Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus
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Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Climate activists with disabilities fight for inclusion
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Climate activists with disabilities decry a lack of representation and burnout.

, ABC News

Despite 15% of the world’s population living with some form of a disability, research into the effects of climate change on the disabled community is still emerging.

Natural disasters resulting from climate change, like heatwaves and wildfires, disproportionately affect people with disabilities, according to advocates and activists. The harmful effects of climate change faced by disabled people are diverse and include — but aren’t limited to — reduced mobility, inability to regulate body temperature and respiratory problems.

Moreover, those with disabilities face further barriers in becoming advocates for environmental action and voicing their concerns, several experts who spoke with ABC News said.

While advocates claim the digital age has given climate change activists with disabilities more of a voice, they say the pandemic, which has forced society to live life even more online, has created more opportunities for those with disabilities; not just with work-from-home, but also to participate in activism.

Now, climate change activists with disabilities are increasingly demanding their place at the forefront of the climate change fight.

Yet, there remains an overall lack of visibility and literacy about the experiences of individuals with disabilities, Gregor Wolbring, a professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and an ability and disability studies scholar, told ABC News.

“You have to find a way that people are exposed more to disabled people in general,” Wolbring said.

In a recently published study looking at more than 5,500 abstracts of the academic climate change and environmental action literature, Wolbring and his colleague Chiara Salvatore found that none of these studies focused on youth with disabilities as environmental activists, and none dealt with the impact of environmental activism on youth with disabilities.

The 14 studies they identified that did address disability and environmental action did so in the capacity of impairments due to environmental issues such as toxins.

Recently, there were also claims that COP26, considered the largest and most significant climate change conference, was inaccessible to many with disabilities, even though COP President Alok Sharma in May 2021, promised the event would be the most inclusive COP ever.

Reports from the first week highlighted the inaccessibility of the conference venue as Israeli energy minister Karine Elharrar-Hartstein, a wheelchair user, was unable to enter.

The minister was eventually able to enter the venue after her concerns reached Israel and UK Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Boris Johnson, who issued her a public apology.

COP26 organizers also addressed the incident in a tweet and said, “#COP26 must be inclusive and accessible to all and the venue is designed to facilitate that.”

“I think people are definitely horrified at the lack of accessibility, but because it was solved for the Israeli minister, they don’t think it’s a problem anymore,” 17-year-old climate activist Scarlett Westbrook, who uses crutches, told ABC News.

From reports of having to walk over 10 minutes to enter the venue to the misuse of accessible elevators by camera crews, Westbrook said every part of the conference was “as inaccessible as it possibly could be.”

Click here to read the full article on ABC News.

A Future for People With Disabilities in Outer Space Takes Flight
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people with different disabilities checking their skills. Eric Ingram, who typically gets around in a wheelchair and who has a condition that has prevented him from becoming an astronaut, on the flight. “It was legitimately weird,” he said.

, NY Times

Eric Ingram typically moves through the world on his wheelchair. The 31-year-old chief executive of SCOUT Inc., a smart satellite components company, was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a rare condition that affects his joints and blocked him from his dream of becoming an astronaut. He applied and was rejected, twice.

But onboard a special airplane flight this week, he spun effortlessly through the air, touching nothing. Moving around, he found, was easier in the simulated zero-gravity environment where he needed so few tools to help.

While simulating lunar gravity on the flight — which is about one-sixth of Earth’s — he discovered something even more surprising: for the first time in his life, he could stand up.

“It was legitimately weird,” he said. “Just the act of standing was probably almost as alien to me as floating in zero gravity.”

He was one of 12 disabled passengers who swam through the air aboard a parabolic flight in Southern California last Sunday in an experiment testing how people with disabilities fare in a zero-gravity environment. Parabolic flights, which fly within Earth’s atmosphere in alternating upward and downward arcs, allow passengers to experience zero gravity for repeated short bursts, and are a regular part of training for astronauts.

The flight was organized by AstroAccess, a nonprofit initiative that aims to make spaceflight accessible to to all. Although about 600 people have been to space since the beginning of human spaceflight in the 1960s, NASA and other space agencies have long restricted the job of astronaut to a minuscule slice of humanity. The American agency initially only selected white, physically fit men to be astronauts and even when the agency broadened its criteria, it still only chose people that met certain physical requirements.

This blocked the path to space for many with disabilities, overlooking arguments that disabled people could make excellent astronauts in some cases.

But the rise of private spaceflight, funded by billionaires with the support of government space agencies, is creating the possibility of allowing a much wider and more diverse pool of people to make trips to the edge of space and beyond. And those with disabilities are aiming to be included.

The participants in Sunday’s AstroAccess flight argue that accessibility issues must be considered now — at the advent of private space travel — rather than later, because retrofitting equipment to be accessible would take more time and money.

The Federal Aviation Administration is prohibited from creating safety regulations for private spaceflights until October 2023. Initiatives like AstroAccess are aiming to guide the way that government agencies think about accessibility on spaceflights.

“It’s crucial that we’re able to get out ahead of that regulatory process and prevent misinformation or lack of information or lack of data from making bad regulation that would prevent someone with disability flying on one of these trips,” Mr. Ingram said.

The group also hopes that making everything accessible from the get-go could lead to new space innovations that are helpful for everyone, regardless of disability.

Click here to read the full article on NY Times.

Climate tech start-ups have raised a record $32 billion globally so far in 2021
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A majority (up to 85%) of the emissions from a barrel of oil come when transportation, such as your car, is driven, according to Carbon Tracker. It’s a stark example of how difficult the net-zero goal will be for companies, but far from the only one. Essential for combating climate change

By Sam Shead, CNBC

Technology companies working on combating climate change have raised a record breaking $32 billion so far this year, according to a report published Tuesday.

The amount of venture capital money flowing into climate tech this year has already exceeded the whole of 2020, the report by venture capital analysis firm Dealroom and promotional agency London & Partners said.

Meanwhile, investment in climate tech has more than quadrupled since 2016, when investors backed start-ups in the in the sector with just $6.6 billion.

It comes as some of the world’s top investors hail the potential for climate focused start-ups. On Monday, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink said he expects the next 1,000 billion-dollar start-ups to be in climate tech. While Bill Gates said last week that he expects there to be eight or 10 Teslas created in the space.

Between 2016 and 2021, climate tech start-ups in the U.S. raised the most funding, while their equivalents in China, Sweden and the U.K. were next in line.

Europe is the fastest-growing region globally for climate tech according to the findings, which analyzes technology companies working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or address the impacts of climate change.

European VC investment into climate tech start-ups is seven times higher this year than in 2016, up from $1.1 billion to $8 billion, the report said.

With the exception of the Bay Area in California, London is home to the biggest concentration of climate tech start-ups, according to the report. It says 416 climate tech start-ups have been created since the Paris Climate Agreement — a global pact forged at COP21 in 2015 when nearly 200 nations pledged to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Climate tech start-ups in London are collectively valued at $28 billion, according to the report.

Google search rival Ecosia, which uses its ad revenue to plant trees, announced the launch of a new 350 million euro ($405 million) climate tech venture capital fund to back start-ups across Europe on Tuesday.

“Our goal is to solve climate change,” Ecosia CEO Christian Kroll told CNBC ahead of the launch on Tuesday, just days before the upcoming 2021 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, also known as COP26.

“We’ve been doing that at Ecosia for a long time by planting trees,” Kroll added, saying that the company has planted 136 million trees so far. “But that alone won’t be enough.”

Pressure has been mounting on world leaders and CEOs to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions as scientists continue to warn that Earth is rapidly advancing towards a climate catastrophe.

Dealroom and London & Partners’ report has been released to coincide with COP26.

Click here to read the full article on CNBC.

Chevron Pledges Net-Zero Operational Emissions By 2050
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Chevron has set a target to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050 for equity upstream Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

By Bojan Lepic, Rigzone

USA-based supermajor Chevron has set a target to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050 for equity upstream Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Chevron issued an updated climate change resilience report that further details the company’s ambition to advance our lower-carbon future.

The company adopted a 2050 net-zero aspiration for equity upstream Scope 1 and 2 emissions. It is worth noting that unlike many other major companies like Shell and Eni, Chevron did not include greenhouse gases from all fuel products they sell or scope 3 in its net-zero pledge.

But, in its TCFD-aligned report, it describes how the company is incorporating Scope 3 emissions into its greenhouse gas emission targets by establishing a Portfolio Carbon Intensity (PCI) target inclusive of Scope 1 and 2 as well as Scope 3 emissions from the use of its products.

“Solutions start with problem-solving, which is exactly what the people of Chevron do – and have excelled at for over 140 years,” said Michael Wirth, Chevron’s chairman and CEO. “This report offers further insights about our strategy, how we are investing in lower-carbon businesses and why we believe this is an exciting time to be in the energy industry.”

Chevron’s new PCI target assists with transparent carbon accounting and company comparison from publicly available data. The target covers the full value chain, including Scope 3 emissions from the use of products.

The oil major, which last month pledged to triple its investments to $10 billion to reduce its carbon emissions footprint, set a greater than 5 percent carbon emissions intensity reduction target from 2016 levels by 2028.

This target is aligned with Chevron’s strategy which allows flexibility to grow its traditional business, provided it remains increasingly carbon-efficient, and pursue growth in lower-carbon businesses. The company plans to publish a PCI methodology document and online tool to enable third parties to calculate PCI for energy companies.

According to Chevron, its 2050 equity upstream Scope 1 and 2 net-zero aspiration builds on the company’s disciplined approach to target setting and action. Chevron anticipates that the path to this net-zero aspiration would include partnerships with multiple stakeholders and progress in technology, policy, regulations, and offset markets.

Click here to read the full article on Rigzone.

The California oil spill could endanger birds and sea life for years, experts say
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A bird balances on a temporary floating barrier used to contain oil that seeped into Talbert Marsh, home to about 90 bird species, after a 126,000-gallon oil spill off the coast of Huntington Beach, Calif., over the weekend.

By , NPR

Emergency officials are still trying to contain a major oil spill off the coast of Southern California that dumped more than 120,000 gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, some of which has washed ashore.

But even as the response effort continues, experts say the long-term impacts to the environment — particularly on birds and marine life — could be significant even if they didn’t get saturated by the weekend oil slick.

“They might not look visibly oiled, but the exposure that they get subtly through their diet or because of physical contact later on might affect their physiology, their health and translate into a lower reproductive success and therefore lower chances of the population to persist,” Andrea Bonisoli Alquati, a professor of biological sciences at Cal Poly Pomona, told NPR.

Bonisoli Alquati studied the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on marine and terrestrial wildlife along the Gulf Coast and found that the repercussions are still present today.

“Some populations might recover fast. Some other populations take years and years,” he said. “Sometimes the focus, of course, of the press and the public has already shifted away, but the consequences are still happening.”

Officials say they’re already finding dead fish and wildlife

The ecological effects are already being felt in Southern California.

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley tweeted on Sunday that officials were starting to find dead birds and fish washing up on the shore. The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed fisheries in coastal areas affected by the spill.

As of Sunday, the Oiled Wildlife Care Network reported that it had recovered three living birds impacted by the oil spill — a brown pelican, a ruddy duck and an American coot.

But many more could be at risk. The Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy says Talbert Marsh, which is in the zone of the oil spill, is home to about 90 different bird species.

“A spill of this magnitude is a disaster whenever it occurs, but this one occurred in an especially sensitive area at critical time, as many bird species head south for the winter,” Sarah Rose, executive director of Audubon California, said in a statement.

“This spill — in virtually the same spot as a devastating 1990 spill — is a reminder that petroleum and water are a dangerous mix along California’s precious coast and that continued reliance on oil kills birds and other wildlife, threatens our public health, and harms local economies and recreational opportunities,” she added.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Two Latinas are working together to create a pipeline of diversity in STEM
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young Hispanic woman in lab coat with technology equipment behind her

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, collectively known as STEM make up the fastest-growing and highest paid fields in the U.S. with diverse job opportunities in careers ranging from aerospace engineers, programmer to operations director, yet Latinas only account for 3% of the industry.

Unfortunately, many Latinas are discouraged from pursuing STEM careers and loose interest in these disciplines as early as middle school. This is why early intervention curriculums like the ones provided by XYLO Academy are key to increasing the representation of Latinas in the STEM workforce.

Getting to college is another challenge as underrepresented students face steep costs and challenges to higher education. According to a recent study published in the journal Education Researcher Latino college students drop out of STEM programs at higher rates (37%) that their white peers (27%).

Continual increases in tuition and fees have pushed the cost of college education beyond the means of most minority and underrepresented students. This is why IO Scholarships offers free access to scholarships and financial education so high school, undergraduate and graduate students can find life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

Despite all the challenges, these two Latinas are working together to fix the leaking pipeline, providing scholarships, and creating STEM curriculums for women of color.

Gabriela Forter
Co-founder XYLO Academy

Gabriela Forter headshot

Born and raised in the California San Joaquin Valley, Gabriela’s first introduction to entrepreneurship was during a course with Professor Rostamian at UCLA in 2015. This class significantly shaped not only her academic interests but also her career path. Gabriela and Professor Rostamian have now launched XYLO Academy to scale this same impact. After spending two and a half years at Deloitte Consulting, Gabriela joined Facebook, focusing on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. She is confident that the most meaningful changes in society will come from advancements in disruptive innovations and seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. She is committed to increasing diversity in STEM and believes that change starts with education.

“Our goal at XYLO Academy is to educate students on disruptive innovation and inspire them to pursue degrees and careers in STEM and with our partnership with IO Scholarships we are creating a pipeline for these students to have access to the best scholarships in STEM and realize their dreams.”

María Trochimezuk
Founder IO Scholarships

María Trochimezuk headshot

Her determination and hard work paid off as she won grants and scholarships to pay for her entire education. In realizing how time consuming and complicated the process of finding scholarships for STEM diverse students was, María Fernanda created IO Scholarships to make things much easier. She learned first-hand to find, apply for and win scholarships and became an advocate promoting scholarships nationwide.

“IOScholarships was inspired by my own experience as I was very fortunate to access scholarships to attend prestigious universities and realized that more could be done to support minority students especially now as STEM education becomes more important to workforce opportunities,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IO Scholarships. “IO Scholarships will not only help underrepresented students find scholarships, but level the playing field so all students have the opportunity to achieve their education goals.”

ABOUT XYLO ACADEMY

We are a group of passionate and skilled storytellers. We believe that students everywhere should have the power and ability to access a world-class education. We believe that technology and innovation, especially disruptive innovation, provides unlimited potential for the future. XYLO Academy introduces this space to students in a bold, story-telling format breaking down any barriers that impede equal opportunity to explore, learn and thrive in the 5 disruptive innovation platforms: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, Robotics, Energy Storage and Bio Tech. We have diverse experiences and backgrounds across technology, product innovations and education. We are united in our passion to provide equal access to the study of technology and innovation. Our diversity is our strength, and our mission is our singular focus. XYLO – Unlimited space for learning and opportunity.

ABOUT IO SCHOLARSHIPS

Most of the scholarships featured on the IOScholarships website come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, IO Scholarships website offers a free scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IO Scholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

We Asked, She Answered: Ashley Mehta, President & CEO, Nolij Consulting
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Businesswoman at desk checking phone with tech graphs in background

Professional Woman’s Magazine  recently spoke with Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting, a woman-owned, solutions-focused healthcare IT company that specializes in digital healthcare modernization for the military, public and commercial sectors.

Mehta founded the Northern Virginia-based Nolij Consulting in 2013, and since then, has scaled the company to be the leader in healthcare IT.

We asked the Ohio native more about Nolij, her challenges as a female business owner and her goals for the future: 

Professional Woman’s Magazine  (PWM): Tell us a little bit more about your background. Were you always interested in IT? 

Mehta: I am a graduate of the Ohio State University’s Max. M. Fisher College of Business. I have two children and am privileged to be in a position where I can create a positive, impactful work environment for my employees while giving back to the community and championing causes that I am passionate about, including veterans’ and women’s issues. I love working in IT because, whether it’s making systems more efficient, reducing client expenditure or producing better outcomes, technology is able to create a significant and real change in organizations and people’s lives. Yes, I’ve always been interested in technology as it increases business efficiencies and brings people together to solve the most pressing business problems.

PWM: What led you to create Nolij Consulting? 

Mehta: I was a former stay-at-home mom with two young children who found herself in a position where I needed to go back to work. I joined a large consulting firm and had the opportunity to learn the entire spectrum of the business – from compliance to proposals, business development, technology and everything in between. As the industry started shifting from large business opportunities to more small business opportunities, I recognized my chance to start my own company and make a real difference in the industry while having the work/life balance I wanted so I could juggle all of my responsibilities. From there, Nolij was born. Over the past 9 years, we have made great strides against considerable odds in establishing ourselves amid a crowded GovCon marketplace! Ironically enough, I have trained several previously stay at home moms in this business and they now work for Nolij.

PWM: What challenges, if any, have you experienced as a female founder and CEO in this space? 

Mehta: The biggest obstacle I’ve faced to date is the lack of prime IT opportunities specifically set aside for women-owned businesses. As Nolij has grown its footprint across the GovCon space, and is now expanding into the commercial sector, I’ve continued to focus on key areas, such as cybersecurity, RPA and AI, where we can expand our partnerships to create new opportunities for women-owned businesses. 

PWM: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment to-date?  

Mehta: Building a successful, thriving business and creating an outstanding consulting company with a great work environment for my employees while being a great mother is my greatest accomplishment so far. Our employees gave us a 4 on Glassdoor, which is no easy feat to achieve for an organization. Glassdoor is a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. I am proud of employing leading talent across the industry and having the expertise to serve our clients and add to their success.

Nolij is proud to give back to various charities and support the less fortunate in our community. As a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of having extra money to give to those in need.

I’ve been able to do this while raising two beautiful children who have worked hard as well and have bright futures ahead of them. These successes inspire me every day to keep moving forward.

PWM: What advice would you give to another female entrepreneur?  

Mehta: I would say that leading by example, putting yourself in front of clients and marketing your company on social media is very important. It’s also critical to set yourself apart and create a differentiator for your company. Distinguish your company and invest heavily in training resources and certifications for your organization and your employees. To build a successful team, be sure you are offering the right benefits that will keep employees with you and give them the chance to grow professionally. It’s no longer expensive to provide the benefits and resources that larger companies do. It is important to create a strong foundation to make people feel valued and enjoy coming to work each day. And remember, once you have a strong service/product offering, no one will care if you are a man or a woman.

PWM: What are your goals for Nolij Consulting? What do you hope to achieve in the future?  

Mehta: We are focused on strategic growth in a number of areas going forward to make the company future-ready. We are also focused on strong partnerships and relationships to further strengthen our capabilities to meet our clients’ goals. We’ve created three new joint ventures (JV) focused on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and health IT services. These joint ventures are a combination of 8A, WOSB, Hubzone, and SDVOSB managed JVs. We also have a mentor protégé JV relationship with a large health IT company where we plan to win opportunities under relevant IT contract vehicles. We are currently working to win several contract vehicles that give us the ability to win task orders under those vehicles. We just recently won GSA 8A STARS III and Navy Seaport NxG. We are also strengthening our AI /ML solutions to establish a strong capability in software testing and Electronic Health Records (EHR). We just won an artificial intelligence sole source opportunity with Health and Human Services (HHS). We’ve established several emerging, next-generation technology product partnerships and are currently establishing a workforce that is well trained on delivering these products. Our goal is to achieve an even stronger health IT company focused on our employee’s wellbeing while providing excellent health IT services to our clients.

PWM: What is something colleagues would be surprised to know/learn about you? 

Ashley Metha
Ashley Mehta, chairwoman, CEO and president of Nolij Consulting

Mehta: I have a twin brother who is also in IT. He is more in the sales and software product side of the business. My son looks quite a bit like him. I also have an older brother who is in healthcare mergers and acquisitions. I grew up with my father owning his own consulting business around continuing education for CPAs. He did not have the luxury of the business conveniences that we have today. Due to the lack of technology, he had to educate CPAs in person, ship heavy training materials for his classes and had to conduct business over a phone hooked up to a wall. Today we can offer e-learning opportunities, send large documents over the internet, use our mobile phones to have Zoom or WebEx meetings with clients across the world. As a business owner and mother, I have a tremendous amount of respect for what my dad accomplished while raising kids without the technological advances we have today.

PWM: Anything else you would like to add that we missed? 

Mehta: If your company has predominately male leadership, if it’s not leaning more towards a healthy even split, then the next generation of women will consider your company yesterday’s product. A product not worth their investment and time; a place where innovation and creativity will be stifled by outdated norms.

I want to take a moment to recognize the bright daughters of my outstanding employees and all that they are accomplishing. It’s exciting to think about a future where their contributions will not only be recognized but will be sought-after. Ultimately, empowering women in the workplace ensures your company will be ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

We Must Include More Women in Physics – It Would Help the Whole of Humanity
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Woman writing physics equations on a white board

By , The Wire

All around the world, there is an extreme gender imbalance in physics, in both academia and industry.

Examples are all too easy to find. In Burkina Faso’s largest university, the University of Ouagadougou, 99% of physics students are men. In Germany, women comprise only 24% of physics PhD graduates – creeping up from 21% in 2017. No women graduated in physical sciences at the University of El Salvador between 2017 and 2020.

Australia fares little better. Australian National University Professor Lisa Kewley forecasts that on current settings, it will take 60 years for women to comprise just a third of professional astronomers.

And the hits keep coming. A survey by the UK Royal Astronomical Society, published last week, found women and non-binary people in the field are 50% more likely than men to be bullied and harassed, and that 50% of LGBQ astronomers have suffered bullying in the past 12 months.

There are occasional glimmers in the gloom. In India, for instance, women now comprise 43% of those with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). But that figure is much lower in physics and in the higher echelons of academia.

Clearly, this gender imbalance urgently needs to be fixed. This is not simply a matter of principle: around the world, many of our best and brightest minds are excluded, to everyone’s detriment.

This month, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) held its seventh conference focused on the roles and prospects of women in the discipline. Held online, but hubbed in Melbourne, the five-day event was attended by more than 300 scientists from more than 50 countries.

We met many women who showed strength, leadership and commitment to progress physics in their countries, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. As the conference progressed, some distinct targets for action emerged.

Dissolving barriers

One priority is the need to overcome the barriers that prompt many women to leave physics before reaching its most senior levels. This happens for many reasons, including uncertainty in gaining long-term employment and the associated doubts about ever achieving senior positions, but research shows the effect is felt disproportionately by women.

Kewley’s analysis found that in Australian astronomy, 62% of women, compared with 17% of men, leave between postdoc and assistant professor level. A further 48% of women (and 28% of men) leave before the associate professor level.

Similar results are found in the UK, where the Royal Astronomical Society reported that women make up 29% of astronomy lecturers but only 12% of astronomy professors.

Collaborating with industry

Mentoring women to become entrepreneurs and commercial leaders is a key strategy for underpinning independence, well-being and social standing for women physicists.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t common in many developing countries, particularly not among women physicists, where social and economic conditions impede innovation and collaboration with industry,” Associate Professor Rayda Gammag, from Mapúa University in the Philippines, told the conference.

Another participant, Professor Mmantsae Moche Diale, a senior physicist at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, reflected that many people don’t know how to translate their research ideas into business.

“It is important that you get guidance on how to navigate challenging situations to translate your research into a product you can sell,” she said.

Helping women physicists in developing countries

In some countries, social, cultural, economic and religious norms mean there is little support for women physicists. This can be deep-rooted, with discrimination at the earliest levels of education. University-educated women often find themselves blocked from research funding or leadership positions.

IUPAP has an important role to play here, through connecting women physicists in developing countries with their global colleagues, developing codes of conduct to combat discrimination and aggression, and reaching out through our regional chapters.

“Some countries have so few women that they’d benefit from joining a network with others in a similar situation,” Adjunct Professor Igle Gledhill from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa told the conference.

Showing the way

Despite the deeply ingrained challenges, there are some signs of progress. Two standout nations are Iran and India.

In Iran, women make up 55% of physics PhD candidates and high-school science teachers, Azam Iraji zad of the Physics Society of Iran told the conference. It was also revealed that the proportion of women in STEM education in India is larger than in the UK, the United States or France.

Nevertheless, the conference heard stark evidence that action to remove gender barriers in physics around the world will often be met not just with resistance but sometimes violence.

One of us (Prajval Shastri) led a workshop that delivered powerful and practical recommendations on how to ensure no one is left behind. Physicists have multiple identities beyond gender, such as race, class, caste and abled-ness, creating a complex pattern of disadvantage and privilege.

Ultimately, the physics enterprise should learn from the gender gap but go beyond it and aim to centre itself on the interests of its most vulnerable members. That way, it will emerge as a better and more inclusive profession for everybody.

This needs to happen everywhere from the classroom to the lab, to conferences, industry networking and public science communication. Boys and girls alike deserve to see more role models from all marginalised groups doing physics.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

Tech Education Financing for Black Communities
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diverse students looking at computer screen in a college classroom environment

There are two ways of learning tech skills – one approach is the use of free courses, guides and other online resources and the second is by enrolling in schools that offer tech programs and education.

According to Brookings, members of the black and hispanic communities are still underrepresented in the tech sector despite increasing numbers. This means that if you want the numbers to continue to change, you’ll have to step up to the challenge.

If you do decide to learn tech skills alone, you won’t get a degree or a certificate, but this very much still a viable option to get your foot in the door. Know that employers are willing to hire someone without a tech degree if you can prove your worth but getting a diploma, certificate or degree can greatly boost your chance of being hired.

If acquiring certification is the path you’re willing to take, consider enrolling in a course hosted by reputable education companies. Know that tech education can be expensive, up to $25,000 even for certificates, but it is worth it. These schools often offer financing options and post-graduation employment support benefits.

With that in mind, here some aspects we should consider in order to get financing for tech education.

Apply for ‘Academy’ Organization Jobs

Tech skills are highly demanded these days, and employers know it. For that reason, if you are already in the tech field and you want to get additional education, you can get it by applying for jobs where companies can pay for your professional growth.

By doing so, you will be able to update your skills to stay current. An excellent example is Google. The company helps its employees get the education they need to take the company to the next level. Google invests vast amounts of money in new technologies like machine learning to provide better services and develop better products for customers.

So, if you are looking to learn machine learning skills, you should consider applying for Google’s vacancies. At Google, you will not only be able to learn new skills but also will be able to earn a good salary and have great benefits.

There are also companies like Facebook that are investing huge amounts of money in web development as they know that websites are revolutionizing the market. In effect, websites are increasing company brand recognition as well as customers’ reach. Through websites, companies can interact with customers all around the world. For that reason, eCommerce is playing a pivotal role in digital marketing. Also, websites help companies to collect valuable data to set new standards and meet new customers’ requirements. Given these points, doubtlessly web development skills are required these days, and for that reason, Facebook is willing to invest money in its employees’ education.

Enroll in Coding Bootcamps with Scholarship Opportunities

Some educational companies think about the future. In effect, they want their tech aspirants to prepare for next world challenges. For that reason, as getting an education can be expensive, they offer several financing options for students who want to join their programs. With this in mind, Flatiron is a company that provides scholarships to students. With the program, students can receive up to $1,500 per month to pay for tuition. The company offers several programs in software engineering, full-stack development, data science, and other in-demand subjects. Also, the company is committed to students’ success, and for that reason, they receive help from a support career team that allows students to receive help from experts in the field.

In like manner, Thinkful is a company that thinks of its students. For that reason, they also offer financing options to students to help them cover education costs. It is vital to mention that the company offers a tuition guarantee to students. Given that, students will receive their money back if they don’t get a qualifying job within six months after program completion. Also, Thinkful offers other financing options that include living stipends, income-share agreements, and discounts to help reduce students’ financial stress.

As can be seen, there is no doubt that if you want to change careers or you want to start a new tech career joining Thinkful’s team is the right option to take.

We Need More Women in Technology. Period.
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Emma Yang outdoors wearing a black and gold long sleeved sweater that says full schedule

Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – there are so many male leaders in tech. But what about Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Susan Wojcicki, Sheryl Sandberg and the decades of further women technologists?

Women are making an impact in technology, but the statistics are still shocking. According to the Women and Technology Study conducted for PwC in 2017, only 3 percent of women say a career in technology is their first choice, 78 percent of students can’t name a famous woman working in technology, and only 5 percent of jobs in the technology industry are held by women.

Luckily, times are changing, and more women are being encouraged to join the ranks of innovators and creators driving remarkable technological innovations for our world.

Tech is a very cool industry for women to work

So why should women choose to work in technology?

Technology is a modern industry with a modern workplace culture. Think of all the perks at tech giant Google—free food, on-site massage therapists, dedicated volunteering time, and dog-friendly offices. But it’s not just about the physical benefits.

Emma Yang, CEO and founder of the mobile app Timeless

A career in technology means working with diverse people who are some of the brightest and most innovative minds in the world.

Working in the technology sector can mean working on some totally out-of-this-world, near-on futuristic projects that can help millions of people globally. Being part of something bigger and making a long-lasting and tangible difference to society is very appealing.

Of course, one of the biggest reasons why the technology sector can be so luring is its rapid rate of growth. With every new and exciting development comes many opportunities for women to get involved.

The technology sector is always hiring, and here are some of the key types of projects you could work on:

Robotic intelligence

Ever dreamed of a robot cooking you dinner? Time to wake up into this reality: robots are becoming more intelligent, more dexterous, and more adaptable to their environment.

Dactyl is a robot created by OpenAI – non-profit brainchild of tech leader Elon Musk – who can hold things with its fingers and learn to do tasks beyond its programming.

Brain-computer interface

Watching a series on the computer can even see the effort of reaching for the mouse to click the next episode an aspect of the past.

Development of a brain-computer interface is underway – a very futuristic but very possible technological development where thoughts can control the computer.

Another Elon Musk startup, Neuralink, has already developed a system where a monkey has successfully controlled a computer with its brain. The company has been considering rolling out the system for humans to help with brain and spinal cord injuries.

High-speed internet

Internet has become a staple part of many people’s lives, which means we’re expecting more and more from it. One frustration is slow internet, but innovators are solving that problem too with 5G. High-speed internet is great for individuals, and for the economy also via boosting businesses, increasing working efficiency, and making communication easier and more reliable – particularly for remote workers.

Driverless cars

So, it’s not quite the sci-fi utopia of flying cars, but technology companies are developing driverless cars powered by artificial intelligence.

It’s a mammoth task to take on – mimicking complex human actions and reactions, scaling the product to make it affordable to the mass-market – but many technology companies are determined to bring this to streets of the future.

Plant-based, meat-free food

Technology is often mainly associated with computers, devices and further hardware but technological progress can also be seen in other types of products – and can even impact of people’s lives, such as their diets. Thankfully, many people have become far more environmentally conscious and the technology industry is responding to this via a wide range of plant-based, meat-free options that are lab-grown or even 3D printed.

What’s more, plant-based meat-free alternatives can be very nutritionally optimized and personalized through technology so as to suit the health needs of individuals, and products can be mass-produced without a huge environmental impact – a big step towards alleviating the food crisis worldwide. Better for health, and better for the planet.

Personalized cancer vaccines

As well as food, technology can also revolutionize health. One incredible leap forward for human progress is custom cancer vaccines where treatment triggers someone’s immune system to find and destroy the cancer itself.

This is truly what working in technology is all about – developing new innovations that can save lives and change the world for the better.

Two women who are leading the way in creating these sorts of pioneering technological innovations are:

Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor, pictured in a red dress and black blazer
Stephanie Lampkin, founder
and CEO of Blendoor

Stephanie Lampkin, founder and CEO of Blendoor – a mobile job matching app that uses a blind recruiting strategy to overcome unconscious bias and diversify recruiting in tech companies. A 13-year career with technology companies like Lockheed, Microsoft, and TripAdvisor has familiarized Lampkin with the difficulties of ‘looking different.’ With the help of technology and data, her aim is to prove that diversifying the tech talent pipeline will add, rather than remove, value to the industry.

And Emma Yang, CEO and founder of Timeless, a mobile app that helps Alzheimer’s patients stay engaged and connected to loved ones. She is a keen coder and an advocate for women in STEM. Through her work, she wants to encourage further young women like her to pursue careers in the technology industry and use their talents to make the world a better place.

Making space for women in STEM

With such rising demand for new technology, there is a significant need for women to be better supported in pursuing a career in STEM. Educators, businesses and individual mindsets must be broadened if barriers are going to be broken, stereotypes challenged and obstacles overcome to regarding women’s participation in and contribution to innovation.

We need more coding clubs in schools. We need more female role models and mentors. We need to overcome gender bias in the workplace. Companies also need to provide a more flexible work environment for women, such as programs to support women returners or better maternity leave policies.

We need more women in technology. Period.

Source: internationalwomensday.com

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022
  3. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  4. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022
  5. WiCyS 2022 Annual Conference
    March 17, 2022 - March 19, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022
  3. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  4. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022
  5. WiCyS 2022 Annual Conference
    March 17, 2022 - March 19, 2022