When it comes to diversity in tech, the question that has haunted the industry for the past several years is ‘are we doing enough?’ “I don't know if I'll ever be able to say we're doing enough because I don't think I'll be able to say that until we're at 50%,” confesses McAfee Chief HR Officer Chatelle Lynch, “but we're sure doing everything I know how right now.”
Women face at least two ongoing educational obstacles. First, there is substantial evidence that girls continue to get streamed out of STEM programs, if not in middle or high school, at least by the time they arrive in university. Indeed, most computer science and engineering programs have yet to tip the 20% mark when it comes to graduating women.
In analyzing data from the Texas Education Research Center, SWE researchers found that less than 4 percent of female students chose engineering or computer science (ECS) majors compared to nearly 20 percent of men across two- and four-year institutions in the state. Evidence of a slight decrease in ECS major declarations among women comes despite more women than men enrolling in college each year.
More than three-quarters of women who work in STEM fields at male-dominated workplaces report experiencing at least one type of gender discrimination, ranging from being turned down for a job to making less than a man for the same work. Reports of discrimination are highest among women with advanced degrees and those who work with computers.
The lack of women in science and innovation fields is not simply a question of fairness or equality; it suggests that the economy is missing out on important potential for productivity growth. The fact that just 16 percent of patents are granted to women demonstrates in some ways how we may be leaving future Grace Hoppers out of the world of innovation and hence missing their insights and inventions.
In 1985 there were 14 boys for every girl in the top 0.01 percent of math test takers, while today that gap has closed to two-and-a-half to one.
Getting more girls into STEM isn’t rocket science – you just need to fire up their imaginations. That’s the mission behind American Girl’s new 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega, who wants to be the first person on Mars. The Mattel-owned toymaker debuted the aspiring astronaut doll on “Good Morning America” last week before a group of girls dressed in official NASA flight suits.
According to some, 2018 will be the year of artificial intelligence and, more specifically, of chatbots. Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa? They’re all examples of chatbots, AKA computer programs designed to help simulate human conversation. In 2017 alone, 35.6 million Americans used some type of voice-activated virtual assistant device at least once a month, according to eMarketer.
Under the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act of 2017, the FAA would establish and oversee a Women in Aviation Advisory Board to promote education, training, outreach, mentorship, and recruitment of women to pursue education careers.
House lawmakers wrapped up the year by passing three bills aimed at strengthening government programs for people hoping to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. As both the government and the private sector struggle to fill STEM positions with top talent, the bipartisan legislation would support education and training initiatives for women, veterans and other groups who are historically underrepresented in STEM fields.