Women Missing From Research on Fake News and Politics

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

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.

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What Can Feminist Philanthropy Do to Address Sexism In Video Games?

Student game makers participate in teams at a Girls Make Games event. (Photo Credit: Girls Make Games)

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. Sexism in video games continues to be a rampant issue.

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.

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Tackling Gender Disparities in Parkinson’s Research and Tx

parkinson's
The Parkinson’s Foundation is working to address quality of life issues for women with its new initiative. (Photo Credit: Parkinson’s Foundation)

Parkinson’s in women is finally getting more attention. 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).

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Lyda Hill, Female STEM Philanthropy Pioneer, and Master of Surprise

Lyda Hill at the launch of IF/THEN.

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.

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UCLA Receives $5 Million to Address Engineering Gender Gap

Stacey Nicholas has made a $5 million gift to support Women in Engineering at UCLA. (Photo credit: Josephine Sittenfeld)

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.

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Girls Who Code Boosts Tech Talent Pipeline with Walmart’s $3 Million

Girls Who Code recently received a $3 million endowment from Walmart to fund their programs supporting girls and young women in the field of computer technology. (Photo credit: Girls Who Code)

On March 8th, Girls Who Code announced the biggest philanthropic commitment in their organization’s history — a $3 million endowment from Walmart. The funds will go toward Girls Who Code programs across the U.S., supporting girls and college-age women as they work to join the tech talent pipeline.

Founded in 2012, Girls Who Code is an organization dedicated to closing the gap between women and technology-focused careers. Through workshops, Summer Immersion Programs, clubs, and College Loops (networks for college-age women studying computer science), Girls Who Code connects girls in underserved areas with technology education.

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Melinda on Colbert: Cell Phones as Tools for Women’s Empowerment

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Stephen Colbert recently hosted Bill and Melinda Gates to discuss “surprises” — the theme of their annual letter this year. (Image credit: Youtube)

Starting with a joke about who would be the word hog between the couple, Stephen Colbert recently interviewed Bill and Melinda Gates. The couple talked about their philanthropy in the context of larger political issues such as growing inequality, and shared some of their “surprises”  — the theme of their annual letter this year.

Colbert remarked that Bill Gates used to be the richest man in the world, but has now fallen into the number two spot for the world’s most wealthy person.  “Well, we’re trying to give it away faster,” said Bill.

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Cognizant Gives $4.1 Million Technology Ed Funding for Women and Girls

The Cognizant U.S. Foundation has announced $4.1 million in grant funding for the National Center for Women & Information Technology. (PRNewsfoto/Cognizant)

Whenever corporate funders part with millions for gender equality initiatives, this is good news for feminist philanthropy. Recently, Cognizant U.S. Foundation announced that it has made a $4.1 million grant to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).  The grant will fund both digital skills education programs and an awareness campaign aimed at increasing interest in tech careers for women of all ages.

Cognizant U.S. Foundation is a nonprofit focused on supporting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and skills initiatives for U.S. workers and students. NCWIT is a non-profit community comprised of more than 1,100 universities, companies, non-profits, and government organizations across the U.S. With this new award, NCWIT will establish coding skills camps for women and girls, and provide training for school counselors in communities underserved communities. With an initial focus on the Southern United States, NCWIT will launch programs in areas where it can provide corporate internships.

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