SUPPORTING DIVERSITY IN TECH

she++ is proud to support the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, which will take place on January 28th. The event is focused on diversity at startups. We are proud to support such an important initiative. To sign up yourself, click here

The event is hosted by Localwise—a local job community—the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, and NextSpace. The event also includes key community stakeholders such as the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Women Who Code, #YesWeCode, Lesbians Who Tech, Hack the Hood, and Telegraph Academy. 

she++’s support of the Berkeley Startup Job Fair is part of a broader effort to increase diversity in the tech and startup industries. It’s alarming that at large tech companies only 29% of the employees are women and only 15% are black or hispanic (source). At startups, only only 8.3% of venture funding goes to women-led tech startups. The numbers fall to 1% for African-American led startups (source). 

The Berkeley Startup Job Fair is one of many important steps to address this problem. While many forums address the problem through discussion, the job fair hits the heart of the issue: jobs. 

she++ is proud to support diversity in the tech startup community by participating in the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. We hope you’ll join us!

wearewearables: Welcome to the Wearables Revolution: We Are Wearables Hi Everyone! It’s Tom the guy behind all 1,606 (now 1,607) posts on this blog I started way back in 2011. I can’t believe its been over four years! I’ve loved watching this community grow, reading your notes and seeing what you are all interested in when it comes to this amazing new world of emerging technology. Thank you for being such an awesome group of future junkies! But just as tech continues to change over time, it is time for this blog to evolve too. And I’ve got some exciting news for us as we move forward. Keep reading Long live the wearable! Check out (and contribute to) she++ challenge’s wearables project for this month. You could win a pebble watch!

wearewearables:

Welcome to the Wearables Revolution: We Are Wearables

Hi Everyone! It’s Tom the guy behind all 1,606 (now 1,607) posts on this blog I started way back in 2011. I can’t believe its been over four years! I’ve loved watching this community grow, reading your notes and seeing what you are all interested in when it comes to this amazing new world of emerging technology. Thank you for being such an awesome group of future junkies! But just as tech continues to change over time, it is time for this blog to evolve too. And I’ve got some exciting news for us as we move forward.

Keep reading

Long live the wearable! Check out (and contribute to) she++ challenge’s wearables project for this month. You could win a pebble watch!

3 Irrefutable Reasons Why You Are Needed in the Tech Space. Yes, you.

by Trista Sobeck, Axosoft Content Strategist 

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re interested in science, technology, programming or computers. GREAT! You’re in good company and you need to know something: you have an entire world rooting for you. Even during the moments when it may not seem that way. So, if someone ever calls your bluff and tells you that you don’t belong in the tech or science space here’s some knowledge you can drop—that is if you feel like you have time to educate them. You’re busy. You have bigger problems to solve. Tech needs you. And here are 3 reasons that no one can argue with as to why.

1. You are uniquely you and your specific ideas and point of view are needed.

Did you know that a lack of women in one famous product lead to thousands of deaths? That’s right, because no women were present on one team, lives were lost. The product? Airbags.Yes the exact airbags that go in every vehicle and are designed to keep passengers and drivers safe in an accident. An all-male automotive engineer team made the first airbags so the dimensions were specifically made to those males on the team. Women and children were not even a thought. Do you think that if there was at least one female engineer on the team, things would’ve been different? I’m going to have to say, probably.

Another reason as to why your unique point of view is needed: feel free to name drop. Mark Zuckerberg reportedly responded to a Facebook post when a grandmother posted on his wall that she tells her granddaughters to “date the nerds” in school because they may just be the next Mark Zuckerberg. His delightful reply? “Even better would be to tell her to be the nerd in school so they can be the next successful inventor!” See, even the inventor of Facebook—the digital entity that changed the face of communication and news dissemination—knows that you are needed in the tech space.

2. There are more tech jobs available than any other industry.

Chances are high that you’re going to want to work, and chances are even higher, that you’re going to have to.  Not only are there currently more jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) than in any other industry, but most of these high-tech jobs are high paying, as well. According to the National Council for Women and Information Technology, there will be around 1.4 million computer specialist job openings expected in the U.S. by 2020. As an added bonus, STEM jobs are among the highest paying fields, in part because of the rising demand.

Let’s recap for a moment; so, with your passion, education and skills you could capture one of the 1.4 million job openings and get paid well for it. Sounds pretty awesome. So, why are you needed though? If you’ve heard of the skills gap, you may know why. There’s going to be a lot of jobs and there aren’t that many folks with the skills to fill those jobs. So, who better to help? Look in the mirror, darling. It’s you.

3. You could be a role model someday
“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” says Axosoft CEO Lawdan Shojaee. Axosoft, an agile project management software company, is indeed led by a woman. A woman who believes that women can do anything they set their minds too. But, if women can’t see others like them in STEM-related occupations, they can’t see themselves there. That’s why Axosoft created the #ItWasNeverADress campaign which unexpectedly went viral in 2014. The goal is to shift perceptions and assumptions about women through conversations and storytelling. So, “be the change you want to see in the world,” said another powerful leader. (Ok, it was Gandhi, but you already know that). But maybe you didn’t know why. Well, one of the reasons is so others who are like you can join you.

Mentorship can make a huge difference in one’s career. And the good news is that there are a number of organizations that can help you in whatever stage your career is at. But, just remember, organizations need people in order to be successful. Who are those people? They’re people just like you. So, keep going, keep figuring out problems, keep pursuing your dream. Because you, yes you, are needed.

This blog post was contributed by Trista Sobeck, Content Strategist at Axosoft, creators of agile project management software and the #ItWasNeverADress campaign.

Minecraft Hour of Code!

codeorg:


Since the very beginning, the #1 Hour of Code request we’ve heard is probably a tutorial featuring “Minecraft,” a game very special to girls and boys alike. We heard you! Today we present Minecraft Hour of Code, made in partnership with Microsoft and Mojang AB, ahead of the Hour of Code coming in just three weeks.

The tutorial introduces learners to basic coding and guides them to mine, craft and explore in a 2-D “Minecraft” world. Players are offered a set of 14 challenges, including free play time, to explore coding concepts they’ve learned through the tutorial. 

Try the early preview of Minecraft Hour of Code

Microsoft continues to be Code.org’s most generous donor and one of the largest supporters of the worldwide movement to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science. I know this year’s “Minecraft” tutorial will empower millions of learners around the world to explore how a game they love actually works. It might just inspire them to impact the world by creating their own technology or apps, too.

In support of the global Hour of Code campaign, Microsoft will also lead thousands of Hour of Code events in more than 50 countries around the world. Events will take place at Microsoft stores, offices and innovation centers as well as facilities of Microsoft’s YouthSpark nonprofit partners and schools. They will be led by over 7,000 Microsoft Student Partners and employee volunteers. In addition, Microsoft is gifting Windows Store credit to every educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide.

— Hadi  

Did you know?

codeorg:

Women make up 45% of all gamers.

And comprise 46% of the most-frequent video game purchasers.

BUT….

Women only make up 4% of programmers in the gaming industry.

At Code.org, we’re are designing curriculum and spreading awareness to ensure that more girls learn computer science and have opportunities to create the games they play.

By designing game-like tutorials that engage girls and boys at an early age, we have reached over 6 million enrolled learners around the world on Code Studio, including more than 2 million girls.

image

This summer, we had the opportunity to team up with Humble Bundle, Inc., and Nintendo to continue increasing diversity in tech. For every Humble Bundle purchase, participants could designate a portion of the proceeds to go to Code.org (and starting today, you can also choose to donate a portion of your game purchases to Code.org here).

As a result of this partnership, we have raised over $115,000 to help achieve our goals over the next year:

  • Giving K-12 students — especially females and students of color — access to high-quality computer science courses (that are a lot of fun, too). 
  • Introducing computer science to millions of new learners through the Hour of Code.
  • Training thousands of K-12 teachers to establish new computer science programs at their schools.

Thanks Humble Bundle, Nintendo, and PayPal Charitable Giving Fund for expanding computer science education to all students!

Stars sources from Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 2013 report and Game Developer Magazine annual survey.

Code.org is a proud participant in the Humble Bundle/PayPal Charitable Giving Fund program, pursuant to which Humble Bundle makes directed grants to PayPal Charitable Giving Fund for the benefit of certain of its eligible charity partners, subject to PayPal Charitable Giving Fund’s discretion and control.

cs: the minority experience

We’re inclined to believe that equality on campus and in the workplace is on the rise (onwards and upwards with the times!), but 2014 was rife with sobering reminders of the very opposite. Although more women are entering into STEM-related majors overall, there’s been a significant declinein the percentage of women earning degrees in computer science.

Studies have shown that there’s a serious dearth of women CEOs and board members—about 36% of most major companies, but nearly 0% in Silicon Valley. Further, Yale researchers found that science professors were more likely to consider female students incompetent and, as a result, were less likely to take these students on as mentees.

What of everyday biases, though? They’re not in the headlines, but they’re part and parcel of a larger, deeply-rooted problem. To this end, she++ examined the minority experience in computer science—our definition of “minority” is pretty broad, encompassing gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and more. We asked students on campuses around the country for their experiences with discrimination in a variety of CS settings such as hackathons, classrooms, and the workplace.

The process of leaving home for the wide, wide world can be a jarring one. So many variables—family, friends, school—influence a person’s worldview.

“I’ve noticed that for many students, parents or teachers encouraged them — having coming from a background where college isn’t the norm, and where issues have always come in various other forms, be it health, violence, or finances, it’s easy to feel like you can’t relate to anybody, and it’s even easier to get impostor syndrome.”

Gender imbalances manifest themselves in high school classrooms:

“When I signed up for my first computer science course in high school I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…this was my least favorite class of the semester. I was the only female in the class, sitting quietly and immersing myself in my work while my male counterparts happily worked together. Being the only female in the class was an unfamiliar setting. I felt out of my element and even uncomfortable at times. Even though this didn’t impact my work, it led me to think of CS as a solitary subject.”

In college, these imbalances continue for students of diverse socioeconomic status.

“I am a low-income, first-generation college student, and I came into college knowing nothing about the application process for college, nothing about college in general, and certainly nothing about code, either! …By the end of my first year, half of us had either dropped out of college or switched out of computing due to academic and financial difficulties.”

Discrimination from friends strikes the deepest—and is oftentimes the most difficult to discuss.

“Once I wrote a Facebook post about how the majority of people on my ACM-ICPC team were girls. The first comment was ‘can we get a team photo?’”

Subtle, assumed gender roles play out during the job search:

“After a round of congratulations upon receiving internship and job offers, there is always that one thought that seems to cross my mind. Did I actually earn it based on my qualifications and merit or is it because I’m a girl? Being an Asian American female or a minority in Computer Science and Engineering, I have always had this subconscious feeling throughout my undergraduate career. Am I actually comparable and competitive against my majority male peers? I have never been blatantly told that I was not good enough because I was a girl or Asian, but little remarks of “oh, it’s because she’s a girl” and “they went easier on her,” joking or not, have definitely affected my confidence in my abilities.”

“I was asked if I was HR at an event strictly for programmers.”

That, or personal achievement is chalked up to external circumstances:

“Even my really close friends tell me I’m lucky to be a minority because jobs and other opportunities are easier for me to get. Little do they know about implicit bias, imposter syndrome, and the fact that ‘diversity recruiting’ is more of a name than something that actually benefits applicants.”

The struggle doesn’t end at recruiting—the workplace presents an entirely new set of obstacles for women in computer science.

“During my freshmen year internship at a SV big tech company my manager didn’t invest in my success as other managers did with their interns. She encouraged me to give up programming and do something that ‘I might be better at’ without giving me the chance to show her that I was and still am in fact very good at programming/software engineering.”

Moving outside the realm of traditional job recruiting, self-starting female entrepreneurs have also struggled with gender biases.

“I was advised to find a white male co founder so that people would take me seriously.”

These soundbites afford us a glimpse into the evolving world of women of tech—we’ve come far, but we’ve still got a long way to go. From the gender imbalances of a college classroom to the microaggressions experienced by female technologists, the odds are still stacked against women in computer science.

So, geek girls: we challenge you to beat the odds. To make computer science your own. To upend existing stereotypes and establish yourselves as pioneers in a male-dominated field. To become technologists in every sense of the word. Go forth, code, and conquer.

more than just pink

For the first eight years of my life, Barbies were near the top of my wish list. My dolls, ranging from princesses to astronauts, were some of my most precious possessions, and I spent hours of my childhood crafting imaginary worlds for them.

Now, however, after reading the “Barbie I Can Be A Computer Engineer” book, I am saddened that I was ever devoted to a brand that perpetuates such sexist stereotypes. In the book, though Barbie is designing a game to teach children about computers, she nonchalantly asserts, “I’m only creating the design ideas. I’ll need Steve and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Mattel’s portrayal of Barbie as relying on the men in her life to do the technical work is indicative of a larger problem inherent in the tech world: women are by default thought to be able to deal with only the “pinker” elements of technology.

Though incorrect, this belief has been widely accepted, and not just in the tech world. Brands use pinkification as a marketing strategy to expand their clientele to women. Several years ago, the NFL released pink, bedazzled versions of popular jerseys in an attempt to expand their clothing sales. The campaign failed, and when it moved away from this “Pink it and Shrink it” strategy, sales among women increased by 40% in one month.

Recently, Bic pens incited the ridicule of the world after their release of a “BIC for Her” pen, one “designed to fit a woman’s hand.” As Ellen Degeneres satirically questions on her talk show, “what does that mean? So when we’re taking down dictation from our bosses, we’ll feel comfortable and we’ll forget we’re not getting paid as much?”

What is more shocking to me, however, is the fact that this strategy has also been taken up by movements trying to engage girls in STEM fields. Girls are told that if they get involved in STEM, they will have the opportunity to make innovative nail polish and showcase their creativity through design. What is often lacking is a mention of girls being able to build new products and work from the ground up.

It is this tactic that worries me the most. If girls are given such messages from a young age, it is understandable that they will themselves start believing that they are only capable of completing front-end tasks. It is a vicious cycle: these messages are disseminated to girls, they are ingrained in girls, girls begin acting along the lines set by these mistaken beliefs, and the cycle is perpetuated.

Which is why this idea must be eradicated from the rhetoric of our society. Girls cannot only be advertised the roles at the tip of the iceberg. They must be involved in, and thus excited about, every step of the process, from the hardware that creates a solid foundation to the front-end work that gives products visual appeal. Give girls themselves the choice to decide what aspect of the creation process they are most excited about.

Yes, Barbies were consistently on my wish list. But I never had a Ken doll. I used to imagine my Barbies as the heads of their families and the CEOs of their own companies. More than that, Barbies were only one of the toys on my list. As a baby, the only way my mom could get me to eat was by giving me a tool set to play with, and as a toddler, I always had Legos by my side. During the summer before 8th grade, I tried, and spectacularly failed, to build a tree house in my backyard. Nevertheless, it opened my eyes to how much I love being involved in every single step of the design process. Had I been told that the way I could pursue my passion for engineering was by making nail polish and makeup, I’m not sure I would have had these formative experiences.

I want to remove the idea that toys, and in the future jobs, are binary: the categories of “boy” toys and “girl” toys must be eradicated. I want to show girls that their interests do not have to be limited to traditionally “female” spheres. I want to show girls that they have the power to be More Than Just Pink.