Computer Science

CAN MENTORSHIP PROGRAMS INCREASE THE NUMBER OF WOMEN IN STEM?

A woman attends a buildOn Adult Literacy class in Nepal

Women, who represent over half of the world’s population, have long been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professions. In fact, only 28 percent of scientific researchers worldwide are women. What can we do to encourage more girls and women to pursue careers in STEM? It turns out mentoring could play a major role in how female students perceive STEM subjects and jobs.

Only four percent of female students interested in pursuing STEM were encouraged to do so by a mentor, but research shows that mentoring can help protect female students against negative stereotypes and give them a sense of belonging.

In a recent study at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, researchers recruited 150 women who had enrolled in engineering courses and randomly assigned them to a female mentor, a male mentor or no mentor. A year later, the researchers found that students paired with female mentors felt more accepted by their peers, less invisible and more confident. If those findings aren’t enough, read these accounts of how female mentorship has helped these women in technology grow their careers.  As one of the women interviewed explains, “one of the biggest challenges for women is having the confidence to enter into leadership roles or entrepreneurship. That’s where role models come in – it’s good to see people’s career road maps.”

At Teza Technologies, Misha Malyshev and team are working to provide positive role models for children interested in pursuing careers in STEM.

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HOW CAN NEW APPROACHES TO STEM EDUCATION INSPIRE MORE CHILDREN?

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According to a survey by the Program for International Student Assessment, the United States placed 35th and 27th out of 64 countries in math and science respectively. Could the way we approach science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) education be part of the reason American students are less interested in pursuing careers in STEM? It turns out that a lack of understanding about real world applications of STEM could be part of the issue. A recent study found that over half (52 percent) of surveyed students “don’t know anyone with a job in STEM.” However, when these same students were given more information about STEM jobs, such as website animator and video game creator, they became excited.

New solutions for getting children excited about STEM careers

Showing students how STEM can lead to a fun and engaging career is critical if Americans want to get more children and young adults interested in these fields. Some innovative approaches to STEM education we’re excited about include:

  • Utilizing creative “makerspaces” where students can gather to explore and create, in order to promote problem solving and passionate learning
  • Taking a “Lifelong Kindergarten” approach to learning that encourages imaginative thinking, playing and sharing at all ages
  • Using tools like coloring books and picture books to make STEM subjects more approachable

Misha Malyshev and our teams at Teza Technologies are working to inspire children to pursue STEM through the support of organizations like After-School All-Stars.

FROM ROBOTS TO RACECARS: HOW THE GIRL SCOUTS ARE WORKING TO DRIVE STEM EDUCATION

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A photo from Girls Do Hack sponsored by Teza Technologies and Misha Malyshev

In the United States, science, technology, engineering and math fields are projected to grow by 18 percent by next year; this is twice as fast as other fields, which are only projected to grow by nine percent in the same timeframe. However, by 2018, it is estimated that 2.4 million STEM jobs will go unfilled. What can we do to encourage more young people to pursue careers in STEM? Research shows that early education plays a key role – in fact, data reveals that 78 percent of college students in STEM majors wanted to study STEM in high school or earlier and 21 percent decided in middle school or earlier.

That’s why we’re so excited about the Girl Scouts’ new initiative to encourage STEM learning from an early age. The organization recently introduced 23 new STEM badges, including robotics, coding and racecar design. What’s more, the new CEO Sylvia Acevedo has been a vocal STEM education advocate. “There’s no way that we’re going to close [the gender gap in STEM] in the United States without tapping into the great resources of girls and young women,” Acevedo explained in a recent CNBC interview. We’re glad to see the Girl Scouts underscoring the importance of STEM education.

Misha Malyshev and the rest of the Teza Technologies team are working to inspire children of all ages to pursue careers in STEM education through the support of organizations like After-School All-Stars.

INSPIRING THE NEXT GENERATION OF STEM SUPERSTARS

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Between 2014 and 2024, the number of STEM jobs will grow 17 percent, but only 36 percent of all high school graduates are ready to take college-level science courses. Research has shown that encouraging children to pursue careers in STEM needs to start early – perhaps even in kindergarten – but STEM education isn’t limited to the classroom. There are simple activities you can do at home to underscore the importance of science, technology, engineering and math.

That’s why, in partnership with After-School All-Stars (ASAS), we’ve developed a STEM resource guide. This guide provides important information including facts and figures about the state of STEM education, ideas for STEM-inspired activities and information about the work we’re doing with ASAS to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.  Through this and other initiatives, the entire Teza Technologies team is committed to spotlighting the importance of STEM education.

LOOKING FOR A WAY TO INSPIRE GIRLS TO PURSUE STEM? TRY HISTORY

A woman attends a buildOn Adult Literacy class in Nepal

WHY ARE SO FEW WOMEN AND GIRLS PURSUING CAREERS IN STEM?

Women and girls have been historically underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). A study from the University of Pittsburgh, tracking approximately 1,500 college-bound students over a decade, found that women had the highest scores on both the math and the verbal portion of the SAT. However, these women were more likely to pursue non-STEM careers after graduation despite their high scores. What can we do to encourage young women to pursue STEM?

THE IMPORTANCE OF ROLE MODELS

It turns out role models could be a key issue when it comes to women’s and girls’ lack of interest in STEM. A recent study focused on engineering students found that female students paired with female mentors felt more motivated, less anxious and were less likely to drop out of their courses. When it comes to raising visibility and fostering a sense of solidarity, a focus on the rich history of women in STEM can be a key tool for parents and teachers looking to inspire young girls to pursue STEM. From the film Hidden Figures’ focus on NASA’s forgotten women, to articles highlighting the myriad contributions women have made to STEM fields, highlighting the work of women who shattered the glass ceiling can be a powerful way to foster young girls’ interest in STEM.

Through the support of organizations like After-School All-Stars, Misha Malyshev and the Teza Technologies team have helped to inspire all children to pursue careers in STEM.

HOW CAN WE SUPPORT THE NEXT GENERATION OF FEMALE CODERS?

WHY AREN’T MORE GIRLS INTERESTED IN STEM? ADVERTISING MAY BE TO BLAME

In the United States women earn 57 percent of all undergraduate degrees but only 18 percent of all computer science degrees—this is the smallest percentage across all science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. What accounts for this gap? While a number of factors are likely at play, marketing and advertising play a key role in how young girls and women perceive STEM. Interestingly enough, the amount of women in computer science started falling with the rise of the affordable home computer – which were marketed almost exclusively to men and boys, and is a trend that continues today. A recent study found that STEM toys were three times more likely to be targeted at boys than girls.

DISRUPTING THE PINK AISLE

That’s why some recent STEM education news has us so excited! From toys focused on disrupting the “pink aisle” to the CEO of GM speaking out about the importance of women and girls gaining skills in STEM, we’re glad to see companies big and small placing an increased focus on the importance of gender equality. The drive to encourage girls to pursue STEM education and careers has even extended to Hollywood – Warner Bros. recently partnered with Google Play and Made with Code to create a Wonder Woman coding tutorial. These and other initiatives will play a critical role when it comes to inspiring the future generation of female coders.

At Teza Technologies Misha Malyshev and team have been working closely with organizations to encourage children of all ages to develop an interest in STEM through support of After-School All-Stars and other groups.

Q&A PART II: ALEXEY GOLDIN TALKS STEM EDUCATION

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In part II of our Q&A with Teza employee Alexey Goldin, Alexey discusses STEM education and offers advice for young people interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Make sure to check out part I of the conversation if you haven’t already seen it.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background in STEM?

I’ve been interested in physics since I was around 12 or 13 years old. There were a lot of popular publications back in the USSR where I grew up promoting math and science for kids, and some of them were quite high quality. I was going to Science Olympiads (they have similar U.S. events now) and I eventually managed to attend a high school in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, with a focus on science and math.  We had good teachers who had a lot of freedom in selecting curriculum, so I learned a lot there. I went on to attend the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (just like Misha Malyshev), and hoped to pursue a career in space research afterwards.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, there was very little money left for research. I decided to apply to some U.S. universities and graduate programs and was eventually accepted to the University of Chicago. There I worked on radio astronomy projects with highly interesting people. I focused on cosmic microwave background radiation—the oldest type of radiation in the universe—and built detectors and designed radio telescopes.

After graduating in 2000, I went on to work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for postdoctoral research. After shifts in funding caused cuts across many astrophysics programs, I switched gears to focus on the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). After my time at SIM, and another round of funding cuts, I decided to switch gears yet again and ended up working in finance.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

First of all, science, math and engineering are incredibly interesting and fun. Would I still be dabbling in astronomy 12 years after giving up on a scientific career otherwise?  Secondly, science, math and engineering are great foundations for a career in our fast changing world. I managed to end up with a rewarding career surrounded by great people despite some setbacks along the way. My foundation in STEM was strong enough that I am doing challenging things that I had no idea existed when I started my career in science.

I know of many people who, with backgrounds similar to mine, became successful writers, business professionals, and company founders. Math, science and engineering open doors and teach you a different, more consistent and robust way of thinking, which can be applied to many situations.

Q&A PART I: ALEXEY GOLDIN TALKS TABBY’S STAR

 The following is a Q&A with Teza employee, Alexey Goldin. Alexey’s work on Tabby’s Star has been creating some impressive buzz, so we asked him to discuss his research and how he got interested in the subject. Make sure to check back in for the second installment! 

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What is Tabby’s Star?

Tabby’s Star was accidentally detected by an exoplanet-seeking satellite. The star changes brightness a lot (at times dimming by much as 20 percent). There is no known physical explanation for why this star, which is so similar to our Sun, can change its brightness so drastically. The standard hypothesis is that something is occluding its light. The subject became popular when someone hypothesized that super-powerful aliens were building structures to collect star energy (similar to an unfinished Dyson sphere)!

I looked at the data carefully alongside Valeri Makarov of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., and we came to the conclusion that there is another weak, but probably unrelated, object close to this star’s line of sight. It is just accidentally there. We believe there is a lot of space junk (e.g., comets, some protoplanetary material) associated with that other, weak and almost invisible object that is occluding Tabby’s Star. It’s not as fun as aliens, but it is more likely.

Can you tell us about how you conducted the research?\

Valeri is my former colleague. We worked together on SIM mission. Before that I did not have experience with astrometry and optical astronomy –this was entirely new field for me. As a result, Valeri and I worked closely together — he did most of the astronomy work while I focused on data analysis — to produce a series of articles beginning around 2007.

Why are you interested in Tabby’s Star?

This kind of work is interesting and exciting to me generally, even when we work with less famous objects. But I also find that this type of work is more pertinent to my role at Teza than you may think. To find a relevant trading signal we have to go through a large amount of data to find a weak signal. Astronomers (especially ones looking for exoplanets) often have to do the same.

HOW CAN WE SPOTLIGHT WOMEN IN STEM?

A woman attends a buildOn Adult Literacy class in Nepal

The gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) starts young – a recent survey found that young girls become interested in STEM subjects around the age of 11, but quickly lose interest by age 15. By the time young women reach college, only 6.7 percent graduate with STEM degrees, compared to 17 percent of men. While there are undoubtedly many factors influencing young girls’ decision to shy away from STEM, lack of female role models has been cited as a key issue.

That’s what makes several recent projects focused on spotlighting the important contributions of women in STEM so exciting. New magazines showcasing female scientists,  Google phone cases  honoring the American space program’s leading women, and LEGO’s women of NASA set all underscore the important role women have played throughout STEM history.  These and other initiatives highlighting STEM’s female superstars will continue to play an important role when it comes to inspiring women and girls of all ages to pursue careers in these fields.

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Through the support of organizations like After-School All-Stars, Misha Malyshev and the Teza Technologies team are working to inspire tomorrow’s STEM stars.

COULD ROBOTS HELP INSPIRE YOUNG GIRLS TO PURSUE CAREERS IN STEM?

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Research shows that by the first grade, young students seem to be embracing the stereotype that girls are not as good at robotics and programming as boys. Other recent reports have pointed to confidence as a major issue when it comes to female students and STEM – a study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that boys rated their abilities in math and science 27 percent higher than their female peers. That lack of confidence in girls seems likely to be a contributing factor towards decreased STEM opportunities for women. For example, the National Center for Women and Information Technology reports that women hold only 25 percent of computing related occupations.

While girls start internalizing the idea they aren’t as good at math and science at a young age, a recent report from the University of Washington provides a great approach for parents looking to combat STEM gender stereotypes. When 6-year-old girls participated in a computer programming activity involving robots, they showed more positive attitudes about their own STEM abilities. This study serves to underscore a point we’ve discussed before – when it comes to STEM education, getting an early start is key.

At Teza Technologies Misha Malyshev and team have been working closely with organizations to encourage children to develop an interest in STEM from an early age. Through the support of organizations such as Adler Planetarium and After-School All-Stars, we hope to inspire the next generation of scientists and coders.