No Surprises at Amazon

This week Amazon became the latest company to join the craze of releasing diversity statistics. While disappointing, the presented figures weren’t at all unexpected, as Amazon joined the other tech giants in displaying a vastly un-diverse picture on their diversity report.

Over a month after the company was pressed by Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Push Coalition and publications like USA Today to release race and gender breakdowns of its workforce, Amazon quietly responded by posting a page on their website about various diversity initiatives the company is involved with. No official announcement was made by Amazon management about the numbers, and corporate spokespeople have been silent in response to questions about the figures.

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For us at STEMinist, the overwhelming majority of men in the company –especially in managerial positions where just 25% are women– is especially troubling when considering the fact that this is for the company overall. Unlike other tech diversity reports seen in recent months, Amazon chose not to disclose the diversity numbers for its technical staff, which are undoubtedly even more dismal.

While Amazon does sport internal “affinity groups” like AWE (Amazon Women in Engineering), this doesn’t make up for the disparity in proportions. There was no time lost by Amazon in avoiding blame for that problem, declaring it as something that begins in schools.

“We know that in middle school and high school, students are already deciding what professions they want to pursue,” stated Amazon’s report. “More often than not female students and students of color are opting out of technology and engineering.”

They propose to be part of the solution by pumping money and resources into organizations focused on improving the “pipeline” for STEM minorities.

“To broaden our impact, we partner with the Anita Borg Institute to sponsor events such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. We also provide resources and volunteers to Code.org to increase access to computing in high school, and we host Girls Who Code to provide hands-on coding education. We actively assist these students to enroll in national programs such as Aspirations in Computing with the National Center for Women & Information Technology.”

While every effort made is something to be celebrated and appreciated, only time (and their next diversity report) will tell if Amazon truly stands behind their commitment to inclusion.

 

 

Will the Women in Tech Please Stand Up?

Unless you’ve been living under an internet-less rock for the last few months, you’ve probably noticed the huge increase in attention that the tech gender gap has gotten recently. The latest conclusion that the online community has reached is that women just don’t want to work in tech.

That statement seems a bit misleading. Saying that women don’t want to work in tech implies that there is something inherent in the technology itself that women just don’t like. There isn’t. We’re finally seeing more women choosing to enroll in STEM programs, so the interest is there. The myth that women aren’t as good at math and science as men are has long been debunked. So what exactly is keeping the ratio in technology so highly in men’s favor?

It’s true, there is the ever-present “boys’ club” mentality, and it hasn’t gone away. The “brogrammer” culture is unfortunately as strong as ever, meaning any woman who wants to try to balance a career with family life (or any sort of life outside of work and work parties) automatically has a lot on her plate. Add to that the fact that companies like Facebook and Apple seem to think that paying for a woman to freeze her eggs is more helpful for the female population than arranging for maternity leave and childcare, and you’ve got a doozy to deal with.

These are definitely problems, and ones that need to be solved. However, the best way to do that is to show these companies that women are active players in the technology arena and are here to stay. That brings us to the next problem facing ladies who are trying to get started in the industry: Where are the women who have already made it?

Where are the ladies who have hunkered down and shown the brogrammers that we can play ball? Who out there has found a tech job that allows them to have the work-life balance they need? How have women already in tech negotiated for higher salaries and better benefits?

These women exist, so where are they?

Jane Porter, from FastCompany, looked at why women seem to be leaving STEM jobs in droves and unsurprisingly honed in on a sense of isolation, biased evaluations, a lack of sponsors, and a lack of women mentors as some of the top reasons. All of these can be easily solved if the women who are already anchored in the world of technology look out for those just getting started.

For women to finally close the gender gap, we need not just sponsors and mentors, but true role models. So will the women in tech please stand up?

Are you a woman already making waves in STEM? We want to feature YOU on the STEMinist site! Stand up and help inspire future female leaders in STEM by sending us your information HERE. Keep up the amazing work!

Women can help bridge the ‘valley of death’ in science innovation

If women’s participation is a demonstrated element for business success and innovation is the essential ingredient for businesses to flourish, then why have we not embraced the opportunity to boost the role of women in science and business? Perhaps if we did we would witness greater translation of research to industry and our economic success would grow even more.

[ via Phys.org ]

We Need More Women in Aerospace

Industry’s involvement can easily be done through mentoring future leaders recognizing that their contribution is instrumental in the outcome in terms of increasing the number of women who will be involved in this industry. One particular great example is Women In Aerospace Canada, an organization dedicated to expanding women’s opportunities for leadership and professional development as well as increasing their visibility in the aerospace community is creating opportunities for both women and men to realize the possibilities in this industry.

[ via The Huffington Post ]

Introducing “The CataLyst,” a column about women in STEM

When I started my undergraduate course in Chemical Engineering back in 2005, it hit me almost immediately that the distribution of men to women was about 80/20. I have to admit I’d never reflected much on gender equality before. Having grown up in Sweden (one of the most gender equal countries in the world1), inequality had never affected me much. With the exception of the ever present media biases and “boys will be boys” attitudes, I have had a lucky escape.

Entering the workplace a couple of years later (the same place I still work today), I was again very lucky. My colleagues couldn’t have been more diverse (gender and ethnicity) if you’d blindly picked them from each corner of the world. As a result, the inequalities I’ve come to know are through working away from home and the stories told by my friends, colleagues, online communities and the media. It’s been a wake-up call, and I’m slowly realising that even in the most diverse offices of the most diverse and progressive companies, us women have something working against us: the gender roles that are placed on us by society.

In the Western world today, women still only represent 24% of the STEM workforce2 and the women who work in these fields still earn overall a third less than men, at all income levels3. Why is it that the dropout rate for STEM subjects in school rise rapidly among girls when they enter secondary school? And at university, how come certain STEM orientated courses still see zero uptake of female students?

In the film Miss Representation from 20114, Marie Wilson, the founder and president emeritus of the White House Project5 said, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and although she was referring to how women are represented in media, this rings true for STEM as well. There aren’t enough female STEM leaders, managers and role models for girls at school to look up to and identify with when they’re making their choices about what they want to be when they grow up. This makes it all the more important for those of us who do work in these fields to be vocal and a stronger force for change.

Through this blog I want to be one of those voices, talking about the ups and downs of working in such a male dominated industry. I will write about the issues we face on a day to day basis, try and shed a bit more light on the problems but also help form part of the solutions. Being more vocal means standing up to inequality, speaking my mind and showing an example where women don’t have to just accept the situations and circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Working towards making STEM more attractive to young girls by breaking down boundaries and misconceptions is beneficial to future generations of women as well as the industry as a whole. I hope this blog will generate some interesting discussions and viewpoints, and I welcome you all to get involved.

Cata

Mars (And the Rest of Outer Space) Needs Women

As the number of young women studying in the overall STEM fields stays stubbornly low — and the quality of science education for both sexes seems to be falling — five leaders in space and tech came together to talk about the situation at the conference.

[ via Re/code ]

Energy companies aim to recruit more women amid industry boom

Solid statistics on how many women work in energy are hard to find. An analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted by the oil and gas industry news service Rigzone found that 46 percent of all new jobs in the oil and gas industry went to women during the first quarter of 2013, the highest level in years.

[ via The Times-Picayune ]

MPs ponder why there are so few women in academic science

The Report highlights the undoubted problem of short-term contracts which are the lot of most early-career researchers (and not just in the STEM subjects). Such contracts are particularly unattractive for those who may be considering starting a family or have a partner whose job is not portable. These factors tend to hit women harder than men.

[ via The Guardian ]

The Elsevier Foundation honors Early Career Women Scientists from Developing Countries for Research

On February 15th, 2014, five women chemists will be honored with the Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World, for their research that looks to nature for ways to address cancer, malaria and other medical problems. The winning researchers, representing five regions of the developing world, are from Indonesia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

[ via Elsevier ]

Advocates set goal to educate 10,000 about tech opportunities for women

Allyn said they hope to accomplish this “evangelism program” by spreading career information, tips and other resources through the community’s website, in-person events and social media pages–including Facebook and Twitter–as well as webinars. They are targeting not just women in tech, but also IT professionals who can hire and promote women in IT careers.

[ via Fierce CIO ]