• Young women going into business: You need to hear this advice from EY’s Angela Ciborowski

    May 10, 2018 by

     

    For women who are interested in going into business, there are many fantastic opportunities out there and many challenges as well. We spoke with Angela Ciborowski to discuss how young women can empower themselves to succeed in starting a business career. Ciborowski is an Associate Director at Ernst & Young, where she leads MBA Strategic Programs and advises MBA recruiting.

    She is so passionate about empowering women in business that she created the Empower You Graduate Women’s Leadership Conference. This event is designed to lead, inspire and motivate future women leaders. Ciborowski provided some deep and insightful comments that we think will inspire you to move forward in your early career! Continue Reading

  • 7 tips for networking in the workplace

    June 07, 2016 by

    Did you know that 80% of workplace conflicts and problems arise from communication glitches? It’s true. You can do your part to prevent workplace conflicts—originating from miscommunication—by developing your soft skills, namely communication skills and networking skills. If you improve your relationships with your colleagues, clients, and supervisors via networking in the workplace, you’ll be much less likely to face problems at work.

    As a new employee, particularly as a recent grad or intern, it’s also important to network with others at work in order to build rapport with the people you rely upon for help and information to perform your job duties well. If you want to succeed, you’ll quickly learn that it pays to maintain positive relationships with everyone around you.

    Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, offers seven tips for networking in the workplace in this short video.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    1. Know yourself well.

    If you can detect when you’re having an off day, take steps to prevent taking it out on everyone around you. Stay in your cubicle or office on those days if necessary or take more frequent breaks. Before you begin working, get an extra-large coffee and take some deep breaths or read some positive literature.  Look at some funny photos for five minutes. Find a solution that works for you. If you find yourself in a negative place due to personal circumstances, and you’re allowing your personal life to affect your work life, talk to your human resources officer confidentially to see if your company offers wellness benefits, including an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

    In addition, taking a DISC inventory or other personality inventory—ask your career services office about taking these inventories at no cost on your college campus—can help you to learn more about your work style. It might take one hour to take the inventory, but you’ll then be armed with information about how you work best, how you prefer to interact with others, and what to avoid when interacting with others. The sooner you learn this information about yourself, the better.

    2. Treat others well.

    Treat your colleagues and clients well regardless of their level of expertise, pay grade, or how much money they are spending with your company. When networking, your contacts will appreciate being treated with courtesy, kindness, respect, appreciation, and fairness. You’ll build a reputation of treating people well, and a great reputation goes a long way in the workplace. If you decide to stay with your present company, you may want to apply for an internal job promotion. If you’ve been networking with others at work and treating everyone well, your behavior will likely speak just as loudly as your resume, cover letter, and job application. If you decide to leave your company to pursue other job opportunities, you’ll be glad you treated others well when potential employers call to check your references and hear about how kind, thoughtful, and positive you were at work every day.

    3. Don’t be afraid to collaborate and share.

    Collaborating and sharing ideas and information in the workplace today is a great way to network with your colleagues and to show them that you want to help, not hinder the growth of the organization or team. Sharing your ideas with others also encourages others to share their ideas, and the workplace becomes a more creative place.

    4. Don’t do halfalogues.

    What’s a halfalogue? A halfalogue is when you only participate in half the conversation or dialogue because you’re holding your phone, scrolling through a text message or email, and aren’t able to fully participate and interact with your colleagues as a result. At work, you have to put down your phone if you want to make good impressions and build positive relationships with your supervisors, colleagues, and clients. It’s not just rude to play on your phone during meetings; it’s also important to pay attention when stopping by someone’s office casually to say hello.

    5. Address people by name.

    This is like networking 101. Referring to people by name during conversations or even in emails makes them feel more special, and that’s always a good thing. How long does it take to type out, “Bethany?” Maybe one or two seconds. It’s worth it to improve your communication skills and reduce the potential for future workplace conflicts.

    6. Focus on the solution, not the problem.

    Be a positive influence at work. When networking, whether at workplace events or during daily interactions in the workplace, keep conversations “light and polite” and focused on positive topics and on solutions, not problems. It’s inevitable at work that you’re going to be asked to discuss problems and conflicts during meetings. What’s important is that you find a way to discuss problems in a positive light and to focus on taking constructive action.

    For example, if you’re discussing a challenge you’re facing as a new employee tasked with visiting with patients at a clinic, and you have discovered you simply cannot keep up with the volume of paperwork and still provide quality service to the patients face-to-face, you can be honest about the problem yet discuss potential solutions.

    “I am really glad we have so many patients coming to the office. I like talking to them and helping them get set up to see the doctor. I’m just feeling overwhelmed by the documents to scan and know I’m getting behind. I think I need more time to scan documents, but I don’t want to offer patients a lower level of service either. Do you think I could work on documents for 30 minutes in the morning before I start seeing patients every day? Maybe this would help me to keep it managed.”

    Presenting a potential solution—even if it’s not the solution your employer prefers or selects to implement—suggests that you’re not just belly-aching about problems. It also showcases your soft skills, including your critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These are not just great networking skills but are great workplace skills any employer values.

    7. Interact face-to-face whenever possible.

    It’s not always an option, but interact face-to-face if you can. Face-to-face communication helps you avoid most communication errors and opportunities for miscommunication because it is channel rich. When you’re speaking with someone face-to-face, you’re provided with multiple cues that help you interpret meaning: voice tone, spoken word, facial expression, hand gestures, and many more. When you communicate with someone via email or text message, communication is channel lean, meaning you’re relying on just one thing–words. Have you ever received a text message from a significant other, and the intended meaning is not the meaning you interpreted? This likely caused some hurt feelings or even a huge fight. The same thing happens in the workplace.

    For this reason, it’s best to hold meetings face-to-face. If you work remotely, consider hosting meetings virtually via Zoom or Skype. If that’s not an option, you can conference in by phone. At least you can hear voices rather than simply read words. Simply hammering out emails back and forth gives you the illusion that you’re saving time, when in fact, you often waste time because you create confusion which you have to clarify by writing three more emails. Save yourself the hassle—and build better relationships—by talking to people face-to-face when possible. You’ll probably find that your networking skills and communication skills will grow, and you’ll build great relationships, too.

    For more networking tips, visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

     

  • 10 soft skills employers expect of recent graduates

    May 12, 2016 by
    Background concept wordcloud illustration of soft skills glowing light courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Kheng Guan Toh/Shutterstock.com

    Are you ready to find your dream job as soon as you graduate? Then, it’s high time to draw a detailed plan with soft skills required for the workplace. This will help you stand out from other candidates and be a perfect fit for the position of your choice.

    To successfully accomplish the task, college graduates can analyze requirements for current vacancy announcements, make use of LinkedIn or Branded.me profiles of people with a great experience, and study analytical articles on the labor market to always stay updated.

    It’s not a secret, though, that plenty of online sources post about top soft skills potential employers want in their candidates’ CVs or resumes. So, why not focus on them to make your preparation for obtaining a good entry-level job a bit easier? Here’s what is highly demanded by most of the recruiters:

    1 – Lifelong learners

    Recent grads can hardly boast of knowing everything about the work they will perform daily. It’s quite natural when something is learned along the way. Sometimes employers prefer young, enthusiastic graduates over highly experienced professionals, since the former tend to learn and absorb new information more eagerly and are ready to develop a learning habit. The latter instead are quite often more stubborn and unlikely to reach a compromise, which can hinder team effectiveness. Additionally, lifelong learners are supposed to know how to obtain and process information to solve the problems they haven’t faced before.

    2 – Team players

    Teamwork is not only about collective responsibility for every team player’s actions. It’s also about communicating your message to others and achieving that goal with the help of knowledge and each employee’s efforts. Effective team performance depends much on the correct management and delegation of tasks. In contrast to past expectations for team players, modern employers are looking for those who will be proactive and suggest creative solutions. Initiative is strongly encouraged.

    3 – Effective time managers and schedulers

    Chaos brings no positive effect. To show high productivity and performance, it’s crucial to hone time management and prioritization skills. These two skills rank high on most employers’ lists of soft skills. For that, managers and schedulers need to negotiate deadlines and schedule tasks appropriately. Should tasks be equally urgent, they’d better discuss which one to take first together with their reporters. When using electronic or paper planners, think of short breaks that need to be made between tasks, divide time-consuming tasks into several subtasks, and leave about 10 or 15% of time for coping with emergencies and contingencies. Set reminders well in advance, and review to-do lists daily.

    4 – Good listeners and masters of convincing people

    Being a good listener doesn’t mean you should keep silent while somebody else is expressing his or her thoughts, so that you can further move on to your statements. The point is to really listen and hear other team players and choose the best solutions working together. Another important thing is to know how to make everyone understand what you mean. In other words, you should learn to use simple and concise statements, speaking with confidence to all people in the company regardless of their seniority.

    Problem solver words on business cards courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    iQoncept/Shutterstock.com

    5 – Problem solvers

    At the top of most top list of soft skills is “problem solving skills.” The first step to successful problem solving is to clearly understand what the problem is and what caused it. The next step is to carefully consider interests of others and list all suitable solutions. The final step is to evaluate suggested options by listing their advantages and disadvantages, and then choose the one that has the most pluses. To be an efficient problem solver, you need to get rid of fear. By focusing more on tackling the problem, you will be able to do it with ease.

    6 – Company fan

    Being a company fan means to be knowledgeable about your employer’s industry. Understanding what key benefits the company gives to its customers or clients, how the process of decision-making is organized, what main competitors the company has, etc. are among the things job seekers should learn before a job interview.

    7 – Data analyzer

    If you work with people with analytical mindsets, you are a lucky person. This allows you to quickly gather, assess, and analyze new information, selecting only the things you will need at work. This soft skill is highly required for making future plans or prognoses, and creating recommendations for others to follow. This skill is also helpful when you need to analyze your successes or failures, which is very important for your progress.

    8 – Tech-savvy person

    This means not only knowing how to create, delete, or remove presentations or surf the Internet proficiently. Being tech-savvy means knowing what tools and programs are used by the specialist you want to become. For example, if you want to become a web designer, you will need to master such programs as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Indesign.

    9 – Critical thinker

    If you have a chance to join a series of workshops on how to become a good critical thinker, jump at the chance! These practical lessons will teach you how to criticize somebody else wisely by finding a strong argument and how to accept criticism of your work. Being a critical thinker is essential for improving your communication skills and professional growth too. Critical thinking ranks high on the list of soft skills regardless of your job title or position.

    10 – Curious mind

    Being curious means to never be afraid of asking questions. Though, it doesn’t mean you should behave like a chattering box, annoying other employees with your never-ending questions. You should ask questions when you don’t know the answers so your work won’t be done slowly. You must use proper discernment to ask questions of the right person (your manager or mentors) at the right time (one on one and in quiet settings, and preferably not during the last five minutes of meetings).

    A few final tips

    Taking an active part in extra-curricular activities and voluntary projects can also help job seekers develop a set of useful skills for their future jobs. By establishing friendly relationships with people, you increase your chances of getting what you need. Who knows, maybe some of your peers or instructors will recommend you as a highly promising hire one day.

    Need more help with your job search? Head over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Nancy Lin, guest writer

    Nancy Lin, guest writer

    Nancy Lin is a student of Rockhurst University and enthusiastic freelance writer who enthuses about rock music, writing, and classic English literature. Feel free to contact her at Twitter or Google+.

  • Working for a startup after college

    May 06, 2016 by
    Startup business people working at modern office courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    dotshock/Shutterstock.com

    Everyone is nervous heading into their last year of college (except for those going to grad school, that is). It’s time recent graduates prove to themselves, and probably to their parents, that all of this was worth it; they can get entry-level jobs, get out on their own, support themselves, and start on a career path. It is probably their family’s hope that grads will conduct their job search seriously, and look at companies/organizations that promise a bright future. They’ve attended their first job fair, passed out their resumes, spoken with corporate recruiters, and some seemed interested. But something doesn’t “feel” right in their gut. There’s no excitement about all of this.

    As recent graduates reflect on why they lack excitement, their minds go to the concept of a “corporate” environment with everyone playing their roles, a pretty large bureaucracy, policies, set work hours; “a single cog in a very large machine you will be,” as Yoda would say. Then there’s the office politics grads studied about in those business courses. Somehow, it doesn’t seem right. They’re thinking about their future success, which doesn’t include what the “big boys” offer. Recent grads need to look elsewhere.

    Graduates need to consider working for a startup. Now their parents and some of their friends might think they’re a bit nuts. There’s no job security, as 50% of all startups fail within five years, and then where will they be? Mom may be wringing her hands. However, this isn’t their parents’ world anymore, and there are large advantages to taking this path right now in their lives when they have no obligations other than to themselves.

    Flexibility and continuous learning

    Most start-ups do not have “pigeon-hole” jobs. They will demand everyone pitch in when and where it is needed. Graduates may have a “job title,” but that will not mean a great deal. They’ll have a skill others may not, but they will be required to learn everyone’s job and everyone will be required to learn some of their job. This environment means continuous learning.

    What’s the other great thing? Grads will be forced out of their “comfort zone” into exciting challenges; things can change on a dime, and they will need to change with them. If graduates really enjoy risks and challenges, they’ll love it.

    Discover new talents

    With all of the emphasis on pitching in, group decision-making, and problem-solving, recent grads may find they have creative talents and current skills they never knew or nurtured. They will be far more well-rounded in what they know and what they can do.

    Learn how to budget

    Pay is generally not the best for those who join startups. In fact, no one joins a startup for the salary. Graduates will often have to continue living like poor students, but they know how to do it. They’ll stretch those dollars, shop at thrift stores, and eat Ramen noodles sometimes. So what? Grads will also learn how to budget and be frugal.

    Business people cheering with arms raised courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    pikselstock/Shutterstock.com

    Work with passionate people

    Enthusiasm is contagious, and that is one of the great things about startups. Everyone comes to work excited about the day and their projects. Everyone shares in each other’s successes (and pumps each other up when there are failures). Grads, too, will be excited about getting up every morning and getting to work; many people in the corporate world would love to have that feeling.

    Learn entrepreneurship

    Forecasters predict small businesses will be more a wave of the future than large corporations. Why? First, corporations continue to expand globally and set up headquarters in other countries. Second, people no longer trust large corporations like they used to. These giants have taken big tumbles in recent years and no longer provide job security to their employees. It is the small business that is trending now. Working for a startup gives employees valuable experience in becoming small business owners at some point, if they should choose to head in that direction.

    Push through failure

    Most startups have their failures. The good ones with resilient employees move forward, learning from the failure but never losing the enthusiasm for what they are doing. It’s good to experience failure when young; it is a wonderful teacher. If that startup goes “belly up,” think of all the lessons employees have learned in the meantime.

    Potentially invest or be given a stake

    A lot of startups value their original people, and founders will give those people a stake in the company. Many people became millionaires because they started out with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg. Having a stake in a company at a young age is a great thing.

    Love the Culture

    Flexible hours are a big plus. Value is not based upon the number of hours worked. It is based on what employees produce. They may work several 18 hour-long days, only to sleep in late for several days after that and only put in four hours or so.

    Dress is a big factor for many job seekers. If they love a jeans and flip-flop environment, taking their dogs to work, letting their hair grow, or sporting a tattoo, they will find the startup environment is where they want to be.

    Choosing the right startup

    Startups come in all different stages of development. Choosing one should be based on job seekers’ level of risk tolerance, their investigation of the founder(s), and their passions for the product(s) or services being developed. Nothing is carved in stone; if one idea doesn’t work out, there are many others to try.

    Need career advice as a recent graduate? Go to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

    Rick Riddle, guest writer

    Rick Riddle, guest writer

    Rick Riddle is passionate about the self-development process and wants to share his experience with more people via his articles. He believes self-sufficiency and discipline lead to great results. Follow him on Twitter.

  • Stay-at-home mom to CEO: Transferring skills to the workplace

    May 04, 2016 by

    During one of our one-on-one meetings, Faith Rothberg, CEO of College Recruiter, laughed as I described some of my potty training woes with my toddler.

    “Just continue to lower your parenting expectations, and you’ll be fine.”

    This sage advice has saved me from numerous mommy meltdowns. Faith Rothberg is not only a wonderful workplace mentor, but she’s also a mentor for young moms as well. Faith was recently featured in an article about returning to the workplace by OptIn as well.

    Faith, a mother of three children, two of whom no longer reside at home, is a true parenting expert. She chose to stay home to care for her children after establishing her own career in the field of information technology after earning her MBA at the University of Michigan. Before earning her stay-at-home mom (SAHM) status, she worked for Ford Motor Company as a programmer, a manufacturing information technology consultant for KPMG, and for Wells Fargo as a project manager. Faith’s family photos adorn the walls of her house—even her home office—and she doesn’t hide the fact that her family comes first.

    Yet as CEO of College Recruiter, an online recruitment media company named one of the world’s top career sites by Forbes, WEDDLE’s, and Business.com, how does Faith strike a balance between work and family? How did she transition back into the workplace after staying home with her children for 13 years? How did her SAHM experience provide her with transferable skills which now benefit her as CEO?

    I recently interviewed my boss, Faith Rothberg, to ask her these very questions and more.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    Faith made the decision to stay home with her children after her second son was born. She admits she didn’t feel she was doing well as a mom or as a professional at this time in her life. The biggest surprise she had at this time was how hard it felt to be home every day and how many decisions she was faced with making all day long while caring for her children. She realized right away that she was building better multitasking skills, decision-making, and problem-solving skills as a parent. These are transferable skills that certainly aid her now in the workplace.

    Many stay-at-home moms struggle when deciding whether to re-enter the workplace. “I don’t know if you ever know exactly that it’s the right time. When I made the decision to come back and start in our business . . . it was really good timing for the business, and it was almost good timing for me,” Faith candidly shares.

    She admits she was worried she would not be able to be as available for her children. There was certainly an emotional component which was difficult during the transition back to work.

    Faith suggests that parents who stay home with their children should remain active in their communities and at their children’s schools. Parents can volunteer in the classroom, on committees, and in non-profit organizations in order to round out their resumes to avoid major gaps with absolutely no experience.

    Faith offers three tips for stay-at-home moms considering a return to the workplace.

    1. Evaluate what you want to do.

    Often what you were doing before you had children isn’t what you want to do now (when returning to the workplace). You may have had a great paying job before having children, but now you may have different goals or objectives. Take some time and either work with a career coach or take career assessments online to reevaluate your goals. Get a career mentor and seek advice and guidance.

    1. Once you know what you want to do, update your resume.

    You’ll have a gap on your resume during the time you stayed home with your children, and you may not have professional work experience to list on your resume during this gap. Use the volunteer experience and community involvement to fill in the gaps on your resume.

    1. Network.

    Network with other children’s parents and with the spouses of those other stay-at-home parents. Network back with your former coworkers. Use LinkedIn and other social media sites. Send your resume to your contacts and friends and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    For more tips related to transferable skills, transitioning back into the workforce, and searching for jobs, visit our blog and follow us on social media at LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

     

     

  • 3 tips for a successful situational interview

    April 18, 2016 by
    Business cartoon showing psychologist asking interviewee dog a question courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Cartoonresource/Shutterstock.com

    Have you ever had a situational interview? In situational interviews, interviewers ask candidates questions on how they might handle specific situations in the workplace; these interviews differ from behavioral interviews. When recruiters ask you behavioral questions, they ask you how you have handled situations in the past. When recruiters ask you situational questions, they want to know how you would hypothetically handle situations should they occur in the future. For students and recent grads who may lack work experience, situational questions give you a chance to shine and showcase your problem solving and critical thinking skills. These interviews also tell potential employers whether or not you’re the right cultural fit for their companies based on what you will do in the future, not what you’ve done in the past. Whether you’re a college student, recent graduate, or other job seeker, here are three tips to prepare you for a successful situational interview.

    1. See yourself in the job.

    When answering questions, answer them to explain the way you might behave in real settings in the workplace. Describe the action you would take as an employee and explain why you would take that action.

    2. Research potential employers.

    You don’t want to go into any interview without researching a potential employer. Understanding a company’s policies and company culture will give you a better idea of what it expects of employees. This can help you answer situational interview questions because you can, at least partly, base your responses on research.

    3. Avoid profanity and stay positive.

    Be careful not to use profanity during your situational interview. You may not only offend the interviewer, but you also leave a negative impression of how you might talk to co-workers. Stay positive, and keep focused on how you will help a potential employer. Never bash former employers or focus on what has gone wrong in the past. Situational interviews give you the chance to discuss what you might do differently if given the chance, so focus on being positive, hopeful, and optimistic.

    Situational interviews foreshadow what job seekers could be like in the workplace. Prepare to answer questions relevant to the job and company you’re interested in, so employers will see you as the best fit for them.

    Do you need more information on interviewing for your job search? Click on over to the College Recruiter blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

  • Narrowing your candidate pool

    March 30, 2016 by

    When recruiting college students and recent grads, it’s important to narrow your candidate pool as you go through the college recruiting process.

    This article and accompanying three videos, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, feature The WorkPlace Group experts Dr. Domniki Demetriadou, Partner and Director of Assessment Services, and Dr. Steven Lindner, Executive Partner. The videos are part of a 15-video series featuring The WorkPlace Group experts.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    Employers can become overwhelmed by the number of candidates in the candidate pool, depending on the size of the employer and number of internships and entry-level jobs available. The process of narrowing down the pool typically begins with resume review.

    Individuals apply in numerous ways: resume books, walk-in applicants, job boards, career fairs, on-campus interviews, etc. Regardless of how candidates apply, resumes must be reviewed. WPG uses a resume checklist which is scientifically constructed. Reviewing resumes objectively allows employers to make clear inferences about candidates’ qualifications.

    In high volume situation, particularly for employers with large college recruiting programs, WPG recommends using a web screen to narrow the candidate pool. The web screen allows employers to quickly qualify or disqualify candidates. Next, employers conduct either a phone screen or video-based interviews. This step helps the recruiters get to know the candidates on a deeper level.

    After conducting these screening steps, the employer would interview the candidate face-to-face: either an OCI (on-campus interview) or an interview on site at the employer location. This would help the employer to decide whether to hire or not hire the individual and to decide whether to conduct background checks, drug screenings, and other necessary paperwork.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    The qualities employers should be looking for when recruiting candidates can vary depending on the organization and the job function/position. The WorkPlace Group develops an ideal candidate profile featuring the requirements for the position and nice-to-haves when working with employers. Employers should also consider what learning objectives they want to set for each position—what do they want student interns to learn? By working through this process before interviewing candidates, employers can eliminate the problem of hiring the wrong candidates for positions.

    The last video offers specific tips for narrowing the candidate pool.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    1) Focus on soft skills in interviews, not technical competencies, when interviewing interns and recent grads. Employers must remember that students are students, not polished professionals.

    2) Use situational questions, not behavioral interview questions. Ask “can do, not have done” type questions. Students won’t necessarily be able to draw upon past experience when answering interview questions, but they can explain what they might do hypothetically. They can demonstrate problem solving skills when answering situational questions.

    3) When hiring for technical roles, focus assessment at the right level. You can’t expect new grads to be experts in technical areas; you can expect them to have an appropriate level of skill based on their education and level of experience, though. Talk to them about their projects in particular classes to gain insight into their studies.

    Always be as rigorous and scientific as possible in the interview process.

     

    For more tips on college recruiting from The WorkPlace Group, subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out all 15 videos featuring experts Dr. Domniki Demetriadou and Dr. Steven Lindner.

    Follow our blog, and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

    Dr. Steven Lindner, Executive Partner, WPG

    Dr. Steven Lindner, Executive Partner, WPG

    Dr. Steven Lindner is the executive partner of The WorkPlace Group®, a leading “think-tank” provider of recruitment services assisting companies ranging from small, fast growing businesses to multinational Fortune 500 companies. He is an expert in Talent Acquisition and Assessment, has appeared in many radio and TV interviews and a frequent presenter at HR conferences.  He writes weekly employment articles for the NY Daily News and holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Stevens Institute of Technology.

     

     

     

    Dr. Domniki Demetriadou, Partner and Director of Assessment Services, WPG

    Dr. Domniki Demetriadou, Partner and Director of Assessment Services, WPG

    Dr. Domniki Demetriadou, is a partner and director of assessment services of The WorkPlace Group®, a leading “think-tank” provider of recruitment services assisting companies ranging from small, fast growing businesses to multinational Fortune 500 companies.  Demetriadou is an expert in Talent Acquisition and Assessment, and a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the American National Standards Taskforce. She is a frequent presenter at HR conferences and has led many multinational recruiting programs. She holds a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from The Graduate Center at Baruch College, CUNY.

     

  • Women’s role and leadership in technology

    February 27, 2016 by
    Ruoting Jia, author & Rutgers University freshman

    Ruoting Jia, author & Rutgers University freshman

    The workforce in technology, or in any academic discipline related to it—such as the  STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)—is mainly dominated by males. Even though technology has become quite relevant to people’s daily lives in the 21st Century and its job positions are in fairly high demand, women seem like they are driven out of this field because they are considered “unrelated” to or are not fit for technology.

    In order to gain a better perspective on the subject from someone who is a great role model in the field of computer science and to deeply analyze the hidden reasons for the gender gap in the computing workforce, I interviewed Mrs. Faith Rothberg who is a CEO of College Recruiter, a recruitment media company used by college students and recent graduates to find careers. Mrs. Rothberg has a strong educational background in both technology and business; she holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She is really passionate about her career, and she is willing to encourage teenage girls to participate in technology. She is also an active leader who has had conversation with elementary school girls about engagement in STEM fields, has volunteered at various organizations in middle schools and highs school, has spoken at the ceremony of Aspiration Award in Computing (an award for women), and has offered summer internships to one of the honorees.

    I asked Mrs. Rothberg why there are few women in the field of technology. She responded, “In some areas of the country, the education systems, even the teachers, professionals, or the parents assume that boys are going to be good at those things, and girls are not due to the stereotypical culture.”

    Are girls really not as good at STEM-related tasks as boys are? Such stereotypes are beginning to be questioned and confronted by the public.

    However, a statistical report named By the Numbers from National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) has shown that 57% of professional occupations in the U.S. workforce are held by women, with 26% of professional computing occupations in both 2013 and 2014 U.S workforce held by women. Among this female workforce, 3% were African American women, 5% were Asian women, and 2% were Hispanic women. 24% of Chief Information Officer (CIO) positions at Fortune 100 companies were held by women in 2012, and only 6% of those positions in 2014.

    In 2013, 56% of Advanced Placement (AP) test-takers were female, but only 46% of AP Calculus test-takers were female. Only 19% of AP Computer Science female test-takers were female. From the year 2000 to 2012, there was a 64% decline in the number of first-year undergraduate women interested in majoring in computer science (1). According to the SAT score report on the math portion from American Enterprise Institute (AEI), statistics have shown that from the year 1972-2013, there persists a huge gender gap in math because high school boys have an average SAT math test score that is 32 points higher than girls.  Moreover, the male-female ratio on the SAT math test is above 1 with the score that is higher than 580 points, and the ratio is below 1 with the score than is lower than 580 points; this suggests that more boys scored higher than 580 points on the math portion than girls, and more girls received a score that is below 580 points than boys did (Perry). Based on these statistics, society starts to question girls’ capabilities in the STEM field–are girls really inherently less intelligent than boys?

    Education

    One of the primary reasons which leads to this unbalanced data is the education system in technology, especially early education in elementary and secondary schools, which has not fully developed yet. Rothberg mentioned education in technology in our interview as well; she said that “technology until recently wasn’t taught young enough, and actually it’s still not taught young enough. I think we should be really teaching about computers and technology in elementary school.”

    One of the most notable incidences in the Department of Computer Science in many research universities is that incoming freshmen leave the department after taking the Introduction to Computer Science course after their first semester because even though these are introductory level courses, they are still really difficult for these students who have not had any coding experience prior to entering the program. This is preparatory work that should be taught and learned in early education in order to be prepared for further advanced upper-level study (Wilson et al. 26).

    Tracing back to early education, there are not many high schools or middle schools offering AP Computer Science or regular basic programming courses to their students. The chance that they will major in computer science without knowing the concept of the subject and what computer scientists do is quite minimal. Moreover, children in elementary schools are much less being exposed to programming; thus, even fewer children frame an interest in coding because learning how to code is like learning a new language. The earlier you start, the better you will be.

    Therefore, with limited knowledge and skill to succeed in the so-called “easiest” course in college, it is easy to understand why there are fewer students going into the profession.

    Another vital factor is that since the professions in technology are considered well-paid, there are fewer trained and experienced AP Computer Science teachers who would rather focus on computer system development or start their own technology businesses than teach students. By knowing the importance of having an instructor in the field that requires a lot of advanced skills and logical thinking, this also limits students’ opportunities to exceed in the field.

    Stereotypes

    Faith Rothberg, CEO of College Recruiter

    Faith Rothberg, CEO of College Recruiter

    Although having limited educational resources is an obstacle for both males and females, women are more likely to opt themselves out of the field while men are trying to work on getting themselves into the field. Rothberg states that “in some area of the country, educational systems, even the teachers, the professionals, or the parents assume that boys are going to be good at those things, and girls are not.”

    Those old stereotypes hold women back from technology and are the subconscious assumptions and negative stereotypes towards women’s role in the STEM field which shape people’s misconceptions and misunderstandings about the computer science major and its workforce.

    Computer scientists are considered “geeks” in the society who have the stereotypical physical traits like “wearing glasses, pale, thin, unattractive” (Cheryan et al. 5). They are viewed as people who are less active in social life and who are lacking interactive skills when it comes to communication and collaboration. People describe them as solely scientific and “obsessed with computers” that they work on (Cheryan et al. 10). Aside from that, their characters are defined as unattractive, nerdy, and socially introverted, which women will unlikely be.

    “What happens now is that by the time young girls get to middle school and high school,” Rothberg said, “they see themselves as not smart as boys, so they are away from technology.” A lot of the girls who are studying computer science “come from families of computer scientists and engineers” (Stross), because their families understand the importance and responsibilities in the field, especially technology, are highly demanded in the 21st century. Unlike other families without computer scientists or engineers, the stereotypes restrict the encouragement and support from family members of young girls. Therefore, the more this stereotypical idea is added to women from a social aspect, the fewer women will enter into the field of technology.

    Workforce

    Women have historically chosen lower-paying yet fulfilling jobs, whereas their male counterparts, who are considered family providers, choose high-paying careers, such as computer science and engineering (Larson). This has become socially acceptable that men’s jobs are inventive and creative; however, women’s jobs are caring. When children are very young, toys, such as vehicles and Legos, seem to be designed for boys. However, girls often have dolls with a whole set of house settings, which give them a wrong perspective to girls that taking care of dolls and organizing house are all they are meant to do.

    Also, the feeling of isolation or ostracism is a common frustration among women in technology. Since men are dominating the technological workforce, some women do not feel comfortable working in a gender-biased working environment. This is even drawing out more women from this field; therefore, the ratio of male-female is increasingly growing.

    Another persisting factor that Rothberg mentioned is that unequal salary difference between female workers and male workers who have the same skills and abilities in the workforce. Their salaries are similar at the entry level positions regardless of gender. However, when it gets to higher positions with more experience and knowledge, gender and income disparity start to emerge, where men are paid more than women for the same type of jobs.

    People focus too much on who are they working with instead of the work itself. However, “sometimes it doesn’t matter what gender you are at all. It’s just who knows what about a part of the business, and we share our knowledge about the industry.” Rothberg has worked as an IT analyst among a lot of male colleagues. She said she felt pretty comfortable working with them, and male colleagues “truly respect your opinion because it is a little bit different than what many of them are saying. It’s great to all agree on stuff, but it’s nice to throw out different challenges at each other, so I think they find that helpful too.” In order to create a welcoming working environment for women in male-dominated field, the spirit of the companies should focus on problem-solving and interacting and collaborating with coworkers, rather than paying much attention of the fact of gender disparity.

    Leadership

    Another reason for low representation of women in technology is the lack of female role models in this field. Computing is a particularly taxing field. Women may find it to be an inhospitable discipline and may choose to focus their education and career goals toward other fields where due to the lack of support and guidance from other women.

    A study that conducted by Ph.D. students from Syracuse University shows that there are surprisingly fewer mentoring programs when approaching to the higher level of education. Unlike undergraduate students who are required to take courses from a variety of academic disciplines, “graduate students are often plugged into their own specialized studies and have little contact with others outside their department” (Bhatia, Priest Amati 4). With a small number of female graduate students, they can be isolated and have less access to social networks than their male peers.

    Rothberg said that “anyone can be a leader in any part of their lives. All it takes is their own energy and passion and communicating with other people.” She brought up an interesting point which is being a CEO doesn’t mean being a leader, though she does consider herself a leader. As long as women are passionate and confident about what they are doing, they could become a leader and a role model in any way for other women, and help them to achieve more accomplishments in their area. Female leaders show strength and power to other female peers towards their gender abilities, and being a role model will encourage others to persist their interests that restricted by gender gap; for instance, Rothberg has recently shown her female influences in this highly male dominated field by being one of the board members of a conference.

    Genetics

    Rothberg brought up that there exists a difference between the genetics and brain functions of male brains and female brains. She said, “One thing that maybe more women have than man is EQ, or emotional intelligence, the ability to sense what’s going on with different people and that it’s part of my female identity.”

    A study that was conducted by a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania shows that “the average women’s brains were highly connected across the left and right hemispheres, in contrast to men’s brains, where the connections were typically stronger between the front and back regions” (Sample). Since the left of the brain is more for logical thinking, and the right of the brain is for “more intuitive thinking, women are more intuitive and emotional than men are.” Moreover, male and female brains showed few differences in connectivity up to the age of 13 but became more differentiated in the age between 14 and 17 years old (Sample). Computer science is a field that requires a lot of logical thinking skills and accurate analyzing skills.

    However, at the beginning of the evolution of computers, most of the first pioneers of computing were women. They worked and found the mathematical foundations and mechanical computing algorithms. According to the history, the capabilities and creativity of women are predominately proved by the achievements of these women pioneers (Zimmermann).

    As Rothberg agreed, “From the ability standpoint, they [middle school and high school students] start off very similar and continue to excel definitely at the same pace.” Although genetics forms people’s brain structures differently, which may affect our performances in STEM field, the efforts we put in will have a significantly larger influence on improving our thinking and abilities from a long term.

    Conclusion

    With the acknowledgment of the lack of women in technology, the society should take actions to solve this problem. Our society needs diversity, especially in technology field which is essentially needed and highly demanded in other areas as well. Thus, institutions should make technology or its related fields more appealing and welcoming for women, and increases female-focused networking events, mentoring opportunities, and on-campus community building. As women themselves, they should step out of their comfort zones to stand up and speak for themselves, to make initiatives, to strive for opportunities, to be confident what who they are and what they are doing, and to help and guide other women to make this group strong and intelligent.

     

    For more information about careers in STEM and technology and to apply for internships and entry-level positions, visit our website to register and begin searching for positions today. Be sure to follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

     

    About the author:

    Ruoting Jia is a freshman at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, studying in Computer Science and Mathematics. She is an honors graduate of Mayo High School in Rochester, Minnesota, and a 2015 Minnesota winner of NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing. She would like to pursue a career in the field of software development. 

     

    References

    Bhatia, Shobha, and Jill Priest Amati. “‘if these Women can do it, I can do it, Too’: Building Women Engineering Leaders through Graduate Peer Mentoring.” Leadership & Management in Engineering 10.4 (2010): 174. Print.

    “By the Numbers.” National Center for Women & Information Technology. NCWIT, 3 Apr. 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015.

    Cheryan, Sapna, et al. “The stereotypical Computer Scientist: Gendered Media Representations as a Barrier to Inclusion for women.” Sex Roles 69 (201e): 58-71. Print

    Larson, Slena. “Why So Few Women Are Studying Computer Science”. ReadWrite. 2 September 2014. Web. 9 Dec 2015.

    Perry, Mark J. “2013 SAT Test Results Show That a Huge Math Gender Gap Persists with a 32-point Advantage for High School Boys – AEI.” AEI. AEI, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.

    Rothberg, Faith. “Women in Computer Science.” Online interview. 25 Oct. 2015.

    Sample, Ian. “Male and Female Brains Wired Differently, Scans Reveal.” TheGuardian. Squarespace, 2 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

    Stross, Randall. “What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Nov. 2008. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

    Wilson, Cameron et al. Running on Empty: The Failure to Teach K-12 Computer Science in the Digital Age. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. Print.

    Zimmermann, Kim Ann. “History of Computers: A Brief Timeline.” LiveScience. N.p., 8 Sept. 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

     

     

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