Female students have long surpassed their male peers in the rates at which they seek higher education. Yet across sectors, women’s representation in professional leadership roles has stalled at 15-17%. If women make up the majority of students earning Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees why are there so few women in top management positions? Further aggravating women’s uneven progress, the disparity is often most pronounced in the most lucrative fields, including STEM, economics and finance.
This project tackles what too often seems to be an insurmountable problem: the lack of women in technology fields. Research shows that fewer girls are going into computer science partly because fewer women are in technology fields and those that are in the field continue to drop out at high rates, especially at pivotal mid-points in their careers. This is true across industry, government and educational institutions in the United States.
To shed light on this problem, Jenna Gretsch selected a group of peers, mostly women who were at mid-points or higher in their careers and asked them questions regarding how they got into computers and what keeps them there. Specifically, Gretsch solicited their reflections and experiences regarding gender discrimination and inequality.
Republic: A dual degree program between the University of Notre Dame and St. Mary's College has increased the percentage of women in the College of Engineering from 22 percent to 30 percent. In addition to more targeted recruitment, the program is helping to increase the national average of women in engineering which currently hovers around 18 percent.
"After Title IX was passed in 1972, women made monumental strides in higher-level education and now account for 50 percent or more of students in every field of study — as long as engineering is not included on that list.
The national average of women majoring in engineering is a meager 18 percent, said Cathy Pieronek, the assistant dean of academic affairs in engineering at the University of Notre Dame. When Pieronek and other officials at Notre Dame's College of Engineering realized the extent of the gender gap in 2002, they took steps to improve the situation.
In the past eight years, Notre Dame increased the percentage of women in the College of Engineering from 22 percent to 30 percent in this year's freshman class. Pieronek said this number is especially impressive when compared to the national average and percentages at other universities.
Pieronek said, however, the College of Engineering at Notre Dame is graduating more women thanks in large part to a dual program with neighboring Saint Mary's College. The program, which was formalized in 2005 but existed since the early 1970s, allows a Saint Mary's student to take pre-engineering classes starting her sophomore year at the college, while concurrently earning a degree in mathematics or one of the sciences. At the end of her four years, she graduates from Saint Mary's with a bachelor's degree in her selected major and then enrolls at Notre Dame for a fifth year in the College of Engineering."
Wall Street Journal: Where are all the women in the start-up sector? According to data from the Dow Jones VentureSource, in 2009, only11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing had current or former female CEO's or founders. More media coverage of successful women entrepreneurs, role models, and women on panels at conferences could help to shift the gender dynamic in an area where the "good idea is supposed to trump social status."
"Only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. The prestigious start-up incubator Y Combinator has had just 14 female founders among the 208 firms it has funded. The “where-are-all-the-women” meme is a familiar one, and not confined to the technology world. But in start-up land, where the good idea is supposed to trump social status and everything else, the lack of women in positions of authority stands out. There is no shortageof opinionsabout the cause, but regardless, some techie women are – in true start-up fashion – attacking the problem with meetups, money and social networking.
Start-up executive Dina Kaplan and Gilt Groupe CEO Susan Lyne and the Paley Center for Media CEO Pat Mitchell run a group – which they call the “Breakfast Club” — of young and established tech and digital media executives who meet for professional networking, social support and swapping practical advice about running young digital companies.
Another group called “Change the Ratio” aims to shine a light on women in entrepreneurial roles, and to address the dearth of women at start-ups. Technology investors Fred Wilson and John Borthwick said the industry needs catalysts to spark a virtuous circle of more successful women-led tech start-ups leading to more women in tech start-ups.
“From successes come role models and from the role models come change,” said Union Square Ventures’ Mr. Wilson, who recently called for more diversity in the start-up world."
I am finished writing and thinking about socially conservative Texans (for now). But I still have history texts on the mind.
Here’s the dilemma: in a conversation with a like-minded male progressive, I was surprised to realize that, while sympathetic to the fact that girls have few female role models to read about in school, he didn’t see an obvious solution. He thought maybe a few more women could be highlighted, but he offered the following to explain why men would continue to outnumber women in the texts for years to come:
Miller-McCune: A new report in Psychological Science, argue women perceive STEM careers (those in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as largely incompatible with one of their core goals: engaging in work that helps others.
Under the Microscope, an online space hosted by The Feminist Press "where women and science connect," just posted a fascinating conversation with Alice Domurat Dreger, a bioethicist and author who I know from her work on intersex activism. Here's a snippet for your reading pleasure:
UtM: Are there any particular issues in bioethics you want to tackle or anything in particular you are working on now?
Twenty years ago, women were awarded twice as many computer science degrees as they were in 2008. Of course, there are more fields open to women today. But that only explains part of the reason this well-paid, fast-growing field is losing women.
“Though we can’t be certain of the cause of the decline, research suggests several likely possibilities,” says Catherine Ashcraft, senior research scientist at the National Center for Women & Information Technology at the University of Colorado. “Many of these are related to the image of computer science and the lack of female role models and mentors. Girls get subtle messages from all sorts of places — the media, popular culture, parents, teachers, school counselors, other authority figures — that computer science isn’t really ’something girls do.’”
Half the world's 14 self-made female billionaires--that is, those who didn't benefit from inherited fortunes--have struck it rich on China's mainland. They include Hong Kong entrepreneur Chu Lam Yiu, who peddles ingredients to China's tobacco companies, and Xiu Li Hawken, a U.K. citizen who helps run below-ground shopping centers in China. Hawken is one of three self-made women to debut on this year's billionaires list after their companies went public on Asian stock exchanges in the past 18 months. Another real estate fortune belongs to Wu Yajun, who took her Longfor Properties public in November and is now the world's richest self-made woman.
A variety of circumstances has led to the increasing success of female entrepreneurs, says Linda Xinrong Kausch, a Shenzhen-based writer who is writing about a book about how 12 Western businesswomen achieved success in China. The development of a hospitable social and economic environment has been crucial, she says, which not only allows but also encourages women to get an education and start their own companies. Another factor is the constantly changing market regulations of a developing economy, which afford more flexibility and less red tape than a place like Europe. Plus, she adds, it's a matter of pride for these women to make a tangible contribution to their family and to the nation.