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Microsoft Today

12 EpisodesProduced by MSFT TodayWebsite

Microsoft is an often misunderstood global corporation with massive influence and a product strategy like no other technology company in the world. Twice per week, join Brad Groux, a Microsoft enterprise expert, as he guides you through the countless products, services, initiatives and brilliant min… read more

36:48

MSFT Today 2019-03-04 : Why Technology Needs Female Voices

Discussing women in technology is nothing new for this podcast. In the previous episodes (such as MSFT Today 2019-01-15 : Microsoft 365 Education) I've mentioned getting women, and girls in technology several times, including in guests interviews. This has always been an important issue for me, because I come from a huge family, that is nearly split down the middle of boys and girls, and I've always longed for my nieces to geek out with my like my nephews always have.

Also, having been in enterprise IT for nearly two decades now, I've watched how the number of women have slowly crept up, but I've always felt that we could do better. I know women not only deserve their rightful place in technology, but they are crucial to its long-term and health growth. It is no secret, that women and men tend to approach problems differently, and thinking out side of the box doesn't exactly men's strong suit. This is the very reason I've personally hired women for my teams in the past, and I've found my best allies within my teams to be women - they are the yin to my yang, and vice-versa.

The better half of my most dynamic duo of my career was a brilliant SQL engineer who was also an immigrant. Well, we were an unlikely duo teamed up by happenstance as I was designing the new clustering standard for Windows Servers, and as you know, SQL clustering and Windows Clustering go hand in hand. So she worked with me for months, as we fine tuned out build and test processes, and engaged with others - and throughout that time we became great friends, and I learned first-hand that you never judge a book by its cover.

I've never been the type of person to do that anyway, but I would be lying if I said that didn't have any reservations when we were teamed up on a very important, and very expensive project. I was the outgoing, jovial, sarcastic, hates-nothing-more-in-life-than-to-be-wrong know-it-all, and here I was being teamed up for a multi-month project with someone that no one on the team really knew anything about. While she had her PHD, and was a mother of three, and was equally on par with the most brilliant database engineers I've worked with throughout my career, she was also timid, and shy - for obvious reasons. She was a fish out of water.

As I said, the time I spent working with her on the six month project are some of the greatest times of my career. I learned so much from her, and continued learning from her as we remained close allies throughout our time working together. When I left the company for another opportunity, I made sure to let them know with complete certainty, that they had a special asset on their hands.

The most brilliant peer I've ever had (someone at my same job level), was a woman. Plainly put, she is a technology wunderkind… and when we went through PFE school together, I was in complete awe at the full breadth of her knowledge. I've always prided myself on knowing as much as I can about as many subjects as I can, but she took that mindset to a whole new level. My jaw was agape during the 4+ years I worked with her as a Platforms PFE, and I have no doubt that she is still wowing people to this day, and last I checked she was still at Microsoft. Heya, Elizabeth! 

I could go on all day about the women I've worked with in technology, and why is that? Why is it, that even though there have been only a handful of them, they've all made a lasting impression? I've thought about that many, many times - and as I dissect it all, it all comes down to empathy. I never once had to deal with the air of bravado, or ego with them that you tend to get from the truly brilliant men in technology. And regardless of how many times I had to reach out to them, or ask for their help, or lean on them for assistance, they never gave it a second thought, and never once used the fact that they had to against me.

Truthfully, my seeking more women in technology is a slightly greedy one. I want to learn from them, and for that to happen, I need to be around them. I have and likely always will have a giant lack of empathy in my thought process… and I can blame my ADHD, refusal to compromise on anything but the right answer, and/or my logical thinking all I want - but in the long run, my stubbornness, is my biggest weakness… and empathy is the key to me unlocking my full potential… and empathy is where believe most men in technology greatly lack the proper knowledge and understanding to operate at their full potential.

Closing the Gender Gap in the Tech Industry

In this 60 Minutes segment by Sharyn Alfonsi on closing the gender gap in technology, Bonnie Ross, the founder and head of 343 Studios, and Hadi Partovi, the founder of Code.org discuss the current state of women in technology, and how we can even the playing field.

Closing the Gender Gap in the Tech Industry

00:05-00:39

  • There are 500,000 open technology jobs in the United States right now
  • Women occupy just 25% of computing jobs

01:02-02:33

  • In early elementary, girls and boys are interested in technology in equal numbers
  • The number of men in technology is increasing dramatically
  • The number of women in technology is actually declining
  • There are 4,000 jobs open at Microsoft alone

The female candidates just aren't there, and the ones that are there, are highly sought after (5-7 job offers each)

02:34-02:44, 02:59-03:2804:01-5:01

  • Because the field is so male dominated, women are less comfortable pursuing roles within technology
  • Both problems hurt each other, as I stated - we need women in technology, men can't do it alone
  • 10 million girls coding on code.org
  • Starting late, leads to failure because of the "middle school cliff" - usually when girls drop out of STEM fields

It is clear, that as girls mature (generally faster than boys), their focus shifts dramatically in middle school - and many of these shifts are no doubt societal pressures

05:39-06:28, 07:17-07:46

  • The entire United States, only graduated 75 computer science educators in 2018
  • There are more than 24,000 STEM teachers graduating yearly, but almost all go into math or science
  • Code.org has trained 75,000 proactive teachers in just five years
  • You don't need to be a computer science expert to be a computer science teacher

There are many, many resources for helping to become a technology teacher, including from code.org, and Microsoft's Innovative Educator, and MakeCode programs

08:29-09:07, 09:26-10:11

  • The gamification of early coding lessons hooks the younger students in
  • This is especially true of girls
  • This is crucial for keeping girls interested in technology
  • Microsoft Research has found that 91% of girls consider themselves to be creative - but they don't see computer science as creative

Robotics and IoT are key areas of focus for keeping girls interested in technology, because of the tangible creativity

11:51-12:13

  • If just 1% of girls currently in code.org learning decided to go into technology fields, it would equal the gender gap

I think this is a really optimistic number by someone who is obviously very passionate about code.org's mission. I personally feel, that we have a lot more work to do as a society, that goes well beyond just introducing girls to technology early on. Our society must also shift what is expected of girls as a whole, and until we get rid of the still very widely held stigmas about girls in technology, we will continue to struggle.

All is not lost, but I think it just goes beyond a single program… and we don’t have to look far for guidance. In many Asian cultures, women pursue technology related careers just as much as men because of the financial advantages - and I think we can find the right balance as well in the western world.

New Patreon Supporter

Louis St-Amour has backed us at the Windows 7 ($10) level. I'm betting that Louis is a fan of the Aero Peak, and Windows Snapping… I know Windows Snapping is one of my Top-5 features of Windows, one of those features that when it arrived, you can't believe you lived without it.

Louis is a front-end (full stack) web/native developer, who like me, is an ENTP personality (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) - he's also a Certified QuickBooks Cloud ProAdvisor. Be sure to follow Louis on:

Code.org
  • Has free week-long training courses for teachers
  • Is a free service, funding by donations (primarily technology companies, including Microsoft)
  • 25% of all students in America have an account on code.org
  • Offers elementary, middle and high school training for teachers
MakeCode

Microsoft MakeCode brings computer science to life for all students with fun projects, immediate results, and both block and text editors for learners at different levels

Resources

Microsoft Innovative Educator Program

The MIE community is a free and open program where Microsoft trains educators utilize tools to make their job easier, and to also teach technology related subjects to their students.

Closing the gender divide in Education Technology | Bett 2018 | Kirsty Tonks and Vivienne Porritt

Microsoft Stores

Microsoft provides many learning and education initiatives through their retail stores

  • STEM Saturdays - Teachers, students, and parents are welcome to drop by their local Microsoft Store to participate in these learning experiences. Projects are designed for 11- to 14-year-old students but can easily be completed by younger students with parental support
    • Intro to Robotics with Ohbot
    • Free new coding workshops
    • Free Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit workshop
    • How Do Sharks Swim? (build a joystick)
Microsoft Women

@MicrosoftWomen is one of 40 diversity employee networks within Microsoft, which celebrates #WomenInTech

@WomenInGaming

Xbox Research Team is a nearly equally divided team between men and women, which is a great sign of things to come

Notable Ladies of Microsoft Girls in Technology Resources Teaching Technology Resources Community Kudos Follow or Subscribe to Microsoft Today

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