Posts tagged ‘BPC’

Hard to measure: Female software engineers may be even scarcer than thought

Thanks to @NCWIT for the link to this article.  I’m not sure that I buy the validity of a crowd-sourced data set, but agree that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) sampled dataset may be missing the overall picture, too.  Maybe we have to use multiple measures to triangulate for better accuracy.

The data she’s been collecting for about a month now can be viewed via a Google spreadsheet. Taking a look at them, there are already some interesting findings. Based on data reported for 107 companies, 438 of 3,594 engineers (12%) are females, well below the BLS’s 22% finding, backing up Chou’s theory that the numbers may be inflated.

Here are how the some of the more well known companies in Chou’s data rank:

Khan Academy: 6 of 24 engineers, 25%

Medium: 5 of 21, 24%

GoodReads: 5 of 25, 20%

Snapchat: 2 of 13, 15%

Hootsuite: 6 of 41, 15%

Reddit: 2 of 14, 14%

via Female software engineers may be even scarcer than thought | ITworld.

January 9, 2014 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

Girls Who Code aiming to double number of girls they reach

The Girls Who Code program is growing into more cities, including Boston, Miami, and Seattle in addition to NY and Bay Area programs.  They are now recruiting for summer: Summer Immersion Program Interest Form. (Thanks to Leigh Ann Sudol-DeLyser for the pointer.)

Launched in Spring 2012, Girls Who Code is a national nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors. With support from public and private partners, Girls Who Code works to educate, inspire, and equip high school girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in computing fields.

via Girls Who Code.

January 7, 2014 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

Detailed AP CS 2013 Results: Unfortunately, much the same

Guest post from Barbara Ericson:

I have finished compiling the data for 2013 for AP CS A.  You can download the spreadsheet from http://home.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/556  The spreadsheet has 3 sheets with detailed data by race and gender. The first sheet is from 2006 to 2013 for selected states. The second sheet is the race and gender information for every state for 2013. The third sheet is the race and gender information for every state for 2012.

Here are some interesting findings from this data:

  • No females took the exam in Mississippi, Montana, and Wyoming.
  • For states that had some females take the exam the percentage female ranged from 3.88% in Utah to 29% in Tennessee.
  • 11 states had no Black students take the exam: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
  • The following states had the most Black students taking the exam: 1) Maryland with 170, 2) Texas with 132, 3) Georgia with 129, 4) Florida with 83, 5) Virginia with 78, 6) California with 74, 7) New York with 68, 8) New Jersey with 34 9) Mass with 34 and 10) North Carolina with 28. The pass rates for Black student in these states: Maryland 27.06%, Texas 48.48%, Georgia 21.7%, Florida 19.28%, Virginia 28.21%, California 56.76%, New York 33.82%, New Jersey 47.06%, Mass 38.24%, and North Carolina 21.43%.
  • The pass rate for Black students in states that had at least 5 Black students take the exam ranged from 19% (Florida) to 75% (Alabama) with 6 of 8 passing.
  • 8 states had no Hispanic students take the exam: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
  • The following states had the most Hispanic students taking the exam: 1) Texas with 751, 2) California with 392, 3) Florida with 269 , 4) New York with 150, 5) Illinois with 142, 6) New Jersey with 96, 7) Virginia with 90, 8) Maryland with 88, 9) Georgia with 71, and 10) Mass with 56. In report the Hispanic numbers I cam combining the College Board categories of Mexican American, Other Hispanic, and Puerto Rican. The pass rate for Hispanic students in these states: Texas 44.47%, California 47.45%, Florida 44.61%, New York 35.33%, Illinois 39.44%, New Jersey 52.08%, Virginia 46.67%, Maryland 44.32%, Georgia 40.85%, and Mass 39.29%

You can also see historical data for all states for AP CS A at http://home.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/321

Barbara Ericson
Director, Computing Outreach
College of Computing
Georgia Tech

January 1, 2014 at 1:12 am 26 comments

NSF STEM-C Partnerships Program Solicitation Released: New form of CE21

Just posted by Jeff Forbes to the SIGCSE-Members list.

NSF has released a new solicitation relevant to CS education.

STEM-C Partnerships: Computing Education for the 21st Century (14-523)
http://nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503582

The STEM-C Partnerships combines and advances the efforts of both the former Math and Science Partnership (MSP) and Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) programs. STEM-CP: CE21 modifies the earlier CE21 program by:

- Merging the previous Broadening Participation (BP) and Computing Education Research (CER) tracks into a single Broadening Participation and Education in Computing (BPEC) track focused on building an evidence base for student learning of computing fundamentals applicable to the elementary, middle, or high school levels;
– Requiring a Broadening Participation component for all proposals on the CS 10K track; and
– Adding a third track, STEM-C Partnerships Computer Science Education Expansion, that aims to expand the work of previously funded NSF MSP Partnerships to increase the number of qualified computer science teachers and the number of high schools with rigorous computer science courses.

Please review the solicitation for the requirements and goals of the three tracks.

The next deadline for proposals is March 18, 2014.

December 19, 2013 at 10:08 pm 5 comments

To get Interest: Catch and Hold Attention

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot.  It’s informing my next round of research proposals.

We know more about how to retain students these days, the “hold” part of Dewey’s challenge mentioned below — consider the UCSD results and the MediaComp results.  But how do we “catch” attention?  We are particularly bad at “catching” the attention of women and minority students.  Our enrollment numbers are rising, but the percentage of women and under-represented minorities is not rising.  Betsy DiSalvo has demonstrated a successful “catch” and “hold” design with Glitch.  Can we do this reliably?  What are the participatory design processes that will help us create programs that “catch”?

So what can parents, teachers and leaders do to promote interest? The great educator John Dewey wrote that interest operates by a process of “catch” and “hold”—first the individual’s interest must be captured, and then it must be maintained. The approach required to catch a person’s interest is different from the one that’s necessary to hold a person’s interest: catching is all about seizing the attention and stimulating the imagination. Parents and educators can do this by exposing students to a wide variety of topics. It is true that different people find different things interesting—one reason to provide learners with a range of subject matter, in the hope that something will resonate.

via The Power Of Interest « Annie Murphy Paul.

December 18, 2013 at 1:04 am 3 comments

NCWIT Launches first Crowd-Funding Campaign for AspireIT #CSEdWeek

NCWIT has launched their first crowd-funding campaign. The campaign supports AspireIT a middle school outreach program that matches NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing recipients with participating NCWIT member organizations to create and run computing-related outreach programs for middle school girls. The Aspirations award is a wonderful program that both recognizes high school girls with an interest in computing, but also generates a community. There are groups of Aspirations award winners at schools like MIT that offer peer-support through undergrad.

The idea of AspireIT is to fund these award recipients in setting up middle school programs such as after-school programs, summer camps, clubs, or weekend conferences. Inspired by the desire of young women in computing to "pay it forward," AspireIT aims to employ a "near-peer" approach that provides middle school girls with a positive, sustained experience of learning and creating computing alongside their peers in high school and college. 

The link for the crowd-funding campaign is here: http://bit.ly/AspireIT 

December 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm Leave a comment

STEM Role Models for Girls: The Story of Robot Designer Cynthia Breazeal #CSEdWeek

As part of my Cyber Monday advertising email onslaught, I got this interesting ad from the National Academic Press (not a phrase one often writes).  They have a whole series of books on STEM role models for girls, including this one on Cynthia Breazeal, roboticist.  Have any of you read these?  Do you recommend them?

Cynthia Breazeal is a creature creator. Armed with electronic gadgets, software programs, and her endless imagination, she creates lifelike machines that can respond to the world around them. Cynthia Breazeal is a roboticist, a scientist who designs, builds, and experiments with robots. As a child, she relied on movies to see robots in action. Now robots are part of her daily life at the MIT Media Lab. There, she and her students use their computer science and engineering skills to work on marvels like Leonardo, a robot that interacts with people in ways that seem almost human. Cynthia s other world-famous projects include Kismet, an emotionally intelligent robot that smiles, frowns, and babbles like a baby. Why create robots like these? Cynthia can picture a future where sociable robots exist to benefit people. She works hard every day to turn that dream into a reality. Firsthand accounts from Cynthia and from those who know her best combine to tell the inspiring story of a curious, sports-loving girl who went on to become a worldclass roboticist. Robo World is also a Captivating story of high-tech invention where the stuff of science fiction becomes real in today’s labs.

via Robo World: The Story of Robot Designer Cynthia Breazeal.

December 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Sew Electric: New book on LilyPad from Leah Buechly

A new book on LilyPad based projects:

If you’re interested in interactive toys, smart accessories, or light-up fashions, this book is for you! Sew Electric is a set of hands-on LilyPad Arduino tutorials that bring together craft, electronics, and programming. The book walks you through the process of designing and making a series of quirky customizable projects including a sparkling bracelet, a glow in the dark bookmark, a fabric piano, and a monster that sings when you hold its hands. Play with cutting-edge technologies and learn sewing, programming, and circuit design along the way. It’s a book for all ages. Explore the projects with your friends, your parents, your kids, or your students!

via SEW ELECTRIC | DIY PROJECTS THAT COMBINE FABRIC, ELECTRONICS AND PROGRAMMING.

November 26, 2013 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

Teasing apart the issues of women in computing: Impact of Hollywood

The NYTimes just had a piece about the lack of women in computing.

There is, of course, no pop-culture corollary for computer science. A study financed by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that recent family films, children’s shows and prime-time programs featured extraordinarily few characters with computer science or engineering occupations, and even fewer who were female. The ratio of men to women in those jobs is 14.25 to 1 in family films and 5.4 to 1 in prime time. Whenever high-ranking people in the tech industry meet, whether at the White House or a Clinton Global Initiative conference, one executive says, “we almost always walk away from the discussion having come to the conclusion we need a television show.” Nearly every tech or nonprofit executive I spoke with mentioned their hope that “The Social Network” has improved the public’s perception of programmers. They also mentioned how bummed they were that the hit film didn’t include more prominent female characters. Meanwhile, the National Academy of Sciences now offers a program called the Sciences and Entertainment Exchange that gives writers and producers free consultation with all kinds of scientists. Natalie Portman’s character in the superhero movie “Thor,” for instance, started out as a nurse. After a consultation with scientists introduced through the exchange, she became an astrophysicist.

via I Am Woman, Watch Me Hack – NYTimes.com.

It’s a big and complicated issue why there are so few women in computing in the US.  The author of the NYTimes article thinks that it’s about exposure.

Part of the issue, it seems, is exposure. Most people don’t come into contact with computer scientists or engineers in their daily lives, and don’t really understand what they do. American schools don’t do a great job of teaching computer science skills either.

Trying to remedy this are numerous nonprofit and educational organizations, among them Code.org, which lobbies to get more computer science classes in schools. Others try to provide computer science lessons outside of a traditional school setting. Girls Who Code, for example, has eight-week boot camps that teach middle and high school girls programming skills – in languages like Java, PHP, and Python – as well as algorithms, Web design, robotics, and mobile app development.

via Nudging Girls Toward Computer Science – NYTimes.com.

Which seems to say that it’s mass media (like Hollywood) that deters women from computer science — the argument suggested below.  I disagree.  Yes, students are getting uninformed ideas about computer science from mass media, but that’s because they don’t see the real thing anywhere.  People don’t leave Disneyworld thinking that six-foot rats can talk — because they have some other experience of rodents.  Our real challenge is giving students the opportunity to see a real programmer, real programming, real program code.

There’s a well-researched, much-fretted-over dearth of women in the tech sector, more specifically in the field of computer science. According to the Times’ Catherine Rampell, the dismal numbers of women majoring in computer science, or becoming computer programmers don’t seem to be improving, either: just 0.4 percent of all female college freshmen say they plan on majoring in computer science, despite the fact that, as far as professional fields go, computer science and engineering offer college grads some of the most promising employment opportunities. We need computer programs and bridges, college, not another pack of aimless fedora-wearers chain-smoking Parliaments outside of the liberal arts building.

via How Hollywood Helps Deter Women from Computer Science.

November 25, 2013 at 1:30 am 3 comments

Women Gain in Some STEM Fields, but Not Computer Science – NYTimes.com

Brand new data, same old story.

As you can see, a majority of bachelor’s degrees in some STEM fields — psychology, biosciences, social sciences — were actually given to women in recent years. And women’s participation in these fields has also risen, on net, since 1991, even if there has been some erosion in biosciences in recent years. Women receive less than half of physical sciences degrees, but they earn a much higher share than they did two decades ago.

Now take a look at the trends in computer science and engineering. Engineering is slightly more female-heavy than it was in 1991, but not much: 15.5 percent then versus 18.4 percent in 2010, the most recent year in the report. Computer science actually is more male-dominated today than it was two decades ago: Women received 29.6 percent of computer science B.A.’s in 1991, compared with 18.2 percent in 2010.

via Women Gain in Some STEM Fields, but Not Computer Science – NYTimes.com.

November 24, 2013 at 1:37 am 1 comment

What really helps get women a STEM college degree

This article highlights Georgia Tech as a negative example: “Just 37% of this year’s freshman class at Georgia Tech is female. And that’s increase over previous years, thanks in part to the school’s dedicated women’s recruitment team.”

But I think that the author doesn’t really get what draws women into STEM (or any other field).  Below, the argument is that there are so many women in CS in Qatar because the government emphasizes it.  I visited Qatar, and spoke to women in CS there — no one once said that they were there because their government encouraged them.  It had far more to do with values and family concerns.  I’ll bet that Georgia Tech has a far larger recruitment effort than at Harvey Mudd, even though Harvey Mudd is getting more success drawing women into computing.  It’s way more complicated than recruiting and emphasizing.

Getting young women interested and immersed in computer science programs comes at a time when one million new jobs in tech-related fields will be created in the next decade.

But fewer women are going into these fields. Just about 2% of women have a degree in a high-tech field, according to Catalyst.

Currently, a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations are women, compare that figure to countries like Oman and Qatar, whose governments emphasize girls’ education and STEM fields.

via Wanted: Women who want a college degree in a STEM field.

November 14, 2013 at 1:15 am 3 comments

Role model to lead women into tech world

It’s great to hold this woman up as a role model, but isn’t it a shame that she is so unusual.  Only girl in AP CS? One of only five women in CS at Iowa State?

Cassidy Williams was the only girl in her AP computer science class at Downers Grove South High School.

Now, she is one of only five women majoring in computer science, along with 57 men, in the 2014 graduating class at Iowa State University.

It’s a trend the 21-year-old Downers Grove native hopes to help change for future girls studying computer science.

“If we don’t have women in computer science, we’re only seeing half the picture,” Cassidy said. “We need to have women in the computing workforce to bring their diverse perspectives to a development team, thus creating the best products.”

via Suburban wiz wants to lead women into tech world – DailyHerald.com.

October 29, 2013 at 1:49 am 3 comments

Unreliable research: How replicable is Stereotype Threat?

The Economist has an article in a recent issue that’s leading to lots of discussion: Are we making mistakes with science?  Can scientists really tell the good stuff from the bad stuff?  Are we really making sure that our key results are replicable?

One of the topics that they explore is “priming” research.

“I SEE a train wreck looming,” warned Daniel Kahneman, an eminent psychologist, in an open letter last year. The premonition concerned research on a phenomenon known as “priming”. Priming studies suggest that decisions can be influenced by apparently irrelevant actions or events that took place just before the cusp of choice. They have been a boom area in psychology over the past decade, and some of their insights have already made it out of the lab and into the toolkits of policy wonks keen on “nudging” the populace.Dr Kahneman and a growing number of his colleagues fear that a lot of this priming research is poorly founded. Over the past few years various researchers have made systematic attempts to replicate some of the more widely cited priming experiments. Many of these replications have failed. In April, for instance, a paper in PLoS ONE, a journal, reported that nine separate experiments had not managed to reproduce the results of a famous study from 1998 purporting to show that thinking about a professor before taking an intelligence test leads to a higher score than imagining a football hooligan.

via Unreliable research: Trouble at the lab | The Economist.

Stereotype threat is a kind of priming effect.  Stereotype threat is where you remind someone of a negative stereotype associated with a group that the person belongs to, and that reminding impacts performance.  The argument is that stereotype threat might be leading to the gaps between races and genders.

A common situation of stereotype threat for girls and women is when they are tested on their knowledge of math or science. The Educational Testing Services performed an experiment to see if girls performed better or worse on a math exam if they were asked their gender either before or after the exam. Researchers found that the group of girls who were asked their gender before the exam scored several points lower than the boys, while girls who were asked their gender after the exam scored on par with the boys.

via The Stereotype Threat and How It Affects Women in Computing » Anita Borg Institute.

If there are questions being raised about “priming” research, I got to wondering about whether anyone was checking the reliability of the stereotype threat research.  They are, and it’s not promising.

Men and women score similarly in most areas of mathematics, but a gap favoring men is consistently found at the high end of performance. One explanation for this gap, stereotype threat, was first proposed by Spencer, Steele, and Quinn 1999 and has received much attention. We discuss merits and shortcomings of this study and review replication attempts. Only 55% of the articles with experimental designs that could have replicated the original results did so. But half of these were confounded by statistical adjustment of preexisting mathematics exam scores. Of the unconfounded experiments, only 30% replicated the original. A meta-analysis of these effects confirmed that only the group of studies with adjusted mathematics scores displayed the stereotype threat effect. We conclude that although stereotype threat may affect some women, the existing state of knowledge does not support the current level of enthusiasm for this as a mechanism underlying the gender gap in mathematics. We argue there are many reasons to close this gap, and that too much weight on the stereotype explanation may hamper research and implementation of effective interventions

via Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog: Shortage of female math geniuses not due to “stereotype threat”.

As I dug into this further, I found that there has been a lot of misinterpretation of the research on stereotype threat.  There is already a gap between genders and between races on many of these tests.  If you remind someone of a negative stereotype, that can make the gap larger.  But if you don’t remind someone of the stereotype, the gap is just the same.  The gap was already there.  If you adjust the scores so that they’re the same pre-test (that’s the “statistical adjustment of the preexisting mathematics exam scores” referenced above), you find no difference absent the threat invocation. The measured impact of stereotype threat has worked when the test-takers are consciously aware of the threat.  The blog post cited below goes into alot of detail into the efforts to replicate, the problems with interpreting the result, and how the methodology of the experiment matters.

Thus, rather than showing that eliminating threat eliminates the large score gap on standardized tests, the research actually shows something very different. Specifically, absent stereotype threat, the African American–White difference is just what one would expect based on the African American–White difference in SAT scores, whereas in the presence of stereotype threat, the difference is larger than would be expected based on the difference in SAT scores.

via Race and IQ : Stereotype Threat R.I.P. « Meng Hu’s Blog.

I come away with the opinion that stereotype threat is real, but it needs more experimentation to understand just how reliable the effect is and what triggers it. It’s probably a small impact, more like the impact of general test anxiety than an explanation for much of the gaps between genders and races.

October 23, 2013 at 1:27 am 1 comment

Andrew Williams reflects on diversity at Apple

Interesting blog from Andrew Williams, reflecting on his interactions with Steve Jobs about diversity at Apple.

Two years later, I wonder if Steve would be happy with the progress made at Apple and other major computing companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Twitter. The issue of diversity in engineering and computing goes way beyond just finding students in college. It starts when they are born, nurtured, educated in their families and communities. If children are not valued and exposed to technology, engineering, and science when they are young and encouraged throughout their developing years, they will not be equipped to meet the opportunities of meeting a Steve Jobs or a Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, in the cafe to talk about issues of engineering, computing, and diversity.

via Andrew B. Williams, Ph.D. – Out of the Box: Building Robots, Transforming Lives – Marquette University – Blog Large.

October 16, 2013 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

Black Enrollment Falls at UMich as Michigan Voters Reject Affirmative Action

This is a big deal that the Supreme Court is facing this week.  The NYTimes is in support of striking down the Michigan constitutional amendment.  Let me put the below statistic in a bit of CS Ed context.  As mentioned previously, UMich just graduated last year the first Black female CS PhD.  Barb’s analysis of AP CS stats includes Michigan.  Michigan has 9.8 million residents. It is 14.3% Black.  In the last six years, only 27 Black students have taken the AP CS exam, never more than 7 in any year.

A decade ago, the University of Michigan waged a successful U.S. Supreme Court fight to save affirmative action. Now Michigan is learning to live without it.

Three years after the court allowed race-based admissions, Michigan voters blocked them at state schools through a ballot initiative. The result is fewer black students crisscrossing the Diag, the wide space that cuts through the heart of the university’s Ann Arbor campus. Black enrollment is down about 30 percent at the undergraduate and law schools.

via Black Enrollment Falls as Michigan Rejects Affirmative Action – Bloomberg.

October 15, 2013 at 1:33 am Leave a comment

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