Closing The Achievement Gap

The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech

Hidden Figures

Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson grew up in Hampton, Virginia. After graduating with highest honors from high school, she then continued her education at Hampton Institute, earning her Bachelor of Science Degrees in Mathematics and Physical Science. Following graduation, Mary taught in Maryland prior to joining NASA. Mary retired from the NASA Langley Research Center in 1985 as an Aeronautical Engineer after 34 years.
Credits: NASA

Decades ago, women pioneered computer programming — but too often, that’s a part of history that even the smartest people don’t know. There is more about the pioneering women of computer programming below.
The Achievement Gap
For decades, educators have struggled to close the “achievement gap,” the persistent differences in test scores, grades and graduation rates among students of different races, ethnicities and, in some subjects, genders.
When it comes to technology skills, the U.S. comes in last place — right below Poland. In addition, there was a significant racial difference with non-whites scoring below whites.

The Genius Farm

We taught a class in Larchmont on Unity programming.
Psychologists are finding evidence that short, simple interventions can make a surprisingly large difference. Terrance Jackson, the publisher of Pistis, adopted some of these simple interventions in a class called “Creating Computer Games with Terrance Jackson” that was offered to local 5th-8th graders at Larchmont Library. The game that they created using the Unity game engine is below. Pokémon Go uses Unity. We are looking to expand this program.
Roll-a-Ball

Roll-a-Ball

Click here to play.

Pokémon Go has quickly become one of the most viral mobile applications of all time. The game is now the biggest ever in the U.S.; it has now topped Twitter’s daily users, and it sees people spending more time in its app than in Facebook, according to reports from various tracking firms.

Daily time spent in Pokemon GO

Most game players have never heard of Unity Technologies, but its software was used in the creation of a large number of the world’s top mobile games, including the current hit Pokémon Go.
On Wednesday, Unity announced that it had raised $181 million from investors led by DFJ Growth. Investors valued the company, which is based in San Francisco, at about $1.5 billion after the latest fund-raising round.
Unity makes what is known as a game engine, the code beneath the graphics and sound of a game that handles its basic operations. Game engines are essential for developers, greatly accelerating the completion of a game.
Unity’s game engine is especially common among mobile games, which are growing far more quickly than traditional console games. Unity estimates that its engine is used in more than 31 percent of the 1,000 top grossing mobile games.
Westchester Public High School Chart 2017
High School Zip Code School District Median Income Mean SAT Scores: Total/Critical Reading/Math/Writing Students Qualifying for Free Lunch 4-Year Graduation Rate
Bronxville 10708 Bronxville UFSD $95,815 1848/608/618/622 <1% 100%
Eastchester 10709 Eastchester SD $92,098 1626/539/561/526 0% 96%
Mamaroneck 10543 Mamaroneck UFSD $87,316 1691/562/566/563 12% 95%
Mount Vernon 10552 Mount Vernon City SD $64,001 1204/407/398/399 55% 75%
New Rochelle 10801 New Rochelle City SD $54,504 1453/483/488/482 32% 81%
Yonkers-High 10705 Yonkers PS $47,358 1496/490/510/496 62% 90%

Source: Westchester Magazine

This class was originally designed as The RoC HoPLo Lab to address implicit bias. In a Scientific American article “Time to Raise the Profile of Women and Minorities in Science” written by Brian Welle and Megan Smith of Google, we learn:
Google recently commissioned a project to identify what makes girls pursue education in computer science. The findings reinforced what we already knew. Encouragement from a parent or teacher is essential for them to appreciate their own abilities. They need to understand the work itself and see its impact and importance. They need exposure to the field by having a chance to give it a shot. And, most important, they need to understand that opportunities await them in the technical industry.
It took some time, but Google realized that it recognized zero women with their Google Doodles, the embellishments of their corporate logo on their home page. Little things like this can have big impacts and to change the situation we need to look beyond the individual. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in Outliers which The New York Times printed the first chapter:
[Y]ou couldn’t understand why someone was healthy if all you did was think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You had to look beyond the individual. You had to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town in Italy their family came from. You had to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. The value of an outlier was that it forced you to look a little harder and dig little deeper than you normally would to make sense of the world. And if you did, you could learn something from the outlier that could use to help everyone else.
In Outliers, I want to do for our understanding of success what Stewart Wolf did for our understanding of health.

Otliers

According to an American Psychological Association article, a group of social and cognitive psychologists have approach the achievement gap not based on the idea that at least some of these disparities are the result of faulty teaching or broken school systems, but instead spring from toxic stereotypes that cause ethnic-minority and other students such as women to question whether they belong in school and whether they can do well there. While such a major problem might seem to require widespread social change to fix, simple interventions can make a surprisingly large difference.
The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech
ENIAC

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas set up the ENIAC in 1946. Bilas is arranging the program settings on the Master Programmer. (Courtesy of University of Pennsylvania)

If your image of a computer programmer is a young man, there’s a good reason: It’s true. Recently, many big tech companies revealed how few of their female employees worked in programming and technical jobs. Google had some of the highest rates: 17 percent of its technical staff is female.
It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago, it was women who pioneered computer programming — but too often, that’s a part of history that even the smartest people don’t know.
Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. A pioneer in the field, she invented the first compiler for a computer programming language. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages.
We have to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are.
We also have the example of the Polgar sisters. László Polgar believes that geniuses are made not born. Before he had children, he wrote a book called Bring Up Genius! He and his wife Klara raised their three daughters, Susan, Sofia, and Judit, according to the precepts outlined in the book.
The oldest sister, Susan, at the age of 15, became the top-ranked woman chess player in the world, and remained ranked in the top three for the next 23 years. She was the first female to earn the Grandmaster title through the conventional way of tournament play.
The middle sister, Sofia, earned the chess titles of International Master and Woman Grandmaster. For a time, she ranked as the sixth-strongest female player in the world.
The youngest sister, Judit, is the strongest female chess player in history. achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She is the only woman to qualify for a World Championship tournament, having done so in 2005. She is the first, and to date, only woman to have surpassed the 2700 Elo rating barrier, reaching a career peak rating of 2735 and peak world ranking of #8, both achieved in 2005. She has been the #1 rated woman in the world since 1989 (when she was 12 years old).
Sofia, Judit, Klara, and Susan Polgar

Sofia, Judit, Klara, and Susan Polgar

Geniuses are made, not born! What was true with the Polgar sisters and chess is undoubtingly true for STEM and girls in general.
The following is some of the other new material that will also be included in class.
Student will complete the Gender-Science Study at implicit.harvard.edu (takes about 5 minutes)
My (Terrance Jackson’s) results
You have completed the Gender-Science Study
Thank you for participating.
Your result on the Implicit Association Test (IAT) is reported below
Your data suggest a strong association of Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts compared to Female with Science and Male with Liberal Arts.
If your performance is described as ‘(slight, moderate, or strong) association of Science with Male and Liberal Arts with Female’ compared to the alternative pairings, it means you responded faster when Science and Male words were classified with the same key than when Liberal Arts and Male items shared a key. If your association was stronger for ‘Liberal Arts with Male/Science with Female’ you were faster when using the same key for Liberal Arts and Male items.
Just below is a breakdown of the scores generated by others. Most respondents find it easier to associate Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts compared to the reverse.
Researchers are just beginning to learn how implicit gender-science and gender-math associations develop and relate to behavior. We have found that women who identify themselves with math-science domains tend to have weaker stereotypical associations than women who are not math-science-identified, while men show the opposite pattern. A recent study of college women enrolled in calculus found that those with stronger implicit associations of math-as-male at the beginning of the semester, coupled with a relatively strong female gender identification, achieved lower final grades, even after taking into account their previous achievement.
  • There are currently only 15 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies this is less than 4%.
  • Women make up only 3% of clout executives of media, telecom and e-companies.
  • Women hold 17% of the seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Only 34 women have ever served as governors compared to 2319 men.
  • In 2011, women comprised 18% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
Imagine a room filled with 30 people, divided into six teams. Each team gets 20 sticks of spaghetti, a yard of string, strips of scotch tape, and a single marshmallow. They have 18 minutes to build a free-standing structure that will enable the marshmallow to rest on top. This is marshmallow challenge.

Marshmallow Challenge
https://startuptown.wordpress.com/2015/03/13/kindergartners-are-smarter/

School is boring

…and since childish people are the easiest customers to convince, the manufacture of childishness, extended into adulthood, had to be the first priority of factory schools. Naturally, teachers and administrators weren’t let in on this plan; they didn’t need to be. If they didn’t conform to instructions passed down from increasingly centralized school offices, they didn’t last long.

David vs Goliath

We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser.
~ David and Goliath
Malcom Gladwell
Everyone can create.
Creators spend almost all their time creating, persevering despite doubt, failure, ridicule, and rejection until they succeed in making something new and useful. There are no tricks, shortcuts, or get-creative-quick schemes. The process is ordinary, even if the outcome is not.
Creating is not magic but work.
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
Genes do have a huge influence on everything we are, but that influence is constantly subject to interaction with our environment. Intelligence *is*, very simply, a set of skills that a person acquires or does not acquire in his or her life. IQ is a snapshot of where that person’s skills are in that particular moment.

Carol Dweck

Geena Davis

Geena Davis

“The more hours of TV a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.” ~ Geena Davis
How did America—a country dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal—become one of the most unequal countries on the planet? Why do the nation’s leaders now spend so much of their time feeding at the trough and getting ever more for themselves? Why has public-mindedness in our leaders given way in so many instances to limitless greed?

Mount Vernon Magazine

Click the image above for a rough draft of Mount Vernon Magazine.