News On the Radar: 6/29/16

Here is a brief round-up of information and news that crossed NCWIT's radar recently and which we think will be of interest to you. The practices or content of the news gathered (while not endorsed or vetted by NCWIT) is meant to spark new conversations and ideas surrounding the current diversity statistics and trends in the tech workforce. We encourage you to add your two cents on this month's topics in the comments below.

Decreasing the Wage Gap by Increasing and Encouraging More Women in Tech

In a recent op-ed on NY Daily News, Debora McLaughlin discussed the idea that careers in STEM can help to close the gap between men’s and women’s wages, which in 2015 was on average 21 percent different. According to McLaughlin, who is both an author and the CEO of The Renegade Leader Coaching & Consulting Group, “Being tech savvy has a positive effect on women’s career prospects.” In her own experience, a career in technology has provided her personal support, unlimited earning potential, and flexibility in her own life. She said that women in STEM-related occupations earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM careers, and that women in these fields experience a smaller wage gap relative to men. In an effort to decrease the existing gap, McLaughlin and about 50 other women started the TechWomen|TechGirls forum, which offers programs for professional women to connect, educate, and explore ideas around developing careers in tech.

Computing careers are known to offer salary and security, but before women can start pursuing a career in the field, they may still have questions: What are the work hours like? How much education does one need for a computing career? NCWIT’s Computing: Get the Most Out of Your College Degree compares computing to other occupations on educational requirements and quality-of-life issues such as compensation and work hours to assist young women and their advisors in deciding whether computing is right for them.

Women’s Colleges Help Close the STEM Gender Gap

Kim Cassidy, president of Bryn Mawr College and educational psychologist, recently discussed on U.S. News & World Report how women’s colleges could be a way to help close the gender gap in STEM fields. According to Cassidy, women’s colleges, by their nature, do not create the extra challenges for female students that they would typically face in a co-ed college environment, such as gender stereotypes that lead to unequal distribution of opportunities in the field. “In an all-female environment, gender biases can’t affect the allocation of opportunities,” said Cassidy. “Moreover, women in all-female STEM departments have a built-in sense of belonging, with plentiful female role models and female-majority work groups.”

However, if schools across the country truly want to increase the number of female STEM graduates, they can learn from the supportive structures that women’s colleges provide. Because we are more likely to engage in tasks that we believe we can perform successfully in, providing a supportive and encouraging environment may be useful for attracting women to male-stereotyped fields. NCWIT’s How Can Encouragement Increase Persistence in Computing and Top 10 Ways Families Can Encourage Girls’ Interest in Computing provide plenty of ideas on how you can support the girls and women in your lives pursuing careers in tech and computing.

Infographic Displays Why the World Needs More Women in Tech

An infographic by Visualtan has been making the rounds in an effort to show the world why more women in tech are needed. Through the use of visual statistics, graphs, and charts the infographic dives into the numbers behind women in technology, displaying facts to prove its point. For example, in the U.S. alone there are more women than ever in the workforce today, yet less women are working in the tech field than they were nearly 20 years ago. The infographic also points out potential causes for the dismal numbers such as gender stereotyping, lack of a recruiting talent pool, in-group favoritism, lack of effective sponsors, and more. It goes on to show how the world could benefit from having more women in technology, and reveals more visual facts such as companies with a woman on their executive team are more likely to have higher valuations at both first and last funding.

Gender diversity has a positive impact on technology business performance. In the modern world of technology, there have been great improvements to tech itself, but not nearly as many improvements when it comes to increasing the participation of women the tech workforce. In the 2016 update of NCWIT’s report Women In Tech: The Facts, see what’s changed and what hasn’t for women and other underrepresented groups in technology and explore new findings and research-based practices that can be used to increase their representation.

4 Successful Strategies to Include More Women and Minorities in High-Tech Environments

Consistent with prior research, a new report mentioned in a Business Wire article found that women and minority entrepreneurs face significant barriers when it comes to gaining access into high-tech incubators and accelerators. While the report, published by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), discussed how intentional exclusivity and a lack of outreach were the strongest of the barriers, it also highlighted strategies that have been successful in increasing the participation rates and inclusion of women and minorities in high-tech environments. Their four straightforward strategies included:

  • Expand recruitment networks through diverse leaders and partners
  • Create diverse selection committees and adjust the selection process
  • Intentionally design programs for women and minority entrepreneurs
  • Create an inclusive culture

Women and minority entrepreneurs and students are not participating in the same high-tech environments under the same conditions as their white, male counterparts. To increase the number of women and minorities in the high-tech field, this needs to change. The playbook mentioned in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. and ICIC report offer great opportunities to level the playing field. You can also check out NCWIT’s Tips for Startup Members and the new recording on “10 Actionable Ways to Actually Increase Diversity in Tech” by Dr. Catherine Aschcraft, NCWIT Senior Research Scientist, for ideas on improving the retention and inclusivity of underrepresented groups.

There’s More than Meets the Eye in National Assessment Results

While big headlines in the media about girls outperforming boys in a new national assessment have recently grabbed the public’s attention, an article on The Atlantic discussed how the underlying story is more complicated than what meets the eye. The assessment, given out by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), measures students’ understanding of basic engineering and technology principles, and found that girls averaged three points higher than boys when the scores were broken down by gender. According to Karen Peterson, the chief executive of the National Girls Collaborative Project, “The long-term goal isn’t getting females to best their male counterparts on a particular test but to increase their persistence and resilience in STEM studies, so that those early kernels of interest translate into meaningful careers.”

While the numbers are important, Peterson makes a point. Increasing the number of women and girls in technology and computing needs to be prioritized over compartmentalizing test results by gender. The NCWIT Scorecard: A Report on the Status of Women in Information Technology shows trends in girls’ and women’s participation in computing in the U.S. over time, providing a necessary benchmark for measuring future progress and identify areas for improvement.