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Conference Launched to Empower Women in Tech

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antiquus
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Conferences are nice, but...
antiquus   1/7/2018 5:54:21 PM
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By being involved with recent science fairs and student competitions, I see that many young ladies are engaged in science, including the above mentioned cellular biology and CRISPR. (In fact, so much of the current student-intern work is involved in CRISPR, its sort of scary, because the topics and goals are so foreign to my 20th century mind.) Holding a conference is basically preaching to the choir. Counting the media coverage is similarly misguided, because 8th-grade girls don't watch that kind of media. The big problem is that so many elementary and junior high teachers are indifferent to (dare I say) science itself, and they won't be at the conference.

antiquus
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Conferences are nice, but...
antiquus   1/7/2018 5:54:21 PM
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By being involved with recent science fairs and student competitions, I see that many young ladies are engaged in science, including the above mentioned cellular biology and CRISPR. (In fact, so much of the current student-intern work is involved in CRISPR, its sort of scary, because the topics and goals are so foreign to my 20th century mind.) Holding a conference is basically preaching to the choir. Counting the media coverage is similarly misguided, because 8th-grade girls don't watch that kind of media. The big problem is that so many elementary and junior high teachers are indifferent to (dare I say) science itself, and they won't be at the conference.

antiquus
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Conferences are nice, but...
antiquus   1/7/2018 5:53:51 PM
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By being involved with recent science fairs and student competitions, I see that many young ladies are engaged in science, including the above mentioned cellular biology and CRISPR. (In fact, so much of the current student-intern work is involved in CRISPR, its sort of scary, because the topics and goals are so foreign to my 20th century mind.) Holding a conference is basically preaching to the choir. Counting the media coverage is similarly misguided, because 8th-grade girls don't watch that kind of media. The big problem is that so many elementary and junior high teachers are indifferent to (dare I say) science itself, and they won't be at the conference.

Bert22306
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Try, try again
Bert22306   1/5/2018 8:30:13 PM
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First, Junko and EE Times regulars, Happy New Year. Second, but no less important, I always enjoy Junko's style. And specifically this time, the way she starts the article with "Guys." I get it, Junko. You are trying to hammer this point home.

But.

I'd like to say, I also find conferences to be mostly too long and too boring, and I also learn new stuff overwhelmingly from reading articles and standards documents, and participating in the relevant fora. Hands down, the best way to learn something in depth. Conferences, glad handing, sure, they have their place too. But you only pick up surface knowledge that way. Just enough to be dangerous, not nearly enough to prove competency.

So, I see this new angle, "perhaps the problem is that women don't attend conferences," as being just another canard. If one excuse doesn't pan out, try, try again. I doubt there is any one quick "fix" to this supposed "problem."

I'm very proud of my daughter, very happy that she got into the sciences, and was cheering loudly as she received her biology degree first, and then her vet medicine degree, both summa cum laude. And sure, I could see from an early age that her interests were on a track I like, but engineering per se? Not quite. Did I pressure her? Only in jest. She wanted to be a veterinarian from before grade school. I was thrilled that she took her studies seriously, as her mom and I told her she would have to do, to be successful at entering such a competitive field.

Engineering is similar, in that you have to be passionate about it. That passion is not easy to force-fit. There is nothing chiseled in stone, that suggests that removing barriers of entry, into a profession, must result in equal representation in that profession. This is an assumption disproven by the facts. It is disproven in any number of interest areas, not just engineering. It's also not very believable that girls don't like, say, engineering, because they aren't given the right toys as toddlers and slightly older. Just remind yourself what interested you at those young ages, and how easy it would have been to put you on a different path. Not me. I may not have known what engineering meant, but no way could anyone have convinced me to get into, you know, the priesthood, or dentistry, or any number of other interests. I liked to play with electric circuits and fun gadgets, trains, electric toy cars, that sort of thing. They weren't forced on me. My parents were both into the classics, and I'm sure my dad would have preferred if I showed more interest in history.

As to the "me too" movement, that is a whole other interesting phenomenon, but perhaps not for EE Times pages. And by the way, you know how, at times, you pick up some little idea you'd never thought of before, and then that little pearl keeps proving itself over and over again? Maybe 20 years ago, I heard someone say that "empower" is a female word. What? What a strange thing to say, right? And yet, over time, I have seen it used that way repeatedly, almost exclusively relating to women. Here too. Pay attention, and you might notice this too.

Evariste
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Re: Women in Technology
Evariste   1/4/2018 10:03:21 PM
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I think cellular biology and CRISPR would be fascinating to work on.  Maybe your daughter can figure out how to get the cochlear cilia to grow back after being damaged.  That's the cause of a lot of tinnitus and hearing loss. I have to point out that, though, it's not biology that has a dearth of females.  Well over half of the biology degrees in the US are given to women.  This disparity implies that men are being systematically discouraged from pursuing careers in biology.

elizabethsimon
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Re: Women in Technology
elizabethsimon   1/4/2018 8:12:33 PM
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@johan I agree that we need to encourage both boys and girls to be interested in science at a young age. But in order to do that we have to educate parents to provide sience oriented toys equally. Kudos to you for giving your daughter an Erector set. I spent a lot of time playing with my brother's as a child...  

Evariste
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Fran
Evariste   1/4/2018 6:46:12 PM
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Junko--what topic will you be speaking on?

I discovered the blog of Fran, a woman who is totally into electronics just for the joy of it.  She's into restoring/replicating old Apollo circuits and also makes her own line of corsets.  She would be a great speaker.  I thought I'd put a link to one of her videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0ggqY7vnAw 

I wasn't sure why it would be "shocking" that women read journals more than going to conferences.  I read IEEE papers on a regular basis but rarely go to conferences.

PS I still, like many others, get the error popup window on every page of the EE Times site.  Also, I tried to linkify the link above and got an error, so now it's just text.

spike_johan
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Women in Technology
spike_johan   1/4/2018 2:41:13 PM
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It seems to me if you want to 'lift women to equal status' in technology then you first have to get more women interested in technology and get more women into the field of technology.

And the questions I don't see getting asked often enough are, 'Why aren't women as a general rule as interested in technology as men seem to be?' And, 'How do we get more women interested in technology?'

Everything else like conferences launched to empower women in technology seem secondary to the argument to 'lift women to equal status'. It takes volume - raw numbers of new recruits - to affect a real basis for equality.

PS - I take this topic of women in technology more serious than most because I have some actual skin in the game. I am an engineer (BSEE) and my 28 year old daughter is a newly minted scientist (PhD Cellular Biology) whose post-doc work is going to be research into human hearing on the cellular level. How did she interested in science, math and technology? Hint - she was in a very small subset of 8 year old girls who got an Erector Set for her birthday.

(From a practical perspective, get both boys and girls hooked on the joys of learning cool stuff like science from an early age. Make science part of their early life and it will carry over into their adulthood as a lifestyle habit.)

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