Making connections - Women in STEM - a wicked problem
A Wicked Problem: women in STEM?
The lack of women in STEM is a ‘Wicked Problem’
We can’t solve it - ‘solutionism’ won’t work
It is interconnected with lots of other issues and problems
But we can work together to identify strands, and build models that can integrate
some of the tensions, reduce trade-offs and simplistic categorisation
We can make connections...
What are ‘Wicked Problems’?
Wicked problems have no definitive formulation. The problem of poverty in Texas is grossly similar but discretely different from
poverty in Nairobi, so no practical characteristics describe "poverty."
It's hard, maybe impossible, to measure or claim success with wicked problems because they bleed into one another, unlike the
boundaries of traditional design problems that can be articulated or defined.
Solutions to wicked problems can be only good or bad, not true or false. There is no idealized end state to arrive at, and so
approaches to wicked problems should be tractable ways to improve a situation rather than solve it.
There is no template to follow when tackling a wicked problem, although history may provide a guide. Teams that approach wicked
problems must literally make things up as they go along.
There is always more than one explanation for a wicked problem, with the appropriateness of the explanation depending greatly on
the individual perspective of the designer.
Every wicked problem is a symptom of another problem. The interconnected quality of socio-economic political systems illustrates
how, for example, a change in education will cause new behavior in nutrition.
No mitigation strategy for a wicked problem has a definitive scientific test because humans invented wicked problems and science
exists to understand natural phenomena.
Offering a "solution" to a wicked problem frequently is a "one shot" design effort because a significant intervention changes the
design space enough to minimize the ability for trial and error.
Every wicked problem is unique.
Designers attempting to address a wicked problem must be fully responsible for their actions.
- See more at: https://www.wickedproblems.com/1_wicked_problems.php#sthash.dB8oUPn4.dpuf
Blockers for Women’s Participation - the 5 Cs
Making Connections - General Election 2016
22% of TDs women - up from 15%
35 women elected - up from 25
Women candidates doubled
- 86 in 2011 - 163 in 2016
531800 / 24.9% of 1st preferences
Research in Europe would lead
us to expect at least 3 election cycles for impact of quotas - but 7% in 1st cycle
Before Maire Geoghan-Quinn, the last woman minister was Con Markievicz
What will our grand-daughters say?
So what did *you*
do about it, Granny?
Will they ask if we
Were tempted to
move to Canada?
Louise Richardson Professor Anne
- VC Oxford
Women massively under-represented at senior level
Women do not as easily:
Display ‘Prestige Markers’
‘Unless women are 100%
sure they can deliver,
they generally won’t
The Report of the Working Group on Academic Career Advancement in NUI Galway
Through the Glass Ceiling - Career Progression Programme And Strategy For
Female Academics And Researchers - UCC
I feel inspired, motivated and enthusiastic. My attitude has changed with regard to the limits I put on myself.
I need to work on the barriers that I put up for myself career-wise. I feel like setting goals for myself,
including deadlines for reaching these goals (Participant).
Made me more positive - got me to think about the joy that I get from my job and my achievements
I haven’t been this motivated since I first qualified 10 years ago (Participant)
A Societal Issue
‘The issue of gender discrimination will not be eradicated by [any of us]
acting alone. Contrary to what a very famous woman once said, there is such
a thing as society. Fairness and equality cannot be presumed to exist in the
society in which universities and other institutions exist. The wider societal
context in which inequalities are pervasive must also inform any discussion
on tackling inequality in one sector of society. The universities are more
than equal to this task.’
Catherine McGuinness is a retired Supreme Court judge and former senator. She was formerly chair of the Irish
Universities Quality Board and was appointed chair of NUI Galway Governing Authority in May 2013
Gender Participation CS - Harvey Mudd College
Increased CS majors from 10% to 40%
Make introductory classes more accessible:
Introduction to programming in Java” was
rebranded “Creative approaches to problem
solving in science and engineering using Python.”
Outreach to Schools
Build social glue and community into courses
Joint courses with subjects where women are already
found Maria Klawe
65% principals female
32% per cent of principals are female
34% of junior level managers
14% of Irish companies have
Half of the female workforce
earns €20,000 or less a
The latest figures from the EU
Commission show a
gender pay gap of 14.4pc -
increased since the start of
Psychological Safety at work - a crucial variable?
Film, Theatre, TV & Radio
Lelia Doolin - her experience of the Irish state was of an “obduracy and arthritis in the organisation which
lacked spontaneity, lacked respect and which had no
understanding of the means and the necessity of serendipity,
of humour, of sensuality, of real life…
very often got into a state where they were paralysed…
and didn’t realise that it’s through freedom and eccentricity
that real creativity and real health occurs in the nation”
Left RTE. Fired from the Abbey. Did some work in anthropology
and belief systems. State is just a construction, an intellectual,
conceptual arrangement which people allow to happen…
simply in order to divest themselves of having to do certain things.
Woman who understands the nature of power and the nature of
Authority… both humorous, and honest and honourable and wise and funny... Qualities we absolutely need to have
We resist in an adolescent way. Until we grow up, we haven’t quite worked out exactly what we should say no to and what
we should assent to.
Film, Theatre, TV & Radio
In Ireland in 2015, 24% of Producers, 18% of Directors & 18% of Writers were women.
Between 2011 and 2015, 36% of Irish feature films featured a female protagonist.
On air, 28% of voices are female.
“The Bechdel test asks whether a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something
other than a man”
Sexy Lamp Test
"If you can remove a female character from your plot and replace her with a sexy lamp and your story still works"
Irish Women Written out of History
What networks are you a part of?
How are they advancing equality?
Connections with other women...
Get a Mentor
Open doors for others
Give & Take compliments
Elevate each other
Social Media can be a great enabler
Your connections to other women
How do you nurture connections with other women?
Connections to Family
Your home life
How do you connect with family/friends around equality issues?
Connections to ourselves...
Our own Values....
Our own Creativity…
Figuring out who we are...
How do you connect to your own creativity?
Connections to ourselves
How do we become aware of our unconscious biases?
Changing unconscious beliefs means changing patterns of thought that have been
established over a lifetime and have operated outside of awareness, so changing
them requires dedication and focus.
Getting to grips with Unconscious Bias
#ITWomen List of Conference Speakers - Catherine Cronin
Powering economic growth: Attracting more young women into Science and
Technology - Accenture
Intel Women in Technology Scholarship - Intel
Women in Technology - a hidden history Insight Computer Museum
Let’s tackle this wicked problem - together!
WITS Election Manifesto
1. Advance women’s leadership & participation in decision making - local & national
2. End the gender pay gap and deliver decent work for women
3. Make early years education and childcare a priority
4. Strengthen social protection, training and employment supports
Top 100 Women in STEM
Galway Google Developers
Intel Women in Technology Scholarship
Attracting more young women into Science & Technology - Accenture 2014
The Issues (for Irish society)
Affordable quality childcare and out of school hours care for parents;
Hold a referendum to remove the 8th amendment from the Constitution to bring
an end to the hypocrisy of forcing women to travel to access abortion;
Address the unacceptably high levels of violence against women with
legislation, appropriate sanction and investment.
We need a Dail ...based on values of equality, diversity, participation and
meaningful citizen engagement: a truly democratic society.
Orla O’Connor is Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI). For more information, see nwci.ie.
Reactions to Women Candidates on the doorsteps...
‘You should be at home minding the children’ - Kate O’Connell
“Oh, so you’re a gender quota candidate then?”
“A man came up to me and told me I’d look better if I put on
some make-up, like in my campaign posters”
“Have you got a boyfriend?”
“Are you going to have children?”
“You look great up the poles.”
‘Wait a minute, I’ll go and get my husband.’ - Lisa Chambers
“Women can bring something very positive to politics as they tend to
make it more collaborative and less combative.” - Catherine Murphy
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