WHER Chat: Majority of States with Highest Poverty Rates are in the South

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey one-year estimates reveal that the national poverty rate was 11.8 percent in 2018, a decrease from 12.3 percent in 2017. Fourteen states had a poverty decline, while Connecticut was the only state to have an increase during the same time period. Seven states had poverty rates lower than 10 percent in 2018, but other states have the highest poverty rates up to 19.7 percent. Read more for a list of the states with the highest poverty rates. 

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Discrimination in the AI Industry Contributes to Discriminatory AI Systems


A new report from New York University’s AI Now Institute titled Discriminating Systems: Gender, Race and Power in AI highlights the diversity crisis in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) sector and its effect on the development of AI systems with gender and racial biases. 

The lack of diversity in the AI sector and academia spans across gender and race. Recent studies show that women comprise only 15 percent of AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google. Women make up 18 percent of authors at leading AI conferences, while more than 80 percent of AI professors are men. Representation of other minorities is also sparse. Only 2.5 percent of Google’s workforce is black, while this is true of 4 percent for both Facebook and Microsoft. 

According to researchers, AI’s lack of diversity extends past the underrepresentation of women and other minority groups to power structures and the creation and use of various AI systems. Most of all, the report suggests that historical discrimination in the AI sector needs to be addressed in tandem with biases found in AI systems. 
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Life of a Female Veteran: U.S. Army Combat Pilot Veteran Erica Courtney (part 5 of 6)


It had been some years now since I got out of active duty. I had ‘transitioned.’ However, it was obvious to me that my veteran community was suffering and struggling to adapt to this new world on the outside. As I travelled the country on business, I would frequently end up sitting next to veterans on a plane. Once the veteran connection was established, when they could get past my gender and realize I was in the fight alongside them, they would offload their personal stories. Many had never shared these things with their own families. I would listen and advise if possible. 

After years of this, it became apparent that something wasn’t working. Why was I constantly being bombarded with this heavy stuff? I tried ignoring it but then started dissecting the events. Veterans want to talk to veterans— not white coats, not federally-funded programs stemming around entrepreneurship where they handle hundreds of people led by a non-business owner, and not corporate America attempting to give them a job. They wanted connections with people who understood them. Perhaps being a female was also non-threatening and these guys could be vulnerable? 
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Current Corporate Management Diversity


The diversity of business owners strengthens our nation as their unique perspectives are woven into their businesses, communities, and local and regional economies. However, our nation’s rich diversity still is not reflected in the leadership of companies that sell us products and services and ask us to invest. What a loss.

The Status Quo
Today in the United States, women make up 51 percent of the population. We are 13 percent African American, 18 percent Latino, and six percent Asian Pacific Islander. Yet, here it is 2018, and I am only the 10th woman ever elected to statewide office in California – the most ethnically diverse and most progressive state in the nation. The lack of diversity among our elected officials is woefully apparent. However, behind the doors of board rooms and C-suites across the country, corporations are failing to integrate diversity, and decisions are made without the range of perspectives that differing backgrounds bring.

According to McKinsey & Company, a staggering 45 percent of executive teams in the U.S. do not include one non-white member. Only about three percent of senior executive teams actually reflect the diverse make-up of our population. Fewer than one percent of Fortune 500 board directors are openly LGBT.

Equally disturbing is the divide between the way male and female directors view diversity. A PricewaterhouseCoopers report found that 80 percent of women agreed “very much” that diversity leads to more effective boards, compared to just 40 percent of men.

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The Gender Gap: Women as Mortgage Consumers


In the last 200 years, women’s voice and role in society has evolved quite substantially in the United States and around the world. The mortgage industry is no exception. As first-time homebuyers, women face patterns of discrimination. These discriminatory lending patterns, in violation of many regulations including those promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), limit women from becoming homeowners and result in fair lending violations, regulatory actions and litigation against lenders.

As regulatory requirements in the mortgage industry have tightened, lenders are taking note that discrimination is having an adverse effect on the mortgage industry and our economy as a whole. In some cases, programs are being established to target specific categories of women in the market that are faced with discriminatory obstacles. Yet, there is much more that needs to be done.
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Moving the Needle in the Right Direction for Women Tech


STEMconnector® has more than 170 members and has organized to push skills to more than 5 million open jobs. Million Women Mentors (MWM) was established to increase career opportunities for girls and women and has gained nearly 2 million pledges for mentor relationships. The movement has to change the career options for women and girls and reach pay equity by making great jobs and rewarding careers available. STEM jobs provide a means of pay equity; thus, we must provide the economic excitement for women to earn and contribute.

Consider what we are achieving with Million Women Mentors, reaching millions of commitments and bringing the private sector and organizations together to mentor, sponsor and provide internships. Please join us. I had the honor of writing a blog with PepsiCo CEO, Indra Nooyi, back in 2015, which says the following about Million Women Mentors: “We’ve already seen some amazing progress, but imagine what could happen if every STEM professional made a commitment to mentoring one-on-one for just two hours a month. We could truly change the game.”

STEMconnector® is a consortium of companies, associations, academic institutions and government entities actively engaged with STEM education and careers and with the future of human capital. With multiple products and councils, STEMconnector® is both a resource and service, designed to link “all things STEM.”

Gender & diversity is at our core. In the U.S., women and minorities make up the majority of the population and, clearly, the demographics of education. That’s why we launched Million Women Mentors, and we are on our way to 2 million mentor relationships. By endorsing all efforts—from private and public, to educational and organizational— to mentor and change lives, and increase careers in STEM jobs, pay equity is close. Every corporation and institution wants to show their progress and results for gender and diversity based on successful recruitment, engagement and retention.

Commitment to the underserved is part of all that we do, and we are proud of those who do not tolerate inequality and want to focus on making the land of opportunity a reality. STEMconnector® takes pride in “scaling up” what works. Along with the CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, STEMconnector® has committed to Tech Talent for All. It takes great marriages of private and public sectors. The CEO of Sprint, for instance, announced the 1Million Project, which donates tech to those in need. Salute all!

Public policy impact is clear on each of these. If not at the federal level, then we need the support at the local level. Public policy impact must be translated and saluted. Whether we continue support for tech talent for all or CTE Support, we stand up for use of public policy in many ways.

Women’s Equality Day was August 26th, and November is Science and Technology Month. Why can’t we make every day a celebration for gender gains in science and technology and a commitment to improve the numbers? Considering that up to 80 percent of jobs today require tech skills, and all STEM jobs pay women close to parity—about 96 cents on a dollar compared to 80 cents overall—an answer to parity and pay equity will involve technology. Let’s put more effort in gaining STEM skills and especially tech skills, and making tech careers a national priority. We urge all of you to read the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, The Power of Parity: How Advancing Women’s Equality can add $12 Trillion to Global Growth. Gender advancement in STEM and tech is about economic opportunity and equality.

It can’t be the “Old Boys Network” any longer. We know we need a “New Girls Network,” but let’s allow men to be our champions and advocates, and ask CEOs and others to commit to the advancement of women and girls. We can do it together. Don’t accept no. Instead of focusing on “Sexism in Silicon Valley,” let’s build commitments to embracing women in STEM and tech.

Maya Angelou said, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care.” We all care about the phones in our hands, the computers on our desks, and the cars that we drive. We must care even more about the girls who want to invent, explore, and discover the next generation of amazing STEM breakthroughs but who just need a little encouragement.

We must move faster. The movie Hidden Figures highlights the roles of three African American female mathematicians working at NASA as human computers. They helped build the space race. There are too few role models for girls today. Women comprise 24 percent in the tech and computer science space, a number that has declined or been static for the past decade; meanwhile, men are jumping ahead. Most high school and university gender numbers are poor, as are the requirements to teach computer science in schools. As NCWIT shares, girls comprise 56 percent of the Advanced Placement (AP) test-takers, yet only 19 percent of the AP Computer Science test-takers. We must advance and encourage all to code and engage in data analytics and other exciting areas. Carnegie Mellon has close to 49 percent women’s enrollment. We are proud to work with many academic institutions pushing the needle, but too few are embracing women in STEM and tech.

Jobs are open in every area of tech, and we must mentor, sponsor, offer great job opportunities and share our successes. We must push to advance women and girls, and role models are vital. Write your own stories and blogs, speak out and act, and, most importantly, execute and report results. Just as we released 100 CEO Leaders in STEM, 100 CIO Leaders, and 100 Diverse Leaders, look for the 2nd edition and release of 100 Women Leaders in STEM in October 2017.

The “Fearless Girl” is a symbol on Wall Street staring down the bronze “Charging Bull.” The “Fearless Girl” represents the desire to build equality for finance (as well as STEM and tech) and has gained millions of media impressions and new commitments. Let’s join together as fearless leaders and mentors to achieve STEM success, and gain more jobs in the tech field, which is dominating finance and every other area. All of us can be catalysts for gender action, and girls and women can—and will—build our economic future, financial achievement and success. Tech underlies all we do. COMMIT to action now as we join together to drive RESULTS.

Thank you, Edie Fraser!

Leading the Way Toward Gender Equality


On a stormy Thursday in January I had the honor of attending a meeting at the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on the financial position of women in the European Union (EU). Experts and policy makers from 14 EU Member States gathered in The Hague to talk about the economic independence of women in their respective countries.

In the Netherlands, but also in other EU countries, we see more and more women obtaining degrees in higher education and finishing their degrees faster than men. However, this educational outperformance is not reflected in our current labor market. The Netherlands Institute for Social Research has conducted research at the request of the Emancipation Department of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science that focuses on the early career phase of young women and men in the Netherlands. The first steps young professionals take in the labor market can be instrumental to the trajectory of their careers and possibily offer an explanation for the current position of women in the workforce.

The study conducted by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research shows that in the first 18 months after obtaining a degree, there are no significant differences between young women and men in regards to becoming employed. However, what is significant is that in the 18-26 age group, working women are less often working full-time than men. The differences are striking with just under 40 percent of women working full-time, compared to 70 percent of men.

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