I ran into several more projects / organizations promoting women in IT. Great stuff!
Girl Develop It is a nonprofit organization that exists to provide affordable and accessible programs to women who want to learn web and software development through mentorship and hands-on instruction.
Girls Who Code programs work to inspire, educate, and equip girls with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.
Rails Girls started in Finland and is now a global non-profit volunteer organization. It aims to give tools (especially with Ruby on Rails) and a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas by providing a great experience on building things and by making technology more approachable. Girls learn sketching, prototyping, basic programming and get introduced to the world of technology.
I’m so excited to share this story from the BBC about a company called littleBits. It was created by a woman named Ayah Bdeir. What do they make?
littleBits (spelled lower case L, upper case B, all one word) consists of tiny circuit-boards with specific functions engineered to snap together with magnets. No soldering, no wiring, no programming, just snap together for prototyping, learning and fun. Each bit has a specific function (light, sound, sensors, buttons, thresholds, pulse, motors, etc), and modules snap to make larger circuits. Just as LEGO™ allows you to create complex structures with very little engineering knowledge, littleBits are small, simple, intuitive, blocks that make creating with sophisticated electronics a matter of snapping small magnets together.
And yes, I’ll be adding this company’s leadership team to my database. This is a wonderful company with a great mission! Check it out.
When do we start forming ideas about what’s cool? The NY Times just did a short piece about coding for girls and when those gaps between girls and boys in computer classes really show up in full force. The piece is written by a woman, Reshma Saujani, who heads the “Girls Who Code” organization. This is a real disparity. I’m tired of seeing tech companies run largely by men. We need more balance. Helping girls to see that coding can be cool can help improve the gender balance in the tech field.
Marissa Meyer is the CEO of Yahoo. When she was hired, she was pregnant with her first child. This lengthy article gives quite a bit of background about how she is viewed as the CEO and what expectations there are for her to turn around the company. As I read, I thought how incredibly complicated things are, largely because of perceptions and expectations (high and low).
There was a study conducted by Janice McCabe at Florida State University in 2011. She looked at over 6,000 children’s books from the past century and found that central characters in the books were female in less than one third. How does one counter this trend? Well, it seems other parents are finding it easy enough to switch the gender roles when reading stories to their kids. I don’t remember doing this with my daughter when she was younger, but here’s one writer’s story about Bilbo Baggins as a girl. Sounds like it works pretty well for some stories, too!
I don’t know whether to scream or sigh about this NPR story. Actually, I am very impressed with Emily Graslie, a science reporter who now works at the Chicago Field Museum and created a few videos to go along with this story. She is the host of “The Brain Scoop” which can be found on YouTube. And the Field Museum has a great page about Emily’s work within the museum context.
Now here’s a great idea! If your middle school is trying to support girls to learn and love technology, this grant program can help. It’s sponsored by the National Center for Women in IT. The program is called AspireIT and not only is NCWIT involved, there are a few other big players sponsoring the program — Intel, Google, and Northrup Grumman. One thing I love about the program is that it helps connect women in the field to middle school girls, so there’s that mentoring thing going on. Very cool.
This article is not directly about women in IT but it does highlight some important research about giving praise to girls in the right way to make a positive difference later on. Praise that helps girls see they should stick with something, even if it gets tough, is more likely to help them in the long run that if they simply heard praise for “being smart” or some other attribute.
I was glad to see the CEO of HootSuite writing about the women in technology issue. Here’s his article, posted on LinkedIn. Ryan Holmes writes about what his company has experienced in its hiring processes in terms of numbers of women applying and then how the company is trying to address what they see as an imbalance in women working in tech.
This story on Fox News caught my eye. There are so many things in this story that make me want to shout “Hey! You bet this is still a problem in 2013!” When one reporter mentions the fact that girls are “dissuaded from math and those kind of majors”, the response is that we are surely in a “whole different era.”
I used to think that we had made more progress with overcoming barriers for women in the workplace. But while I do believe we’ve made progress in various arenas, I don’t think we’ve gotten very far with women in technology. That’s what this blog is about. Finding the stories, looking at the data, and determining ways in which we can make some greater progress.