Category Archives: Girls

Nobel Laureate Professor’s Comments Highlight Sexism in the Sciences

sexismTim Hunt, a biochemist from University College London, recently resigned following controversial statements he made at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea. Hunt was quoted as saying “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls… Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.”

After a backlash in the Science community, Hunt offered the following apology: “I’m really sorry I said what I said. It was a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists… What was intended is a light-hearted ironic comment. Apparently it was interpreted deadly seriously by my audience… I did mean the part about having trouble with girls. It’s terribly important that you can criticize people’s ideas without criticizing them and if they burst into tears, it means that you tend to hold back from getting at the absolute truth. Science is about nothing but getting at the truth.”

Unfortunately for Hunt, this apology was not enough and he resigned days later. A recent article in The Atlantic highlights why Hunt’s statement is so problematic. Most notably, he perpetuates unfair stereotypes about women in STEM fields that have persisted for decades. As the article notes, women are continually paid less for the same jobs as men in Science fields. Additionally, women face an exorbitant amount of sexual harassment in their fields, as well. Thus, Hunt’s statements gesture toward wider biases and systemic issues that need to be solved if women are to close this gap. It is up to education to help further the publicity of this issue and allow for women to advance properly in STEM field on the whole.

The Need to Increase Gender Diversity in IT

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A recent study published by Catherine Ashcroft and Wendy DuBow from the National Center for Women & Information Technology suggests ways for men to get involved in fighting gender inequality within both the technology field and workplace.

The authors suggest that men’s advocacy is necessary to promote gender diversity in technology because diversity is not just an issue for women but a business and human issue. The authors note that gender diversity allows for more creative and interesting business solutions, especially within the technology field. When men recognize that they have a stake in this issue, it becomes clear that change needs to be made. Moreover, because men hold more formal and informal positions of power in technology than women, they have more potential to influence systemic changes within the field.

The authors next suggest what men should and could be advocating for in these spaces. They argue that men can help change the work environment (and not, for instance “change” the women). Second, men need to speak up when they know of a woman who deserves a promotion or recognition when they are not receiving it in addition to working towards necessary systemic changes more generally. Further, men need to “Listen, Don’t assume that all women want a part in diversity efforts, and reframe negative reactions as valuable opportunities for developing empathy.”

For more information on the ways men can be advocates, visit here. In addition, see this link for ideas in which workplaces can better serve gender diversity.

Two Panels in Detroit Encourage Young Women to Join STEM Fields

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A recent panel at a Michigan Council of Women in Technology-sponsored CIO (Chief Information Officers) conference in Detroit shows promise for the development of STEM programs in the state of Michigan for young people, and especially girls. With over 500 attendees, including CIOs from Ford and General Motors, the panelists discussed the future of STEM fields and how the state of Michigan can answer Governor Rick Snyder’s call that “STEM education and competency is a top focus for Michigan and we’re doing more and more to develop talent on this front.”

Interestingly, across the street, another conference was being held addressing this same issue. Felicia Fields, group vice president of human resources at Ford, spoke at a Forbes forum, where she revealed that Ford would be implementing  career academies in Michigan schools to promote STEM fields, as well. “Ford has four academies in three locations in Florida, Kentucky and Utica. When the new Detroit academies are added this fall the network will serve 2,800 students,” notes Detroit Free Press writer Carol Cain. As such, the future of Michigan and its’ promotion of STEM careers for young people seems to be bright.

Wayne State U Honors students can teach Wikid GRRLS for HON3000/service-learning requirement

wayneHON 4940 WIKID GRRLS – TEACHING GIRLS ONLINE SKILLS FOR KNOWLEDGE SITES

Did you know that women are only 13 percent of Wikipedia contributors, that is, the people who write and edit the articles? Wikipedia’s gender gap affects what is (or isn’t) part of “the sum of all human knowledge” that the popular online encyclopedia offers.

You can be part of closing this huge gap. Register for HON 4940 for Fall Semester 2015 and teach middle and early high school girls in Detroit Public Schools online skills. HON 4940 also fulfills your service-learning/HON 3000 requirement!

You’ll teach in schools close to our WSU campus with a pre-prepared curriculum. We’ll meet weekly to discuss progress & blog about experiences. We’ll also collect data on how such interventions can encourage girls to contribute to projects such as Wikipedia.

Be part of closing Wikipedia’s gender gap!

If you have any questions about the class, on how to register or have trouble registering, don’t hesitate to e-mail Stine Eckert at stine.eckert@wayne.edu.

The international perspective on STEM

 

Plenty of studies and arguments have been presented that tell us that it is neither good for society nor the economy when women and girls are not working in STEM fields. Based on UN data, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton’s No Ceiling project offers a summary of how STEM plays out not only in the United States but also how it compares internationally.

Worldwide, the percentage of graduates with a bachelor’s degree in science who are women range from 25% in the Netherlands to almost 50% in Argentina. The United States is in between, with 41 percent. The article highlights that worldwide only 20 percent of computer scientists are women. That is, women and girls miss out on working in one of the fastest growing and highest paying fields.

While girls start out strongly in school regarding math and science skills, confidence and interest fade when they reach secondary school levels, as the article details.

Hence, it is especially important to keep girls engaged in computer science with fun projects and encourage them to consider tech jobs as lucrative careers. Our free Wikid GRRLs curriculum works to keep middle and early high school girls engaged in the process of learning online skills and to consider a job on the back side of computing. We build confidence and remind girls at this particular time in their lives that a career involving technology is a viable option.

We are working to bring our free 10-week afters school program in Detroit Public Schools. If you are interested in working with Wikid GRRLs, e-mail Dr. Stine Eckert at stine.eckert@wayne.edu.

“Dilbert’s” Scott Adams: How many women do we need in tech?

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Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, has treated the gender gap in tech careers in many of his cartoons, sometimes subtler, sometimes more bluntly. Perhaps you remember the comic strip about “his mother.”

Recently he shared his perspective on the gender gap in plain prose, suggesting a goal of 33 percent women in technology careers.

While not all parts of his blog post make complete sense (which he acknowledges), he does provide his observations as an insider, especially of the start-up culture:

“Pause for a moment to let that sink in. I didn’t say I have met few women in those types of jobs, or not as many as I would have expected. I am saying I have literally met zero. None.”

He presents three interconnected reasons: women are not encouraged to enter technical fields; networks are key for success but women appear to be cut-off as men mingle among themselves; and sexism, discrimination and old-boys networks “make technology an unfriendly place for women. My observations support that.”

Thus, striving toward 33 percent is not a bad first step toward gender parity in STEM. As Adams suggests, encouraging girls and women to enter tech jobs is the first step before they get build and interact in networks.

Wikid GRRLs believes, based on studies, that we need to start early to get girls at least thinking about these fields for future careers. We need to encourage girls already in middle school to learn and hone computer and internet-related skills and to consider computer science and related areas as viable job options. With our curriculum we introduce girls to the idea that they, too, can be  part of the back space of online structures and online content. We hope to get started in five Detroit Public Schools this fall. Stay tuned!

If you are a teacher in a Detroit Public School, especially around the Wayne State University campus, and are interested in working with Wikid GRRLS, contact Stine Eckert at stine.eckert@wayne.edu.

WikidGRRLs becomes signatory to FemTechNet’s statement on anti-feminist violence online

wikidgrrlslogo-resized1.jpgOnline attacks on women and feminist bloggers, activists, scholars and authors have become a frequent topic of coverage in U.S. news media over the past year. Increasingly more scholarship is addressing this problematic online phenomenon. For instance, a 2014 Pew study shows that young women are “particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking” via social media.

The FemTechNet network of scholars, artists, and students working at the intersections of science, technology and feminism has issued a statement addressing the anti-feminist violence online: “FemTechnet publicly denounces the systematic and pernicious harassment of women, feminists of all genders, and transgender people for their participation in digital life.”

WikidGRRLs has decided to become a signatory to this important statement. AsFemTechNet,WikidGRRLs is dedicated to an open and accessible internet, especially for (young) women. As FemTechNet we are raising our voices to “reject online and offline violence and silencing of women and feminists.”

Currently societal and legal conditions in the United States are still permitting an atmosphere in which violence online is not fully acknowledged nor fully prosecuted, as Danielle Keats Citron describes in detail in Hate Crimes in Cyber Space. Only by continuing to raise awareness, to keeping up coverage, scholarship and activism can we contribute to transforming the situation for the better. As Danielle Keats CItron puts it: “Change will not be swift, but it is within reach” (p. 96).

Read the complete FemTechNet statement and become a signatory with your initiative or group to show that we do not tolerate violence online.