Category Archives: Technology

Recent Editorial Highlights Potential Future Problems for Wikipedia

ba2abdcdcA recent article in the New York Times discusses the challenges faced by Wikipedia in a time when smartphones are becoming the dominant means through which individuals utilize the web. The author notes that this is a problem for the contributors to Wikipedia as increased mobile access to the internet slows down contributor research time that is done through a computer. As such, Wikipedia has experienced seven straight years of decline in editor participation.

As the author notes, “The nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia’s operations but is not directly involved in content, is investigating solutions. Some ideas include touch-screen tools that would let Wikipedia editors sift through information and share content from their phones.”

However, this is not the only problem plaguing Wikipedia, as recent shifts in the Board of Trustees have provided internal struggles for the site. Despite the site’s budget of “roughly $60 million…the foundation’s new executive director, Lila Tretikov, has been hiring developers from the world of open-source technology, and their lack of experience with Wikipedia content has concerned some veterans.”

While it is unlikely that Wikipedia will cease to exist, the company must figure out how to combat changing technology and mobility of the internet and internal struggles if it wishes to continue to bring its’ democratic sensibilities to all individuals.

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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.

Feminist encounters on Wikipedia

WikipediaGlobe

For anyone interested in Wikipedia’s gender gap and living or visiting in and around New York City, a panel that is open to the public this Wednesday, April 1, offers a discussion about the continued gap, feminism and intersectionality in digital labor.

FemTechNet and the The New School’s School of Media Studies, who are organizing the event, are also offering this discussion as a livestream.

Please see more details below.

Feminist Encounters with Wikipedia Panel Discussion

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang College
65 West 11th Street (Room B500), 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003

 

This panel will address systemic gaps in participation in editing Wikipedia, where the editor base is currently 87% male. Unsurprisingly, consistent underrepresentation is also reflected in content and coverage throughout the digital cultural archive. Recent feminist initiatives have garnered much coverage and attention in countering these proven biases. Results of these efforts have built significant entry points for engaging Wikipedia practically and critically. In addition to reporting on the quantitative aspects of these successes, this panel will explore potentially unexpected questions around digital labor, intersectionality and sustainability that emerge in designing feminist encounters with Wikipedia.

 

Panelists will include:
-Anne Balsamo (Dean of School of Media Studies at The New School for Public Engagement)
-Marcea Decker (Master’s Candidate in Parsons The New School for Design’s MS Design and Urban Ecologies program)
-Dorothy Howard (former Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Metropolitan New York Library Council and co-organizer of Art+Feminism campaign)
-Antoinette LaFarge (Professor of Art in Digital Media at University of California, Irvine). Veronica Paredes (Lecturer at School of Media Studies) will moderate.

 

Sponsored by the School of Media Studies and FemTechNet.

 

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.