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Diversity and inclusion

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The Washington Post

Alicia Chong Rodriguez SM ’17, SM ’18 founded Bloomer Tech, a health tech startup that aims to improve health care diagnostics for women using medical-grade data to develop new therapies and care models, reports Carol Eisenberg for The Washington Post. Rodriguez and her colleagues "developed, patented and tested flexible washable circuits to turn articles of clothing into devices that can relay reams of information to the wearer’s smartphone,” writes Eisenberg.

Bloomberg

Prof. Fiona Murray, associate dean for innovation and inclusion at MIT Sloan, speaks with Bloomberg Law reporter Lauren Castle about her recent study that found female PhD students are 17% less likely to become new inventors compared with their male counterparts. “What we can show is relative to the supply into Ph.D. programs, there’s still just this huge difference in the percentage of women on patents coming out of the labs than there are in the university,” says Murray.

Inside Higher Ed

Writing for Inside Higher Ed, Columbia University Simons Fellow Robert W. Fernandez highlights MIT’s “publicly published outcomes for students of color.” “MIT’s data showed, for example, that the population of enrolled graduate students in biology who identified as underrepresented minorities increased from 4 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2023—suggesting that the institute’s recruitment efforts for that department have improved over time,” explains Fernandez. 

The Christian Science Monitor

Christian Science Monitor reporter Ira Porter spotlights undergraduate Subin Kim and his experience transferring from community college to MIT through the Transfer Scholars Network, which is aimed at helping community college students find a path to four-year universities. “Every student that we admit, we’re looking for academic excellence and personal excellence,” says Stuart Schmill, dean of MIT admissions and student financial services. “And the students that we’ve brought in from the Transfer Scholar Network and in general from community colleges are remarkable individuals.”

Fortune

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found that “Black women who work in predominately white teams may have worse job outcomes,” reports Ruth Umoh for Fortune. The researchers, “studied 9,037 inexperienced new hires in a large, elite professional service firm from 2014 to 2020, focusing on retention and promotion rates,” explains Umoh. “Black women were the only demographic whose turnover and promotion rates were significantly affected by the racial identify of their coworkers.”

The Boston Globe

A new study co-authored by Prof. Roberto Fernandez examines the obstacles facing women seeking to advance their careers in tech, reports Sarah Shemkus for The Boston Globe. The researchers found “recruiters were more likely to reach out to men and had longer conversations with male candidates,” writes Shemkus. “And women needed more impressive resumes to make the cut for recruiter outreach.”

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Times reporter Brian Merchant spotlights Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 and her new book, “Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What is Human in a World of Machines.” “Buolamwini’s book recounts her journey to become one of the nation’s preeminent scholars and critics of artificial intelligence — she recently advised President Biden before the release of his executive order on AI — and offers readers a compelling, digestible guide to some of the most pressing issues in the field,” writes Merchant.

The Boston Globe

Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 speaks with Brian Bergstein of The Boston Globe’s “Say More” podcast about her academic and professional career studying bias in AI. “As I learned more and also became familiar with the negative impacts of things like facial recognition technologies, it wasn’t just the call to say let’s make systems more accurate but a call to say let’s reexamine the ways in which we create AI in the first place and let’s reexamine our measures of progress because so far they have been misleading,” says Buolamwini

Women We Admire

Prof. Fiona Murray and her colleagues have found that female STEM PhD students are less likely than their male counterparts to receive mentorship from top inventor advisors, reports Women We Admire. The researchers “emphasize the importance of early intervention and encouragement for female PhD students aspiring to become inventors. Programs that actively support female professors in their patenting endeavors can indirectly lead to a surge in female inventor PhDs, thereby plugging the leaky pipeline.”

The Boston Globe

Joy Buolamwini PhD '22 writes for The Boston Globe about her experience uncovering bias in artificial intelligence through her academic and professional career. “I critique AI from a place of having been enamored with its promise, as an engineer more eager to work with machines than with people at times, as an aspiring academic turned into an accidental advocate, and also as an artist awakened to the power of the personal when addressing the seemingly technical,” writes Buolamwini. “The option to say no, the option to halt a project, the option to admit to the creation of dangerous and harmful though well-intentioned tools must always be on the table.”

Bloomberg

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have found that “managers in a large retail chain saw women as having less leadership potential even though their performance reviews were better, on average, than those of their male peers,” reports Sarah Green Carmichael for The Washington Post. “Analyzing data on 30,000 employees, the researchers found that overperforming didn’t do much to improve women’s scores on leadership potential. Their bosses continued to underestimate them.”

The Wall Street Journal

A new study co-authored by Prof. Emilio Castilla finds that using stereotypically masculine or feminine adjectives to describe the qualities needed for a job opening has a negligible effect on who applies, reports Lisa Ward for The Wall Street Journal. “It’s a superficial intervention with little tangible effect,” says Castilla.

Nature

Nature reporter Abdullahi Tsanni spotlights Nicole McGaa, a fourth-year student at MIT, and her work leading MIT’s all-Indigenous rocket team to the 2023 First Nations Launch National Rocket Competition. “Our project and others like it will set a precedent at MIT that will help Indigenous students to bridge their identity with their engineering aspirations and career goals,” says McGaa. “I encourage other Indigenous students to be brave, approach your projects with courage and try incorporating your identity and values into your work.”

Times Higher Education

A new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that journals and academic papers should be evaluated using a “diversity factor,” a metric aimed at improving representation across research, reports Patrick Jack for Times Higher Education. Jack notes that the researchers see the diversity factor as a “‘call to action’ for improved representation and to prevent the perpetuation of biases against certain subgroups.”