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Battling Sexism In Artificial Intelligence
Siri, Alexa, Amelia, Amy, and Cortana all have something in common. They may have been created by different companies, but they all share an identity: the female chatbot, or artificial intelligence. These AI systems may have had an innocent origin - aimed at helping users answer questions or monitor their life - but these chatbots have been increasingly targeted by X-rated inquiries. Despite the fact that they are artificial beings, their female voices and subservient nature have led many to believe that the AI industry suffers from a classic case of sexism. But it's not just in the use of these applications where sexism rears its ugly head. Similar to any other technology industry, the artificial intelligence industry is full of unnoticed bias by its mostly-male creators. And as the industry continues to grow, so do the problems. How can sexism in the industry be countered and avoided? First through acknowledging problems, then by a change in the viewpoints that are brought to the table.
Posted on 11 Mar 2017
Uber and Other tech Companies Could Make Simple Changes to Avoid Driving Away Their Female Engineers
On February 19 former Uber employee Susan Fowler wrote an explosive blog post describing her time as an engineer at Uber. She described severe sexual harassment, a hostile HR department that would not or could not help her, and a toxic work environment that eventually pushed her to leave the company. Her essay has received nationwide attention - and alarm. The reaction of many could be summed up as: It's 2017 and we're still dealing with this stuff?
Posted on 11 Mar 2017
What's the best way to create a diverse workplace? Ditch diversity programmes
These are the dark times for diversity: in an era of walls, barricades and divisive rhetoric, how can it can ever hope to thrive? But then maybe it was always doomed to failure. Even in happier, more inclusive times the drive for diversity has always had a decidedly chequered history. Progress over recent years has been sluggish at best. Google's data-driven diversity programmecost $2.65m but failed to significantly change the composition of its workforce. The organisation is as white and male as ever. Over the past two years, the number of women in technical positions has increased by just 1%; the number of African Americans has not increased at all. The announcement by Jeffrey Siminoff, Twitter's head of diversity, that he will resign at the end of this month , spoke volumes about the perceived failures of the company's diversity programmes. Google's diversity chief, Nancy Lee, stepped downlast year, indicating that the malaise may be becoming endemic.
Posted on 11 Mar 2017
How to Create a Successful Reverse Mentoring Program to Promote Gender Diversity
While women make up about half of the college educated workforce in the US, they comprise only 29% of science and engineering jobs. This percentage continues to drop further into leadership ranks within these fields. Due both the pipeline problem, as well as other career and social barriers, most senior managers in the tech industry tend to be men. This past year, the percentage of women CEO's of Fortune 500 companies fell to 4%. Current managers can promote gender-inclusive leadership through a variety of methods such as shifting workplace culture and through an understanding of individual perspective. This perspective can be gained through establishing a reverse-mentorship program between a new hire and upper management. This post offers practical hands-on steps for both mentor and mentee.
Posted on 20 Feb 2017
Female Alumni of Top Colleges Still Make Less Money Than Men From Non-Selective Schools
Male alumni of elite universities can expect a substantial salary advantage over peers from less selective institutions. But the gender wage gap is wide enough to put women who graduated from even the country's best colleges behind men who graduated from the least selective ones. Statistics data on two cohorts of full-time employed graduates from four-year colleges and universities. One group of 3,840 people graduated with bachelor's degrees in 1992 and 1993, and reported their salaries a decade later. The other group of 4,670 people got their degrees in 2007 and 2008, and revealed their salaries four years after graduation. The authors report that, using a conservative model, graduates of the lowest-ranking schools in Barron's Profile of American Colleges - an annual assessment of schools' selectivity and competitiveness - earned an average of 21 percent less than those in the top tier. The impact of attending a top college on salary is so great, even graduates of second-tier schools earned about 11 percent less than their peers from the most selective group.
Posted on 20 Feb 2017
Why the tech industry is focusing on diversity
Historically not a diverse industry, the tech sector is making it a priority to hire more women and minorities in tech jobs and leadership roles. Why? The promise of better business results. A study published in Harvard Business Review involving more than 1,800 professionals found that companies with the most diverse workforces were 45 percent more likely than their less diverse counterparts to report growing market share on the previous year and 70 percent more likely to have captured a new market. Similarly, a McKinsey and Company study found that companies ranking in the top quartile for ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to outperform those in the bottom quartile. Lack of talent or lack of opportunity?
Posted on 13 Feb 2017
Why We Need More Women in Computing
Despite the growing number of technical jobs, there are still very few women in computing. In fact, the number of female undergraduate computer science students dropped from 37 percent in 1984 to 18 percent in 2014. Telle Whitney, President and CEO of the Anita Borg Institute (ABI), explained the reason for this significant drop: ''As computer science departments grew and the field became more prestigious, the industry looked to other engineering disciplines, which consisted of mostly men.'' Telle spoke with Her Magazine to discuss how to address this issue and bring more women into the field of computing. ''We can reverse this gender shift by encouraging educational institutions to support change within their organizations, so that women have the chance to learn about and create technology, ultimately increasing presence and participation of women in computer science.''
Posted on 30 Jan 2017
How These Top Companies Are Getting Inclusion Right
Creating diverse and inclusive workplaces isn't just a ''nice'' thing to do. There is also a well-documented business case for how diversity positively impacts the bottom line. But once you've put the time and effort into building your multitalented, multifaceted A-team, you're not going to keep them if they don't feel valued, understood, and comfortable. That's where inclusion - making employees feel valued, welcome and comfortable being who they are - comes in. A 2016 report on Gallup.com summarized two of the company's studies published in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies that illustrate the potential of engagement coupled with diversity. In the first, employees' intentions to leave their employers were higher when the employee and manager were of different races and the employee was not engaged. The other found that companies that had higher-than-average gender diversity and employee engagement also had 46% to 58% better financial performance than companies that were below the median on diversity and engagement.
Posted on 30 Jan 2017
Parents as Partners in Outreach
How do we include parents in our outreach efforts and give them the resources they need to encourage their children to pursue a career in STEM? SWE members volunteer boundless time and energy to local activities, but are we helping those most in need of what we have to offer? What about the families in less affluent areas where there are no engineers or programs in place to introduce them to STEM? How do we reach parents, the strongest influencers of their children's career choices, and give them the resources to encourage their children down the path to a STEM career?
Posted on 19 Jan 2017
What Happened to Women in Computer Science?
Hidden Figures, the just-released movie, highlights the roles of three black female mathematicians (human computers) working at NASA who helped win the Space Race. At one time, computer science was originally a female-dominated area, and computing was considered ''women's work.'' Fast forward to 2017 and women in computer science aren't common. The number of women receiving degrees in this now male-dominated area has declined. Granted, women total 48.5% of Carnegie Mellon's computer science class, but this accomplishment is an exception to the rule. Lana Verschage is the director of Women in Computing at Rochester Institute of Technology. The Women in Computing group is a part of RIT's B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. Verschage tells GoodCall that the gender gap in computing actually is widening. ''Since 1990, the percentage of female computing professionals has dropped from 35 percent to about 24 percent today, and according to Girls Who Code, if that trend continues, the share of women in the nation's computing workforce will decline to 22 percent by 2025,'' Verschage says. So why are there so few women in computer science and computing fields? GoodCall posed this question to Verschage; Kathleen Fisher, professor and chair of the Computer Science Department in the School of Engineering at Tufts University; and the research scientists and social scientists at the National Center for Women & Information Technology. Wendy DuBow, senior research scientist and the director of evaluation, serves as the NCWIT spokesperson.
Posted on 19 Jan 2017

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