In 2017, what was planned as a 45-minute lunch turned into an hours-long planning session as Jackie Mattox and Monica Highfill, later in collaboration with Amy Keller, laid the groundwork for what would become the First Annual Women in Electronics Leadership Conference.
Now, with the support of its founding sponsors, Women in Electronics (WE) is taking the next leap into the philanthropic field with its establishment as a nonprofit organization, dedicated to empowering women in the electronics industry.
“At Arrow, we see the incredible benefits of being inclusive,” said Alan Bird, president of the global supply chain at Arrow Electronics, one of WE’s founding sponsors. “We are proud to be helping Women in Electronics fulfill its mission to expand inclusion throughout the industry through awareness, networking and training.”
The number of women in engineering (the crucial E of STEM) has risen in the last few decades, but still lags behind men — only 13% of engineers are women. A new big-screen film called, “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” seeks to inspire the next generation of diverse female engineers. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), MacGillivray Freeman Films (MFF) and Bechtel Corporation are the key partners driving this initiative.
A Film About Big Dreams
“Dream Big” shares exemplary feats of
engineering and the stories of the contemporary engineers who bring them to
life, with a focus on women in the field. Towering buildings, underwater
robots, solar cars and sustainable city planning are a few of the topics
The empowerment of women is going to require more intentional efforts to close the gender gap across all sectors of society. In the technology industry, corporate philanthropy has the potential to play a significant role in driving solutions to gender inequality.
On May 8th, 2019, the Vodafone Americas Foundation announced its new commitment to empowering women and girls through technology, utilizing new corporate philosophy, employee support, and a partnership with MIT Solve.
This is not Vodafone’s first foray into philanthropy: for the past ten years, the Foundation has committed itself to transforming communities around the world with technology solutions.
A recent study of a science grant application
process at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found male applicants received
higher scores than women, even in a blind review. At the foundation’s request,
a team from the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research analyzed this
imbalance and reported that factors like scientific discipline and position,
publication record, and grant history were not factors — the main difference
was in the language used in proposal titles and descriptions. According to their
working paper, men were found to
use more words described as “broad,” while women chose more words labelled
“narrow.” The broader word choices were preferred, especially by male
reviewers. But, as in most research relating to complex issues of sex, bias and
language, the story is more nuanced.
The Foundation for Gender Equality aims to foster opportunities and remove obstacles for women and girls facing inequity, and its latest initiative targets female survivors of violence and sexual abuse with a program that teaches them tech skills. The goal is to enable victims to go beyond simple survival to earning a living wage. The Westport, Connecticut-based non-profit, which was founded in 2016 by Richard and Jill Fitzburgh and Theresa Boylan, has partnered with Tech Up for Women to develop the “Give Back” program to achieve this goal.
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) has awarded its first round of “Social Media and Democracy Research Grants.” The 12 projects provide “systematic scholarly access to privacy-protected Facebook data to study the platform’s impact on democracy worldwide.” The SSRC is an independent, international nonprofit led by Alondra Nelson, a Columbia University Professor of Sociology and inaugural Dean of Social Science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Facebook data will be used by researchers to better understand the role of social media on politics and society, notably the spread of disinformation and fake news, and how social media users attach themselves to particular online narratives. Several of the projects analyze how social media has affected particular political events, including recent elections in Italy, Chile, and Germany, as well as public opinion in Taiwan. The projects also examine the relationship between Facebook and traditional news media, and delve into the complex question of what constitutes “fake news,” and how it can be distinguished from more fact-based reporting.
The video game industry has long been thought of as a “boys’ club.” Even before August of 2014, when the events of Gamergate painted a horrible picture of the worst case scenarios for women in the games arena, representation of women in games and a lack of female game developers left much to be desired.
According to the International Game Developers Association, women make up 47% of the people playing video games, but only 22% of the people creating them. Likewise, women have been historically under- or misrepresented in games. Too often, female characters in games were (and still are) over-sexualized, cast as tired tropes like the “damsel in distress,” or used as reward fodder for gamers who would normally be expected to play males.
As medicine becomes more aware of the need to pay attention to gender as a critical variable in health care, more initiatives are launching to provide this gender-based attention. We wrote recently about the American Cancer Society establishing ResearcHERS to bring more women into the fundraising and research on cancer, and do more to address gender issues in treatment.
Now, as another example of medicine become more gender-aware, the Parkinson’s Foundation has created the Women and Parkinson’s Initiative to address long-standing gender disparities in Parkinson’s research and care. The initiative represents the first patient-centered action agenda to maximize quality of life for women with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.
If we support the organizations that support women in STEM, then we can change the world together.
Through surprise, purpose, and meaningful relationships, Lyda Hill is transforming feminist philanthropy as we know it — and her foundation’s $25 million donation to the IF/THEN initiative is the next great chapter in an inspiring lifelong story.
Lyda Hill, the entrepreneur and donor behind Lyda Hill Philanthropies, is no stranger to donations that come with a twist. Her organization is committed to funding meaningful change through her personal philosophy and her personal estate — all of which she plans on donating to charity in full, most of it during her lifetime.
On April 2, the University of California at Los Angeles announced a $5 million gift for the Samueli School of Engineering. Alumna Stacey Nicholas made the donation to support Women in Engineering at UCLA (WE@UCLA), a two-year-old program that works to close the gender gap in engineering majors at the university.
The engineering, science, and medicine fields have been traditionally male-dominated for decades. Nicholas’s gift is one of many recent efforts in feminist philanthropy working to close the gap between women and careers in the technologies — and to great effect.