This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Gendered child-rearing can affect perception; small talk pays off; Andela creates opportunities for African developers; and more.
Women in Comms will be hosting its first networking breakfast and panel discussion on Wednesday, March 22, in Denver, Colo., ahead of day two of the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference. Register here and join us!
We know that when children are raised differently because of gender stereotypes it can impact how they envision their future career potential, but at what age does the feeling of inequality set in? Earlier than you might think, it turns out. A new study found that by age six, girls are aware of gender differences and feel as though boys are smarter, Mashable outlines. The results came as a surprise to co-author Lin Bian, who said, "It's possible that in the long run, the stereotypes will push young women away from the jobs that are perceived as requiring brilliance, like being a scientist or an engineer." The study doesn't only affect girls though. "It's not that girls are underestimating their own gender -- it's that boys are overestimating themselves." (See STEMing the Decline: Scientists Appeal to the Next Generation.)
If your company is short on qualified employees, you may just want to look to Africa. Andela connects the best of the best of African developers to major companies. A Capital Campus contributor and Andela fellow writes about the process of becoming part of Andela, which accepts less than 1% of applicants, and how Andela can help female developers earn a shot at a rewarding career, even though they're thousands of miles away from the companies that are hiring. CNN reported that both Google and Mark Zuckerberg have invested in the elite program, which "has a company-wide goal that 35% of its software developers are women, according to Christina Sass, one of Andela's four cofounders." (See WiCipedia: How to Make Companies Work for Women.)
Looking to bring a bit of tech know-how into the kitchen? Check out Rosanna Pansino's Nerdy Nummies Cookbook for inspiration. Pansino's website describes the cookbook as a mixture of "geek culture and baking," and says, "Her fondness for video games, science fiction, math, comics, and lots of other things considered 'nerdy' have inspired every recipe in this book." Recipes range from the "Periodic Table of Cupcakes" to the "Motherboard Cake," shown below in an instructional video. This may just be the secret to getting kids interested in STEM after all! (See Why Diversity of Geeks in Tech Matters.)
It turns out that small talk may be more important to your career than just a way to pass time at the water cooler. A study about "chit chat" found that while men are rewarded financially by engaging in talk about the weather and sports, such small talk is expected from women, and not reflected in their salaries. This is particularly relevant to negotiating during job interviews. Career Contessa reports: "Why the disparity? Differing stereotypes and expectations, the researchers say. Men are stereotyped as less communicative and sociable, so they profit more when they show communal behavior. Women are expected to be more sociable in general, so they just don't get the brownie points." The site advises that while such banter may not pay off for women like it does for men, women can hone their negotiating skills and research beforehand to lessen the gap. (See WiCipedia: Gendered Job Descriptions, Glass Cliffs & Gaslighting.)
Mary Tyler Moore passed away this week at the age of 80. A much-loved and revered actress, Moore paved the way for actresses to be leading ladies and for all women to live how they want to, regardless of societal expectations. The Daily Beast explains that while Moore didn't ever call herself a "feminist" and though she was never very political -- even in her heyday in the 1970s -- "She is a feminist, even if she ... did not describe [herself] as such." On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, she played one of the first single working women on TV. "Mary Tyler Moore was a working woman whose story lines were not always about dating and men. They were about work friendships and relationships," Tina Fey, an actress who has been inspired by Moore, has said. Moore also fought for equal pay both on and off screen, and served as an inspiration for countless other trailblazing women throughout her long and brave career. (See WiC Leading Lights Finalists: Hedy Lamarr Award for Female Tech Pioneer of the Year and Actress Kristen 'Twilight' Stewart Co-Authors AI Paper.)
Re: Gendered language @Sarah I agree with your approach (with babies too). Babies are wonderful and should be told so at every opportunity :) Older kids should be shown how important hard work is and how it creates success. Teaching the value of hard work early in life can help build habits that enable kids to achieve.
Re: Gendered language @Kelsey I think you're right about the role nurturing has in a child's perception. I've seen very different views from my own children compared to those I held as a child at the same age. It's great to see.
Re: Gendered language My niece who is 6-years old attends a montessori school -- from what I've gathered the school focuses on trying to put children on a level playing field (e.g. they have uniforms and can't wear sparkle shoes as that's considered distracting...seems a little extreme but I guess it keeps kids from comparing have and have-nots?). I've also heard that learning is more student-led in that students are encouraged to be creative and different learning styles are embraced.
@Eryn - Long story short, I think nurture has a lot to do with girls' self-perception of their skill-levels. Some kids do well sitting down all day soaking in information, but others need to move around a lot and might have a different learning style, but our education system doesn't always cater to that.
Speaking of catering, I love the nerdy nummies, that's a great way to get kids interested in tech. I had to skim through the video, though, she got a little long winded about her apron ;)
Re: Gendered language It was definitely a surprising study, especially how at 5 the kids are all equal and then at 6 they pretty suddenly separate and realize or perceive differences. I do think it's important to tell kids how great they are though, not to over inflate their egos but to make them feel capable and worthy from the get go. So what's the middleground here? What would happen if girls received more priased than boys as children? I'm wondering if this is all nurture or if there's some nature mixed in here in terms of ego and self-perception.
Gendered language It's really sad to see this latest study on little boys and girls' perceptions (and interesting that they change at age 6). You see it from birth with the clothing slogans for boys versus girls, the toy marketing and the well-intentioned things people say like "he's such a boy" or "boys will be boys."
Parents, teachers and everyone else need to be mindful of how they speak to children and not say things like, "yeah, math is hard!" to girls. I also think it's a good idea to not overdo the "your so smart" type of support, instead emphasizing how his/her hard work paid off when they do well in school.
Of course, I tell my son he's perfect and smart and amazing every day, but he's only 8-months old (and he is SO perfect, smart and amazing). I'll stop someday.