Archive for September, 2009

Recruiting: 9 Women in Auto Technology!

Last week we had the CalWomenTech Project Partner Meeting and our 8 community college sites presented their successes to each other. It was amazing, truly. What an incredibly dedicated group of educators, it’s a privilege to work with them. More on this to come.

At this meeting we also learned that one of the colleges, Evergreen Valley College (EVC) in San Jose, has 9 women in the introductory auto tech classes. EVC is a leader in auto tech with both a hybrid and Honda program and now the college is a leader on recruiting women.

Then this past Wednesday I and our Program Coordinator Daniella Severs spent 3 hours at Evergreen with the Head of the Auto Program, one of the instructorswho is a co-leader and the Dean of Workforce Development, revising the retention plan with the goal of ensuring that the women are retained.  

We used 100% of our brains for three hours to come up with some innovative strategies, as well as some standard ones. Each of these three men took responsibility for leading a piece of the plan which will involve others on the CalWomenTech leadership team.

What struck me was how deeply committed these men are to having the College’s female students succeed.  Auto technology only has 2% women nationally.  We need the men in the field to support women to ensure their success. We certainly have this at Evergreen. Personally I find it inspiring. 

We have many other committed men and women in the CalWomenTech Project, from time to time I’ll be bragging, I mean blogging on them.

Question/Answer: How Do We Improve Computer Science’s Image?

question markSee Wechie’s Comment of 8/21: There seems to be hundreds of separate initiatives to encourage girls to study computer science but there remains an image problem. How can we get an industry wide campaign going to improve the image of computing?

Yes, Wechie you are correct, there is a huge image problem. American Association of University Women’s Study, Tech Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age (2000) which you can download for free, documents the image problem among girls and many other studies have gone on to replicate these findings.

I would like to see one of the major computer giants – such as Apple or Electronic Arts – use their marketing savvy and department to team with a nonprofit (such as us) to develop a multi-media marketing campaign (YouTube, facebook, TV commercials, Posters) that could create a more positive image of computer science for women and girls (and men!).

Of course, we also advocate that schools help to change the image by showing female role models in posters and career videos — our womentechstore has many resources to help with this. I’ve personally previewed the videos we have and they are extremely well done. (Shameless plug). Now if we could combine this with a national campaign by industry leaders this could be the push that’s needed.

Question/Answer:What To Do When A Woman is Blocked by a Woman

On 8/27, Mcauly asks what should she do when she’s blocked by another woman? question markJulia Child actually gives us some guidance on what to do when as a woman you are blocked by another woman. (See my earlier post of 8/20).  Essentially the same thing you would do if you were blocked by a man. 1) She uses politically savvy – by referencing her ally in power (the ambassador); 2) she persists by insisting she be given the test and by asking to be given it again when it is designed for her to fail; 3) she over prepares and studies long, long hours – determined to pass; 4) she does not take it personally.

She reminds me of the first women entering firefighting and what they went through. Is it fair, no? However, there are important lessons to be learned from those pioneers like Julia who refuse to fail. To summarize: have good political skills, persist, over prepare, don’t take things personally.

Readers, do you have strategies you’ve used successfully that you’d like to share? Please comment.

A Tale of “O” Diversity Training Video

A number of you asked me for more information about the training video that I mentioned in my Julie/Julia post. Here’s a description:

A Tale of O, the most popular video about diversity worldwide, is unique both in style and content. It shows the striking consequences of being “different” from the others around you – being an O among Xs. The videotape illustrates dramatically how this alone powerfully affects both the Xs treatment of an O and the O’s view of itself, regardless of the nature of the difference. Whether the O differs from the Xs by gender, race, age, language, age or other factors, the effects are similar.

This differential treatment of Os, especially when the difference is highly visible or socially important, is often taken as a sign of bias or deliberate discrimination. A Tale of “O” shows to the contrary that much of this different treatment is largely a consequence of the situation. It is not necessary to blame anyone, unlike many other approaches, which may punish and blame people quite unfairly. A Tale of “O” helps everyone identify with Os since everyone has been an O at one time or another. Moreover, the video suggests whole new avenues to systemic solutions. A Tale of “O” is narrated by its originator, Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School.

Here’s a link to a vendor that sells the video (in a DVD format). If you sign up for a username and password you can preview the video online in both the 18 and 27 minute format.

I used this video to do training for supervisors on how to integrate women into male-dominated occupations such as law enforcement and cable installation. I prefaced showing it by mentioning that the narrator has a high sing-song voice, which can be distracting. I’d recommend others do that as well if they are showing it in a predominantly male setting.