This week in our WiC roundup: STEM college numbers aren't adding up; Tesla's first diversity report; women on the moon; and more.

Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor

December 11, 2020

4 Min Read
WiCipedia: Minority numbers in STEM studies still lag

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: STEM college numbers aren't adding up; Tesla's first diversity report; women on the moon; and more.

  • A new study from the Center for an Urban Future found that the public City University of New York (CUNY) nearly doubled the amount of STEM graduates in the past decade, but racial and gender disparities persisted, The City reported. Women make up 58% of the CUNY student population, and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) students make up 55% of the population, but those same groups only represent 19% and 31% of the STEM program, respectively. While progress is being made, "The University nonetheless recognizes that more work needs to be done to achieve fully representative outcomes and is firmly committed to building on the outstanding progress of the past 10 years in creating access to technology careers for New Yorkers from lower-income, diverse backgrounds," said CUNY spokesperson Frank Sobrino. (See WiCipedia: Is there an alternative to imposter syndrome?) Figure 1: Slow and steady or behind the times? (Source: Pixabay) (Source: Pixabay)

    • It's hard to believe, but we are still waiting for the day when the first woman sets foot on the moon. Yet that may change in three years, thanks to NASA and Jeff Bezos. First Post reports that Bezos' "rocket venture," Blue Origin, is being prepared to take the first woman to the moon in 2024. While women have so far done "spacewalks," walking on the actual moon is a venture they have yet to accomplish – there haven't been any astronauts on the moon since 1972. Blue Origin testing is currently being done at The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (See WiCipedia: VMware Goes to Mount Kilimanjaro & Barbie Gets Geeky.)

    • Google AI researcher Timnit Gebru was reportedly fired earlier this year because of her work looking into the ethics of advances in AI, and critics aren't standing for it. Wired reports that shortly after Gebru opened up a conversation about implications on bias in AI, she was let go without much of an explanation. A report about the topic that Gebru was working on before she left the company is by all accounts mild and doesn't pin any blame on Google, so now more than 2,000 Google employees have signed a petition for transparency into the firing. And the controversy has spread beyond Google as well. "This article is a very solid and well-researched piece of work," says Julien Cornebise, an honorary associate professor at University College London. "It is hard to see what could trigger an uproar in any lab, let alone lead to someone losing their job over it." Another theory is that Gebru criticized the company's diversity programs and paid the price with her job. Hopefully there will be clarity into the situation in the near future. (See WiCipedia: Google Sued Over Gender Pay Disparity.)

    • Tesla released its first diversity report, Clout News explains, and while no one was surprised by the results, not many were pleased with them either. The numbers for minorities were low, even compared to other tech companies. For instance: "Women in Tesla represented approximately: 21% of employees [about 10% to 15% less than most other tech companies], 17% of leadership, 25% of new appointments and 23% of all promotions by 2020." Black workers made up 10% of employees, Asian workers were 21%, LatinX workers were 22% and another 7% of workers were classified as "additional groups." While the report seemed mostly transparent about the sex and race of workers, it left out stats on gender, sexuality, disability status and retention rates. The electric car and renewable energy company has been hit with several accusations of discrimination in recent years, though none have been proven or resolved. (See WiCipedia: Silicon Valley's Vanity Problem.)

      — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading. Follow us on Twitter @LR_WiC and contact Eryn directly at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Eryn Leavens

Special Features & Copy Editor

Eryn Leavens, who joined Light Reading in January 2015, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before earning her BA in creative writing and studio arts from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. She also completed UC Berkeley Extension's Professional Sequence in Editing.

She stumbled into tech copy editing after red-penning her way through several Bay Area book publishers, including Chronicle Books, Counterpoint Press/Soft Skull Press and Seal Press. She spends her free time lifting heavy things, growing her own food, animal wrangling and throwing bowls on the pottery wheel. She lives in Alameda, Calif., with two cats and two greyhounds.

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