Friday, July 11, 2014

Shortage Watch: AWIS

From a minor kerfluffle on Twitter this morning, an interesting June press release from the Association for Women in Science's executive director (emphasis mine): 
STEM Worker Shortage can be Tied Back to Lack of Family-Friendly Workplace Policies
On June 23, 2014, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) joined the White House Council on Women and Girls, the Center for American Progress, and the Department of Labor (DOL) for the Working Families Summit in Washington, DC.  The goal of the Summit was to foster a conversation regarding policies that will benefits the working families of today. In order for America to remain competitive in today’s global economy, we need to transition workplace environments into the 21st century through work-life balance and good employer practices. AWIS couldn't agree more with this goal and frankly it’s time for elected officials and employers to recognize the needs of the families of today. 
It’s no secret that the United States is facing a worker shortage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). There are more opportunities in the STEM fields than ever, but where are the workers? AWIS recently conducted the largest international survey of working researchers to study their approaches to work-life balance, career decisions, and career conflicts. AWIS surveyed more than 4,000 researchers in both academic and corporate settings from 115 countries around the world. We found that due to rigorous schedules and outdated work policies, which often conflict with personal time and family life, both men and women are leaving the STEM fields...
It's always interesting to me how thoroughly entrenched the STEM shortage myth is in elite circles.

[FWIW, I don't really have a problem with organizations advocating for better family-friendly policies - it's just a goofy newshook, that's all.] 

15 comments:

  1. It's like they just copy each others statements, and don't bother at all with actually researching things. The higher up, the more intellectually lazy and divorced from reality they become.

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  2. Im beginning to see how in some circles it is lucrative to promote the STEM shortage. My RO1 institution ( a large state school) just got a couple of million of dollars in grants over several departments to try to prevent undergrad drop-out from STEM. My institution dosen't care if grants are received from incorrect memes, they just want the money.

    It would surprise me if whole confereneces were devoted to "how to get people in STEM."

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    1. http://usnewsstemsolutions.com/conference

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  3. Annoyingly, one must be a paid member of "the Association for Women in Science" to leave a comment about that article (even though I'm not a woman, I still tried). However, a quick google search for the director quickly came up with her e--mail address (together with more distortions about the job market):
    Janet Bandows Koster
    Executive Director
    & CEO
    koster@awis.org

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  4. "It's always interesting to me how thoroughly entrenched the STEM shortage myth is in elite circles."

    I wonder whether it is more entrenched in liberal elite circles or the conservative ones. I suspect the answer is the former, by far.

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    1. I don't think it's a clean red/blue split. I think it has more to do with which political groups are more likely to hew to Fortune 500-favorable policies, which, if you reach high enough, is in both parties.

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    2. I think that the litmus test is the solutions that they offer - I highly doubt that a group that touts, say, better work/life balance could possibly be in Larry Ellison's pay.

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    3. Huh, I wasn't aware of Ellison's donation proclivities. TIL!

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  5. I think what may be going on is that these companies in Tech see themselves as not being competitive enough in technologies (even though the CEO's and management are raking in huge sums of money), and so they are saying we need more STEM graduates, assuming there are not enough for the positions available. They can't imagine that there is surplus of very good people, or, if they do, then just not *good enough* in their eyes to create new technologies fast enough that will be bought up by consumers like hotcakes.

    The only way for these companies to get competitive, I suppose, is to hire super bright, creative people. I really dont think having MORE STEM graduates will create these kind of people. Im not sure there is anyway it can be done. And so people swarm into STEM, but the situation never improves for the companies or the people looking for jobs in these companies.

    How to end the STEM meme? Simple. Become a Luddite, and if everybody around you does, these technology companies will collapse. Next time: dont purchase the newest iPad. You're just fine with a book.

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    1. Do you have any idea what kind of PITA it is, to manage super bright, creative people? What sane executive would want that?

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  6. Unstable IsotopeJuly 11, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    I don't see a problem with a group exploiting the STEM shortage myth to push for more family friendly work policies. Trying to argue against something that everyone believes is a lesson in hitting your head on a brick wall.

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    1. I work in industry and would like more family friendly policies, but I don't want them to arise based on such a lie as a 'STEM worker shortage'. The myth must end.

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    2. UI: Such intellectual honesty. "I don't care if it is true or not, as long as it suits my agenda"

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  7. Last week, I e-mailed "Janet Bandows Koster" to discuss her article with her. She did not respond. And so I called her parent organization (10:20 AM on Friday, July 18), and just spoke with JULIE WARNOCK UTANO, Deputy Executive Director, utano@awis.org to challenge her on this article.

    This person initially denied that their report claimed a shortage of "STEM" workers. That is, until I read back to her the same quotes as appear on the CJ blog. So she then claimed that they "had data" to support their claim. I reminded her that there were 20,000 unemployed scientists in the metro Philadelphia area, according to a recent NPR report on WHYY. I also pointed out to her that the "Brookings Report" only used the word "scientist" once. She stated that she was "not going to argue about semantics". I pointed out to her that semantics was EXACTLY the issue of concern, because of journalists who don't think about what they are saying.

    So concluding, Ms Utano did not seem able to defend her position, when pressed about it. I offered to send her a list of URLs which de-bunk the lie of a “STEM” shortage. We will see if she actually reads them. Duhh.

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    1. I admire your tenacity.

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