Sunday, December 28, 2014

Most Viewed 2014 Posts from the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, V

The last of the series...



By  October 13, 2014


On Methods: What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative approaches?

adarEditors Note: We are very fortunate to have Adar Ben-Eliyahu, Ph.D. our new Methods Editor, sharing with us her considerable expertise on research methods. Dr. Ben-Eliyahu completed her doctorate in developmental psychology at Duke University, where she honed very strong skills in methods. She is currently a MacArthur Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Prior to arriving at Boston, Dr. Ben-Eliyahu was a post-doc in the Activation Lab at the Learning Research & Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh. Enjoy!

Understanding different types of research:
What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative approaches?

Adar Ben-Eliyahu, Ph.D.
In the world of research, there are two general approaches to gathering and reporting information: qualitative and quantitative approaches. The qualitative approach to research is focused on understanding a phenomenon from a closer perspective. The quantitative approach tends to approximate phenomena from a larger number of individuals using survey methods. In this research corner, I describe methods that are generally used in each strand of research. Each approach has its benefits and detriments, and is more suitable to answering certain kinds of questions.

Qualitative Approach

The qualitative approach to gathering information focuses on describing a phenomenon in a deep comprehensive manner. This is generally done in interviews, open-ended questions, or focus groups. In most cases, a small number of participants participate in this type of research, because to carry out such a research endeavor requires many resources and much time. Interviews can vary from being highly structured and guided by open-ended questions, or be less structured and take the form of a conversational interview. Because of the investment in this type of research and the relatively few number of participants, findings from qualitative research cannot be generalized to the whole population. However, such research serves as a spring board for larger studies and deeper understanding that can inform theory, practice, and specific situations.
Example from youth mentoring research:
Ahrens, DuBois, Garrison, Spencer, Richardson, & Lozano (2011) used semi-structured interviews to outline themes of mentor characteristics and factors that youth perceive to influence mentor relationships. They spoke with participants on the phone and asked them open-ended questions. In identifying barriers and facilitators for relationship initiation and maintenance, Ahrens et al. provide important points of inquiry to be used in a larger scale survey-based research. One of the cautions in using qualitative approaches is that the findings apply only to this small group of 23 individuals. This research was crucial in providing evidence that these factors should be examined and further elaborated through quantitative methods prior to making any wide-range recommendation.  (Click to read a summary of this studyHERE).
Benefits of the qualitative approach:
Using open-ended questions and interviews allows researchers and practitioners to understand how individuals are doing, what their experiences are, and recognize important antecedents and outcomes of interest that might not surface when surveyed with pre-determined questions. Although qualitative research can be thought of as anecdotal, when pooled across a number of participants it provides a conceptual understanding and evidence that certain phenomena are occurring with particular groups or individuals.
  • Allows identification of new and untouched phenomena
  • Can provide a deeper understanding of mechanisms
  • Gives a one-on-one and anecdotal information
  • Provides verbal information that may sometimes be converted to numerical form
  • May reveal information that would not be identified through pre-determined survey questions
Limitations:
  • Cannot generalize to the general population
  • Challenges in applying statistical methods
  • Difficulty in assessing relations between characteristics

Quantitative Approach

The quantitative approach to gathering information focuses on describing a phenomenon across a larger number of participants thereby providing the possibility of summarizing characteristics across groups or relationships. This approach surveys a large number of individuals and applies statistical techniques to recognize overall patterns in the relations of processes. Importantly, the use of surveys can be done across groups. For example, the same survey can be used with a group of mentors that is receiving training (often called the intervention or experimental groups) and a group of mentors who does not receive such a training (a control group). It is then possible to compare these two groups on outcomes of interest, and determine what influence the training had. It is also relatively easy to survey people a number of times, thereby allowing the conclusion that a certain features (like matching) influence specific outcomes (well-being or achievement later in life).
Example from youth mentoring research:
Grossman and Rhodes (2002) examined duration of matched relationships in over 1,100 Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor-mentee matches. Because the information they used was survey-based and numerical, they were able to employ statistical techniques examining how duration of match was related to different outcomes of interest.
In using a variety of statistical techniques, they concluded that “youth who were in [matched mentoring] relationships that lasted a year or longer reported improvements in academic, psychosocial, and behavioral outcomes” (p. 213). If Grossman and Rhodes had not used survey-based quantitative research, they would not have had such a large sample of matches and therefore could not generalize to matches in general. In addition, with a smaller number of participants, it is challenging to apply some statistical techniques to examine emerging patterns across such a large group of mentored matches. The current rule of thumb to using complex statistical modeling is that you need a sample of at least 130 participants. However, for more complex modeling that controls for characteristics, a larger pool of participants is needed.
Benefits of the quantitative approach:
Using survey methods across a large group of individuals enables generalization. For example, if policy makers wanted to instantiate a policy about mentor training, they would likely require some evidence that this training actually works. Interviewing a few individuals, or conducting a focus group with forty matches, might be reflective of specific cases in which the mentoring training worked, however, it would not provide strong evidence that such training is beneficial overall. Stronger support for successful training would be evident if using quantitative methods.
  • Enables gathering information from a relatively large number of participant
  • Can conduct in a number of groups, allowing for comparison
  • Allows generalizing to broader population
  • Provides numerical or rating information
  • Informative for instantiating policy or guidelines
  • Lends to statistical techniques that allow determining relations between variables (think of better word)
Limitations:
  • Difficulty in recognizing new and untouched phenomena
  • Caution in interpretation without a control group
In summary, the qualitative and quantitative approaches to research allow a different perspective of situations or phenomena. These two main approaches to research are highly informative, especially if used in combination. Each approach has its benefits and detriments, and being aware of the methods used to gather information can help practitioners and policy-makers understand the extent to which research findings can be applied.
http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/on-methods-whats-the-difference-between-qualitative-and-quantitative-approaches/ 
Ret. 12-23-14

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Most Viewed 2014 Posts from the Chronicle of Evidenced-Based Mentoring, IV

Number 4 is dated 2013. Moving on...
















By  November 25, 2013

Gender Matching: An Investigation of Same- versus Cross-gender Matches

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 4.50.38 PMKanchewa, S.S., Rhodes, J.E., Schwartz, S.E.O., & Olsho, L.E.W. (in press). An Investigation of Same-versus Cross-gender Matching for Boys in Formal School-based Mentoring Programs. Applied Developmental Science.
Most mentoring programs typically match mentor and mentee by gender. This widespread practice has been supported by theoretical, anecdotal and safety considerations; however, to date, research examining the influence of gender matching within mentoring relationships has presented mixed results. More recently, a greater number of programs, particularly those with a school-based model in which matches meet on school grounds, have begun to pair cross-gender matches largely composed of female mentors with male mentees.
In this study, we explored the role of gender matching on relationship processes including quality, duration and intensity, as well as academic, behavioral and social outcomes.
Method
Male youth (N = 1,513) in the study were part of two of the largest random assignment national evaluations of school-based mentoring (Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Department of Education’s Student Mentoring Program).  Within both programs, approximately 20% of the matches were cross-gender, with women serving as mentors to male mentees.
We focused on measures of relationship processes, including the quality of the relationship, the frequency with which matches met, and the duration of the match. We also measured youth’s academic performance and efficacy, future goals, relationships (e.g., peer, parent), and truancy/misconduct.
Results
Across both samples, youth and mentors in same-gender matches were relatively older than those in cross-gender matches. In addition, mentors in same-gender matches tended to be married or living with a partner and to have children.
Within both samples, there were no differences in relationship quality between same- versus cross-gender matches. In contrast, in the BBBS sample, cross-gender matches were longer in duration (approximately 2 weeks longer) and met more frequently relative to same-gender matches (an average of 3.1 versus 2.6 times per month), whereas no differences were found in the ED sample. Across both samples, there were no differences in academic, behavioral and social outcomes between youth in same- versus cross-gender matches.
Conclusion
With only a few exceptions, the findings of this study suggest few differences between same- versus cross-gender mentoring relationships. Despite these findings, some caveats should be noted including the study’s design and sample. More specifically, male youth in the two types of matches (same- and cross-gender) were not randomly assigned into these two conditions. It could be that youth, parents and mentors who request a same-gender match may differ from those who do not on factors that we did not measure. For example, these individuals might consider gender to be an important aspect of their identity. Lastly, most programs do not make cross-gender matches between male mentors and female mentees, which limit the potential to fully examine the effects of gender matching across a variety of relationships.
The findings of this study, if replicated, do not suggest a cross-gender advantage or disadvantage. Although it is important to honor explicit preferences from either youth or parents, and continue efforts to recruit underrepresented groups, programs can also provide training opportunities focused on diversity factors for both mentors and youth including gender that can support mentors across all types of matches in order to meet the needs of diverse youth.
http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/gender-matching-an-investigation-of-same-versus-cross-gender-matches/ 
Ret. 12-23-14

Friday, December 26, 2014

Most Viewed 2014 Posts from the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, III

Below is number three reposted.















Beyond “how’s it going?”: A new questionnaire assesses mentors’ satisfaction

by Jean Rhodes
Remarkably few studies have focused on mentors’ experiences in relationships. To address this gap, my colleagues and I designed and validated a mentor-reported measure of relationship quality. The result is a new questionnaire that might be useful not only for evaluation but for everyday case management. Notably the scale (the Mentor Strength of Relationship Scale) represents the first mentor-report relationship quality scale with established psychometric properties.
Background
A growing number of studies have highlighted the importance of investigating the quality of the relationships that are formed between mentors and youth. Although several questionnaires have been developed to measure mentor-youth relationships, researchers have tended to focus on mentees’ perspectives. Nonetheless, studies using scales that were originally designed for other caring adults (e.g., for teachers or psychotherapists) have highlighted the importance of assessing mentors’ perspectives as well. As part of the longitudinal data collection efforts of BBBS community-based mentoring programs nationwide, my students and I sought develop and test the properties of the mentor version of the Strength of Relationship (MSoR) scales, which assesses relationship quality from the mentor’s perspective (MSoR).
Data were drawn from a network of 85 of the BBBS agencies running community-based mentoring programs across the United States. Of the 7,757 mentor and youth dyads that formed during this time, a total of 5,222 dyads completed 3-month SoR surveys, and a subsample of 1,294 dyads completed both the three-month and 12-month SoR surveys.
The Mentor Strength of Relationship (MSoR) Scale consists of fourteen mentor-reported items which were developed as part of my year-long stint as a match support specialist at two different mentoring agencies. In this capacity, I maintained ongoing contact with the volunteer mentors, youth, and parents in her caseload, provided ongoing supervision to a wide range of adult-youth dyads, and attended match support meetings where common match issues and their resolution were discussed among agency staff. From this activity, as well as discussions with additional practitioners (thank you Big Sisters of Greater Boston and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mass Bay) and researchers, a list of 75 items that captured the experiences and frustrations of mentors in relation to their mentees was created. From this item pool, fourteen items that best captured mentors’ common positive and negative perceptions and experiences in relationships were chosen rationally by a panel of three mentoring researchers and three mentoring practitioners for inclusion in the.
On the scale, mentors were prompted to rate the extent to which they agreed with the fourteen items in the final pool, such as “My Little and I are interested in the same things” and “I feel close to my Little”  Answers were scored on a five-point Likert scale, ranging from (1) “strongly disagree” to (5) “strongly agree. Internal consistency for the fourteen items was strong, alpha = .85.
Youth Strength of Relationship (YSoR) Scale was  is a version of the original Relationship Quality Scale (Rhodes, Reddy, Roffman & Grossman, 2005), which was slightly revised to include a more balanced set of positive and negative relationship experiences.
Analyses demonstrated that both the MSoR and the YSoR were significantly associated with relationship duration. These results suggest that early assessment of mentor and youth perceptions of their relationship quality can be used to identify mentor-youth matches that are at greater risk for early termination. This is particularly important in the context of previous research indicating that early terminating relationships may result in negative impacts. Early identification of more vulnerable mentoring relationships could allow programs to provide extra support that could strengthen relationships and possibly avoid early termination.
Moreover, since relationship duration is a well-established benchmark of program effectiveness, which predicts youth impacts in both CBM and SBM programs, these results suggest that the SoR may also predict the benefits that youth will derive from mentoring relationships. It should be noted, however, that the SoR accounted for a relatively small percentage of the variance in relationship duration, raising questions about what other factors, besides strength of relationship, may contribute to how long mentoring relationships last. Nevertheless, these results suggest that negative responses might be used as a screening tool to identify relationships that are at risk for early termination and target them for additional support. Particularly in the context of large caseloads, the items on the MSoR scale might provide an efficient framework for eliciting mentors’ reports of more specific early problems than typically emerge from the more general, “how are things going?,” prompt.
While not the focus of this study, results also provided information about other predictors of mentoring relationship duration. Specifically, child age, mentor age, and mentor education were significantly associated with length of relationship, beyond the variance accounted for by the SoR. These findings are generally consistent with previous research, which indicates that mentoring relationships with younger mentees tend to last longer than those with older mentees and that higher mentor education, income level, and age are predictive of longer-lasting relationships.
Although future research is needed for the continued validation and refinement of the scale, the SoR appears to be a psychometrically sound instrument that can be used to measure relationship quality from the perspective of mentors, and is the first validated instrument to include the mentor’s perspective. It also indicates that quality of relationship, as measured by the SoR at 3 months, can predict relationship duration, suggesting that it may be a useful tool for identifying matches that may be at risk for early endings.
SoR Measure (please cite Rhodes, Schwartz, Willis & Wu, 2014). Items 14 and 15 not part of the scale, but suggested.
Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 2.30.24 PM



http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/beyond-hows-it-going-a-new-questionnaire-to-assess-mentors-satisfaction/

Ret. 12-23-14

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Most Viewed 2014 Posts from the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, II

We decided to repost the most viewed. Here is the second.















By  April 15, 2014

To disclose or not to disclose?

Edited by Renée Spencer
Editor’s Note: Much like therapists, mentors are often confronted with making decisions – often on the spot – about what kind of information to share with their mentees and when. Laura Yoviene’s summary of a recent review article on therapist self-disclosure offers some insights and food for thought for tackling the sometimes thorny issues associated with self-disclosure that can also arise in mentoring relationships.
Henretty, J., & Levitt, H. (2010). The role of therapist self-disclosure in psychotherapy: A qualitative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 30, 63-77. (Summarized by University of Massachusetts at Boston Clinical Psychology Student, Laura Yoviene).
The role of therapist self-disclosure and implications for mentoring relationships
Summary:
In this article, Henretty and Levitt review the long-standing and sometimes conflicted literature on therapist self-disclosure. In contrast to the once prominent belief that therapists should be a “blank screen” for their clients, recent reviews have shown that over 90% of therapists self-disclose to their clients. In light of this, Henretty and Levitt conducted a meta-analytic review of the research on self-disclosure and offer some recommendations for therapists as they consider the potential risks and benefits of this practice and discern to whom, why, when, in what form to self-disclose.
What is self-disclosure?
There are mixed opinions on the definition of therapist self-disclosure but in general it can be viewed as any self-revealing statement made by the clinician (e.g., Cozy, 1973; Weiner, 1983; Wheeless, 1976) ranging from demographic information to the sharing of a mutual experience, such as the loss of a loved one.
Risks and benefits:
Overall, therapist self-disclosure is found to be an effective intervention strategy in that it has been shown to have positive effects on clients such as:
  • clients having a stronger affection for therapists that self-disclose
  • clients perceived therapists as warmer
  • clients self-disclosed more themselves

In contrast, unwillingness to disclose personal information, or non-disclosure, can be experienced by the client as rude, hostile, uncaring, evasive, and tantalizing and have detrimental effects on the therapeutic alliance, a crucial aspect in psychotherapy outcomes (Gatson, 1990; Gelso & Carter, 1985; Orlinsky & Howard, 1986; Truax & Mitchell, 1971; Wolfe & Goldfried, 1988).
Multiple considerations for self-disclosure:
To whom?
The review of the empirical evidence indicates that self-disclosure may be the most beneficial for clients with whom therapists already have a strong/positive relationship or clients who share membership in the same small community (i.e. LGBT community). Discretion should be taken working with clients with poor boundaries and self-identity issues.
What?
Information that may be the most appropriate to self-disclose includes the following:
  • demographic information (education, orientation, professional, and marital status)
  • feelings and thoughts about the client/relationship
  • relevant past struggles that have been resolved
  • similarities between client and therapist

When?
The timing of self-disclosure is an important consideration. Early self-disclosure can help relieve clients’ apprehensions, build alliance and rapport, but such disclosures should be limited to low intimacy information early-on while clients’ are acclimating to relationship (Geller, 2003). Self-disclosure can also be useful during termination stage of treatment to facilitate the separation and closure process.
Why?
Therapists should have a clear rational for choosing to self-disclose, such as
  • promoting client self-disclosure
  • fostering the therapeutic relationship/alliance
  • encouraging clients’ autonomy and facilitating client self-exploration
  • normalizing and promoting feelings of universality
  • equalizing power
  • assisting clients in identifying and labeling their emotions
  • showing similarities
  • building client self-esteem

How?
Self-disclosures need to be tailored to meet the needs of the individual client, made in light of a clear understanding of these needs (i.e., a need for information vs. a need for connectedness). The particular farming and wording of self-disclosures should also be based on individual client needs. Returning the focus to the client after a disclosure is important as is using self-disclosure sparingly.
Implications for Mentoring:
Although the boundaries are not as clearly and firmly drawn in mentoring relationships as they are in therapy relationships, mentors must also carefully consider what, when, and how to disclose personal information to their mentees. As with therapy relationships, self-disclosure may strengthen an already positive mentoring relationship and revealing similarities with the youth, such as membership in a minority community, or past struggles that they have successfully worked through may serve to normalize the mentee’s feelings and strengthen the mentor-mentee bond.
Some early self-disclosure is likely to be important for alleviating a youth’s initial apprehensions about the relationship, equalizing power, and encouraging the youth to share personal information with the mentor. As the relationship progresses, mentor self-disclosure may model and help facilitate the youth’s own self-exploration, encourage the identification and labeling of difficult emotions, and help to build the youth’s self-esteem.
As in therapy relationships, effective self-disclosure in mentoring relationships also requires certain interpersonal skills, such as tact, timing, patience, humility, perseverance, and sensitivity. The current review’s indication that role-play with self-disclosure is an effective training technique for therapists is worthy of consideration for mentor training as well.
http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/to-disclose-or-not-to-disclose/ 
Ret. 12-23-14

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Most Viewed 2014 Posts from the Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring, I

We decided to repost the most viewed ones, beginning with the first.



By  June 24, 2013

New study highlights the benefits of serving as a mentor

  MentorGhosh, R. & Reio, T.G. (2013). Career benefits associated with mentoring for mentors: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior83, 106-116.
Background: Participation in workplace mentoring relationships is associated with a wealth of benefits for mentees. To date, however, few studies have considered potential benefits that mentors might derive from these relationships. Across the few studies that have explored mentor outcomes, there remains limited cohesive understanding of the ways in which mentors benefit from mentoring. In the current study, researchers sought to explore and synthesize studies investigating the benefits of mentoring for mentors within workplace mentoring relationships. 
Method: Through use of meta-analytic design (see Chronicle post by Dr. Adar Ben-Eliyahu), researchers focused on studies that explored positive outcomes (e.g., job satisfaction and performance, organizational commitment, and turnover intent) related to mentors’ provision of psychosocial and career support, and role modeling to their mentees
  • Psychosocial support functions: include‘ “aspects of a relationship that enhance an individual’s sense of competence, identity, and effectiveness in a professional role…include acceptance and confirmation, counseling, friendship, and role modeling (p.107).” ’
  • Career support functions: include “providing sponsorship, coaching, exposure and visibility, protection and challenging work assignments (p.107).”
  • Role modeling functions: include mentors’ behavior, attitudes, values and professional identity, which may be emulated by the protégé
Results: Compared to colleagues who did not mentor, individuals who served as mentorswithin their workplace reported greater job satisfaction and commitment to the organization. In addition, higher quality relationships were associated with even greater benefits.
While all three types of mentor support (psychosocial, career and role modeling) were related to positive mentor benefits, distinctions also emerged. Mentors who engaged in career support perceived that they had greater career success, mentors who engaged in psychosocial support reported being more committed to their workplace, and mentors who engaged in role modeling support reported better job performance.
Implications:
In this meta-analysis, being a mentor was associated with several positive outcomes including greater perceived career success, job performance and satisfaction, as well as more perceived connectedness to one’s organization. While a causal relationship cannot be concluded from the study’s results (i.e., being a mentor leads to these benefits), the findings from this study underscore the need to consider the mentor’s perspective, particularly consideration of the ways the mentoring relationship, a largely collaborative endeavor, influences both the mentee and mentor.
The findings from this study have implications for youth mentoring, specifically the need for both researchers and practitioners to consider potential mentor outcomes in more direct ways. For example, a systematic analysis of mentor benefits within youth mentoring could present a comprehensive picture of current findings as well as potential gaps that could be addressed in future research.
In addition, evaluations should examine the potential benefits to mentors, include the capacity of relationships to enhance a mentor’s attachment to a particular community. Highlighting potential benefits may serve as an incentive for individuals who might be in a pre-contemplative stage. The researchers note, “awareness of mentoring benefits may motivate mentors beyond the pro-social nature of their personality.”

http://chronicle.umbmentoring.org/new-study-highlights-the-benefits-of-serving-as-a-mentor/

Ret. 12-23-14






Saturday, December 13, 2014

Beads of Courage for Ill Youths


http://www.beadsbaublesandjewels.com
Quite accidentally we happened upon an interesting segment of a beading show. Fascinated by the Beads of Courage program featured, we searched for more information.

www.beadsofcourage.org

As we have mentioned before, a mentoring organization’s service involvement in the community with other programs is essential just as businesses must give back and serve. Collaboration and support are key.


Through the Beads of Courage program, youths with serious, usually long-term diseases receive special beads for their treatments and procedures. Disorders can include:
  • Cancer and blood disorders
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Burn injuries
  • Neonatal ICU families
  • Chronic illness
Some youths have hundreds or thousands of beads. In case a child is too small to wear the weight of the beads themselves, a parent may wear them.

Oklahoma has three hospitals involved.  

  • The Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center, Oklahoma City
  • The Children's Hospital at St. Francis, Tulsa
  • Procure Proton Therapy Center, Oklahoma City
These hospitals take young people from all over the state and surrounding areas so that no matter where you mentor or tutor you have local children mentally and physical combating diseases for their very existence.  

Each bead, a tangible reminder, has significance and tells a story about the wearer to others participating in or knowledgeable about the program. For example, a magenta bead stands for an ER visit, a square heart bead indicates a transfer to ICU, and a white bead for chemotherapy. 

Among the art aspects of the program is a bead design contest, e.g., what does courage or love look like. A little booklet with all the designs submitted and the names of the young designers is created, and the winning bead is executed and replicated. The program encompasses so much more including opportunities for woodworkers, quilters, and volunteers.

We won't even mention the psychological/therapeutic aspects of the beads earned.

How could a local mentoring program participate? Explore the site and think. What could you do long distance if you live far from Oklahoma City or Tulsa? What could you do if you are in one of the urban areas? Could your organization raise funds for beads for a local youth receiving treatment far from home? Is there a way you and your mentors or mentees could volunteer? Send us your suggestions applicable to your situation.

Among the many You Tube videos related to this subject were these must-see ones.



“Published on Jul 13, 2014
This video is about my Beads of Courage. Each bead represents a step in my journey with mitochondrial disease.”




Beads of Courage on CBS Sunday Morning 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqfboMNNMWQ

“Uploaded on Mar 24, 2011
December 12, 2010 - For more than 100,000 years, glass beads have been given as symbols of honor and accomplishment. Now they're being used for something else -- to help kids fighting cancer tell the story of their illness, first to themselves, and then to family and friends. Mark Strassmann reports.”
















Ret. 12-9-14

Postscript: These two videos might be worthwhile to any young people encountering obstacles. 'Mentor-mentee conversation, lessons learned discussion, values, resilience, hope...?




Friday, December 12, 2014

Women & Early Coding

This Twitter post reminding us about women coding arrived in our email. Further research revealed that the original article was published in the April 1967 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. Links to various articles related to or catalyzed by the original article follow. Google "computer girls" for more.






The Computer Girls
    
by Lois Mandel

A trainee gets $8,000 a year...a girl "senior systems engineer, gets $20,000--and up! Maybe it's time to investigate....

Ann Richardson, IBM systems engineer, designs a bridge via computer. Above (left) she checks her facts with fellow systems engineer, Marvin V. Fuchs. Right, she feeds facts into the computer. Below, Ann demonstrates on a viewing screen how her facts designed the bridge, and makes changes with a "light pen."

Twenty years ago, a girl could be a secretary, a school teacher...maybe a librarian, a social worker or a nurse. If she was really ambitious, she could go into the professions and compete with men...usually working harder and longer to earn less pay for the same job.

Now have come the big, dazzling computers--and a whole new kind of work for women: programming. Telling the miracle machine what to do and how to do it. Anything from predicting the weather to sending out billing notices from the local department store. 

And if it doesn't sound like woman's work--well, it just is.

("I had this idea I'd be standing at a big machine and pressing buttons all day long," says a girl who programs for a Los Angeles bank. I couldn't have been further off the track. I figure out how the computer can solve a problem, and then instruct the machine to do it."

"It's just like planning a dinner," explains Dr. Grace Hopper, now a staff scientist in systems programming for Univac. (She helped develop the first electronic digital computer, the Eniac, in 1946.) "You have to plan ahead and schedule everything so it's ready when you need it. Programming requires patience and the ability to handle detail. Women are "naturals" at computer programming."

What she's talking about is aptitude--the one most important quality a girl needs to become a programmer. She also needs a keen, logical mind. And if that zeroes out the old Billie Burek-Grace Allen image of femininity, it's about time, because this is the age of the Computer Girls. There are twenty thousand of them in the United (continued on page 54)

While looking for the rest of the article, we found many other related articles reflecting on the past, beginning of coding, gender roles, etc. Some of them include:

http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~nathanen/files/cbi-gender.pdf - study draft not to be circulated yet online

http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2011/researcher-reveals-how-%E2%80%9Ccomputer-geeks%E2%80%9D-replaced-%E2%80%9Ccomputergirls%E2%80%9D  

http://national.deseretnews.com/article/665/code-secrets-the-real-reasons-why-girls-need-to-become-computer-geeks.html



Ret. 12-9-14