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Category: Women in STEM

Reflecting on 2016

The beginning of a new year is a good time to look back on the previous 12 months and take stock of everything that happened. Here’s a quick recap of a very busy year:

In 2016, the XPRTs travelled quite a bit. Eric went to CES in Las Vegas, Mark attended MWC in Barcelona, and Bill flew out to IDF16 in Shenzhen.

We also sent a team to Seattle for the first XPRT Women Code-A-Thon, an event we’re very proud to have sponsored and co-hosted along with ChickTech, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in tech-related fields. The Code-a-thon also served as inspiration for an eight-part video series entitled Women Coding for Change. The series explains the motivation behind the Code-a-thon and profiles several of the participants. If you haven’t watched the videos, check them out. They’re well worth the time.

Speaking of videos, we also published one about Nebula Wolf, the mini-game workload produced through our first collaboration with the North Carolina State Senior Design Center. That experience was promising enough for us to partner with another student team this past fall, which resulted in a virtual reality app that we hope to share with the community in the near future.

Of course, we also continued work on our suite of benchmark tools and related resources. We released TouchXPRT 2016 to the public, published the Exploring TouchXPRT 2016 white paper, and released the TouchXPRT 2016 source code to community members.

In 2016, we unveiled the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight, a new way for device vendors and manufacturers to share verified test results with buyers around the world. We put 46 devices in the spotlight throughout the year and published Back-to-School, Black Friday, and Holiday device showcases.

In the last quarter of 2016, we celebrated our most widely-used benchmark, WebXPRT, passing the 100,000-run milestone. WebXPRT is still going strong and is as useful and relevant as ever!

Finally, we ended the year with the exciting news that we’re moving forward with efforts to develop a machine-learning performance evaluation tool. We look forward to engaging with the community in the coming year as we tackle this challenge!

As always, we’re grateful for everyone who’s helped to make the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community a strong, vibrant, and relevant resource for people all around the world. Here’s to a great 2017!


Why we sponsored the XPRT Women Code-a-thon

Have you been watching our “Women Coding for Change” series? Sarah wrote about them four weeks ago, and we just released the latest video in the series. We’re thrilled to be sharing them with you, and as part of the team that worked on them, I wanted to tell you a little about why we created these videos.

We wanted to give you, the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community, a window into the code-a-thon itself. We wanted to introduce you to the participants and show their work. But most importantly, we wanted to shed some light on the issue this code-a-thon addressed: the enormous gender gap in computer science.

As you may have already seen in “The Problem,” women hold just 22% of software development jobs. In high school, girls are only 22% of AP Computer Science test-takers. Women are generally underrepresented in STEM fields, but computer science is an especially male-dominated field.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a problem to you. But the fact is, this gender gap hurts all of us. As technology becomes a larger part of all of our lives, the people who build and test technology increasingly shape how—and for whom—the world works. When women aren’t part of that group, it’s more likely that new technology won’t work as well as it could for everyone. Because computer scientists are 78% men, computer science as a whole is missing valuable input from those with different experiences.

And that’s just the beginning. The field is growing faster than we can keep up with it. In four years, 1.4 million computing-related jobs will be open in the United States. But at current graduation rates, we won’t be able to fill even a third of those jobs. That’s partially because there are so few women in computer science. If we could get more women to join the field, we’d be much closer to having 1.4 million skilled computer science workers to take those jobs and help our economy.

There’s one last reason we wanted to make these videos: representation. A 2013 study found that in family films and prime time TV, women represented only between eight and 34 percent of computer scientists. When young women see depictions of computer scientists in the media, they’re likely seeing people who don’t look like them.

The “Women Coding for Change” series shows an alternative picture. Women were the vast majority of participants and coordinators in the XPRT Women Code-a-thon. In the video series, viewers can meet those women and hear about their experiences.

That’s why the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community co-sponsored the code-a-thon in the first place. And it’s why we think these videos are so important. Once you understand the problem, you’re better able to help. (For more on how to take action, click here.) All of us need to be actively working to fix this issue. Take a look at the first six videos, and watch for new episodes coming soon.

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