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At 15, scientist Gitanjali Rao made history. ‘You don’t need a PhD to make a difference,’ she says.
Gitanjali Rao just finished her final exam of the year and, like any other teenager, is eager to begin her summer.The 15-year-old is, in many ways, not your typical teen. She landed on the cover of Time magazine in 2020 as its inaugural “Kid of the Year” for her scientific achievements, which include building a device, Tethys, that detects lead in drinking water. But Rao doesn’t see herself as exceptional. In fact, when she was younger, she didn’t even see herself as “the science type.” She was driven, instead, by trying to find solutions to problems in her community. Once she discovered science and technology could be a means of finding those solutions, there was no turning back. “Using science and technology as social change became something that was intuitive to me and something that I wanted to keep doing,” she said. The way Rao sees it, this connects her to the rest of her generation. A study released Tuesday from the multinational corporation 3M found the pandemic has renewed interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) globally, with interest highest among millennials and Gen Z in particular. Rao says her passion for STEM has shaped her days and her goals - she is working on creating a global network of young innovators to tackle global problems. It also fuels her relentless optimism for the future and all its possibilities.
Posted on 28 May 2021
The Edge: What It Takes to Encourage Underrepresented Students to Pursue Tech Majors and Careers
Too many graduates don’t get a crack at tech careers. Colleges could change that. Black and Hispanic employees remain underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math work force. That includes the fast-growing - and well-paying - computing sector. Women, too, are still underrepresented in fields like computing and engineering. And as a new analysis of employment and education data from the Pew Research Center highlights: “Current trends in STEM-degree attainment appear unlikely to substantially narrow these gaps.” Don’t let Pew’s characteristically understated language obscure the message. That finding should be a wake-up call for anyone who cares about higher ed’s role in promoting economic equity and social mobility. Ditto for anyone who recognizes the stakes of seeing a sector as vital as tech continue to flourish while key segments of the population are left out.
Posted on 14 May 2021
From classroom to boardroom: Building diverse workforce tech talent starts with STEM
Encouraging more girls to pursue STEM learning and work in STEM fields should start in the early grades. Women make up 47 percent of all employed adults in the U.S., but as of 2015, they hold only 25 percent of computing roles, according to data from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). Of the 25 percent of women working in tech, Asian women make up just 5 percent of that number, while Black and Hispanic women accounted for 3 percent and 1 percent, respectively. From childhood through education to careers and leadership, female representation often gets lost, with many women choosing not to pursue technology fields due to lack of support, access, and even cultural or regional norms. Culturally-prescribed notions of “male” and “female” careers subtly affect the way a teacher, mentor, or employer looks at women in technical fields. They can lead girls to second-guess their abilities or interest in technology.
Posted on 30 Apr 2021
A new barrier to diverse hiring in tech
When life insurance was introduced to the United States in the early 1800s, people were horrified at the idea of putting a dollar price on a human life. So insurance companies reframed it. No longer was life insurance a way to collect on someone’s death. Instead it offered a comfort to grieving families knowing they’d be financially supported after the loss of a loved one. Life insurance is just one commodity that started as a taboo but was eventually adopted by U.S. consumers as an appropriate, and in some cases necessary, service.Consider compensating organ donors: Even this is no longer always viewed as a “repugnant market” - an area of commerce that features transactions people find distasteful. But one repugnant market that continues to be a challenge is companies’ use of recruiting and labor-matching platforms to help them hire a racially diverse workforce, writes Summer Jackson, a PhD candidate in MIT Sloan’s economic sociology program. For example, a platform may use artificial intelligence to develop a more diverse pool of candidates to interview or to strip resumes of information that identifies a candidate's race. In a 20-month study of a “fast-growing technology company” she calls ShopCo, Jackson found that managers looking to diversify the company’s tech workers chose not to work with recruiting and labor-matching platforms they perceived as exploiting and objectifying non-white candidates. But in doing so, they may have unintentionally sabotaged their efforts at diverse hiring.
Posted on 11 Apr 2021
NCWIT Conversations for Change
Numerous events of 2020 have placed a national spotlight on the inequities and inequalities that are present in K-16 education and society at large. In this conversation, Dr. Nicki Washington discusses how her personal journey in computing influenced her research on identity in computing, including the development of her "Race, Gender, Class, and Computing" course and why "teaching is political."
Posted on 31 Mar 2021
The Gender Wealth Gap: Why We Need More Women To Invest And To Invest In More Women
How does one generate wealth? A look at the Forbes Billionaire list tells a compelling narrative that wealth is predominantly generated through either entrepreneurship or investing. While entrepreneurs like Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Bezos, and investors like Warren Buffett and Abby Johnson are extreme outliers in their profession, this occupation breakdown would look similar for centimillionaires, decamillionaires and millionaires. There has been a great deal of discourse about the gender pay gap, in that female workers overall earn 82 cents for every dollar that a white male earns. While this is incredibly problematic, there’s been less attention and analysis of an even larger problem - the gender wealth gap. Overall, women own just 32 cents for every dollar a man owns, and Black and Latinx women own just pennies, which includes savings, resources that can be turned into investments like a home or business and resources you can pass onto the next generation. Sallie Krawcheck, Founder and CEO of Ellevest, references some of the main reasons for this gap including: debt, investing, real estate, the pink tax, life events and earnings/wages. Over the past 200+ years, thousands of companies have gone public on the New York Stock Exchange (or NASDAQ), yet only 20 of those that are currently public were founded and led by women and only 7.4% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. This lack of female-led public companies and Fortune 500 companies starts at the earliest stages with less than 3% of all venture funding going to female-only founded companies. It also permeates throughout the leadership ranks of a company as just one in five corporate board seats are held by women.
Posted on 18 Mar 2021
Computer Scientist: Grace Hopper
The article presents short biography and the working career of Grace Hopper. She was a computer programmer who pioneered the development of the compiler, which paved the way for her creation of the COBOL computer programming language. Hopper was also a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. She was born in 1906 in New York City and died in 1992. In 2016, President Barack Obama posthumously honored Hopper with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Posted on 23 Feb 2021
179 Black Innovators in STEM + Arts You Should Know and Support
For generations, Black voices and influencers have been suppressed and overlooked. Black people and Black communities are constantly fighting for an end to racial, social, and economic oppression. It is the responsibility of non-Black communities to hold themselves accountable and to educate themselves on what is happening in our world. Together we can uplift and amplify Black voices that cannot be heard or are refused to be listened to. With Wonder Women Tech’s online and global platform, it is one of our goals to support and amplify Black business people, Black speakers, Black entrepreneurs and Black people who innovate in STEM and the Arts. Wonder Women Tech is highlighting 179 influential Black speakers who have spoken and shared their accomplishments, aspirations, successes, and stories with the public on the Wonder Women Tech global stage. These innovators each come from different parts of the world, various industries, and all have a unique perspective on how we can work together to share ideas, cultivate belonging and propel change.
Posted on 15 Feb 2021
Astronaut, physician, engineer Mae Jemison interprets MLK’s legacy
Astronaut, engineer, physician and the first American woman of color in space Mae Jemison spoke to a packed crowd for the Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture Tuesday in Union South.- Jemison proposed a question to the audience - When was the last time you looked up? Jemison said looking up has inspired her since her childhood, eventually leading her towards her position as an astronaut, but it also connects her to the legacy of Martin Luther King. Jemison said looking up connects people, and she said she hopes it inspires everyone to cultivate their own talents and use them to spread hope and do good. Jemison said she believes the most important part of Martin Luther King’s legacy is a question he prompted - What do we do with our place at the table?
Posted on 31 Jan 2021
Leading women to STEM careers
Once they hit middle school, girls often move away from STEM-related careers. School counselors can help middle and high school girls keep all their options open. Careers in STEM exert significant influence and power, shaping nearly every aspect of our lives. Yet, women (diverse in race, ethnicity, class, age, gender identity, abilities, and other historically marginalized identities) are underrepresented in the field. And, even when present, they may find themselves in unwelcoming cultures that impede their participation as innovators, leaders, and researchers who are shaping the future. Most college students majoring in STEM make that choice during high school. Unfortunately, despite the increasing demand for professionals in the field, some young women don’t automatically think of STEM careers when planning their future.Students who lack a strong STEM role model in their life or who haven’t had access to adequate STEM learning may not automatically consider a career in STEM. Further, self-doubt can arise for students who don’t have confidence in themselves and their abilities. Questions - “Can I be competitive with peers in this major? Is there a place for me in this field?” - may loom in their minds. Such students’ paths can be influenced by the help of a school counselor.
Posted on 12 Jan 2021

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