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Celebrating The 4th Annual International Day Of Women And Girls In Science

This past Monday, Feb. 11, the women and girls in the science trade, currently or whom have already conquered the field, were celebrated around the globe. This is the fourth annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science and theme for this year’s event was “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth.”

This globally recognized holiday, first celebrated in 2016 but concocted in April of 2015, is meant to shed light on the fact that less than 30 percent of our world’s researchers are women and just around 30 percent of higher education students in STEM-related fields are female. The United Nations said that one of the biggest pushes for this international day of observance was a study done by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, writing, “As in the real world, the world on screen reflects similar biases.” In the 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders report, only 12 percent of onscreen characters with identifiable STEM careers were women.

The hashtag “#WomenInScience” was trending on Twitter internationally as users were sharing gender stereotype-defying stories and messages of support to their fellow women in science.

A collaborative effort between various organizations, International Day of Women and Girls in Science has been a success from the start. United Nations Secretary-General addressed the public saying, “We must tackle misconceptions about girls’ abilities. We must promote access to learning opportunities for women and girls, particularly in rural areas. And we must do more to change workplace culture so that girls who dream of being scientists, engineers and mathematicians can enjoy fulfilling careers in these fields.”

In a time when the world can be cruel and unforgiving, especially to women, this is a necessary relief for all. It’s clear from the data that women and girls still have a lot of ground to cover when it comes to leveling the scientific playing field, but we can take solace in the fact that there are people (and lots of them) who are determined to help us do just that.

How Emily Calandrelli And Her Children’s Book Series Are Inspiring The Next-Gen “Techettes”

Emily Calandrelli, West Virginia University alumna and Morgantown native, is set to release the fifth and final book in her children’s series, The Ada Lace Adventures, next week on Feb. 12.

Also known as The Space Gal across various social media platforms, Calandrelli has amassed thousands of followers, posting about topics ranging from the untapped renewable resources in the Appalachian region, to the effects of climate change happening globally. So the question poses itself: Who is Emily Calandrelli?

Just A Young Cadet

Although a current San Fransisco resident, Calandrelli was born and raised in Morgantown, W. Va., where she later went on to attend WVU to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering in 2010. During her time there, she won numerous awards such as becoming a Truman Scholar, being named to the all-academic team by USA Today in 2009, winning the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, and being voted Ms. Mountaineer by her classmates.

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After an eventful four years at WVU, she went on to receive two Master’s degree at MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as Technology and Policy in 2013.

A Takeoff Of A Career

Since Calandrelli left her college days behind, she’s had an even bigger impact in the professional sphere.

Currently hosting her own show, Xploration Outer Space—now in its fifth season—Calandrelli’s personality and love for space is tangible through the screen. It’s so tangible that her work as a host earned her a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards nomination for Outstanding Host in a Lifestyle/Children’s/Travel or Family Viewing Program in 2017. Not only does she host her own show, but she’s also guest-starred on Netflix’s special, Bill Nye Saves the World numerous times.

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As if these accomplishments aren’t impressive enough, Calandrelli is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch, focusing on topics like furthering equality between women and men in STEM, space exploration and scientific literacy. Not only does she write about these topics, she speaks professionally about them, too, giving talks for enterprises like Google and Pixar.

A beloved alumna—and one who isn’t shy from giving back to her college—Calandrelli frequently returns to WVU for various events, including as a speaker at last year’s TEDx WVU event.

Soaring Book Series

On top of all of her accomplishments, Calandrelli has written and published a widely-successful children’s book series, The Adventures of Ada Lace, with the fifth and final book set to come out next week. The series has won acclaim from large publications, school systems, parents and their kids alike.

“What I wanted to do was create a character that was female who had these types of adventures and did these types of science experiments. So that kids could have a female character to look up to,” Calandrelli told the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast (episode 318).

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Ada Lace, the star of the series, is an elementary-aged girl with a passion for science, math, and solving mysteries. Whether she’s trying to build the perfect robot or fighting with her dad, the topics these books cover are not only relatable to girls (and boys!) that age, it also stands to help inspire our youngest generation.

Kids all over the country love the series and Ada herself, but parents might love her even more. “My daughter (8, the same as Ada) loves them, and we can’t wait for the next book in the series,” writes Jamie Greene, for Geek Dad.

Where Will She Land?

It doesn’t look like Calandrelli will be slowing down anytime soon, and for the sake of our girls, let’s hope she doesn’t. To keep track of her future journeys, you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram under the handle @TheSpaceGal, or on her website. Like a red dwarf star, she’s shining bright and here to stay for a long time.

Screaming Into The Void That Is The Internet, And How Women Deal With The Subsequent Issues

It’s no secret that women have a lot on their plate. Between abortion rights coming under fire, to more and more young girls seeking asylum for protection against their abusive families, roughly half of the world’s population has so much to worry about.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty and look to the niche communities and subcultures within the overall population of women on this planet, you’ll find even more problems—more specific problems—that these groups have on top of the ones they already face. So what issues do women in the tech industry face? Well, for starters, a lot. Here are just a few:

How to Break Into the Male-Centric Tech Industry, and Stay There

Across the board (and world), men still lead in careers centered around science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Catalyst reported that when averaged across the regions surveyed, women make up less than 30% of the positions in science research and development in 2014, and even less in positions of power in the industry.

Balancing the Masculinity that Comes with a STEM Career and One’s Own Femininity

The information technology industry has been well established as a male-dominated workforce and because of this, many women in it feel, “…they need to put on a very assertive, almost aggressive mask to get ahead in a masculine dominated workplace,” blogger Mia Lockhart wrote. Finding an equilibrium between preserving their own femininity while still being taken seriously by their male coworkers has proven to be a bigger challenge for women in tech than first expected.

How to Inspire Next-Gen “Techettes”

“Children are our future,” is a phrase everyone has heard, and rightfully so. If we didn’t have a next generation to keep building upon what we have created and learned thus far, what was the point of it all?

Over the past few years, various organizations, campaigns and movements have been created in hopes of pushing younger girls to follow their passions for STEM subjects and turn them into careers. Whether it be the creation of coalitions like Girls Who Code, providing kids with “skills for success,” or age-old groups like the Girl Scouts pledging funds towards bringing girls into STEM, the women in the technology industry don’t want their work to stop with them. With one common goal for all: how can we inspire—and keep inspiring—the next generation of women in tech.

Dealing With the Hate, Toxicity and Antiquated Legacy Systems

One issue that has been decently chronicled is the toxic atmosphere that’s been perpetuated by the tech community, and Silicon Valley has been the heart of it. From drug-fueled sex parties, to good ‘ole (invite-only) boys clubs, it’s no wonder it’s so hard to find women in this field of work. 

“Tech is shaping what the offices of the future will look like, what the jobs of the future will look like, what the relationships will look like. Currently only a tiny percentage of that is being shaped by women. We risk, 20 years down the line, creating a world that is even more patriarchal and masculine than it is now,” Zara Nanu, CEO of Gapsquare, told GQ.

Our Mentors and Our Teammates: Thank You to the Women Who Helped Us Get Where We Are

Having a mentor to help you navigate through life is an unmatchable relationship. Having someone who’s had the experiences you’re going through at work, before you’ve had them and can in turn help you through them? A Godsend.

“Finding a mentor can be an invaluable career asset for women—especially in industries not renowned for their gender diversity, like technology. As well as boosting confidence, mentors can help open up networks, set and achieve goals, and generally give a sense that someone is looking out for you,” writes Jessica Bateman for The Guardian.

As COO of Facebook and tech giant herself, Sheryl Sandberg, wrote in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

Clearly women deal with a lot. Some could say too much. And the women in the technology market are no different. If this post has only highlighted a few of the major issues the community is concerned with currently, it’s insane to imagine all the others that are out there. Keep reading to see what comes up.

 

Trump Hates [Smart] Girls AND Shut Down The Government, But That Won’t Stop These Women

The United States is currently seeing the longest government shutdown in the country’s history due to a major standoff between the president and congressional democrats—specifically Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—over funds for national defense (e.g. The Wall). From this, over 800,000 federal employees have been without pay for weeks. In response, the Women In Tech Summit is offering scholarships for its conference to women who are dealing with the fallout.

With the government’s inability to come to an agreement, citizens have been left to take measures into their own hands, supporting one another, financially and otherwise. However, this isn’t the first of this kind of behavior we’ve seen from President Trump.

Since Donald Trump was sworn into office almost two years ago to the day, he’s made 45 nominations across nine agencies related to STEM areas, according to CNN Politics. Of these nominations, 39 of them were men and a grand total of six were women. How generous of him. So, what IS Trump’s problem with smart women? Or just women in general, for that fact.

In a study conducted by Girls in Tech prior to the outcome of the 2016 election, almost 78% of respondents said they felt that a Trump presidency would be harmful to women in the workforce.

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Following his presidential win, numerous organizations centered around forwarding women in the technology industry have expressed their worry with what Trump’s impact might mean for them, writing open letters and forming new campaigns to band likeminded women together.

On the other end of the mobilization spectrum, hundreds of women have started running for office, more than doubling the amount of women who ran for Congress in 2016. “We’ve never seen anything like this. Ever seen anything like this,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, told NPR.

As we head into the second half of Trump’s presidency, a lot remains to be seen as to what he’ll do concerning his treatment towards women, especially when it comes to placing them in positions of power. For now it looks like it’s up to organizations like the Women In Tech Summit to keep pushing each other forward. Keep fighting the good fight, ladies.

 

 

 

 

Tesla Named Its First Woman Chair, And No One Cared

Amidst the controversy surrounding the tech giant, Elon Musk, Robyn Denholm was named the new chair of Tesla in November of 2018. As great of an accomplishment that is, it barely made a blip in the news, much less in the minds and mouths of the public.

With the rise in digitization, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and now the exploration of Mars for water, the overall progress our world as a whole has made in the realms of science and technology has been immeasurable. And yet we have still to see the advancement of the women who are behind these trends, inventions and our general need to know more.

If you picked a stranger off the street, this person would easily be able to tell you that Steve Wozniak is the co-founder of Apple and Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon, among many other male leaders in the tech industry. Ask them to name an influential woman in a STEM role and they’d be hard-pressed to come up with one.

Whether it’s the legacy system of yesteryear that doesn’t push girls toward STEM fields the same way it does to boys, or it’s the toxic environment that women often find themselves in once they break into the tech industry, it’s time to rethink how some of the greatest minds alive currently are being treated.

“I have found that being a woman in tech makes me stand out, and sometimes not for the right reasons. I think it can be easy for unconscious biases to take hold, and it’s both genders’ responsibility to make sure we evaluate everyone on the merit of their contributions,” Nancy Wang, the first female product manager at Google and now the head product manager of the tech startup, Rubrik, told Silicon Republic. Alongside these accomplishments, Wang founded the non-profit, Advancing Women in Product, as a way to advocate for a more diverse ecosystem within the tech community.

This isn’t the first organization of its kind, as more and more like-minded groups have popped up in recent years to help combat the assortment of roadblocks women often face when trying to break into this industry. Consortiums like Girls Who Code have created numerous resources for women of all ages in order to enable them with the skills and mindset they need to work in a STEM position, or just an outlet that will help them explore an interest or hobby. Not only do they have a membership base of nearly 90,000, the non-profit is also partnered with major (and diverse) corporations like Adobe, IBM and Kate Spade.

So, if the groups, the resources and the support are there, why do women still receive so much pushback? The gender gap that has emerged within the tech industry is astounding—almost too large to believe—and many are pushing for a greater diversification of the trade.

Obviously, there isn’t one right answer to this issue, and we most likely won’t see any major improvements to this epidemic in the near future. Looking back to the start of the technology boom, it’s impressive and inspiring to see the strides that women have made and the accomplishments they’ve achieved, whether they received recognition or not. Comparing the start place to now is consoling—but the fight isn’t over yet. Women have come a long way in the technology sphere, but the progress made still shows that there is an equally long, if not longer, journey ahead.