CIO Briefing


Meet a Solar Farm Scientist Who Wants to Help Native American Communities Become More Sustainable

By Caitlin Fairchild // May 29, 2015

Suzanne Singer of the Energy Department.
Suzanne Singer of the Energy Department. // Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Suzanne Singer works as an energy thermal fluids analyst at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the Energy Department. Her main passion is in solar forecasting, which helps predict how much energy the panels in a solar farm will produce.

Singer's other focus is using her research to reach out to native tribes around the country. 

"One thing I'm passionate about is to help tribes become more sustainable using their own resources and intellectual capacity." Singer said. "The interactions between culture and energy and the environment is very important."

She also encourages students on tribal reservations to become involved in energy research and even follow a STEM career path.

"There's not that many Native American people who are studying energy or are familiar with what's actually happening," Singer said. "Being able to interact with students and younger people is really critical."

Watch Singer discuss the importance of STEM in the video from the Energy Department below: 

Inbox Zero vs. Inbox 5,000: A Unified Theory

By Joe Pinsker // The Atlantic // May 27, 2015


For some, it’s a spider. For others, it’s an unexpected run-in with an ex. But for me, discomfort is a dot with a number in it: 1,328 unread-message notifications? I just can’t fathom how anyone lives like that.

How is it that some people remain calm as unread messages trickle into their inboxes and then roost there unattended, while others can’t sit still knowing that there are bolded-black emails and red-dotted Slack messages? I may operate toward the extreme end of compulsive notification-eliminators, but surveys suggest I’m not alone: One 2012 study found that 70 percent of work emails were attended to within six seconds of their arrival.

This has led me to a theory that there are two types of emailers in the world: Those who can comfortably ignore unread notifications, and those who feel the need to take action immediately.

So what puts people in one camp or the other? Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at University of California, Irvine, has explored just this sort of question. A few years ago, she ran a study in which office workers were cut off from using email for one workweek and were equipped...

Advice for Job-Switchers and Newbies From Google’s Hiring Chief

By Max Nisen // Quartz // April 29, 2015

Mark Lennihan/AP File Photo

Google HR chief Laszlo Bock has been just about everywhere lately, promoting his book on the extremely data-focused approach to hiring and management he has created at the search and tech giant. His team’s research has helped the company stop asking older candidates for GPA and test scores, and determined that the optimal number of interviews is only four.

His latest venue was a Reddit AMA yesterday, where Bock offered some valuable and specific tips for employers, older applicants and job-switching lawyers.

For over-40 engineers

Google employees tend to be on the young side, but Bock had some encouragement and a word of advice for an over-40 developer that should apply to everyone: Always phrase your accomplishments in a very specific way.

Google hires people of every age … our oldest Googler is over 80! Best advice is to make clear the impact of your work. Basically, for all your accomplishments use the format “accomplished X by doing Y as measured by Z.” Please apply!

The best possible interview question

It turns out there isn’t one, something Bock is still trying to teach employees who rely on Google’s infamous and officially discouraged “brainteasers”:

There’s no best question...

Trio of DC's Top Female Coders Hail from Federal Innovation Shop

By Hallie Golden // April 29, 2015


Three employees of 18F, the digital fix-it arm of the federal government, were honored at Tuesday night’s inaugural DCFemTech awards, recognizing the D.C. area's top female programmers.

18F tied only with AOL as the organization with the most employees honored.

Out of a pool of almost 80 nominees, 30 women were selected by a committee based on the impact their programming work has had on their organization and the community, as well as the level of complexity in their code.

The awards were organized by DCFemTech, a collective that collaborates and shares resources as it works to expand the presence of females working in the tech field while helping those already in it.

“We decided that some sort of awards would be a great way to not only recognize the achievement of women that fly under the radar very frequently, but also to raise attention to the topic of women in tech, and specifically furthering the cause of getting more women in technology positions in Washington, D.C.,” Shana Glenzer, co-organizer of DCFemTech, said in an interview with Nextgov.

(Rich Kessler Photography)

Each person who submitted a nominee was required to answer the question, “How did this...

Good News About Hiring Women in STEM, but, it’s Not Enough

By David Miller // Quartz // April 22, 2015


Scientists prefer women to similarly qualified men for tenure-track faculty positions, according to a new experiment published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS).

Cornell University researchers Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci sent narrative summaries of hypothetical male and female tenure-track applicants to 873 science and engineering faculty across the US. Across a wide variety of conditions spanning five experiments, faculty raters selected female applicants over male applicants by a factor of two to one.

The new experimental results echo earlier real-world data about faculty hiring. A 2010 National Research Council report, for instance, found that the proportion of women among tenure-track applicants increased substantially as jobseekers advanced through the process from applying to receiving job offers in six STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields.

percentage women offered jobs
The taller red bars show the higher percentage of women offered jobs compared to the percent in the original applicant pool.(National Research Council (2010) David Miller, NRC Data, CC BY)

The new results that paint a rosier picture of gender equity in STEM hiring, however, seem to contradict earlier studies such as a 2012 PNAS study that found gender biases favoring male college graduates applying for lab manager positions.

However, Williams...