Posts tagged ‘BPC’
An important message to post on the first day of the NCWIT Summit for 2014. There is a significant role for guys in making the culture better for women. Do read the whole article — it’s frightening.
How do we fight this war? We stop enabling. We check ourselves and, when necessary, wreck ourselves. Do you know a guy who’s hate-following women on Twitter just to troll them? You check him. Do you know a guy who’s writing disgusting screeds to women journalists because they don’t like the same things he likes? You check him. Do you know a professional whose discourse with women in his field is loaded with gender-specific language and condescension that could enable further abuse? You check him. Are your Twitter followers identifying you as a sympathetic ear for their sexist views? You check yourself. Is your website’s message board a cesspool of ignorance and hate? You check it like you actually give a damn. Do you know a guy who’s sending rape threats to women for any reason? Oh, you report that guy.
Let me make it plain:
A woman objecting to the content of a comic book — even if you think she’s dead wrong — does not rise to the occasion of vicious name calling and rape threats.
Remarkable debate on the NYTimes website about “Should coding be part of the elementary school curriculum?” All the debaters have very short statements, and they’re disappointing.
- Hadi Partovi claims “By high school, it can be too late” and “Students learn fast at a young age, before stereotypes suggest coding is too difficult, just for nerds, or just for boys” — I don’t agree with either statement. We have lots of examples of women and under-represented minority students discovering CS in high school. It’s not at all clear that students learn everything quickly when they’re young — quantum physics and CS might both be beyond most second graders.
- But John C. Dvorak’s claim that “This is just another ploy to sell machines to cash-strapped school districts” is also clearly wrong. The computer manufacturers are not playing a significant role in the effort to push computing into schools.
Take a look and see what you think. It’s exciting to have this kind of debate in the NYTimes!
Despite the rapid spread of coding instruction in grade schools, there is some concern that creative thinking and other important social and creative skills could be compromised by a growing focus on technology, particularly among younger students. Should coding be part of the elementary school curriculum?
I had some off-blog responses to my post about women in hackathons. Here are a couple of them:
- Shriram Krishnamurthi sent me an article about Brown’s hackathon. It was 35% female, and all of the attendees said that they’d come back.
- Yasmin Kafai told me about StitchFest.org at Penn where they doubled the number of women attendees by including e-textiles.
These both look interesting and successful, in terms of drawing more women in. I’m still left with questions. Why do a large-number-of-hours hackfest/stitchfest at all? The Brown article does give a reason: to build community. I do believe that a sleepless all-nighter experience can build community. Are there other, maybe better ways?
Are these replicable models? Both of these examples are at Ivy League institutions. Both of these efforts had significant corporate sponsorship. The Brown hackathon had a professional engineer to work with almost every student group. Can other schools duplicate that draw? There are interventions that are easier at an Ivy League institution. The Harvard CS50 experience is absolutely amazing, but will Facebook sponsor pizza party coding sessions for every school in the US, and is Microsoft willing to host every school at the NERD Center? I know I’m at Georgia Tech, so I need to watch for being painted with the same brush. Not everything we do is easily replicated elsewhere. We explicitly design for replicability and measure it.
Maybe there is value in hackathons, and maybe it can even play a role in improving diversity in computing. Microsoft and Code.org are supporting hackathons for women. If we’re going to do this, we should articulate the desired value and role, design for it, and test to see if it’s happening. I’d rather not believe that hackathons are simply there, part of the new computing culture, and now we can only learn how to make them as not-awful as possible.
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?
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.
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.
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.