How to Set Up a Virtual Event
LinkedIn
A woman watching a virtual panel while taking notes from her desk at home

By Jerri Barrett, Marketing and Event Consultant

COVID-19 has significantly impacted the event industry, forcing some organizations to cancel 2020 events, while others are moving to virtual events.

Virtual events are not new. For International Women’s Day 2013, Global Tech Women launched a global virtual conference, which featured more than 70 speakers from around the world and ran for 36 hours. More than 11,000 attendees joined the conference from 50 countries. A key learning from that conference: “When a conference is virtual, what becomes critical is the promotion of the conference to create awareness and excitement. Our sponsor, Google, helped us achieve global visibility and drove the global engagement,” said Deanna Kosaraju, CEO of Global Tech Women.

In 2016, VMware began hosting a conference on its campus in Silicon Valley called Women Transforming Technology (WT2). Over the past four years, the conference became an annual tradition, and plans were well underway for 2020 when the COVID-19 crisis began. The call for participation had been completed, the schedule of speakers was set—including Hollywood icon Laura Dern as the closing speaker—and registration had opened.

“I have always been a worrier/planner, so while I was watching the news in February and hearing more and more about COVID-19, I realized that we would need to be making a decision about whether to take our conference—scheduled for May 5—virtual, and the sooner we made the decision, the better off we would be,” said Arti Sharma, diversity & inclusion program manager, VMware. “We realized when the shelter in place order came into effect on March 6 that over 500 people were probably not going to want to nor be able to sit in the same room in May. On March 11, we got the approvals and input we needed to transition to a virtual conference plan.”

Sharma shared some issues that need to be addressed when making a conference virtual:

Registration fees: Because WT2 was underwritten by VMware and other sponsors, WT2 had the option to offer free registration for attendees and made registration open to everyone. They have seen an enormous spike both in attendee numbers and in the number of countries represented. What was formerly a Silicon Valley-focused event has now become global with representatives from multiple countries across six continents. While most organizations do not have this option, the cost structure for a virtual event is very different and needs to be accounted for in registration pricing.

Plan for breaks: Attendees working from home are frequently interrupted by children, significant others and pets. Make sure there are breaks between sessions and offer attendees speaker-led activities like stretches or gentle exercises.

Prepare your speakers: Every speaker at the WT2 conference agreed to participate virtually without hesitation. Each speaker can rehearse twice before the event to ensure they are successful. Rehearsals are scheduled close to the time of day their session will be held, so in addition to testing equipment and access, speakers will be given feedback on their lighting and background. Someone will introduce them, monitor the chat and organize Q&As, and make sure all attendees can access the system with their passwords. Make full use of volunteers and committee members.

Security: Everything should be password-protected and available to only registered attendees, each with a unique code.

Recordings: Video conference platforms include the option of recording sessions. Have speakers sign video waivers, and plan how attendees can access these recordings after the event.

Accessibility: Accessibility issues have been raised for a number of conferences—virtual conferences are no different. Closed captioning is available in some video platforms.  AccessSIGCHI has created a guide for creating Accessible Remote Attendance on its website.

The conference app company Whova recently launched a series of webinars for their customers who manage conferences and need to rapidly address becoming virtual.

Key issues highlighted include:

Virtual conference platforms. Video conferencing platforms vary in their pricing, ability to scale, and the amount of control over access that can be exercised

Time zones. Conference organizers should be mindful of time zones and consider shorter days

Sponsor/attendee engagement. Event sponsors will turn to event organizers to demonstrate unique ways to connect with attendees. Conference apps, websites and conference programs can be used to convey important sponsor information. Networking functions in apps and on-video platforms can connect sponsor representatives to individual attendees. Also consider using gamification functions to encourage attendees to visit sponsor pages and websites.

Attendee networking. Many conference attendees seek to broaden their networks and identify collaborators and mentors. Consider providing a platform to enable attendees to create a profile page and engage on a community bulletin board, and offer the option during sessions for attendees to chat with each other.

In March, the RESPECT Conference had three days needed to go virtual to help protect their attendees. Brianna Blaser, counselor/coordinator at DO-IT at the University of Washington, was both a presenter and attendee of the conference. “As it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to go to Portland, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to present my paper but also that I would miss out on connecting with colleagues who I only see in person once or twice a year. I was so glad to hear that RESPECT was going virtual. They made heavy use of breakout rooms for small group discussions, which meant I was able to connect with so many of those colleagues and meet new people as well.”

Hispanic Heritage Month: Two Latinas are working together to create a pipeline of diversity in STEM
LinkedIn
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 Must Include More Women in Physics – It Would Help the Whole of Humanity
LinkedIn
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.

Blue Origin Launch: Jeff Bezos reaches space on company’s 1st flight with people
LinkedIn
Bezos, 57, who also owns The Washington Post, claimed the first seat.

By Marcia Dunn, ABC 7

VAN HORN, Texas — Jeff Bezos blasted into space Tuesday on his rocket company’s first flight with people on board, becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride his own spacecraft.

The Amazon founder was accompanied by a hand-picked group: his brother, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation pioneer from Texas – the youngest and oldest to ever fly in space.

“Best day ever!” Bezos said when the capsule touched down on the desert floor at the end of the 10-minute flight.

Named after America’s first astronaut, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket soared from remote West Texas on the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a date chosen by Bezos for its historical significance. He held fast to it, even as Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson pushed up his own flight from New Mexico in the race for space tourist dollars and beat him to space by nine days.

Unlike Branson’s piloted rocket plane, Bezos’ capsule was completely automated and required no official staff on board for the up-and-down flight.

Blue Origin reached an altitude of about 66 miles (106 kilometers), more than 10 miles (16 kilometers) higher than Branson’s July 11 ride. The 60-foot (18-meter) booster accelerated to Mach 3 or three times the speed of sound to get the capsule high enough, before separating and landing upright.

The passengers had several minutes of weightlessness to float around the spacious white capsule. The window-filled capsule landed under parachutes, with Bezos and his guests briefly experiencing nearly six times the force of gravity, or 6 G’s, on the way back.

Led by Bezos, they climbed out of the capsule after touchdown with wide grins, embracing parents, partners and children, then popped open bottles of sparkling wine, spraying one another.

Sharing Bezos’ dream-come-true adventure was Wally Funk, from the Dallas area, one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA’s all-male astronaut corps in the early 1960s but never made it into space.

Joining them on the ultimate joyride was the company’s first paying customer, Oliver Daemen, a last-minute fill-in for the mystery winner of a $28 million auction who opted for a later flight. The Dutch teen’s father took part in the auction, and agreed on a lower undisclosed price last week when Blue Origin offered his son the vacated seat.

“I got goose bumps,” said Angel Herrera after the capsule landed. “The hair on the back of my neck stood up, just witnessing history.”

Herrera, who lives in El Paso, was one of a few dozen people who watched the launch from inside Van Horn High School, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away.

Blue Origin – founded by Bezos in 2000 in Kent, Washington, near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters – hasn’t revealed its price for a ride to space. Two more passenger flights are planned by year’s end, said Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith.

The recycled rocket and capsule that carried up Tuesday’s passengers were used on the last two space demos, according to company officials.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7.

Tech Education Financing for Black Communities
LinkedIn
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.

The Annual BDPA Technology and Career Fair – Win Scholarship in the “Design A Mobile App Showcase’!
LinkedIn
Man's hand holding display of mobile app design

You will design, pitch and demo the app to a panel of judges for the chance to win a scholarship.

Hi Students,

The National Mobile App showcase is a great opportunity to improve your programming skills in the language of your choice and learn about product development.

Design and build any application you are passionate about and learn how to give a compelling pitch to an audience of companies looking for students like you!

This competition is here for independent, driven students.

We will provide lightweight checkpoints to help you think through your app, troubleshoot, and finish a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by the end of the summer.

Build your app at your own pace.

Register Here!

During the Annual BDPA Conference on August 12-14, 2021, you will pitch and demo the app to a panel of judges for the chance to win a scholarship upward We’ve got great prizes this year.

1st Place College Scholarship $3,000
2nd Place College Scholarship $2,000
3rd Place College Scholarship $1,250

1st Place High School $1,750
2nd Place High School $1,250
3rd Place High Scholarship $750

Hope to see you there!

Best,
The Mobile App Showcase Team
mobileapps@bdpa.org

We Need More Women in Technology. Period.
LinkedIn
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

Seeing is Believing — A Letter from the Editor
LinkedIn
Diversity in STEAM Magazine Cover featuring Geena Davis in dark blue bless smiling

As children, we all had dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up — be it a fireman, astronaut, ballerina or race car driver. Oftentimes, our first exposure to these figures was in a movie or on television, where we would watch how they acted so we could emulate and dream that one day, “that will be me.”

But what if you rarely saw the you of your dreams in the media? Or worse yet, it never occurred to you that you could one day grow up to be that very thing? This is why representation in the media — particularly when it comes to girls and women in STEAM — is so important. Actor and Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Geena Davis understands this all too well.

Our cover story this month is about a devoted advocate for gender equality, particularly in STEAM roles. In fact, she created her own non-profit research organization that focuses on gender representation in family media and entertainment. “When my daughter was a toddler, I began watching children’s TV with her, and I was stunned to notice what seemed to be a huge gender disparity in entertainment made for young kids,” says Davis. “It occurred to me that this was a very unhealthy message to send to kids in the 21st century, which led me to create the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.”

Read more on how Davis is standing up for girls and women in the media and elsewhere on page 24.

To that effect, see how Asian women leaders are leaving their own mark in the STEAM industry on page 44. Learn on page 106 why we need more women in technology — period. Not to mention the 5 ways in which the U.S. Agency for International Development is empowering women in the fight against climate change on page 110.

Kat Catagnoli headshotAnd finally, find out why 130,000 flocked to the University of South Florida to sign up for its Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Certificate program on page 96.

Be it a scientist, engineer or astronaut, we support giving girls and women the role models they can emulate and dream to become. Because, “if she can see it, she can be it.”

Kat Castagnoli
Editor, Diversity in STEAM

Geena Davis: Standing Up for Gender & STEM
LinkedIn
Geena Davis collage of pictures including the Diversity in STEAM Magazine Cover

By Sarah Mosqueda

Geena Davis has played several complex characters, but the actress, gender and STEM advocate, producer and model is hesitant to call them role models.

For example, take Thelma Dickinson from the iconic 1991 movie, Thelma & Louise. She was characterized as the ditzy wife of an insensitive, bullying, unfaithful carpet salesman.

But it wasn’t until after the Golden Globe and Academy Award-winning actress portrayed this role that she began to consider how women in the audience might feel about it. She also realized the limited opportunities women have to feel empowered or excited about female characters.

And when Davis became a mother, that realization hit hard.

‘If she can see it, she can be it.’

“When my daughter was a toddler, I began watching children’s TV with her, and I was stunned to notice what seemed to be a huge gender disparity in entertainment made for young kids,” says Davis, “It occurred to me that this was a very unhealthy message to send to kids in the 21st century, which led me to create the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.”

Motivated by these imbalances, Davis founded her non-profit research organization in 2004. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDIGM) researches gender representation in media and advocates for equal representation of women. The organization works collaboratively within the entertainment industry, thanks in large part to Davis’ connections, and aims to create gender balance, foster inclusion and reduce negative stereotyping in family entertainment media.

Currently headquartered in Los Angeles, GDIGM has collected the largest body of research on gender prevalence in family entertainment, with children’s entertainment being a primary focus.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – OCTOBER 03: Actor Geena Davis speaks during The Power Of Inclusion Summit 2019 at Aotea Centre. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images for New Zealand Film Commission)

“My Institute has conducted numerous studies over the years showing that diverse and high-quality portrayals of women and girls are quite simply missing from children’s media,” Davis says.

Youth ages 8-18-years-old are engaging with media more than 7 hours a day, according to GDIGM. And although women and girls are 51 percent of the population, entertainment media does a poor job of reflecting that with the ratio of approximately 3:1 male to female characters.

“This has a real impact on young viewers’ ideas about themselves and the occupations they pursue,” Davis says. Disparities are most apparent in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM fields), where only one-quarter of scientists and engineers in the United States are female.

According to Davis, media plays a contributing role to the dismal numbers. She points to a 2012 GDIGM study that found low representation of female STEM characters. The study analyzed occupations in children’s media and found that, for every 15 male characters shown in STEM jobs, there was only one female character portrayed in a STEM profession.

“STEM characters were rarely featured in leading roles, and when they were, men STEM characters were moderately (but significantly) more likely than women STEM characters to be leads,” says Davis. However, when girls do see women in STEM in media, it has a significant impact.

In a 2018 study titled, “The Scully Effect,” GDIGM looked at the influence of “The X-Files’” protagonist Dana Scully on girls and women entering the STEM field.

“Nearly two-thirds of women working in STEM today say that Scully served as their personal role model and increased their confidence to excel in a male-dominated profession,” Davis says, “In other words, as we say, ‘If she can see it, she can be it.’”

An Actress & Advocate
Born Virginia Elizabeth Davis in Wareham, Mass., Davis’ mother, a teacher’s assistant, and her father, a civil engineer and church deacon, were both from small towns in Vermont. Davis also has an older brother named Danforth “Dan.”

At an early age, she became interested in music. Davis learned piano and the flute and played organ well enough as a teenager to serve as an organist at her Congregationalist church in Wareham. She went on to attend Wareham High School and was an exchange student in Sandiviken, Sweden, becoming fluent in Swedish.

Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis taking a Polaroid of themselves in a scene from the film ‘Thelma & Louise’, 1991. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

It’s been said that she actually adopted the nickname, Geena, after seeing shows with the characters Cheburashka and Gena the Crocodile, which aired as a children’s segment in a national television show in Sweden in the late 1970s.

Davis attended New England College before earning her bachelor’s degree in drama from Boston University in 1979. Following her education, she served as a window mannequin for clothing retailer Ann Taylor until signing with New York’s Zoli modeling agency.

Davis made her acting debut in the 1982 film, Tootsie. In 1986, she starred in the iconic thriller, The Fly, which proved to be one of her first box office hits. While the fantasy comedy, Bettlejuice, brought her to international acclaim, it was the drama, The Accidental Tourist, in 1988 that earned her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She cemented her leading actress status with her performance in Thelma & Louise, receiving a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Later, she starred in A League of Their Own in 1992, which provide to be a critical and box office success, earning her a Golden Globe Award nomination.

Through her work with the Geena Davis Institute and focus on gender in the media, Davis has launched the annual Bentonville Film Festival and executive produced the documentary, This Changes Everything, in 2018. She also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for all she has done to fight gender bias on and off the screen in Hollywood.

Changing Tomorrow — Today
While areas of gross gender inequality remain, Davis insists the one category where the underrepresentation of women can be fixed overnight is on screen. “The very next project somebody makes, the next movie, TV show, can be gender-balanced,” she says. Which is why the purpose of the research done by GDIGM is not to educate the public, but to take the data directly to the creators of children’s media and share it in a private, collegial way. Since its inspection, GDIGM has prompted a significant change in messaging at major networks and studios. The institute has conducted custom educational workshops and presentations for industry leaders, like the Cartoon Network, CBS, DreamWorks, FOX Feature Animation, PBS, Sesame Workshop, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. The GDIGM website (seejane.org) sites its influence over gender portrayal in content like Inside Out, Hotel Transylvania, Monsters University, The Dark Crystal and DocMcStuffins.

“We are seeing a concerted effort on the part of content creators to strive for greater diversity, equity and inclusion in their stories,” Davis says, “They have embraced our data, and are applying it along with our research tools.”

Geena Davis and team at screening of “Mission Unstoppable.” Photo by Geena Davis Institute

In addition to getting data into the hands of content creators, Davis has also taken the initiative to create content herself. Davis is the Executive Producer of Mission Unstoppable on CBS. The educational television series from Litton Entertainment is hosted by Miranda Cosgrove and centers on diverse, female STEM professionals. Yet, the engagement of the show goes beyond TV. It’s a social media movement, meeting young girls in the places they’re most drawn to, such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and Twitch. The content ranges from meet and greets with women role models in STEM, to how scientists use hormones to be able to tell if someone is in love.

Davis says the visibility of unique, intersectional, female characters in entertainment and media is essential to challenging negative stereotypes.

“That’s why shows like Mission Unstoppable are so important,” Davis says, “Increasing media depictions of women in STEM is easy to do, and provides a big bang for the buck.”

And it would seem critics agree. Mission Unstoppable was nominated for two Daytime Emmys in 2020, including outstanding entertainment/educational series.

Davis has also helped champion an AI called, “GD-IQ: Spellcheck for Bias,” that leverages patented learning technology to analyze scripts for unconscious bias and discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disabilities.

“We launched our first ML tool in 2015, GD-IQ, which uses ML along with Human Expert coding,” Davis says, “Which has now gone well beyond just measuring gender which has been used to analyze video for ads, movies and TV shows.”

Davis says her team worked to develop another tool that could be used in the pre-production phase of content development in order to review and improve diversity and inclusion before content went into casting and production.

“This is how Spellcheck for Bias was developed and built utilizing some of USC Viterbi’s patented text IP, which we are currently using to analyze text in scripts, books etc.,” she says, “We’re already testing it with major studios like The Walt Disney company and NBC Universal.”

BURBANK, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 22: (L-R) Dr. Erin Macdonald, Geena Davis and Mayim Bialik speak onstage during ‘The Scully Effect – I Want to Believe in STEM’ panel at AT&T SHAPE at Warner Bros. Studios. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for AT&T)

The new tool can rapidly analyze a script to determine the ratio of male and female characters and how accurately they represent the real population at large. The technology also can discern the numbers of characters who are people of color, LGBTQI, possess disabilities or belong to other groups typically underrepresented in mainstream media.

In the decade since she started GDIGM, Davis has used her influence to move the needle. And slowly but surely, the needle has moved.

In family films, the percentage of lead characters who are female has doubled from 2007 (24 percent) to 2019 (48 percent) and the percentage of leading female characters in children’s television was 42 percent in 2008; that rose to 52 percent by 2018.

“We are beyond thrilled to see one of the most important goals we set [on-screen parity] has been reached during the time we’ve been advocating for it,” Davis says.

Though she is quick to add there is still work to be done.

The Road Ahead…Doing Your Part
“When it comes to intersectionality of gender and the other dimensions, we measure such as race, LGBTQ+, age, abilities, body type…those haven’t budged yet, but we’re very confident that on-screen representation will improve significantly within the next 5 years.”

BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS – MAY 07: Geena Davis speaks at the Bentonville Film Fest at the Filmmakers retreat. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Bentonville Film Festival)

As a viewer, Davis says there is actually a lot you can do to encourage programming that is diverse, equitable and inclusive.
“Viewers can use the power of their voice via social media to support and challenge what they see in media and entertainment,” says Davis, “Secondly, they can choose what they decide to watch and view with their families. Third, consumers who have children, can use their media consumption as a way to engage in a dialogue with their children around what messages they are receiving and guide them on how to interpret it.”

At the very least, Davis says we can think critically about the content we consume.

“I encourage you to think like a content creator and explore what a gender review might look like on the show you just viewed… Could a female portray a male character?” she asks, “Was the language used by girls equally empowering to that of male characters? Did the portrayal of characters bolster or shatter stereotypes?”

When we take the time to ask these questions, we will see the value of parity in programming.

“Together, we can introduce positive role models onscreen that our children can learn from and emulate in real life,” Davis says.

So, while Geena Davis’ characters are not all role models, as a champion for gender diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM-related industries, she certainly is.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins returns safely to Earth after six months in space
LinkedIn
NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is helped out of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft

BY TORI B. POWELL,

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, 42, safely returned to Earth on Saturday after living aboard the International Space Station for six months, according to NASA. Rubins, along with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov, arrived southeast of the town Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, in a parachute landing at 10:55 a.m. local time.

The crew served as Expedition 63-64 and began their mission on October 14 last year.

Rubins became the first person to ever sequence DNA in outer space on her first spaceflight, Expedition 48/49 in 2016. During her latest 185-day mission, Rubins conducted “hundreds of hours” of International Space Station research, including work on the Cardinal Heart experiment which studies the effects of gravity and cardiovascular cells at the cellular and tissue levels and could further knowledge of heart problems on Earth, NASA reported. Her research also included studying DNA sequencing and microbiology studies.

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

WITI Summit, June 22-24, VIRTUAL
LinkedIn
The WITI logo

The WITI Summit, June 22-24 in a VIRTUAL form, is the premier global event for women in technology. Executives, entrepreneurs and technology thought leaders from around the world convene online to build and expand strong connections in a welcoming environment and to foster women’s success in all technology related fields and organizations. 3,000+ attendees from 6 continents. 

 

Use code CBPART21 for $100 discount off the prevailing cost of a full 3-day pass. 

 

Click Here 

Air Force Civilian Service

Air Force Civilian Service

Lumen

Lumen

Verizon

Verizon

Leidos

DISM Statement

#Stopasianhate

Upcoming Events

  1. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  2. HACU’s 35th Annual Conference
    October 30, 2021 - November 1, 2021
  3. American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021
    November 13, 2021 - November 15, 2021
  4. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022
  5. CSUN Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022

Upcoming Events

  1. Wonder Women Tech
    October 26, 2021 - October 29, 2021
  2. HACU’s 35th Annual Conference
    October 30, 2021 - November 1, 2021
  3. American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2021
    November 13, 2021 - November 15, 2021
  4. AEC Next Technology Expo & Conference, International Lidar Mapping Forum, and SPAR 3D Expo & Conference
    February 6, 2022 - February 8, 2022
  5. CSUN Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022