences, even if women’s presence is growing in the audience. But did you know that getting more qualified women speakers might be as simple as following three steps? JSConfEU, a Berlin-based conference of javascript developers, recently blogged about how they had managed to build a speaker roster that’s 25% female (way above the single-digit norm.) The three tips they followed were:

  1. Have an inviting call for presentations.
  2. Select talks anonymously, and state this clearly in the call.
  3. Encourage people from under-represented groups to submit.

The key here, according to the conference’s organizers, was the anonymity -- it discourages bias while encouraging inclusivity and quality. “On top of that,” they said, “we went out of our way to find women that do amazing things with JavaScript and The Web. We looked around on GitHub and Twitter, looked at other conferences’ line-ups, asked friends and colleagues.”

Here's another tip: what if you applied these three tips to your hiring strategy?


Create the Space and the Practice Will Follow

Did you know that 1,000 high schools across the country will open “Makerspaces” in the next four years? The project, an offshoot of O’Reilly Media’s popular Maker Faires and co-sponsored by a grant from DARPA, is described as “sort of a mashup of a shop class, a computer lab, an art class, and maybe a bio lab." The project’s goal is to get more kids more interested in STEM fields by giving them more opportunities to get their hands dirty. We’ve seen evidence already that hands-on activities are more successful in recruiting and retaining girls in computing; what do you think? Do you have a Maker-type space at your school?


Where Grads Want to Work

Did you know that when 60,000 college students were surveyed about their “ideal” employer, the FBI ranked 11th among undergrads studying IT? Here are the top 10 ideal employers for IT grads, as ranked by the Universum survey

  1. Google
  2. Microsoft
  3. Apple
  4. Facebook
  5. IBM
  6. Amazon
  7. Intel
  8. Electronic Arts
  9. Walt Disney Company
  10. Sony

Among engineering students the automobile companies ranked surprisingly high. Some experts point to the auto companies’ outreach and recruitment practices, such as having recruiters answer questions from interested students in real time on their websites, hosting mini career fairs that allow students to attend specialized on-campus information sessions, or giving students a chance to work on solutions to problems involving energy, sustainability, and the environment.


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.