Although Katie Meyer, 19, has considered a career in technology, she isn’t sure it’s in the cards for her. Three years ago, when she was 16, her mother enrolled her in a coding camp for girls. “They made it really friendly for people that age, so it was really easy to learn,” Meyer says. “We just sat down and started learning HTML and CSS.” She decided to pursue coding, so she took a course at her high school. It didn’t go as well. “It was hell on earth! Like, it was awful.” She felt out of her element, and couldn’t quite catch up to the rest of her classmates. She says it didn’t help that she was one of only two girls in that class. “All the guys knew exactly what they were doing.” Meyer, a history buff, ended up dropping that course and hasn’t pursued coding since. Stories like hers are playing out across the country. According to consulting firm McKinsey & Company, men vastly outnumber women in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Only 28 per cent of STEM graduates are women, and only 23 per cent of people working in high-paying STEM industries are women. Industry leaders are trying to improve those statistics and say the best way to get more women into tech is to change the conversation around what tech is — and what it’s not. Andrea Stairs, managing director of eBay Canada, spends a lot of time thinking about how to increase the ranks of women in her field. “I don’t think tech is a particularly friendly environment for women and I think we see that over and over again. It’s depressing,” Stairs says. Cast wider nets: Ebay has made a commitment to tracking diversity within the company, which employs 12,600 people globally. The last snapshot is from 2016 and it shows that women make up 22 per cent of its tech workforce. Read the rest of the story here
Today, the White House announced a $200 million per year commitment to computer science education in America’s schools. Unlike similar proposals in previous years, today’s action delivers funding to schools, immediately. Besides expanding access to computer science in schools that previously didn’t teach it, the funds promise to increase participation by women and underrepresented minorities. This funding will jumpstart efforts to ensure every student in every school has the opportunity to learn computer science as part of a well-rounded education. For advocates of increased access and diversity in CS, this is the culmination of years of momentum that began in classrooms, spread to entire school districts, and won the support of business leaders and elected officials globally. At a time when computing careers are the best-paying, fastest-growing, and largest sector of new wages, impacting every industry in every state, it is no longer acceptable for our schools to limit access to this foundational subject. Our children deserve a level playing field — the opportunity to learn computer science shouldn’t be limited by the color of a student’s skin or the neighborhood she lives in. The UK, Japan, Ireland, and a dozen other countries have announced plans to add computer science to their school curriculum. It is unacceptable for the U.S. to lag behind. The country that invented the personal computer, the Internet, and the smartphone should also lead in computer science. And today, America leads in computer science, thanks to countless supporters of this cause, starting with you: parents, students, and teachers, as well as partner organizations and local governments. Whether you signed a petition on Code.org or used our courses in your classroom, you’ve helped build a grassroots movement that is changing education, globally. The division in our country hurts us all. Amidst the politics, America’s students represent our hope. We all want opportunity for our children, and there’s no better way to offer them opportunity than to prepare them for the careers of the future. This movement has supporters across the political spectrum, whether in urban, suburban, or rural communities. 90% of parents support computer science in schools. Americans may be divided by our politics, but we’re united by our dedication to our children. We all believe in opportunity and the American Dream. Code.org has never endorsed any candidate, politician, or political party. We’ve worked closely with presidents and governors from both parties, and with international prime ministers, to advocate for opportunity. Like many others, we’re appalled by the divisiveness in today’s politics, at a time when we need collaborative solutions to the world’s problems. Given our education focus, we’re dismayed by proposed cuts to education budgets. And given our mission and focus on diversity, we unequivocally denounce the tone of racism that has entered the political sphere. Today we have a chance to set aside politics and come together, to support opportunity for all our youth, and to build our nation’s future. For those of us who have spent years working to spread computer science, today’s announcement marks a new beginning — it’s a new opportunity for every school to expand its computer science offerings. This work is only just beginning, and the job won’t be done until every state and school district in America steps up to teach high-quality computer science. To the 600,000 Code.org teachers who have helped make computer science the fastest-spreading subject in modern education, I want to thank you for your passion. And I encourage every educator to consider joining the computer science movement. Your students are our future. Whether you teach your students to add and subtract, to read and write, or to code, yours is the most important job in the world. Today marks a special moment for every parent, student, teacher, or partner organization who believes in our mission, that every student in every school deserves the opportunity to learn computer science. To all of you who have supported Code.org, today’s announcement is about something bigger than any politician or political agenda: it’s about our children and their future, and it’s about you, and the strength of our global movement for students. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Hadi Partovi, Code.org (read the original here)
Microsoft has invented a wristband that could help stem the tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease. The Emma Watch sends small vibrations through a wearer’s wrist that can stop the shaking experienced by those with the neurological disease. It vibrates with a distinctive pattern that has been designed to “disrupt the feedback loop between the brain and hand”, Microsoft said. Uncontrollable shaking is one of the main symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, which affects around 127,000 people in the UK. It can prevent sufferers from conducting routine tasks such as getting dressed, writing things down or using a computer.
Currently a prototype, the Emma Watch was created by Microsoft developer Haiyan Zhang for her friend Emma Lawton, a 32-year-old graphic designer diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013. Microsoft unveiled the device at its annual developer’s conference in a video that shows Lawton regaining the ability to draw, a passion she has struggled with since her diagnosis. With the Emma on her wrist Lawton is able to write legibly and draw straight lines, something she struggles with on her own. “The technology has the potential to help Parkinson’s patients manage symptoms that impede regular functions,” said Microsoft. The Emma Watch is currently a prototype designed specifically for Lawton and a BBC documentary called The Big Life Fix. It is not clear if it will be released widely, but Microsoft said it plans to conduct further work in the area. “The goal of further research is to determine whether Emma Watch could help other people with similar Parkinson’s symptoms,” it said. It is fitted with sensors and software that could monitor other patients’ symptoms including tremors and stiffness to create further products. “Once these symptoms can be identified and measured, its possible to develop technology and devices that help humans manage their symptoms,” said Microsoft. “AI is used to classify the sensor information and elicit real-time responses on small devices like wearables.” Zhang has previously designed cutlery that can react to people’s movement to prevent them from spilling food. Read more at the source