Did You Know: Pair Programming, First-grade Coders, Gen Y and Startups, Women in the Cloud


Manufacturing as Women’s Work
Did you know that in the last year alone, the Department of Labor reported that manufacturers added 225,000 jobs in the U.S., making it one of the top industries for job creation? Yet as many as 60,000 of these jobs are reportedly unfilled because manufacturing has transformed from a brute labor job to a high-tech endeavor, and manufacturers can’t find candidates with the right skills. Many businesses want to hire people with specialized skills in operating technical machinery but don’t provide on-the-job training. Enter the vo-tech (vocational/technical) school.

CNN recently profiled April Senase as a trailblazer in what it calls a potential job boom for women. Senase has worked in factory jobs for 13 years -- often as the first, or only, woman on the production floor -- and she makes nearly $40 an hour with overtime, running high-tech machinery at a factory. Recently she took a second job as the first female instructor in computer-aided machining at Symbol Job Training Inc., a trade school.

You’ve heard us talk about women as untapped source of talent and workforce strength with respect to technical innovation jobs; do you think that emphasizing the roles for women in lower-paying, technical manufacturing jobs will change the perception of women in tech, for better or for worse?


Clemson Cultivates Faculty Diversity

Did you know that of the 56 African American tenure-track professors in computer science, six of them -- 10% -- are at Clemson University? Clemson professor Juan Gilbert, an Academic Alliance member and recent winner of the NCWIT Undergraduate Faculty Mentoring Award, describes his efforts to recruit more diverse faculty as contributing to innovation by “drawing in people with completely new ideas and backgrounds” while also contributing to workforce development.

"It's fascinating watching this happen," Gilbert said. "The main thing is to communicate this is a national benefit. We need citizens, and we need to broaden our participation beyond the traditional white male. We are taking it seriously."


Is Cloud Computing the Great Equalizer?

Did you know that some technical disciplines seem to attract more women than others? It might not surprise you to learn that more women gravitate to HCI (human computer interaction) than quantum computing, but how about … the cloud?

According to an article in CIO magazine, women are drawn to cloud computing because of its emphasis on collaboration and project management, and its potential to be creative and add value to business. Thomas Koulopoulos, CEO of Delphi Group, thinks women are pulled to the cloud because it “provides greater flexibility into how we integrate people into the process ... For instance, a stay-at-home mother can manage the cloud just as well as an in-house worker.” The Cloud Network of Women (CloudNOW), a global nonprofit consortium, offers to give women in this discipline opportunities for networking, knowledge-sharing, and mentoring.


Gen Y Prefers Small Companies

Did you know that a recent survey from Payscale found that the majority of Generation Y (those between the ages of 18 and 29) prefers to work at a small company with fewer than 100 employees? As the study reports, “Their preference is for smaller firms that allow for more flexibility, an opportunity to embrace their entrepreneurial ambitions, and the opportunity to use social networks at work without strict corporate guidelines.” The study also finds Gen Y drawn to companies “where innovation is prized, salaries are higher, and workplace programs and culture are more flexible.”


Where 100% of First Graders Will Code

Did you know that Estonia is preparing to implement a program that will teach 100% of its students to code? VentureBeat reported this week on Estonia’s plans to begin computing education in the first grade, and continuing through age 16. The program is training teachers in new computing skills and private-sector companies will participate. By contrast, VentureBeat reported, the Running On Empty study from ACM and CSTA shows an endemic lack of enthusiasm or coherent policy when it comes to computing education in the U.S.

As 2012 CSEdWeek approaches, we hope you will be thinking about how you’ll participate to raise awareness about the importance of CS education, nurture kids’ passions for computing, and send a message to policymakers about the changes you’d like to see. Need some tips for how to get the message across? Check out our talking points, Moving Beyond Computer Literacy: Why Schools Should Teach Computer Science.


Pair Programming in the Workplace

Did you know about pair programming? One of technology’s most insidious stereotypes is that code is written by solitary workers, toiling silently in cubicles. Those who’ve coded in the real world, however, know that most programming is actually done by collaboratively by teams of people. Now some companies are experimenting with an amped-up version of pair programming, where pairs take turns writing, editing, and monitoring each other’s code.

You might be interested to know that in academic settings, pair programming has been proven to increase retention among both men and women, as well as improve competency and social/professional skills. Want to learn more? NCWIT has both a practice sheet (brief version, www.ncwit.org/pairpractice) and a program-in-a-box (deluxe how-to version, www.ncwit.org/pairprogramming) of this increasingly popular approach.
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.