As Women Take Over a Men-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops #wikidgrrls #gendergap


Money_closeupBy Sadia Ghazi.

In an article in the New York Times, published on March 18, 2016, Claire Cain Miller addresses the pay differences between men and women who have the same jobs. Miller explores where these differences come from and the influence they have on employees and employers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data,

“the median earnings of information technology managers (mostly men) are 27 percent higher than human resources managers (mostly women); janitors (usually men) earn 22 percent more than maids and housecleaners (usually women)”.

This shows the blatant difference between society’s evaluation of the amount of men’s work versus the amount of women’s work. Even though information technology managers and human resources managers perform the same task, the field dominated by men gets higher pay than the field dominated by women.

Miller explains that historically, regardless of the career field, a woman’s work was valued less than a man’s work. A woman’s work is seen as simple and easy to do; even if the woman is just as educated and trained as her men counterparts the woman will be paid less. Miller explains that when computer programming used to be a women-dominated field it was not as praised as when computer programming became a men-dominated field. This job gained more prestige and started paying more when more men started becoming computer programmers.

Miller also explains that women usually do not ask for higher pay regardless of their choice in career field. In the article Miller quotes Dr. Paula England, a professor in sociology at  New York University:

“It’s not that women are always picking lesser things in terms of skill and importance, it’s just that the employers are deciding to pay it less.”

The gender bias affects how the employers view their potential employees and it also affects how employees see themselves in a field where they are underrepresented.

Read more in the original article.

Sadia Ghazi is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in psychology; she is also debating in the Wayne State Debate Team. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester

Image source: Wikipedia Commons.


Internet filtering 2.0: intellectual freedom at school

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 10.55.42 AMBy Sadia Ghazi

The primary purpose of this article by Barbara A. Jansen is to outline the variety of policies that were passed to police internet access in schools. These policies were passed to ensure internet content was not “harmful to minors”. The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) defined “harmful to minors” as “any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion; depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors” (p. 50).

While it makes sense to ensure protection for minors from the harms of the internet, limiting internet access also limits the students from understanding the diverse use of the in internet. Nowadays, even elementary school students have social media accounts whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.

It is to everyone’s benefit to teach students of all ages about internet safety rather than scaring them off and having them find out the hard way. We live in a society where a majority of our information is on the internet such as college or job applications or research in every field. In order for today’s students to succeed in school and in their careers they need to have more knowledge about how the internet works, what it contains, and how to navigate it.

Wikid GRRLS aims to educate girls in Detroit Public Schools about the internet, more specifically Wikipedia. It is crucial to teach students about keeping their profiles, pictures, and written thoughts safe when going online. One of the ways to teach this is to learn more about the variety of social media accounts that the students already have and what measures they have already taken to keep their profiles safe.

Limiting internet access in schools only allows students to browse the internet outside of school without any knowledge of how to fight against threats online. Fear should not be a strategy used to teach students about the internet. A more useful method of teaching students about internet safety is by showing them how they can control their contributions to the internet. Wikid GRRLS allows young girls to have their own wiki spaces to create and edit and hence to practice contributing online in a safe space.

Sadia Ghazi is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in psychology; she is also debating in the Wayne State Debate Team. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.


Jansen, B. A. (2010). Internet filtering 2.0: Checking intellectual freedom and participatory practices at the schoolhouse door. Journal of American Association of School Librarians, 39(1), 46-53.

Image source: Journal of American Association of School Librarians

Gaining positive perceptions of STEM among girls through hands-on STEM projects

ba2abdcdcBy Ramona Stamatin

As I read “Impact of environmental power monitoring activities on middle school student perceptions of STEM” (Knezek, Christensen, Tyler-Wood, & Periathiruvadi, 2013), I noticed a few aspects of the project that were very similar to how the Wikid GRRLs project is designed.

In Knezek et al., the purpose of the project, which is called Middle Schoolers Out to Save the World, is to have middle school students become involved in a hands-on activity in order to increase their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields as well as increase their content knowledge on STEM subjects.

“Students in this study are trained by their teachers to use energy monitoring equipment to monitor and audit power consumption by consumer electronic devices in their homes and communities” (p. 100). Specifically, they record data about energy consumption in terms of “standby power,” which is the use of power by appliances that are plugged in, but powered off.

This project overall yielded positive results in many facets. It yielded a more positive perception of STEM careers, a positive gain in the students’ STEM content knowledge, a small impact on creative tendencies, a difference of gains between students from low socio-economic backgrounds and high socio-economic backgrounds, and a difference in gains between genders.

The most notable results of this project to me were that the results of gender differences in STEM perceptions of girls and boys. Girls exhibited a greater gain in positive perception of Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology compared to boys. This simply illustrates that compared to before the project start, girls made larger gains than boys.

It is important to engage students in STEM education before high school because there is high demand for careers in these fields. This is why this project aimed to instill STEM knowledge and problem solving skills in middle-schoolers.

In the Wikid GRRLs program, we work with middle school girls in order to achieve something similar. We want to encourage these girls to learn important computer skills in order to help them write Wikipedia articles, but also to help them gain knowledge that may help broaden their opportunities in their future. In fact, the skills we are teaching might encourage them to pursue a STEM career path.

Although the main goal of Wikid GRRLs is to close the gender gap of Wikipedia contributors, the program may also make the students gain interest in as well as develop a passion for working with computer and internet technologies in order to make a difference in their community.

Ramona Stamatin is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in biochemistry, Spanish and theatre. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.


Knezek, G., Christensen, R., Tyler-Wood, T. & Periathiruvadi, S. (2013). Impact of environmental power monitoring activities on middle school student perceptions of STEM. Science Education International, 24(1), 98-123

Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Mind the gap — in computer and internet skills

mind gapBy Emily Verde

The research presented in Eszter Hargittai and Aaron Shaw’s “Mind the skills gap: The role of Internet know-how and gender in differentiated contributions to Wikipedia” explores the factors that contribute to the lack of women Wikipedia editors, namely that of the level of internet skills of Wikipedia contributors.

Hargittai and Shaw point out that previous studies on this topic have been incomplete because they focus solely on existing contributors, rather than trying to define the factors that determine participants’ decisions to start editing Wikipedia. As a result, the research presented in this article studies both contributors and non-contributors, and mainly focuses on two factors of participation: internet skills and gender.

To gather data, Hargittai and Shaw surveyed 547 college students either 21 or 22 years old over four years. The students were diverse in their demographics and amount of time spent on the internet. Researchers discovered that, although 99% of the participants had looked up information on Wikipedia, only 28% had ever edited an existing article and many of these edits were done as a class assignment.

Furthermore, only 21% of women participants contributed to Wikipedia, as opposed to men contributors, who made up 38%. When researchers eliminated the students who had only edited Wikipedia for a class assignment, the numbers dropped to 13% (women) and 32% (men).

The researchers also discovered that an individual’s internet skills was an important factor in determining Wikipedia contribution. Even among highly skilled individuals, however, there is still a large gap between women and men contributors and more research is necessary to determine the cause.

Notably, an individual’s perception of their own skills affects their decision about contributing, as demonstrated by women who evaluated themselves as having a low skill level, despite their education being the same as their men counterparts. As a result, it is necessary to conduct more research to determine why women have less confidence in their skills as contributors than men.

Emily Verde is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in piano performance. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.


Hargittai, E., & Shaw, A. (2015). Minding the skills gap. Information, Communication & Society, (18)4, 424-442.

Image source: Wikipedia Commons


The Role of Stereotype Threats in Undermining Girls’ and Women’s Performance and Interest in STEM fields

stereotypeBy Sadia Ghazi

So there are a lot of negative stereotypes about women’s performance in science, technology, engineering,and math (STEM) fields. Jenessa R. Shapiro and Amy M. Williams address in their study what stereotype threat is, the effects that it has, and how it can be used to change.

As Shapiro and Williams explain, “stereotype threat is a concern or anxiety that one’s performance or action can be seen through the lens of a negative stereotype, a concern that disrupts and undermines performance in negatively stereotyped domains”. As an experiment, conducted by Shih et al. in 1999, Asian women were placed inside a situational nature of stereotype threat. Before completing a math test, a group of these women were asked about theirgender, another group was asked about their race, and then there was a control group. The group that was asked about their gender performed worse than the control group; the group that was asked about their race performed better than the control group.

So when participants were aware of their gender their performance was worse due to the presumed stereotype of how well they were supposed to perform on the task. A few implications of interventions are self-affirmation, presentation of role models, and teaching about the phenomenon of stereotype threat.

The presentation of role models is important because seeing another individual who was similar to themselves and who disconfirmed the stereotype about female math ability served to buffer the female students from stereotype threat effects. Last, teaching about this phenomenon allows people to be aware of what’s going on.

There are two different types of stereotype threats: self-as-source stereotype threats and other-as-source stereotype threats. Self-as-source stereotype threat is explained as when “one’s performance has the possibility of confirming, in one’s own mind, that the stereotype is true” (p. 179). Other-as-source stereotype threat is explained as someone else’s performance confirming the stereotype. It’s important to notice both of these because it shows destructive stereotypes are for young girls and woman who are aspiring to go into STEM.

Sadia Ghazi is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in psychology; she is also debating in the Wayne State Debate Team. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.


Shapiro, Jenessa R., & Amy M. Williams. (2012). The role of stereotype threats in undermining girls’ andwomen’s performance and interest in STEM fields. Sex Roles, (66)3, 175-183.

Source of graphic:

7 Ways to Recruit More Women to Pursue Tech Careers – A Summary

wayneBy Emily Verde

The article “7 Ways to Recruit More Women to Pursue Tech Careers” was written in June 2015 by Rachel Kast, Ph.D., who is an assistant professor in the College of Engineering at Wayne State University, Detroit. This blog post provides a summary of her suggestions to attract more women into studying and working in STEM fields.

She begins her article with anecdotes about her own experience in the engineering field and points out that, in most work places, the stereotype of engineers being middle-aged, white men is correct. She goes on to share research that shows that the gender gap in STEM professions reaches throughout the world, not just in the United States. Test scores show that through fourth grade, girls and boys score approximately the same in skill level in STEM courses, but in college, there is a significant difference between the percentage of women who succeed in a STEM major vs. the (much higher) percentage of men who graduate in a STEM major. Kast suggests that the best way to help STEM fields increase creativity in problem solving and make fewer mistakes is to increase the diversity in the professions by “[recruiting] from the untapped potential of women who could excel in STEM positions, just like their male counterparts.”

Kast goes on to outline a 7-step process for recruiting women to STEM professions: Intervene early, educate young women about STEM jobs and STEM careers, provide mentorship from successful women in STEM , educate students and staff about implicit (and explicit) bias inSTEM, help girls develop spatial skills, develop a culture to recruit female students, develop a culture to retain female students. Much of her plan focuses on helping young women retain their confidence in their skills and ignore stereotypes about STEM jobs. Kast suggests that the primary way of doing this is by offering mentorship and support systems for women/girls who are interested in the STEM fields. I think this is brilliant, and we’ve seen this work in other fields (such as music and writing), so it makes sense that providing women with mentors in the STEM field would help them develop their skills, keep up their confidence, and make important connections for future careers in STEM.

The plan that Kast outlines in her article seems simple and obvious, but is, unfortunately,not being utilized universally. I agree with Kast that, if it were, STEM’s gender gap would narrow significantly.

Emily Verde is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in piano performance. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.

Perceived and actual online skills: the role of gender

cat-gender-2By Ramona Stamatin

After reading “Differences in Actual and Perceived Online Skills: The Role of Gender” (Hargittai & Shafer, 2006), I have become more informed about a topic we discussed in our Wikid GRRLs project.

During a discussion on how gender intersects with the internet, a team member mentioned that women tend to have a worse perception about their computer skills than what they are actually capable of. The article above explores an experiment in which people are asked questions orally and then observed as they are to find specific information on the internet.

People were given a list of specific sites and information to find on the internet. They were given unlimited time to find this information and were encouraged to not give up on a specific task if they became frustrated.

It was found that cultural beliefs affect men and women’s career choices as well as other aspects of their life such as their perception and interest in their internet skills. Also, men tend to enjoy and show more interest in working on the internet than women. Women tend to spend less time on the internet overall compared to men because they have a lower self-perception of their abilities to work on the internet. However, when women do spend time on the internet, they tend to spend their time on the interpersonal communication systems instead of other tasks.

For the study that I mentioned above, the subjects were selected randomly from Mercer County, New Jersey. The people selected for this study varied in terms of occupation and the gender distribution was almost completely equal (51:49). However, citizens of this county tended to be more educated and make a higher income than the average American. It is important to keep this in mind when applying these results nationally.

Ramona Stamatin is a Wayne State University honors student majoring in biochemistry, Spanish and theatre. In the Wikid GRRLS project she teaches middle school girls online skills in Detroit Public Schools this semester.


Hargittai, E., & Shafer,  (2006). Differences in Actual and Perceived Online Skills: The Role of Gender. Social Science Quarterly, (87)2, 432-449. Abstract:

Image source: