How does remote work affect early-career women in computing?

Jessica Hair, Jaelle Scheuerman, Gürkan Solmaz, Pam Wisniewski

A recent survey of early-career computing professionals found that although many people benefit from the flexibility of remote work, many groups, particularly women and minorities, face challenges while working remotely. A volunteer team from the ACM Future of Computing Academy (FCA) explored the impacts of the new era of remote work after COVID-19 on early-career computing professionals. They conducted a survey to understand how remote work affects many aspects of early-career computing professionals’ personal and work lives, including their productivity, mental health, and well-being. The survey also asked how working remotely is impacting the usability, accessibility, privacy, security, diversity, and inclusion of work environments. The survey was completed in July 2020 with 253 respondents, 39.3% of which identify as women. Some questions asked people to rank how positively, or negatively, they felt about various aspects of remote work. Other questions were open-ended, asking respondents to highlight the most significant impacts of remote work.

Survey responses indicated that remote work affects people in a variety of different ways. When asked to rank how positively remote work impacted diversity and inclusion efforts, 36% of women reported seeing a positive effect on diversity and inclusion compared to men, of whom only 12% reported positive effects on diversity and inclusion. Respondents mentioned benefits, such as how flexible work hours and reduced commutes have allowed them to spend more time with family. Others noted the benefits of virtual conferences and meetings for diversity and inclusion efforts. Participants also mentioned many drawbacks faced by women in remote work. Video calls and chat rooms made some women feel isolated and unheard. Mothers faced many challenges juggling child-care with work. For example, some noted that some decision-making meetings were scheduled during times they were unavailable due to child care. 

Overall, the survey highlighted that while many people benefited from remote work, many experienced drawbacks as well. As many organizations begin implementing long-term remote work, it is vital that they carefully design their remote work policies and environments to address the unique challenges faced by early-career professionals and women. 

A blog series describing the insights gathered from the survey, including the benefits and drawbacks of remote work and recommendations for coping with the major challenges, can be found on Medium at:

CSTA Expands Focus on CS Equity

Following the success of the inaugural cohort, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) has expanded their CSTA Equity Fellowship program to include 15 fellows who have demonstrated success in disrupting inequities in K-12 computer science and want to improve equitable access and achievement at a broader scale. These 15 fellows, selected from 131 applicants, have a combined 150 years of K-12 teaching experience, including 80 years teaching computer science, and represent 11 states and provinces. 

This year-long program will provide leadership development opportunities to fellows and identify opportunities for the group to develop ongoing, peer-to-peer professional learning experience focused on addressing issues of equity in the computer science classrooms for CSTA members.

To compliment the flash talks, projects and CSTA Voice articles developed by the inaugural cohort, this year’s Fellows will be: 

  • Collaboratively authoring a book on equity-based practices in K-12 CS education
  • Developing three online workshops, focused on Anti-racist/CR PD, Curriculum Development PD and Supporting School- and District-Wide Solutions 
  • Creating a multimedia website and podcast, and 
  • Planning CSTA’s first Equity in Action Summit 

The Equity in Action Summit, set for March 6, is a one-day virtual event that brings together K-12 CS teachers to call out inequities of access and achievement in marginalized groups and to share strategies and resources to empower and equip teachers in addressing the digital divide. Registration is now open! Please join us and share with K-12 teachers that may be interested in attending.

Greetings from the ACMW Communications Co-Chairs: Bettina Bair and Sarah McRoberts

The goal of the Communications Committee is to empower the communications of all chapters and levels of leadership with tools, frameworks, and our global platforms. We are growing our organizational communication to bring in the experiences from our chapters and celebrations and share our knowledge and support from our leadership. Especially during these challenging times, we want to help the ACM-W stay connected and informed.

We amplify ACM-W action.

We’re channeling this mission into two main efforts: reliable communication resources and rich social media presence.

Reliable Communication Resources.

Bettina Bair, Senior Lecturer, Ohio State University

Bettina Bair, ACM-W
Communications Co-Chair

I’m making core improvements to the way that  information is curated and archived for the community: website, Wikipedia, newsletter, printed matter and so on. Some of the things I have been working on lately include:

Volunteer recognition badges – these are little graphics that your members and volunteers can add to their professional web pages and emails. Check with your ACMW Chapter or Regional leader for more information.

New Website User Experience – We’re working with a small team of undergrad interns to collect user requirements and design a new website user experience that will empower you to focus on the ACMW content that is important to you.

Printable Graphics – these are logos, postcards, posters, stickers and other graphics that you can download and print for your chapter or celebration.

Booth Decorations – we’ve been investing in booth decorations, like reusable posters and swag, that will distinguish ACMW at GHC and regional celebrations.

Newsletter Process and Format. You’ve probably noticed that the format of our monthly newsletter has changed. We’ve also modified our editorial processes so that we give you a few really interesting stories each month, instead of dozens of briefs.

Sarah McRoberts, ACM-W
Communications Co-Chair

Rich Social Media Presence

Sarah McRoberts, User Experience Researcher, Google

My vision for ACM-W is making it easier for us to share our stories and stay up to date about ACM-W/ACM news and opportunities. Here is some work I’m starting up on behalf of ACM-W.

Growing our ACM-W community across the social media landscape – It’s important to us to be able to meet ACM-W members  on the platforms where they’re already sharing and collecting information about their work in computing. Perhaps you’re already following our Facebook page, but are you following us on Twitter @OfficialACMW? Or what about our LinkedIn Group? Soon, we’ll also be launching our official Instagram account. Make sure to tag us when you have local ACM-W events, we love to share what ACM-W chapters are doing around the world!

Recruiting social media champs for Communication Committee volunteers – Do you love learning about news and history in the world of women in computing? Do you need more excuses to practice photoshop? Do you feel like there’s still something missing from ACM-W’s social media pages? We might be missing you! We are currently recruiting student and professional ACM-W members as volunteers to join an experimental Communications Committee.

This commitment would be for 6 months and consist of 2 or 3 initial video calls, a group chat with fellow Communications Committee members, and about an hour a week of content editing/development/collection (but very flexible). The goal of this group would be to help develop our social media platforms to connect with our members. Communications Committee members would also participate in setting our expectations and practices. If you’re interested in joining or learning more about the group, please fill out this brief questionnaire by August 1st.

Challenges focusing our social media #brand – A question that I often wrestle with is, what are the obligations of the ACM-W platforms? We occasionally are forwarded job listings, scholarship opportunities, and events from outside of the ACM umbrella. While we would never want to withhold an opportunity from our members, we also want to make sure that we are not implicitly endorsing organizations that we don’t know very well. I’m currently developing policies for sharing/resharing to help us maintain transparency and trust on our platforms.