Posts tagged ‘BPC’

How MOOCs and Big Data could lead to Less Diverse Hiring: Those Who Could Be Left Behind

Yup, Herminia has the problem right — if CS MOOCs are even more white and male than our face-to-face CS classes, and if hiring starts to rely on big data from MOOCs, we become even less diverse.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  One of the developments that will undoubtedly cement the relationship between big data and talent processes is the rise of massive open online courses, or MOOCs.  Business schools are jumping into them whole hog.  Soon, your MOOC performance will be sold to online recruiters taking advantage of the kinds of information that big data allows—fine distinctions not only on content assimilation but also participation, contribution to, and status within associated online communities.  But what if these new possibilities—used by recruiters and managers to efficiently and objectively get the best talent—only bake in current inequities? Or create new ones?

via Herminia’s Blog: Hiring and Big Data: Those Who Could Be Left Behind.

April 10, 2014 at 8:02 am 4 comments

Why few women in engineering? It’s the B’s — from Gas station without pumps

I hadn’t heard about this theory before the below blog post — recommended reading.  As usual, I appreciate Kevin’s analysis.

As parents and teachers we encourage children to pursue fields that they enjoy, that they are good at, and that can support them later in life. It may be that girls are getting the “that they are good at” message more strongly than boys are, or that enjoyment is more related to grades for girls. These habits of thought can become firmly set by the time students become men and women in college, so minor setbacks (like getting a B in an intro CS course) may have a larger effect on women than on men. I’m a little wary of putting too much faith in this theory, though, as the author exhibits some naiveté.

via Why few women in engineering? | Gas station without pumps.

April 8, 2014 at 9:11 am 3 comments

Julie Ann Horvath Describes Sexism And Intimidation Behind Her GitHub Exit

The story is interesting and disappointing.  Why would GitHub go through all these contortions just because they had this one female engineer — and would have there been less drama and stress if there had been more than just one female engineer?  The story has been updated in Sunday’s NYTimes.

The exit of engineer Julie Ann Horvath from programming network GitHub has sparked yet another conversation concerning women in technology and startups. Her claims that she faced a sexist internal culture at GitHub came as a surprise to some, given her former defense of the startup and her internal work at the company to promote women in technology.

In her initial tweets on her departure, Horvath did not provide extensive clarity on why she left the highly valued startup, or who created the conditions that led to her leaving and publicly repudiating the company.

Horvath has given TechCrunch her version of the events, a story that contains serious allegations towards GitHub, its internal policies, and its culture. The situation has greater import than a single person’s struggle: Horvath’s story is a tale of what many underrepresented groups feel and experience in the tech sector.

via Julie Ann Horvath Describes Sexism And Intimidation Behind Her GitHub Exit | TechCrunch.

April 7, 2014 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

Why bother? How hackathons can become more female-friendly

Hackathons seem the antithesis of what we want to promote about computer science.  On the one hand, they emphasize the Geek stereotype (it’s all about caffeine and who needs showers?), so they don’t help to attract the students who aren’t interested in being labeled “geeky.”  On the other hand, it’s completely against the idea of designing and engineering software.  “Sure, you can do something important by working for 36 hours straight with no sleep or design!  That’s how good software ought to be written!”  It’s not good when facing the public (thinking about the Geek image) or when facing industry and academia.

So why try to make them “female-friendly”?

OK, so there are a number of valid reasons women tend to stay away from hackathons. But what can hackathon planners due to get more females to attend their events? I found some women offering advice on this subject. Here are some suggestions for making your hackathon more female-friendly.

Amy Quispe, who works at Google and ran hackathons while a student at Carnegie Mellon University, writes that having a pre-registration period just for women makes them feel more explicitly welcome at your event. Also, shy away from announcing that its a competition (to reduce the intimidation factor), make sure the atmosphere is clean and not “grungy”  and make it easy for people to ask questions. “A better hackathon for women was a better hackathon for everyone,” she writes.

via How hackathons can become more female-friendly | PCWorld.

April 4, 2014 at 1:58 am 7 comments

Revamped computer science classes attracting more girls: Maybe, or maybe they just want CS

Great to see Dan Garcia and his class getting this kind of press!  I’m not sure I buy the argument that SFGate is making, though.  Do female students at Berkeley find out about this terrific class and then decide to take it?  Or are they deciding to take some CS and end up in this class?  Based on Mike Hewner’s work, I don’t think that students know much about the content of even great classes like Dan’s before they get there.

It is a predictable college scene, but this Berkeley computer science class is at the vanguard of a tech world shift. The class has 106 women and 104 men.

The gender flip first occurred last spring. It was the first time since at least 1993 – as far back as university enrollment records are digitized – that more women enrolled in an introductory computer science course. It was likely the first time ever.

It’s a small but a significant benchmark. Male computer science majors still far outnumber female, but Prof. Dan Garcia’s class is a sign that efforts to attract more women to a field where they have always been vastly underrepresented are working.

“We are starting to see a shift,” said Telle Whitney, president of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.

via Revamped computer science classes attracting more girls – SFGate.

March 26, 2014 at 1:05 am 1 comment

Depressing story in Washington Post: Keeping women in high-tech fields is big challenge

I know that NCWIT has been exploring how to support male advocates for women.  Overall, this article seemed to be saying that women are leaving tech companies, and there’s not much we can do about it.

But keeping women in those fields — and helping them reach the top — may be an even bigger challenge. A report released Wednesday by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI), a research think tank founded by economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, finds that U.S. women working in these fields are 45 percent more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within a year.

In addition, the study also found that nearly one-third of senior leaders — both men and women — who work in science, engineering and technology fields reported that a woman would never reach the top position in their companies. “Even the senior guys who are in a position to make change for the women in their company don’t feel like they can do it,” said Laura Sherbin, the director of research for CTI. When that’s the case, she asks, “what’s left?”

via Keeping women in high-tech fields is big challenge, report finds – The Washington Post.

March 14, 2014 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

I’m an engineer, not a cheerleader. Let’s abandon silly rules about gender roles.

Reminds me of the “thousand little cuts” story.

The woman standing in front of us turned around to face me. “Are you the cheerleaders?” she beamed. I glanced at my all-girls robotics team with a look of disbelief. As their proud captain, I’ve spent hundreds of hours working with them to build and program a fully-functional robot. Walking into the massive competition arena, I had tuned out the screaming fans and blasting music, focusing on the engineering challenges at hand. But the last thing I ever thought would happen was that my group of twelve girls who routinely wire electronics, design complicated mechanical systems, and write detailed programs would be mistaken for another school’s dance team.

As famed astrophysicist Meg Urry wrote in her Feb. 2005 article in The Post, “discrimination isn’t a thunderbolt, it isn’t an abrupt slap in the face. It’s the slow drumbeat of being unappreciated, feeling uncomfortable, and encountering roadblocks along the path to success.” My science research defines me. Reading journal articles and learning new techniques almost every day, I feel at home in the laboratory. But that isn’t the case for most girls in science and engineering; somewhere along the path to a PhD, girls fall off the scientific bandwagon.

via I’m an engineer, not a cheerleader. Let’s abandon silly rules about gender roles..

March 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm 2 comments

SIGCSE Preview: Project Rise Up 4 CS: Increasing the Number of Black Students who Pass AP CS A — by paying them

I’m guessing that Barbara’s paper on Friday 1:45-3 (in Hanover FG – whole program here) is going to be controversial.  She’s working on a problem we’ve had in GaComputes for years.  Besides Betsy DiSalvo’s work on Glitch, we’ve made little progress in increasing numbers of Black students taking AP CS A and even less progress in getting more of them to pass the test.

She’s had significant progress this last year using an approach that NMSI used successfully in Texas and elsewhere.  She’s offering $100 to Black students who attend extra sessions to help them pass the exam and who do pass the exam.  She’s expanding the program now with a Google RISE grant.  Her approach is informed by Betsy’s work – it’s about going beyond interests to values and giving students help in navigating past their motivations to not-learn.  She does have aspects of the project in place to counteract the disincentives of cash payments for academic achievement. In the final interviews, students didn’t talk about the money.  It may be that the money wasn’t an incentive as much as a face-saving strategy.  (Barb’s preview talk was also recorded as part of a GVU Brown Bag.)

Project Rise Up 4 CS: Increasing the Number of Black Students who Pass Advanced Placement CS A

This paper describes Project Rise Up 4 CS, an attempt to increase the number of Black students in Georgia that pass the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science (CS) A exam. In 2012 Black students had the lowest pass rates on the AP CS A exam both in Georgia and nationally. Project Rise Up 4 CS provided Black students with role models, hands-on learning, competitions, a financial incentive, and webinars on AP CS A content. The first cohort started in January of 2013 and finished in May 2013. Of the 27 students who enrolled in the first cohort, 14 met all of the completion requirements, and 9 (69%) of the 13 who took the exam passed. For comparison, in 2012 only 22 (16%) of 137 Black students passed the exam in Georgia. In 2013, 28 (22%) of 129 Black students passed the exam in Georgia. This was the highest number of Black students to pass the AP CS A exam ever in Georgia and a 27% increase from 2012. In addition, students who met the completion requirements for Project Rise Up 4 CS exhibited statistically significant changes in attitudes towards computing and also demonstrated significant learning gains. This paper discusses the motivation for the project, provides project details, presents the evaluation results, and future plans.

March 5, 2014 at 1:28 am 3 comments

SIGCSE2014 Preview: Engaging Underrepresented Groups in High School Introductory Computing through Computational Remixing with EarSketch

EarSketch is an interesting environment that I got to demo for Jason Freeman and Brian Magerko at the Dagstuhl Livecoding conference. It’s Python programming that creates complex, layered music. The current version of EarSketch isn’t really livecoding (e.g., there’s a “compilation” step from program into digital audio workstation), but I got to see a demo of their new Web-based version which might be usable for live coding .

I got to see the preview talk and was blown away.  The paper is about use in a 10 week programming unit in a high school course, with significant under-represented minority and female involvement. The evaluation results are stunning.  The authenticity angle here is particularly interesting. In the preview talk, Jason talked about “authentic STEAM.” They have audio loops from real musicians, and involve hip-hop artists in the classroom.  Students talk about how they value making music that sounds professional, with tools that professional musicians use.

In this paper, we describe a pilot study of EarSketch, a computational remixing approach to introductory computer science, in a formal academic computing course at the high school level. EarSketch, an integrated curriculum, Python API, digital audio workstation (DAW), audio loop library, and social sharing site, seeks to broaden participation in computing, particularly by traditionally underrepresented groups, through a thickly authentic learning environment that has personal and industry relevance in both computational and artistic domains. The pilot results show statistically significant gains in computing attitudes across multiple constructs, with particularly strong results for female and minority participants.

via SIGCSE2014 – OpenConf Peer Review & Conference Management System.

March 1, 2014 at 1:27 am 1 comment

SIGCSE2014 Preview: How informal CS education (unfortunately) is hidden from poor families

I’ve been excited to see this paper get published since Betsy first told me about the work.  The paper described below (by Betsy DiSalvo, Cecili Reid, and Parisa Khanipour Roshan) looks at the terms that families commonly use to find on-line resources to help their children learn about computer science.  They didn’t find Alice or Scratch or Blockly — none of the things that would be our first choices for CS education opportunities on-line.  Betsy and her students show how we accidentally hide our resources from the uneducated and under-privileged, by presuming that the searchers are well-educated and privileged.  They point out that this is one way that open education resources actually actually increase the socioeconomic gap, by not being easily discoverable by those without privilege.  I got to see a preview of this talk, and the results are surprising — a video of the preview talk will be available here. Friday March 7, 3:45-5, in Room Hanover DE.

They Can’t Find Us: The Search for Informal CS Education

In this study we found that search terms that would likely be used by parents to find out-of-school computer science (CS) learning opportunities for their children yielded remarkably unproductive results. This is important to the field of CS education because, to date, there is no empirical evidence that demonstrates how a lack of CS vocabulary is a barrier to accessing informal CS learning opportunities. This study focuses on the experience of parents who do not have the privilege of education and technical experience when searching for learning opportunities for their children. The findings presented will demonstrate that issues of access to CS education go beyond technical means, and include ability to conduct suitable searches and identify appropriate computational learning tools. Out-of-school learning is an important factor in who is motivated and prepared to study computer science in college. It is likely that without early access to informal CS learning, fewer students are motivated to explore CS in formal classrooms.

via SIGCSE2014 – OpenConf Peer Review & Conference Management System.

February 28, 2014 at 1:19 am 2 comments

Mercury News passes the buck: Can early CS education boost number of women in tech?

Check out the headline “Can early computer science education boost number of women in tech?”  Then read the part (quoted below) where they show what works at Harvey Mudd.  I don’t read anything there about early CS education.  I do believe that we need CS in high schools to improve diversity in computing, but I’m not sure that much earlier than high school helps much.  I worry about higher education giving up on issues of diversity, by changing the discussion to K12.

I wish that Mercury News would have really said what they found: University Computing Programs, you have the power to improve your diversity! You can change your classes and your culture! Don’t just pass the buck to K12 schools!

“The difference is, females in general are much more interested in what you can do with the technology, than with just the technology itself,” says Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe, a computer scientist herself.

So administrators created an introductory course specifically for students without programming experience. They emphasized coding’s connection to other disciplines. They paid for freshman women to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, a chance to meet programming role models in diverse fields. And they provided early research opportunities for women students to inspire them to stick with the field.

The result? The percentage of female computer science majors at Harvey Mudd increased from about 10 percent before the initiatives to 43 percent today.

via Can early computer science education boost number of women in tech? – San Jose Mercury News.

February 26, 2014 at 1:07 pm 12 comments

College Board program to provide funding to districts to start AP courses

Here’s a great answer to the under-representation on the AP CS — the College Board (with funding from Google) will offer grants to help start AP programs, including AP CS (see details for AP CS for STEM Access).

AP STEM Access Program: In fall 2013, the College Board implemented the AP STEM Access program in 335 public high schools across the country. With the support of a $5 million Google Global Impact Award to DonorsChoose.org, these schools started offering new AP math and science courses with the goal of enabling underrepresented minority and female students who have demonstrated strong academic potential to enroll in and explore these areas of study and related careers. Over the next three years, the AP STEM Access program will give an estimated 36,000 students the opportunity to study college-level STEM course work in these newly offered AP classes.

via 10 Years of Advanced Placement Exam Data Show Significant Gains in Access and Success; Areas for Improvement | The College Board.

February 19, 2014 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs

An important and interesting position, that I first learned about from the work of Caroline Simard.  There is significant evidence that Silicon Vally is not a meritocracy, but there is significant advantage to the people in power there to maintain the myth.

But if the tech scene is really a meritocracy, why are so many of its key players, from Mark Zuckerberg to Steve Jobs, white men? If entrepreneurs are born, not made, why are there so many programs attempting to create entrepreneurs? If tech is truly game-changing, why are old-fashioned capitalism and the commodification of personal information never truly questioned?

The myths of meritocracy and entrepreneurialism reinforce ideals of the tech scene that shore up its power structures and privileges.

The myths of authenticity, meritocracy, and entrepreneurialism do have some basis in fact. But they are powerful because they reinforce ideals of the tech scene that shore up its power structures and privileges. Believing that the tech scene is a meritocracy implies that those who obtain great wealth deserve it, and that those who don’t succeed do not. The undue emphasis placed on entrepreneurship, combined with a limited view of who “counts” as an entrepreneur, function to exclude entire categories of people from ascending to the upper echelon of the industry. And the ideal of authenticity privileges a particular type of self-presentation that encourages people to strategically apply business logics to the way they see themselves and others.

via Silicon Valley Isn’t a Meritocracy. And It’s Dangerous to Hero-Worship Entrepreneurs | Wired Opinion | Wired.com.

February 11, 2014 at 1:08 am 11 comments

California community colleges’ experiment with accelerated remediation: Maybe there’s more learning going on

Remedial courses in higher-education are important to get right, for lots of reasons.  Certainly, that’s one of the big stumbling blocks in MOOCs — many people who start a MOOC aren’t prepared for that level material (or maybe, the MOOCs presume too much knowledge to start).  The CAITE alliance was able to improve diversity in Massachusetts’ universities, by improving the transfer from community college, but that path sometimes requires remedial courses.  If we could get remediation right, we might improve diversity, make distance learning more successful, and (as suggested below) improve graduation rates.

The story below is unusual: Make remediation better, by making it shorter.  A simple time-on-task model would suggest that there’s less being learned.  I hypothesize that it might be working (i.e., resulting in more learning), by looking at it from a different model.

At the Future Computer Science Research Summit in Orlando in early January, Nobel laureate Carl Wieman gave a talk where he referenced the famous Richard Hake 6000 subject study.  One of the results of that study is that traditional lecture only results in students learning about 30-40 percent of what was being taught, but with student engagement pedagogies, 60-80 percent is learned.

Note the word: engagement.  We can engage by using techniques like peer instruction.  I wonder if we can also engage by saying, “This required course will be made shorter.  You still need it to move on to something you want, but now, it’s less painful.”  Could that result in more learning?  Maybe that 30-40% becomes 50-60%?  So a reduction of a few weeks in time may actually result in equal or more learning?

Remedial courses are widely seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to improving college graduation rates, as few students who place into remediation ever earn a degree.

The problem is particularly severe for black and Hispanic students, who account for almost half of the California community college system’s total enrollment of 2.4 million.

More than 50 percent of black and Hispanic community college students place three or more levels below college mathematics, said Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. And only 6 percent of those remedial students will complete a credit-bearing math course within three years of starting the first remedial course.

A key reason for abysmal pass rates is the length of remedial sequences, argue Snell and Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College, which, like Los Medanos, is a two-year institution located in California.

“The lower down you start, the fewer students complete,” Hern said.

The two instructors decided to do something about the problem. In 2010 they founded the California Acceleration Project. Armed with research from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advanced of Teaching and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, they encouraged their peers to offer shorter remedial sequences in math and English.

via California community colleges’ cautious experiment with accelerated remediation | Inside Higher Ed.

February 10, 2014 at 1:54 am 5 comments

Powerful visualization of gender-skew in AP CS from USA Today

The chart below (above, here in the blog) shows the ratio of boy to girl test-takers across AP exam subjects. In subjects whose bars do not reach the orange line, girls outnumber boys. In subjects where the bar extends past the orange line, boys outnumber girls.

via AP Test Shows Wide Gender Gap in Computer Science, Physics – Data Mine usnews.com.

January 30, 2014 at 1:01 am 10 comments

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