Friday, February 13, 2015

Big data find evidence of hiring bias

Aaron Clauset of the University of Colorado, Boulder (and Haverford College class of 2001) just published an article suggesting evidence of bias in faculty hiring, especially in computer science and especially with women.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A provocative discussion

So I saw this recent article about not teaching all women to code. Or more accurately, the title is provocative.  As I read the piece, there are some ideas I agree with, like we should never coerce students to learn coding or anything for that matter. But I do believe we should expose them to computational thinking, and that will include algorithms, data representations .. in other words, programming.

I am sensing that the issue is more with the targeted accommodations for women. Studies indicate that is where the issue is.  Still, the dream should be less accommodation and more universal design of education that includes everyone.  In this way, women, like everyone else, can make a more informed choice about career and interest.

But I am considering a (sarcastic) response about not teaching men cooking, or some other provocative title.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A different gift ...

UPDATE^2: It appears people are listening, the book is not longer available at Amazon, and Mattel issued an apology (in Time!) -- when a group works together ... Thanks all, including the groups that listened and acted/adjusted.

UPDATE: The SIGCSE/CSTA communities have rallied and developed some great responses to the original book, a few highlighted here:
Thanks for the thoughtful, and rapid, replies -- jd

Original Post:

There is a new book about Barbie and computer engineering, I think Mattel needs to get some feedback, it portrays a young girl only able to design a computer game and needing boys to implement.  Marie desJardins contacted the author directly and shared the reply to SIGCSE, copied below:

Thank you for your email. I am grateful that you have pointed this out to me. When I write Barbie stories, I always try to write them from a feminist perspective. The story of "Barbie Computer Engineer" was an assignment I got that had to be based on an existing Italian Barbie magazine story. My assignment was to rewrite the story for a book format. I never saw a final copy (I am just a lowly freelance writer, they don't send me copies).  I will order a copy and see what exactly I wrote that is upsetting people. While I take responsibility for what I wrote, you should be aware that I was obliged to follow the existing story and I do not know how Mattel changed the story after I wrote it.

I welcome the twitter controversy and I should have perhaps seen this and pushed with the editors to make the story better in terms of the way it portrays woman. I think Mattel should be more responsible towards the young girls affected by their content and I should too. I consider myself a feminist and have worked for many feminist causes so I was surprised by your email. Sometimes as a freelance writer you get lazy and just follow orders and forget to think about the young people you are affecting. Thank you for reminding me.

all the best,
Susan Marenco

I suppose it is a sincere response, but the damage is still there -- onto contacting Mattel directly? Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

So what can be done?

An article from Fast Company summarizing a few recent books and studies on the challenges of increasing both accessibility for women employees and this increasing diversity -- and yet another, explaining science is fine, it's the scientists.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

News Flash: Women are lied to more than men are lied to.

It appears that equality is still a dream away since we cannot even assure an honest process, as highlighted in this recent Slate article.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

Actions seem to speak louder than words here as well ...

In some ways diversity and accessibility are like pie (or your favorite dessert, insert here) -- who doesn't like pie?  The bigger questions involving execution, how to we maximize diversity (I believe by maximizing accessibility, which is another question)?

Recent findings under review at Psychological Science "... suggest that a more balanced division of household labor among parents might promote greater workforce equality in future generations."

I am so OK with that, I like watching TV while folding/ironing and listening to the radio in the kitchen -- just can't wait for my wife to find out she needs to mow the lawn and repair the car (oh, wait she's already done each of these tasks :).

Mom was right, actions do speak louder than words.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Diversity and MOOCs? Who Knew?

Thanks to Mark Guzdial for pointing this out to me via his great computing education blog, but this post gave me pause -- we intend (or at least I intend) for technology and computing to provide more access, and thus more diversity, but might the tool(s) "bake in" (or exacerbate?) existing biases and inequities?

I think this is the most troubling question posed in the blog post: "What is the difference between the pattern recognition afforded by big data, and profiling on the basis of gender, race or class?"

My initial response involves how we use this profiling/pattern recognition information -- computer programs recognize, people profile (whether they admit it or not).  Our choice is how we use this information, and it seems we need to tread with caution.

What's yours?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Should I stay or should I go ...

After years of working on access for all groups, esp. women, it is also worth noting the issue of retention in the tech industry, reminded of this issue by this article.  I suppose knowledge of the issue is the first step.

Sunday, March 9, 2014