The Sum Volume #7: Code

“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.” —Warren Bennis.

Welcome to The Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt

My word of the week is CODE: As in Cracking the code, Learning to code, and Rewriting the code

Ada Lovelace, coding pioneer

 Cracking the Code

How much do we love this news of the week? The #WonderWoman movie is doing better at the box office over the longer haul—not just opening week–than any superhero movie in 15 years. The world is truly ready for her/us. That’s what cracking the code is all about.

Aside from the pop culture value of the movie, what really interests me is the role model value to crack the code of cultural gender stereotypes that have for so long defined women in limiting and self-limiting ways. Wonder Woman isn’t perfect on that score but certainly comes close enough that girls and women around the world are embracing the character as never before. And men and boys too, as it turns out. I saw a kindergarten teacher’s list of things that happened in her class during the week after the film’s release.  They included a previously Iron Man obsessed boy asking his mother for a Wonder Woman lunchbox,  and seven girls deciding that that since they all wanted to be Wonder Woman they would be Amazons at recess and not fight each other but work together to fight evil.

Continue reading “The Sum Volume #7: Code”

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.

The Young Politica: How Increasing Girls in STEM Programs Can Improve the Nation

In your junior high science classes, how many female scientific pioneers were in your textbook? I doubt that there were more than a handful.

STEM

In freshmen geometry class, did you learn about any famous female mathematicians? Probably not. I did not know about Sally Ride until I graduated from high school and even today, I could not tell you about any legendary female mathematicians.

Pioneering women have been historically absent from all school subjects, not just science and mathematics, since the dawn of the schoolhouse.

Even these days, when more women are going to college than men in this country, there remains a lack of women entering science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) career fields. The reasons for the interest gap are complicated, according to Christi Corbett, senior researcher for the American Association of University of Women.

“The direction of scientific inquiry is influenced by the people doing the work,” Corbett told me over the phone. Women comprise only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science fields. One can infer that women must then only make about 20% of the decisions in, say, scientific research.

Corbett helped compile Why So Few?—a comprehensive report that tries to solve why so few women are entering STEM fields. According to the studies in the report, there are still stereotypes which discourage girls from applying themselves towards STEM careers; girls tend to assess their abilities in STEM fields lower than boys do, even when they have similar scores; and girls tend to go into ‘helping’ professions (e.g. nursing), rather than higher-paying jobs in STEM fields that do not get as much recognition for helping others (e.g. engineering).

These girls’ lack of confidence and lack of encouragement by others even contributes to the gender wage gap, because STEM careers tend to have higher salaries than careers in social sciences and humanities.

“If there aren’t any women in STEM fields then there are ideas aren’t being brought to the table,” Christi Corbett said.

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So what’s being done to solve this problem? In the past year, the United States government has taken the initiative to plan new STEM projects and fund existing programs. I would have loved to have been a part of their new NASA G.I.R.L.S. program when I was younger!

AAUW is launching two of their STEM programs nationwide: Tech Savvy and Tech Trek. Tech Savvy is a conference that provides a day of workshops to sixth-to ninth-grade girls and their parents. Tech Trek takes 12-13 year old girls to college campuses, offering interactive classes and field trips with women professionals, offering real-life role-models to girls interested in the STEM fields.

It seems that though the shift to more female scientists and engineers may be slower than other fields women have infiltrated, it is improving.

“It’s nice to see that things are changing,” Corbett commented. “Women have infiltrated in all the majors and now they are finally beginning to see STEM role models.”

The efforts made to ensure that more girls enter these fields should be heavily supported, because an increase in high-paying STEM workers means a smarter nation and a wealthier nation.

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com