technology and gender equity

Today I learned that Ivanka was here in Pittsburgh, visiting Astrobotic Technology and meeting with Girls of Steel. Astrobotic is the Carnegie Mellon robotics spinoff that I hope will send one of my artifacts to the Moon; Girls of Steel is the CMU-based all-girls robotics team co-founded by colleague Patti Rote.

Despite the well-earned praise for both operations, the university has plenty of room to improve gender equity in STEM. A fellow professor wrote me last week about the 82% male imbalance in one of this summer’s pre-college computer science classes. I share his concern and will discuss this issue, among many other diversity-related topics, with the Admission Office tomorrow, as well as with him and other colleagues in the School of Computer Science later this month.

In addition, there’s this other piece of news today, that Lenore and Manuel Blum have resigned from SCS because of “professional harassment” and “sexist management” over the past three years, which the article mentions in relation to changes under a “new entrepreneurial management structure on campus”.

This is a big deal. Both are renowned computer scientists and they are resigning, not retiring. While she and I served on a Faculty Senate committee at the beginning of the decade to prepare materials for the university’s presidential search, I really don’t know either of them well. I want to ask her about her experiences that led to this decision. Because if two of the most prominent professors at one of the world’s finest computer schools are resigning due to harassment and sexism, I want to know what I can do about that.

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