STEM Workforce Facts You Need to Know

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Group of people looking at STEM job opportunities on their phones

By Nikki Graf, Richard Fry, and Cary Funk

Employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations has grown 79 percent since 1990, from 9.7 million to 17.3 million, outpacing overall U.S. job growth.

There’s no single standard for which jobs count as STEM, and this may contribute to a number of misperceptions about who works in STEM and the difference that having a STEM-related degree can make in workers’ pocketbooks.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data takes a broad-based look at the STEM workforce from 1990 to 2016 based on an analysis of adults ages 25 and older working in any of 74 occupations. These include computer, math, engineering, and architecture occupations, physical scientists, life scientists, and health-related occupations, such as healthcare practitioners and technicians, but not healthcare support workers, such as nursing aides and medical assistants.

Here are seven facts about the STEM workforce and STEM training.

STEM workers enjoy a pay advantage compared with non-STEM workers with similar levels of education. Among those with some college education, the typical full-time, year-round STEM worker earns $54,745 while a similarly educated non-STEM worker earns $40,505, or 26 percent less.

And among those with the highest levels of education, STEM workers out-earn their non-STEM counterparts by a similar margin. Non-STEM workers with a master’s degree typically earn 26 percent less than STEM workers with similar education. The median earnings of non-STEM workers with a professional or doctoral degree trail their STEM counterparts by 24 percent.

While STEM workers tend to be highly educated, roughly a third have not completed a bachelor’s or higher-level degree. Thirty-five percent of the STEM workforce does not have a bachelor’s degree. Overall, about three-in-ten STEM workers report having completed an associate degree (15 percent) or have some college education but no degree (14 percent). These workers are more prevalent among healthcare practitioners and technicians, computer workers, and engineers.

Some 36 percent of STEM workers have a bachelor’s degree but no graduate degree. Roughly three-in-ten STEM workers (29 percent) have earned a master’s, doctorate, or professional degree. Life scientists are the most highly educated among STEM workers, with 54 percent, on average, having an advanced degree.

About half of workers with college training in a STEM field are working in a non-STEM job. Among workers ages 25 and older with at least a bachelor’s degree, one-in-three (33 percent) have an undergraduate degree in a STEM field of study. But only about half (52 percent) of these STEM-trained workers are employed in a STEM occupation.

Among non-STEM occupations, management, business, and finance jobs attract a substantial share of college graduates with STEM training (17 percent), particularly those who majored in engineering. Roughly a quarter (24 percent) of engineering majors are in a managerial, business or finance job.

Overall, among adults with a STEM college major, women are more likely than men to work in a STEM occupation (56 percent vs. 49 percent). This difference is driven mainly by college graduates with a health professions major (such as nursing or pharmacy), most of whom are women.

But 38 percent of women and 53 percent of men with a college major in computers or computer science are employed in a computer occupation. And women with a college degree in engineering are less likely than men who majored in these fields to be working in an engineering job (24 percent vs. 30 percent). These differences in retention within a field of study for women in computer and engineering occupations are in keeping with other studies showing a “leaky pipeline” for women in STEM.

STEM training in college is associated with higher earnings, whether working in a STEM occupation or not. Among college-educated workers employed full-time year-round, the median earnings for those who have a STEM college major are $81,011, compared with $60,828 for other college majors.

The earnings advantage for those with a college major in a STEM field extends to workers outside of STEM occupations. Among all non-STEM workers, those who have a STEM college degree earn, on average, about $71,000; workers with a non-STEM degree working outside of STEM earn roughly $11,000 less annually.

The share of women varies widely across STEM job types. Women are underrepresented in some STEM job clusters, but in others, they match or exceed their share in the U.S. workforce overall.

In fact, women comprise three-quarters of healthcare practitioners and technicians, the largest occupational cluster classified as STEM in this analysis, with 9.0 million workers—6.7 million of whom are women.

And women’s gains since 1990 in the life sciences (up from 34 percent to 47 percent) have brought them roughly on par with their share in the total workforce (47 percent), a milestone reached in math occupations (46 percent) as well.

Women have made significant gains in life and physical sciences, but in other areas, their shares have been stable and in computer jobs it has declined. While there has been significant progress for women’s representation in the life and physical sciences since 1990, the share of women has been roughly stable in several other STEM job clusters.

In engineering, the job cluster in which women have the lowest levels of representation on average, women’s shares have inched up only slightly, from 12 percent in 1990 to 14 percent today.

African-American and Hispanic representation in the STEM workforce. Overall, African Americans and Hispanics are underrepresented in the STEM workforce relative to their shares in the U.S. workforce as a whole. But there’s one exception: 11 percent of healthcare practitioners and technicians are black, similar to the share of black people in the total workforce.

Within job clusters, however, the share of African Americans and Hispanics varies widely. For example, 37 percent of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses are either black or Hispanic.

Source: pewresearch.org

This scientist serves as a role model for native Hawaiian professionals

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Narrissa sitting at the desk witha white lab coat on

As a child growing up on Hawaiʻi Island, Narrissa Spies thought the classroom and beach were two separate and distinct places. Today, this 36-year-old fish and wildlife biologist—working at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service—knows that protecting coral reefs is both her job and life’s passion.

“I grew up in a house that didn’t have electricity, so for us, going to the beach during the day was an amazing way to escape,” Spies said. “I didn’t realize as a child that I could do those types of things as a career, that I could investigate sea creatures, turn over rocks, as my job.”

Thanks to a $45,000 fellowship from the Kohala Center, a Waimea-based nonprofit, Spies spent the 2017–18 academic year finishing her doctorate on how coral are able to withstand multiple stressors resulting from human activities.

Bob Richmond, her faculty advisor and director of the Kewalo Marine Lab, said Spies is more than a brilliant scientist: She is a cultural practitioner who will inspire future ocean researchers.

“For many scientists, the coin of the realm is the peer-reviewed publication. They say, ‘Okay, my job is done, I’ve published the paper,’” Richmond said. “For Narrissa and her generation, that is no longer sufficient. ‘We’ve done the science, we’ve published the paper and now we have to put that knowledge to work.’ And that’s what distinguishes her from a lot of other people.”

Spies grew up in Hilo and Kawaihae, where her childhood aspiration was to become a medical researcher. She began her studies at Hawaiʻi Community College, graduating from UH Hilo with a bachelor of arts in biology and anthropology, and a master’s degree in tropical conservation biology and environmental science.

Spies spent a lot of time at the Kewalo Marine Lab, near Kakaʻako Waterfront Park, where she was on schedule to earn a doctorate in zoology in spring last year. She continued her research after receiving yet another honor—a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to engage high school students in the natural sciences as a career path.

By demonstrating her high level of success, this role model will increase the number of Native Hawaiian professionals with a cultural affinity for protecting fragile natural resources.

“I feel it’s important to educate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) because these are our resources in Hawaiʻi,” Spies said. “And who better to care for these resources than people who grew up here and can understand how important they are to our local community.”

Source: University of Hawaii

The mouse of the future? Your eyeballs

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picture of person using their eyeball to control their mouse

By Katharine Schwab

Most of us control our technology using our fingers and hands, whether that’s through touch screens or a mouse. But for years, individuals with disabilities have used their eyes as a way to control digital interfaces.

Tablets like the Tobii Dynavox EyeMobile+ give people with cerebral palsy and other conditions the ability to use the internet, communicate, and even play games using just their eyes as a mouse.

Now, researchers are experimenting with ways to bring eye-tracking technology to general users. At the annual ACM Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference last week, scholars presented three new methods for able-bodied people to take advantage of a user interface that has mostly stayed within the realm of assistive technology. The experiments show how using your eyes as a tool to control a computer could make everyone more productive, not just people who are disabled. It’s an example of the power of inclusive design: When technologies are built to accommodate users who have disabilities, everyone else benefits, too.

Proofreading emails–or any other chunk of text–with just your eyes

One of the most annoying things about writing is typos: They’re inevitable, but they’re a pain to go back and fix. Academics at the University of Auckland and the University of Bath presented a research paper at CHI that proposes using your gaze to fix those pesky little mistakes and navigate a chunk of text. First, you look at the typo you want to fix (something you’re probably doing anyway). Then, you start typing. The program, called ReType, identifies the word you’re trying to change based on your gaze, and replaces it with whatever you type. Then, you just have to press enter to continue, enabling you to keep your hands on the keyboard as you continue to edit your mistakes. Your cursor then stays in the location you just edited, enabling you to insert or delete text there. It turns your eyeballs into a mouse.

The study included a variety of keyboard users, some of whom had used gaze-tracking technology before, and the researchers showed that the method was able to match and sometimes beat the speed of using a mouse. Plus, users liked it: “We were very pleased to hear from a number of users that they expect ReType to be helpful in addressing and preventing repetitive strain injury,” Gerald Weber, a computer science lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, tells Fast Company via email, referring to the musculoskeletal damage that’s caused by small repetitive tasks like clicking, typing, and using a mouse. Currently, Retype is just a prototype, but the research team has patented it and wants to turn it into a product.

Navigating through code without ever using a mouse

Studies have found that developers spend about 35% of their time navigating through their code while they’re working. When they’re debugging, they spend about 50% of their time looking for information–something that slows them down considerably.

Using eye tracking to communicate with colleagues

As more people work remotely, collaboration across distance can be difficult. But a study from researchers at Pomona College that was presented at CHI shows how eye tracking could act as a collaborative tool. The researchers focused on the challenges of collaborating on a piece of writing while working in different places, something that has become common with the popularity of tools like Google Docs. They conducted a study with 20 pairs of academics, each of whom had an eye-tracking device at the bottom of their screen that showed their collaborator where they were looking within a digital text editor. After completing writing tasks where they did and did not have access to the location of the other person’s gaze, the study participants reported more mutual understanding, higher joint attention, greater flow of communication, and increased awareness of what their co-author was doing when they could see where their partner was looking. (The eye-tracking technology only shows up within the text editor, so collaborators wouldn’t be able to spy on each other’s eye movements outside of that context.)

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

WonderWorks Syracuse Celebrates WonderKids with Astronaut Meet and Greet and Ceremony

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WonderWorks

WonderWorks in Syracuse is on an out of this world mission to inspire kids to be interested in space exploration. They will be hosting their 6th Annual WonderKids Awards Program ceremony on May 18, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The event will be held at WonderWorks, located at 9090 Destiny USA Dr., Syracuse, New York. Teachers who took part in the WonderKids program nominated students to meet an astronaut will get the opportunity to do so on May 18, 2019, from 10 am to noon. The meet and greet is open to the public to attend. WonderWorks has teamed up with Dr. Don Thomas, an astronaut who has orbited the Earth nearly 700 times, to visit Syracuse school students. The event will feature an award ceremony and a guest speaker visit from Dr. Donald Thomas, a former NASA astronaut, with whom people can meet and get their photo taken with. Those attending will also be able to learn about his experiences in space. Members of the media are invited to attend the schools the astronaut visits, the ceremony and the meet and greet.

“We are excited to be able to have someone as special as Dr. Thomas team up with us to meet Syracuse area students,” states Nicole Montgomery, director of operations for WonderWorks Syracuse. “His insight and experiences will be fascinating to the children and will hopefully further inspire a love of science.”

The dates for the program are as follows:
•    Astronaut Dr. Don Thomas will visit East Syracuse Elementary on May 16, 2019.
He will visit Solvay Middle School and East Syracuse High School on May 17, 2019.
•    The WonderKids official ceremony will be held May 18, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
•    A public meet and greet will be held on May 18, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

“The WonderKids program is one of a kind and one that is special for kids who love to explore science,” said Dr. Don Thomas, “It’s an honor to participate in programs that encourage young minds to desire science and I look forward to teaming up with WonderWorks.”

WonderKids is a program that is offered by WonderWorks that focuses on student achievement through a variety of categories, including academic excellence, service to the community, and future scientist. Its mission is to make science fun and interesting. The program is open to students around the Syracuse area. Only a limited number of students are accepted into the program. Those interested in learning more about the program can visit the website: https://www.wonderworksonline.com/destiny/wonderkids/.

WonderWorks in Syracuse is an adventure that tourists and locals both enjoy. The indoor amusement park is open 365 days per year from 9:00 a.m. until midnight. WonderWorks features a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, laser tag, 4D XD motion theater, magic comedy dinner show, and the Wonder Zones, which include interactive exhibits on natural disasters, space discovery, light and sound zone, imagination lab, far out art gallery, and a physical challenge zone.

About WonderWorks
WonderWorks, a science-focused indoor amusement park located in Destiny USA, combines education and entertainment with over 100 hands-on exhibits. There is something unique and challenging for all ages. Adventures include: The Hurricane Shack, feel the power of 71 mph hurricane–force winds, The Bubble Lab, make huge, life–sized bubbles, The Astronaut Training Gyro, get the NASA treatment and experience zero gravity, Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. WonderWorks is also home to two indoor ropes courses, Canyon Climb, which is the world’s largest suspended indoor ropes course, and Sky Tykes, which is a confidence booster climb for small children. WonderWorks also hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. WonderWorks has locations in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach, and Syracuse. For more information, visit the site at: Opens daily at 10 a.m. www.wonderworksdestiny.com.

21 year old pilot, philanthropist and top STEM and Space Influencer in the country is MARS BOUND

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Astronaut Abby posing next to her plane she pilots

A sought-after STEM influencer and non-profit Founder, she is better known on the internet as Astronaut Abby (Abigail “Abby” Harrison), an aspiring and inspiring astronaut working towards a mission to be the first astronaut to walk on Mars.

In documenting her journey, she has amassed more than a million followers, and now as an influencer (who donates all her influencer earnings to charity), she provides unique insight into what it’s like to strive daily towards a career as an astronaut. Plus, did we mention? She sends underprivileged kids to space camp!

While there has been progress made, it’s a fairly well-known fact that women are still underrepresented in the worlds of science, technology, engineering, and math. Women fill only 25% of computer science jobs even though the number of computing jobs has increased. Women only represent 16% of the engineering workforce, make up 47% of science fields relating to humans, animals and plants, and fill 46% of the jobs in math, like accounting, finance, economics.  That is why Abby wants to raise awareness and encourage more girls to pursue their love of science, engineering and math. It is crucial for boys and girls to see a girl rock it in STEM. With Abby it is also important to talk about failing and her failures. #FailureIsTheOnlyOption is a message Abby shares to show that you should always be willing to try even if you do fail because failure leads to success.

The dedication and preparation for this space journey is no small feat and one thing you’ll know for sure, especially after watching Abby’s inspiring TED TALK, this girl is unstoppable. In the pursuit of becoming an astronaut Abby has devoted herself to personal development as a pilot, scuba diver, sky diver, marathoner, research astrobiologist, student of Russian and Mandarin Chinese, and science communicator. Beyond a personal aspiration, Abigail has leveraged her passion to excite and inspire other young people about STEM and space through talks, appearances and her online YOU TUBE series #AskAbby Space and Science Show”. Through her dedication she has founded with the support of an advisory board that includes astronauts, engineers and many other space professionals, The Mars Generation (TMG), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. TMG focuses on exciting and inspiring young people about STEM and space and then supporting them to go after careers in those fields.

Abby’s online journey as Astronaut Abby began at the young age of 13 (in 2011) when Abby setup a Twitter account under “AstronautAbby” in search of a quote from a NASA employee for a school project. This simple action eventually led to Abby to where she is now. This school project research led to Abby meeting Astronaut Luca Parmitano (who then offered to mentor her) and two years later attending his first launch to the International Space Station in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Luca’s invite was the catalyst that led Abby to crowdfund online with the hope to start a six-month outreach program to work as Luca’s Earth Liaison, sharing his experience in space on earth. Abby’s outreach program raised $40,000 to support the program. After those first six months, she continued with funding from her single mother until the age of 18. She now continues with TMG which has an impressive board of advisors including astronauts, engineers, lawyers and an array of other business professionals. This non-profit is funded by private donations, corporate sponsors and of special note – approx. 50% of its funding comes directly from Abby donating 100% of her earnings as a STEM influencer.

In its fourth year, her nonprofit has more than 1,800 students worldwide participating in an innovative Student Space Ambassador Leadership program which provides resources and mentorship to allow young people to share their love of STEM and space with their local communities.

Through the funds raised, Abigail and TMG have sent 44 youths (to date as of summer 2019) experiencing poverty on full scholarship (including transportation) to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Her leadership and community-building efforts have motivated others to pursue education and careers in STEM. And, maybe more importantly, to support and encourage young people and their families who are the most underrepresented in the areas of science and space.

She will graduate from Wellesley College in 2019 with degrees in Astrobiology and Russian and plans to pursue a PhD. She continues her work as an active astrobiology researcher, begun during her Mars lab internship at the Kennedy Space Center Space Life Sciences Labs.

The Renewable Energy Market Continues to Expand

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soloar panels and windmills near a river

If you’re looking for a job in 2019, you may want to consider the field of renewable energy.

Renewable energy as a whole had a good year last year, in this country and around the world. With more growth in, and adoption of, solar and wind energy, jobs in renewable energy will continue to increase. And, that also means good things for the community where the jobs are, like cleaner air.

There are more than three million clean energy jobs in the United States. According to cleanjobscount.org, “these workers install solar panels atop our homes and commercial buildings; manufacture wind turbines and reduce wasted energy by making our homes, schools, and offices more energy efficient. And they work in every zip code in the country.”

Overall, the renewable energy market continues to expand as the demand for a clean, sustainable energy grows, and with it, comes jobs.

Top Jobs and Where They Are 

Which jobs are the fastest growing in this country? Solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians continue to be two of the fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And, those two jobs are also good jobs—they pay higher than the U.S. average. People with background scan join the clean energy workforce—such as military veterans. The American wind industry hires veterans at a rate 72 percent higher than the national average.

Some communities are specifically and deliberately fostering renewable energy job growth, including the rural MidwestNew YorkMarylandRhode Island, and in urban Chicago, among others.

State Leaders Support Renewable Energy 

More lawmakers are increasingly supportive of renewable energy and are expressing that support through funding and legislation. Twenty-nine states already have renewable portfolio standards, which requires the increased production of energy from renewable energy sources, and that number is only expected to grow.

A group of clean energy groups are urging Congress to give solar already benefit from—something that could further boost innovation, decrease cost, and dramatically increase the amount of installed wind and solar capacity.

Also exciting is that a growing number of members of Congress are signing on to support the Sunrise Movement—a proposed Green New Deal supporting renewable energy. Like Roosevelt’s New Deal in the ‘30s, this would include a massive public works program boosting jobs and the economy. But, unique to the Green New Deal, that economic growth would also transition the nation away from a fossil fuels-driven system to one that is renewables based; drastically reducing carbon emissions.

Battery Storage Jobs Could Be the Next Big Thing 

Related to renewable energy, large scale batteries that can store wind and solar energy, are gaining in demand. The United States leads the world in energy storage, and that’s also a market that can expect booming growth—and with it jobs—over the next few years.

Source: CleanChoice Energy

Becoming An Influential Female Leader In Technology

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Professional woman working at desk with laptop

By Spandana Govindgari

The time is now ripe for breaking into technology as a woman. For the past 20 years or so, looking up to role models often meant emulating male leaders like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.

As a woman of color and a software engineer, I found myself in situations where I had nobody who looked like me among the tech leadership. As a result, I doubted my capabilities, skills and confidence.

This is when I first came across the Grace Hopper Conference. I was lucky and fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to attend the conference for free as a student. For any woman interested in software engineering now, the GHC is the go-to place for getting inspired, finding jobs and life-long mentors — along with similar conferences like the NCWIT Summit on Women and IT and the Girlboss Rally. After I met so many amazing women like me at the conference, I returned to my job feeling much more empowered to make changes to our recruiting pipeline to hire more female engineers.

Flash forward to today, and there are more women stepping up to become mentors, many women taking leadership roles to become role models for the future generations, and groups on social media are connecting women everywhere and helping them feel inspired and empowered to break into technology. I’ve noticed more and more workplaces are starting to recognize women in prominent leadership roles by offering them opportunities to mentor and enabling tough conversations about diversity and inclusion to take place at work.

It is truly the right time to be a part of this movement. As a female software engineer and rising entrepreneur, I would like to share some tips for women trying to break into the field of software engineering and ways to thrive at work by challenging the status quo.

Help People Without Any Expectations
You get what you give. Consider the skills or knowledge you currently possess in a specific area — for example, databases, bots, Java, Python and so on. You could share this knowledge through free courses on Youtube or Udemy. There are various resource groups on entrepreneurship, engineering, and design. One of the most famous is the Hackathon Hackers group on Facebook, and another popular one is Ladies Storm Hackathons. Consider joining a group and helping college students who need assistance with making career choices or advice on obtaining internships and jobs, or people looking for co-founders on a project.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Nearly Half of Young Professionals are Pursuing a Career in This Field

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iGen

The oil and gas industry is facing strong competition in attracting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent, with 44 percent of STEM Millennials and Generation Zs (Gen Z) interested in pursuing a career in oil and gas, compared to 77 percent in the technology sector, 58 percent in life sciences and pharmaceuticals, and 57 percent in health care –according to the inaugural global Workforce of the Future survey released by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).

The survey was commissioned by ADNOC to examine future workforce and employment trends in the oil and gas industry, particularly as the industry looks to attract STEM talent and enable the 4th Industrial Age. This is in line with ADNOC’s Oil & Gas 4.0 mission to help meet the world’s increasing demand for energy and higher-value products – by fostering a dynamic and performance-led culture that cultivates talent and applies the latest technology to optimize resources.

The survey interviewed STEM students and young professionals aged 15 to 35 in 10 countries – across North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, representing a mix of significant global economies, and producers and consumers of oil and gas – and looked at their perceptions across multiple STEM-related industries, including oil and gas, and the skills they value and believe are required to succeed in these industries.

Key Findings
“Salary,” “work-life balance,” “job stability,” “on-the-job fulfilment,” and “a good work environment” are ranked the top five drivers behind potential career choices for STEM Millennials and Gen Zs. Young STEM talent also associate the oil and gas industry with high salaries and see it as an industry that is invaluable. “The industry pays well,” “the industry is crucial for their country’s economy and development,” and it is “an industry we couldn’t live without,” are ranked as the top three positive attributes about the industry.

What young professionals want, by industry
77% technology
58% life science/pharmaceuticals
57% health care
44% oil and gas

STEM Millennials and Gen Zs show the most interest in industries that they believe will be most impacted by new technologies. Globally, 42 percent say that new technologies will have a major impact on the oil and gas industry, while 56 percent say the same for health care, 53 percent for life sciences and pharmaceuticals, and 73 percent for the technology industry.

His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO, said: “The findings from the ADNOC Workforce of the Future survey show that the more STEM Millennials and Gen Zs associate oil and gas with new technologies, the more interested they will be in a career in the industry. “As we enter the 4th Industrial Age, we need to come together as an industry and – with our technology industry partners – better highlight the exciting opportunities our dynamic industry offers to young talent with strong technology skills,” he added. The results also show that STEM Millennials and Gen Zs appear divided on whether oil and gas is an industry of the future (45 percent) or the past (44 percent). The data also indicates a mismatch between what STEM Millennials and Gen Zs see as the most important skills to succeed professionally versus what they see are the most important skills for a career in the oil and gas industry.

“Information technology and computer” skills (37 percent) and “creativity and innovative thinking” (33 percent) are seen as the most important skill-sets for succeeding in the future, but only 18 percent see “IT and computer” and “creativity and innovative thinking” as important skills for a career in oil and gas. Similarly, while 26 percent say programing languages are key for future professional success, only 11 percent view it as an important skill in the oil and gas industry. The data also shows that some experience in the job market and a tertiary education in STEM subjects can help change perceptions positively toward a career in the oil and gas sector. While interest is low among secondary school-age STEM students (37 percent are interested in a career in oil and gas), this figure rises to approximately half (51 percent) of young professionals being interested in pursuing a career in the sector – representing a 14-point increase.

There’s a Massive Gender Gap in AI, but Tech Education Programs for Young Girls Aim to Close It

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Tara Chklovski att he podium at a Technovation speaking engagement

Tara Chklovski had the weight of her family on her shoulders.

Growing up in India in what she calls a lower-middle-class family, it was difficult not to notice the poverty around her — especially the pivotal role chance plays in determining the family someone is born into, as well as their access to education, healthcare and opportunity.

Chklovski’s parents encouraged her to pursue a subject that intrinsically advanced the world, hoping it would also advance their family’s situation. “That is definitely the mantra of the times in India,” says Chklovski. “The lower middle class has this drive to get a degree in engineering or medicine or technology so you can lift your family out of poverty.”

She came to the U.S. to study aerospace engineering and quickly found that that same drive to pursue tech didn’t apply — especially in the women she met. The U.S. may be a more developed country, she thought, but here, women actively kind of closed doors to their potential, making blanket statements like, “I’m not good at math.” Chklovski was stunned someone could say that with a straight face, but she was also intrigued. She did some digging and concluded that the “huge, transforming lever” that is education was at the root of the problem.

Chklovski wanted to become a pioneer in the area, so she left her PhD program to start Iridescent, an educational nonprofit that says it’s helped train more than 114,000 people from 115 countries since its 2006 launch. The organization sets its sights on empowering young girls and mothers to become tech leaders in communities across the globe, partnering with the likes of Google, GM and Boeing in its mission to teach AI and entrepreneurship to people who have identified problems they’d like to solve in their own communities.

Continue on to Entrepreneur to read the complete article.

Out to Innovate™ 2019 Summit for LGBTQ People in STEM

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NOGLSTP presented its 5th biannual Out to Innovate™ Summit for LGBTIQ People in STEM on March 16-17 at the location of its first summit, the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, CA. 

These summits are meant to support and encourage the open participation of the LGBTIQ community in STEM activities. With this year’s theme, “Igniting STEM with PRIDE,” over 200 attendees participated in 20 workshops and 4 plenaries, increasing skill sets, broadening their knowledge, and making new friends.

Early arriving attendees attended a tour of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and in the evening NOGLSTP hosted a reception for workshop organizers, panelists, and exhibitors at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries where the NOGLSTP history and files reside and were on partial display.

The meeting opened with proclamations and greeting from the region, followed by Kei Koizumi, Visiting Scholar in science policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), gave an inspiring motivational speech, reminding everyone to pursue their dreams in STEM as LGBTQ people

Over the following day and a half, attendees participated in 4 breakout sessions containing 20 workshops covered a wide range of topics; titles from “Proposal Writing Workshop: Understanding the Federal Money Process,” and “Careers in Government and Policy for LGBTQ STEM people,” to “Out on the Academic Job Search,” “Forming Student Groups: Experiences and Organizing”, “a LGBTQ+ Health Initiatives”, “Queer in STEM Demographic Studies”, ”LGTQ Portrayal in Arts and Media” and “Intersectionality – Bringing All of Your Identities,” provided learning and discussion opportunities over a broad spectrum of issues and ideas.

Plenaries included an “Out and Accomplished panel”, where “out” panel members provided their perspectives on serving in industry, government, and academia. Saturday evening’s Gala Recognition Awards Reception and Dinner was held at the USC Town and Gown hall with keynote speaker David Bohnett, founder of GeoCities who spoke of his journey, from being a closeted undergraduate student at USC, the early days of the World Wide Web and founding GeoCities.  2017 and 1028 Out to Innovate™ Scholarship recipients (funded by Motorola Solutions Foundation), and poster session winners were honored at the dinner as well as 2019 Recognition Awardees: presented the 2019 Recognition Award Winners: Dr Benny Chan, Professor of Chemistry at the College of New Jersey (LGBTQ Educator of the year), Dr Arianna Morales, Staff Research Scientist at General Motors Global research and Development (LGBTQ Engineer of the year), and Dr Jon Freeman, Associate professor of Psychology and Neural Science New York University (LGBTQ Scientist of the Year).  This year’s Walt Westman Award went to Dr. Lauren Esposito, Curator at California Academy of Sciences and creator of 500 Queer Scientists website.

Amazon’s VP of Alexa Devices on Working in Voice Technology, Taking Risks, and Alexa’s Hidden Tricks

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Amazom's Miriam Daniel smiling and standing in front of a poster for Amazon Alexa

By Alyse Kalish

Let’s say you want to be a part of building something great in your career—something people can tangibly benefit from, something no one else has thought of, and something you can point to and proudly say, “Hey, I made that.” If that’s the case, look no further for inspiration than Miriam Daniel.

She’s currently the VP of Alexa and Echo Devices at Amazon. That means she and her team are the brains behind the imaginary woman who answers all the random requests you make, from “Alexa, tell me what the weather’s like” to “Alexa, set a reminder to pick up milk” to “Alexa, play ‘Baby Shark.’”

We sat down with Daniel because, quite frankly, her career path is pretty cool—from working as a developer to joining the leadership team at Intel (and staying on for more than 14 years) to transitioning into AI and eventually landing her role at Amazon. Besides joining Amazon at a time when AI and speech technology was just taking off, Daniel has had the pleasure of building a product from the start that can help people—especially those who are disabled—lead more efficient and happier lives.

Here’s how she broke into this creative field, how she balances being a tech leader and a parent, and what advice she has for aspiring innovators.

Tell us a bit about your career path and how you ended up at Amazon.

I spent the first few years of my career working as a developer in various service industries, and then moved on to work at Intel for more than 14 years. I started there as an engineering leader before transitioning to product and business roles, eventually becoming the Director of Innovation Strategy and Product Management.

Then five years ago, I received a call from Amazon. After going through a rigorous interview process and consulting with a couple of my mentors, I decided to make the move. Today, I lead a talented, multidisciplinary team that spends a lot of time thinking about customers—what they want out of voice-driven devices and specifically how Alexa can make their lives easier and more convenient.

What made you want to enter this field?

I started dabbling in speech and AI while running the innovation group at Intel. The power of voice as an intuitive and natural means of human interaction with technology fascinated me. When presented with the opportunity to lead the Echo product line at Amazon, I jumped at it, knowing that this could be a transformative leap in using voice as the ultimate simplifier, cutting through many layers of friction to access information and services in the cloud. I was also excited to be a part of an early-stage innovative product with the ability to shape it from the start. I was ready for a big challenge.

What gets you excited about your job?

I’m excited by the fact that I get to innovate every day. Sometimes I feel like a kid in a toy factory—I dive right into putting the puzzle pieces together to solve hard problems that in the end simplify lives.

Building an entirely new way of interacting with products through voice and visuals was an incredibly difficult problem to solve. When we started, this was a completely new means of interacting with machines, and to see how far we’ve come (of course, there’s still so much more to do) motivates me every day.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role? The biggest reward?

The challenge is that building an Echo device is about so much more than just creating a piece of hardware—it’s about designing an experience, and it’s an experience that’s getting smarter every day. There’s no playbook here or precedent to go off of—we’re exploring and innovating as we go. There’s no such thing as “done.”

The biggest reward is when a customer tells me that they love the products we’re building and how much voice technology has changed their lives for the better. We hear anecdotes from parents, grandparents, teachers, distant family members, and customers with disabilities all the time, and their stories are truly heart-warming.

What’s one thing people don’t know Alexa can do?

Alexa is always getting smarter and is now starting to do things for customers that once were considered science fiction. One example is a feature called “Hunches.” As you interact with your smart home, Alexa learns more about your day-to-day routine and can sense when connected smart devices—such as lights, locks, switches, and plugs—are not in the state that you prefer.

For example, if your living room light is on when you say “Alexa, good night,” Alexa will respond with “Good night. By the way, your living room light is on. Do you want me to turn it off?”

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