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How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers 634

Posted by Soulskill
from the other-than-million-dollar-signing-bonuses dept. writes: Lina Nilsson writes in an op-ed piece in the NY Times that she looks with despair at estimates that only about 14 percent of engineers in the work force are women. But there may be a solution to the disparity that is much simpler than targeted recruitment efforts. "An experience here at the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, suggests that if the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves," writes Nilsson. "That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering." Nilsson says that Blum Center for Developing Economies recently began a new program that, without any targeted outreach, achieved 50 percent female enrollment in just one academic year. In the fall of 2014, UC Berkeley began offering a new Ph.D. minor in development engineering for students doing thesis work on solutions for low-income communities. They are designing affordable solutions for clean drinking water, inventing medical diagnostic equipment for neglected tropical diseases and enabling local manufacturing in poor and remote regions.

According to Nilsson, women seem to be drawn to engineering projects that attempt to achieve societal good. She notes that MIT, the University of Minnesota, Penn State, Santa Clara University, Arizona State, and the University of Michigan have programs aimed at reducing global poverty and inequality that have achieved similar results. For example, at Princeton, the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders has an executive board that is nearly 70 percent female, reflecting the overall club composition. "It shows that the key to increasing the number of female engineers may not just be mentorship programs or child care centers, although those are important," concludes Nilsson. "It may be about reframing the goals of engineering research and curriculums to be more relevant to societal needs. It is not just about gender equity — it is about doing better engineering for us all."

Comment: Re:TANSTAAFL (Score 3, Insightful) 171

by Daetrin (#49539069) Attached to: USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes
I'm sure a class action suit would work great.

Earthquake hits LA, does major damage. Oil and gas companies are taken to court in a class action lawsuit. (There's a lot of oil production here, especially around Long Beach.)

The case drags on for years, but eventually the companies have to settle, let's say for $10 billion. That sounds like a lot of money right? Except half of it goes to the lawyers. Then half of the rest is made as a tax deductible donation to the Red Cross for disaster relief. The remaining 2.5 billion is split amongst the approximately 18.5 million residents of greater Los Angeles. Which would come out to a little under $150 per person. And it's delivered in the form of coupons for 50% off your next 100 gallons of gas. That 2.5 billion will of course go into a fund until those coupons are redeemed, and i would be surprised if the companies responsible don't get to keep the interest on those funds until they're spent to reimburse the gas stations that redeem the coupons. And of course a lot of people will forget that they have the coupons and never get around to using them. And a lot of the people won't actually own a gasoline powered car and will have to try and sell the coupons, probably for less than market value.

(And then most likely the price of gas in LA will go up for "unknown reasons" until most of the coupons have been redeemed.)

Comment: TANSTAAFL (Score 3, Insightful) 171

by Daetrin (#49537463) Attached to: USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes
As a favorite author liked to say, "there ain't no such thing as a free lunch." Unfortunately we are very poor at evaluating externalized costs. The pollution put out by coal plants that are "far enough" away from cities, the fish that are killed by hydroelectric damns, the excess carbon produced by all fossil fuels, and now the potential for damaging earthquakes from large scale oil and gas operations.

Of course the first ones to ignore externalized costs are the business offloading those costs on everyone else. And if a magnitude 7 quake gets triggered and people get hurt or killed (potentially dozens or hundreds of people in the US and possibly many more in less developed areas) the corporations responsible ought to be liable for millions or billions of dollars. But if necessary they'll lawyer up for a fraction of the cost and drag the issue out in court for years until everyone forgets. After all, how do you prove that this particular quake wouldn't have happened without drilling? And how do you prove which company's actions triggered the quake?

Comment: Re:He has done more to hurt securty than help it (Score 2) 685

by Daetrin (#49536827) Attached to: Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden
Agreed. Snowden's actions _may_ have been somewhat detrimental to our security, especially in the short term, but they did a lot to help shore up the values we _should_ be concerned about in the long run.

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." That Ben Franklin quote gets thrown around quite a lot, but that's just because it's so demonstrably true. It's always possible that the people in charge right now are good and honorable, but if you keep giving up liberties then sooner or later someone is going to come along who wants to abuse the system and there will be nothing left to stop them.

And just for the record, it should be noted that he said "essential liberty". We all have to give up some liberty to live in functioning society. Unfortunately everyone has different opinions about which are the "essential" liberties and when you've crossed the line between prudence and paranoia.

Comment: Re: Instead... (Score 1) 356

by Daetrin (#49522553) Attached to: 'Mobilegeddon': Google To Punish Mobile-Hostile Sites Starting Today
If there was a way to force it to expand all the article sections by default i'd be a lot more inclined to use the mobile site. As it is i often end up on wikipedia on my phone because i was searching for something specific about a subject and google suggested that wikipedia page contained relevant information. But then when i try to text search for the word/phrase that i did the google search on it fails because that section of the article is collapsed.

Comment: Re:Time for Proportional Fines (Score 4, Insightful) 92

by Daetrin (#49433445) Attached to: AT&T Call Centers Sold Mobile Customer Information To Criminals
You read a post on Slashdot and you didn't understand it.

The proposal is not that if a person commits a crime and pays X amount for it then if a company commits the same crime they should pay X multiplied by the difference in their income, which is what you're arguing against in your example of speeding tickets.

This is in relation to the kinds of crimes that (generally) companies commit, and is arguing that if a large company commits that crime then it should pay a larger fine than if a smaller company commits the same crime.

It is possible that the scale of the crime has been included in the size of the fee, but if so it's a pretty ridiculous standard to begin with. "Hundreds of thousands of customer records" is pretty vague, but let's assume records for 250,000 people. That means a fine of $100 a person. That's not nothing, but it doesn't really cover the potential damage they may have caused. And furthermore in this case, although we are presuming the employees did not sell the data as part of a corporate directive, the fact that they were able to do so indicates some pretty serious lack of oversight and security, and some portion of the fee ought to be related to that. And _that_ part of the fee ought to reflect the size of the company involved.

$25 million could easily bankrupt a small company, but AT&T will hardly notice it amidst the yearly revenue of $132 billion and net income of over $6 billion. So the fine works out to about 0.4% of their yearly profit. In 2011 the average American household had $12,800 of discretionary income available, about the best equivalent to corporate profit i can think of. In which case if an average American committed the same crime the "expected" fee would be $51.20. That's not even a speeding ticket, that's about a parking ticket level of fine.

Comment: Re:Not a surprise (Score 3, Insightful) 250

by Patricia (#49432513) Attached to: Verdict Reached In Boston Bombing Trial

You can't compare a civil offense like a speeding ticket to a criminal trial. The standards of proof are completely different.

In the case of a civil offense, the standard is preponderance of evidence. A cops word is pretty much good enough for that.
In a criminal trial the standard is beyond a reasonable doubt. That means no reasonable person can have a reasonable doubt that you did it. HUGE difference.

Comment: Modifications from Esperanto's Ideas (Score 1) 626

I have taught myself limited Esperanto, and can tell you: It actually DOES have a lot of unnecessary exceptions.

So I would take the basic ideas of :

* the correlatives -- in fact, make it COMPLETE (i tiam for "now", rather than "nun")
* the agglutination system -- in fact, use it MORE, and think through, carefully, the ontology of each word region -- make it as plane and ordinary as possible: this may take several decades from a team of collaborating resesarchers, but might result in a dramatically easier learning curve
* NO irregular verbs

* the future tense (-os)
* the conditional tense (-us)
* basically, anything that comes from Latin
* , or anything else that doesn't appear on a querty keyboard
* irregular nouns
* the Esperanto dictionary -- some overlap would be fine, but don't just import it (because we want a clean model of agglutinated nouns)

* limited vowel sounds -- constrain vowel sounds to Japanese's "a", "i", "u", "e", and "o" -- and NO syllable emphasis

* European vs. Asian basis -- I really don't think this is the obstacle people think it is.

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten