Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading…RelatedMarch 2018 User Experience and Web Professional EventsWhether you’re a user experience or web professional, you know it can be a challenge to keep your skills up-to-date, learn about new methods, and network with fellow web workers. And it takes time to find interesting local events. That’s why I publish a monthly calendar of user experience and…In “Calendar”March 2017 User Experience and Web Professional EventsWhether you’re a user experience or web professional, you know it can be a challenge to keep your skills up-to-date, learn about new methods, and network with fellow web workers. And it takes time to find interesting local events. That’s why I publish a monthly calendar of user experience and…In “Calendar”World Information Architecture Day Ann Arbor Returns on February 23Back for its eighth year, World Information Architecture (IA) Day Ann Arbor is the annual one-day conference created by the Information Architecture Institute and produced by local volunteers. Organized by School of Information students at the University of Michigan, this year’s event with the theme “Design for Difference” will be…In “Conference” Women’s March Ann Arbor marchers gather at the University of Michigan DiagAlong with thousands of other men, women, and children (MLive reported 11,000 people attended), I joined the Women’s March in Ann Arbor yesterday to march in support of women’s rights, affordable health care, and civil rights.I was proud to be part of a march that joined hundreds of Women’s Marches around the world, on every continent including Antarctica. Unexpectedly warm weather in the 50’s greeted marchers as they gathered in Ann Arbor, Michigan near the Federal Building before the start of the march.At the march and rally, I met young and old: college students, parents, grandparents, and children from Ann Arbor, St. Clair Shores, Dearborn, Ypsilanti, and Chelsea.We chatted about our reasons for being at the march: to join in solidarity to show the world, no matter our race, gender, religion, or sexuality, we will fight for women’s rights and civil rights.Despite thousands of people gathered at the corner of 5th and Liberty before the march, I was absolutely surprised to run into my friend Deb Nystrom near the Federal Building who used her artistic talents to create a sign to carry during the march.The handmade signs, uplifting conversations with fellow marchers as we walked to the University of Michigan Diag, and the speeches at the rally encouraging everyone to get involved left me with a positive, hopeful feeling as I left the march.It was wonderful to see the photos from my friends posted on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as they joined marches around the world. Check them out online by searching for the womensmarch hashtag.Here are a few more of my photos from the march.
Changing the StereotypeI believe tech industry stereotypes are changing fast. And not because of the intervention of some external mandate or investment, but by the fast evolving nature of technology itself.Advances in the fields of big data processing, the Internet of Things, and data analytics are fundamentally transforming how and to what end technology is used. With an increasing emphasis on analytics, interpretation of trends and patterns in data, and integration of data insights into other fields, the kinds of skills needed to succeed in these new technical fields are evolving fast.I belong to a small professional group called the Women in Big Data Forum. One of our goals is to encourage and attract more female talent to the big data and analytics fields and help enhance diversity in these industries. However, our group is not limited to women solely in high tech—because the value of big data insights is not limited to technologists. Big data analysis is valuable to anyone with business acumen and the intuition to see trends, connections and relationships in data.And in many ways, women are better at that than men.In analytical fields, technical prowess is necessary, but only part of what’s needed to succeed. Women in Data Science: 4 Perspectives is a fascinating series of interviews with four data scientists commenting on current opportunities for women in big data analytics. In the article, the commentators stress, “the fields of data science and analytics are absolutely exploding with opportunity” for men and women alike, though women are finding a great deal of success in these fields because “they often bring a different intuition to the table.”This in part results from the fact that data analysis is an interdisciplinary field. According to Sarah Aerni, principal data scientist at Pivotal, “This field [data analytics] benefits from diversity in thinking. There is rarely only one way to approach a problem, and new ideas and input can only lead to more variety in approaches and potentially better outcomes.” In addition, the consumers of data science exist in every industry, and require people in data analytics to interact with a wide variety of businesses and individuals. “It is a field that values a variety of skills, deep technical abilities, hacking, storytelling, visualization and constant learning,” says Aerni. “This is something I value, and I think it encourages diverse backgrounds as well.”Diversity is Good BusinessDiversity in a technical workplace does come with benefits. The vast majority of innovations are developed not by lone geniuses but in a team environment, where groups of people work together to solve problems together. Within these teams, diversity of views, experience and expertise is a key to success because it broadens the pool of knowledge from which innovation springs.This is great news for both women and men, and for people with a variety of backgrounds and experience. As promising as the new top-down diversity programs and STEM initiatives are, there’s no reason to wait. Set aside the stereotypes and look for the opportunities that are opening right now.I encourage my colleagues in the tech sector to use their voices, their influence and their passion for innovation to look for opportunities to move beyond gender stereotypes and allow each individual to shine at whatever he or she is good at. After all, a more diverse and inclusive work force is a driver for innovation, as a broad set of experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds are crucial for the development of new ideas and creativity. Increasing the diversity of workers in the technology industry has become the issue of the moment. A steady stream of tech companies, from start-ups to giant corporations, are pledging to hire more women and minorities workers. By doing so, they may begin to eliminate some of the stereotypes that present barriers to entry to male-dominated fields like technology.These programs have taken on different forms, including:Apple’s $50 million donation to organizations that help women and minorities get into tech jobs;Intel’s $300 million initiative to increase the diversity of its workforce;Salesforce’s directive that all important meetings must include at least 30 percent women.These are laudable efforts, and in conjunction with improved STEM education and coding schools to help improve the skills of women and other under-represented groups, we can hope soon to see a tech workforce that looks more like the general population.Yet, I wonder if new advances and opportunities in technology haven’t already turned the old stereotypes on their ear, and brightened the prospects for women and minority workers at the cutting edge of the industry?