Reshaping a time-worn narrative isn't easy. Social revolutions rarely are, especially when you're a woman trying to break into the boys' club that is Silicon Valley.
But an emerging class of early-stage tech start-up executives is helping dispel the notion that there isn't a leading role for them in the male-dominated valley.
Company founders and leaders are coming out of Google, Salesforce.com and elsewhere for the excitement of shaping a young business.
The emergence of young female tech founders and executives reflects sweeping change in the worlds of start-up companies and angel funding, where wealthy investors give money in return for a stake in a company. It underscores the enormous purchasing prowess of women online that is transforming the Web economy. As more consumers reach for their smartphones and tablets to shop and communicate, there is a pressing need for commerce sites that cater to women, who control 70% of online purchases worldwide, according to Lisa Stone, CEO of BlogHer, a digital media company.
Many of these inroads are being made by female-led start-ups that are fueling innovation and the digital economy. Women will influence the purchase of $15 trillion in goods by 2014, according to Boston Consulting Group.
Scholars and pundits alike argue that U.S. scientists could do more to reach out to the general public. Yet, to date, there have been few systematic studies that examine how scientists understand the barriers that impede such outreach. Through analysis of 97 semi-structured interviews with academic biologists and physicists at top research universities in the United States, we classify the type and target audiences of scientists’ outreach activities. Finally, we explore the narratives academic scientists have about outreach and its reception in the academy, in particular what they perceive as impediments to these activities. We find that scientists’ outreach activities are stratified by gender and that university and disciplinary rewards as well as scientists’ perceptions of their own skills have an impact on science outreach. Research contributions and recommendations for university policy follow.
Women are nominated for research prizes just as frequently as men, however unconscious bias and men running prize panels seems to be swaying award outcomes, suggests the study in the current Social Studies of Science journal.
Varying widely by discipline, women receiveabout 40% of all doctoratesin science (around 70% of psychology degrees but less in other fields) and engineering (about 10%), and have long suffered from lower odds of becoming full professors or attaining other markers of prestige in those fields.
"A large body of social science research finds that work done by women is perceived as less important or valuable that that done by men," begins the study led by sociologist Anne Lincoln of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. In their research, the study authors looked at award patterns from 13 scientific and medical societies from 1991 (206 awards) to 2010 (296 awards).
Two University of Kansas professors have published a study showing that ability alone simply isn’t enough for women to excel in the STEM fields, and that how far women are from privilege makes a much bigger difference.
Barbara Kerr, Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology and Research in Education; and Karen Multon, professor and chair of psychology and research in education, published the study in the Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. The study examines “distance from privilege,” or the idea that how far young women perceives themselves from ideal socioeconomic, geographic, educational and various other variables can determine how likely they can be to persist in education and careers in the STEM fields. Two methods for measuring where women view themselves in relation to ideal places of power and privilege were also developed.
“We’re trying to understand how to keep young women in college in STEM,” Kerr said. “Once they are in the field, how do we keep them there? We find over and over that women who do persist have had to overcome many barriers.”
The researchers have found that ability alone is not enough to predict whether a young woman will succeed in STEM. It is an important variable, Kerr said, but research should also consider a number of other social variables and take a subjective look at what may stand in the way of success. Developing a tool that can accurately measure distance from privilege can greatly benefit gender equity work and help develop a model for identifying women with the potential to persist in the field.
In the next five years, STEM jobs are projected to grow twice as quickly as jobs in all other fields according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. While all jobs are expected to grow by 10.4 percent, STEM jobs are expected to increase by 21.4 percent. Similarly, 80 percent of jobs in the next decade will require technical skills.
By this measure, future STEM jobs represent a huge opportunity to today's students. But to put these numbers into perspective, of the 3.8 million ninth graders in the U.S., only 233,000 end up choosing a STEM degree in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This means only 6 percent of ninth graders will become STEM graduates. And of these graduates, women will be even more underrepresented in most STEM fields.
These are alarming statistics. How do we get more young boys and girls to be interested in STEM-related fields? It isn't an easy task. Schools do not always adequately prepare students for these rigorous subjects, and college programs are designed to weed out the less persistent. Nationally, only 41 percent of initial White and Asian American STEM majors who begin a degree in STEM-related fields complete their degree in less than six years.
In addition, societal pressures continue to loom over girls who might otherwise consider the STEM fields. A couple of years ago, I met amazing parents, both of whom had a background in engineering and hoped their 10 year-old daughter would follow in their footsteps. They encouraged her to take an after school science/robotics program. When she got there, she found she was outnumbered 6:1 by boys in the class. As the only girl, she came home crying much of the time because she was teased and told that geeky girls are not welcome in the boys' club. Ironically, by the time young adults are entering college programs in STEM fields, many complain about the lack of gender diversity.
Overall, women in these fields, collectively known as STEM, for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are staying in these positions at the same rate as men, according to work done by Deborah Kaminski of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Cheryl Geisler of Simon Fraser University.
"This is really good news, it means if we hire them we are going to be able to keep them," Kaminski said in a podcast released by the journal Science, in which the study appears. The two also found that men and women receive promotions at about the same times.
In these fields overall, half of faculty will have departed within 10.9 years of their careers. One discipline bucks the overall trend, however. In mathematics, half of women leave by 4.45 years, and half of male faculty by 7.33 years into their careers, the study found. (A study released this week found that due to the demands of a professorship, many women choose motherhood over academics in math and science fields.)
Men file far more patents than women do, but women are securing an increasing number of patents and trademarks, according to a recent study by the National Women’s Business Council, a government advisory panel.
In 2010, 22,984 patents were granted to women, a 35 percent jump over the previous year. The increase for men was only 28 percent.
“Overall, women held 18 percent of all patents granted in 2010, compared to the 14 percent they had a decade earlier. In 1990, they earned only 9 percent,” the study found.
Interestingly, the NWBC paper found that the highest rate of increase in the grant of patents to women was in the 1986-1993 period, and the slowest rate was in the 1999-2006 period, during the dot-com bubble.
The picture for trademarks was even better. Women nearly doubled their share of trademarks within a 30-year span.
This study examines how access to and use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) are transforming the economic opportunities available to poor and low-income women in India by promoting their entrepreneurial activity. What types of initiatives support small and medium enterprises for women, and through which ICTs? What factors shape a positive connection between ICTs and women’s business success? What barriers have been lifted and what opportunities realized? What types of impact are ICT-based initiatives having on women, their businesses and beyond? What promising pathways are being shaped, and what channels have yet to be explored?
The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology released a new report that outlines four key areas where companies should focus their recruitment efforts to increase access to a range of technical talent available in a highly competitive environment. Solutions to Recruit Technical Women is the first in a series of reports offering solutions companies can employ to improve the recruitment, retention, and advancement of technical women.