Closing the gender gap in computer science

first_imgYoung women studying computer science were introduced to a group of potential role models as part of a weekend conference at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).The event, organized by Harvard Women in Computer Science, drew some of the most successful women in the field, along with sponsors such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. It included keynote speeches from entrepreneurs and senior executives, mentoring lunches, and an eight-hour “hackathon” Sunday at the Harvard Innovation Lab. Students from 40 U.S. colleges and universities were in attendance.“When I was growing up, I thought the gender war was over and women had won. But it’s still not over,” said Amy Yin ’14, co-founder of Harvard Women in Computer Science.“The biases may be more subtle now, but the statistics are not. When I interned at Facebook last summer, I was the only woman on a team of 12,” added Yin, who is concentrating in computer science. “There’s a saying that ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,’ which is why we wanted to develop a community of women in computer science.”The first keynote speaker was Rebecca Parsons, chief technology officer at ThoughtWorks, a Chicago-based software design firm. “Women bring a different perspective to solving problems,” said Parsons, who noted remarkable progress toward inclusiveness in her three decades in the field — which wasn’t to say the work is over.“I was told when I was in school that women were incapable of understanding math and science,” she said. “Today, saying something like that simply isn’t socially acceptable.“The biggest challenge now is that people may not fully recognize the kinds of subtle biases that still exist. When hiring, for example, people tend to look for someone like them, people they’re comfortable with.” This works against women. “If we can make talking about bias less charged, we’ll be much better off.”Margo I. Seltzer, the Herchel Smith Professor of Computer Science at SEAS, offered a similar viewpoint. “Underrepresentation leads to continued underrepresentation,” she said. “We all need to work toward making our workplaces and communities more welcoming.”Still, Seltzer has seen big advances at Harvard, where 28 percent of current computer science concentrators are women (the national average is 20 percent). “We’re delighted to see increased participation by women in our courses and concentration. I don’t think the problem is solved, but the messaging that all are welcome does seem to be helping.”Yin believes that eradicating cultural stereotypes about women and technology is a key part of the equation. “Harvard is doing a lot to encourage women to get into technology, and to be more technical in general,” she said. “It’s great, because a lot of women think you can’t be social if you’re in computer science, that people will stigmatize you as a nerd, that guys will be intimidated by you, that you won’t find a boyfriend or a husband.”And men need to be part of the solution, too, she said: “We’re about to start an ‘allies’ program based on what Harvard Business School has done. We want to get men involved in discussing their perceptions about women in computer science. We need to talk about gender-related problems, like why only 7 percent of venture capitalists are women and how this impacts what companies get funded.”David C. Parkes, the George F. Colony Professor of Computer Science and area dean for computer science, is focused on the work ahead: “We’ve managed to close the gender gap a bit, but I think I speak for all my colleagues when I say that we won’t be happy until” the gap is gone.Parkes, who helped judge the hackathon, pointed to the growing number of women in Harvard’s introductory programming course, CS 50. Women filled 37 percent of the seats in CS 50 this year — an all-time high. “Our target for the entire concentration must be 50 percent,” he said.Bringing more women to engineering and computer science is a priority for Dean Cherry A. Murray of SEAS. “We are creating a curriculum that is encouraging and embracing people from diverse backgrounds, rather than the traditional engineering school’s ‘weeding out’ atmosphere,” said Murray, who is also the John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences and a professor of physics. “We have seen an increase of over a factor of two in the percentage of women concentrating in computer science in the last five years, which I celebrate, but we’re aiming higher — to complete parity — because we want the very best minds coming into the field.”Stanford computer science graduate Kimber Lockhart delivered the second keynote speech Saturday at the Science Center. Increo Solutions, Lockhart’s start-up firm, was acquired in 2009 by Box, a Silicon Valley company with a valuation of more than $1 billion. Just six years out of college, she is now senior vice president at Box, where she leads software engineering teams.“I hope many of you become software engineers because you want to change the world that way,” Lockhart said. “I am sometimes unable to build diverse teams because of so many women opting out” of software engineering. When Lockhart asked who in the packed house was interested in launching a start-up, about half the audience raised their hands.A young woman asked Lockhart how to overcome the “impostor syndrome,” an internalized feeling that women simply don’t belong in tech. Lockhart acknowledged its existence, but added, “You need to make decisions as if it weren’t there,” because “once you get in the door, you’ll be able to learn” everything you need.last_img read more

7 must-haves for your employee handbook

first_img 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr An employee handbook is a vital part of your business, but it can also be overwhelming to develop when you consider all of the information that should be included.An employee handbook sets the tone for your new hires and can (should) be a valuable resource for existing employees to go to review policies and find pertinent information that they may have forgotten, such as your FMLA policy or disability benefits. Further, some federal, state, and local laws require you to inform employees in writing about certain policies, so you should familiarize yourself with those requirements by visiting the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).Whether you are starting your first employee handbook, or you are revamping your existing handbook, take a look at a few of the must-haves to make sure you have a complete handbook that will protect you legally and give your employees a thorough understanding of your company and the expectations you have for them. continue reading »last_img read more

Subsea 7 to work on BP’s Caspian Sea project

first_imgUK’s Subsea 7 has been awarded two contracts by BP for the Azeri Central East (ACE) project in the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG) field in the Caspian Sea offshore Azerbaijan in a water depth of approximately 140 meters.The Central Azeri PlatformSubsea 7 said on Monday that the two contracts together represent a sizable contract award, which means the value is between $50 million and $150 million.The work scopes comprise engineering and fabrication of subsea structures, engineering, transport and installation of spools, the launching of a 16,200 tonne jacket and the float-over of an 18,500 tonne topside.The company said that the contracts would be executed in consortium with BOS Shelf, which would be responsible for the fabrication, logistics and facilities support. Engineering work will start immediately from Subsea 7’s office in France and offshore execution is expected to take place in 2021 and 2022.Gilles Lafaye, Subsea 7’s Vice President Africa Region, said: “This project reflects our long-term relationship and early engagement with BP Exploration and builds on our Life of Field activities in Azerbaijan.”It is worth reminding that BP awarded key contracts for the the ACE project in the Azerbaijan’s sector of the Caspian Sea earlier in September.The consortium consisting of BOS Shelf LLC and Star Gulf FZCO was awarded a contract for the fabrication of the jacket for the ACE platform and skirt piles. The value of this contract is around $260 million. The scope of work includes shop and erection engineering, rolling of tubulars, fabrication and assembly of the jacket and skirt piles, commissioning of installation systems, load-out and sea-fastening of the facility.Spotted a typo? Have something more to add to the story? Maybe a nice photo? Contact our editorial team via email. Also, if you’re interested in showcasing your company, product or technology on Offshore Energy Today, please contact us via our advertising form where you can also see our media kit.last_img read more