News On the Radar: 7/26/17

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.

STEM Majors More Satisfied With Their Degree Choice Than Others

A recent blog post by the Society of Women Engineers, a member organization of the NCWIT K-12 and Affinity Alliances, discussed a new Gallup poll that sought to gauge satisfaction with education decisions and found that STEM graduates at all levels were the least likely to report any regrets associated with their educational choices. Poll participants, with degrees in business, liberal arts, STEM, and public service, were asked whether they would change their degree type, major, or institution, or make one or more decisions differently.

In addition to finding the STEM students more satisfied, the poll found that those who completed their degrees after age 30 expressed higher satisfaction with their education decisions. This may indicate that those who are under 30 years old may need more guidance to help them achieve their goals, and/or that it’s possible to encourage more individuals who may have chosen a different educational pathway (such as delayed entry into college or part-time attendance) to pursue and continue to earn their degrees.

The findings also support the idea that mentors and role models can play an important part in helping to provide more information and support to assist young adults in choosing to pursue a STEM education. NCWIT offers several resources in this area, including this new set of Counselors for Computing (C4C) posters, designed to help students envision how they can use computer science skills to make a difference in the world:

Strategies for Curbing Workplace Interruptions

The repeated finding that women are more frequently interrupted during workplace meetings is making headlines again. A recent Atlantic article provides an excellent summary of proactive strategies for curbing these kinds of interruptions. The article highlights the importance of moving beyond approaches that put the onus on women to do something differently (what we at NCWIT call “fix the woman” approaches) and instead moving toward research-based strategies to “fix the system.”

Arin Reeves, who consults on workplace inclusion, and Judith Williams, who developed and ran bias busting workshops at Google, discuss similar strategies for helping people rethink how meetings work. Some of these include having the leader go around the table and ask people to take turns offering their comments or adopting the use of a talking stick, which allows only the person holding the stick to talk. Keeping a note on a whiteboard or on the conference table asking people to avoid interruptions can also be effective. Creating an atmosphere where it’s okay to gently point out when a colleague is being interrupted and direct the conversation back to them, no matter the seniority of the interruptor, is also important.

These strategies make the daily work environment better not only for underrepresented employees but also for all employees. This more welcoming environment can also be good for business by helping to recruit and retain top talent.

NCWIT also offers many resources for helping people put these kinds of strategies into place, including: