GW CyberCamp, rideshare discrimination
GW CyberCamp, rideshare discrimination
WiE Newsletter - July 2020 - ISSUE 9
Dr. Rachelle Heller

Front and Center 

News from the Director

Amazing – I can use the same opening sentence as the May and June Newsletter! It does feel like Groundhog Day, every day!
The days after graduation at GW are typically slower; faculty turn their thoughts to Summer research, students to Summer internships at companies or in research labs, staff enjoy a bit of quiet before the Fall term ramps up, and alumni probably don’t feel much of a change except for a well-earned vacation.
The year of the Coronavirus has changed everything, including our usual academic cycle of events. Our GW labs are just now opening with limited access, students fortunate to still have an internship are mainly conducting them virtually, our staff is working hard to sustain all the aspects of academic life, and alumni are probably rethinking vacations while exhibiting a bit of what the Harvard Business Review calls "Zoom fatigue."

The Center for Women in Engineering has, as we noted last month, put the finishing touches on our mentoring program. We hosted a webinar presentation for potential mentors and a recording of that session is available here. You'll need the Access Password to view it: 9m$EO*91

We launched the training session on June 30 and are now actively connecting the mentors with the mentees. 20 mentors and 15 mentees signed up for initial Beta launch of the program. We purposely kept the numbers small so that we could be sure we had all of the logistical issues resolved. We are recruiting both mentors and mentees for the official launch of the program for Fall 2020.

Interested? Please complete this application
WiE Mentor-Mentee Sign-Up
At NSA Cybercamp, girls learn fun new skills like
At the NSA-GW Girls Cybersecurity Day Camp, you can learn fun news skills such as FaceRig, which lets you animate characters just by using your voice.

GW Middle School Girls Cybersecurity Day Camp is Back

Other good news – the NSA funded Cybersecurity Day camp for Middle School Girls is going ahead with a virtual version, starting August 10, 2020.
The applications for this year's GW Middle School Girls Cybersecurity day camp are being accepted as of July 2, 2020. The deadline to apply is July 15. 
In light of the COVID-19 virus, the camp will be hosted online everyday the week of August 10, 2020. We have some exciting new features including materials we will provide each camper.
Anyone you know in middle school who may be interested? Access the application at this link.

George Hacks - What will YOU Change?

As the Technical Director of George Hacks, I wanted to reach out to you about promoting our new initiative to collect healthcare problem statements on a rolling basis for our Annual Medical Solutions Hackathon. Through this initiative, we hope to be able to offer our participants a larger and more diverse collection of healthcare problems to choose from at our January event.

Stay physically distant and socially connected and wash your hands.
Shelly Heller
WiE Center Director

GW Study on Discrimination Resulting from Uber and Lyft Algorithms

Salon magazine has featured a study by Aylin Caliskan and Akshat Pandey of GW, which analyzed transportation and census data in Chicago assessing racial disparity resulting from ride-hailing company algorithms. According to the article, Uber and Lyft algorithms charged users more for trips to non-white neighborhoods. "While the use of machine learning to forecast demand may improve ride-hailing applications' ability to provide services to their riders, machine learning methods have been known to adopt policies that display demographic disparity in online recruitment, online advertisements, and recidivism prediction," the authors explain.

Facebook Posts Roles for People with 2+ Years' Career Break

Facebook has several roles posted for people who have taken a career break of 2+ years and are looking to return to full-time positions. The Return to Work Program is accepting resumes, and the positions are listed here. They include:

Data Engineer, Infrastructure
Research Data Scientist, Infrastructure
Capacity Engineering and Analysis Engineer, Infrastructure
Mechanical Engineer, Infrastructure
Mechanical Engineer, AR/VR
Firmware Engineer, AR/VR
Electrical Engineer, AR/VR
Technical Program Manager, Infrastructure
Technical Program Manager, AR/VR
Fulfillment Operations Program Manager, AR/VR

Roles are located in the California Bay Area, Seattle, Washington and 
Boston, Massachusetts.
Subscribe to stay connected

What We Are Reading

As citizens of the U.S., our attention, thankfully, is focused on issues of racism and disparity with the hope of finally addressing these inequities. The following report, with its suggested actions, could not be more timely.
Top on the reading list this month is the report from The National Academies of Science entitled “Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Opening Doors: Proceedings of a Symposium in Brief.” Our Advisory Board member, Vivian Pinn, was one of the conveners of the conference. I had the opportunity to attend this virtual conference and the honor to review the report before publication.
The major findings will not be surprising to you – as early as entering college, women, especially women of color, are underrepresented in STEM. This is especially true in physics, engineering, and computer science, and less so in biology, medicine, and chemistry. That underrepresentation has the impact of reducing the presence of women at all levels in academia. The report notes that the bias, discrimination and even harassment felt by women in STEM is more acute and overwhelming for women of color, with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community.
You can download the full report for free at the National Academies.
It is hard to pick out one or two topics to highlight; each section has outstanding detail and discussion. Because the Center is inaugurating the mentoring program, I paid special attention to that section. The report specifically noted that during times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, mentoring is especially important, confirming our decision to begin our mentoring beta-test. Elizabeth Travis from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center provided a graphic that has also guided our mentoring program.
Sponsors vs. Mentors diagram
Even the COVID-19 pandemic has, for me, some bright sides. One is the opportunity, even the need, to get out every day for a walk. Not only does that walk help me realize that the world is moving forward even while my days have a certain ‘Groundhog Day’ feel to them, I listen to various podcasts while I walk.
My current favorite is “The Last Archive” by Jill Lapore, professor of history at Harvard University as well as contributor to the New Yorker Magazine. There are seven presentations to date and it is hard to tell you which is my favorite; each has resonance with our world today. The 6th in the series, which talked about the history of virus vaccination, was so engaging that I walked at least an additional mile! A major part of the presentation focuses on the polio epidemic and the development of the Salk vaccine, and I thought I knew about this having lived through summers before the vaccine.
What I didn’t know was the political struggle between those who wanted to be sure that the vaccine was free to all children and those who felt otherwise – sounds familiar. I also didn’t know the role of the African American women in laboratories at the Tuskegee Institute Cell labs, who provided most of the cells, and the racism that kept that story from the public (based on the cells taken from Henrietta Lacks – check that story out if you have not read The Immortal Live of Henrietta Lacks).

Happy reading.

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