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Tech Companies Try to Fight Unconscious Bias in Hiring by Making Job Candidates Fight Coding Bots

By Ananya Bhattacharya // Quartz // October 31, 2016

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A startup in Silicon Valley is challenging conventional hiring practices in the white, male-dominated world of tech by giving coders a platform to be tested on their raw talent.

San Francisco-based CodeFights offers a gamified coding platform for job-seeking programmers to reach recruiters by performing well—but also anonymously—on coding challenges. First launched in 2014, the platform offers coders the opportunity to battle each other, or bots, and earn points for accuracy and speed. High performers who reach a “critical point” in the game are then given the option to connect with employers. Last month, the company released its newest mode, a level-by-level solo game in the style of Candy Crush, called Code Arcade.

Codefights CEO Tigran Sloyan says his avid participation in local and international math olympiads in high school gave him the idea to apply game design to math and programming skills. The goal was to create addictive games that help players improve and prove their competencies, without having their race, gender or backgrounds come into play.

“The biggest problem with diversity in tech is that humans are too involved in the skill evaluation process," Sloyan says. “We tend to like people who have a similar background...

Slack’s Growth Is Slowing, Just as it Faces Facebook Workplace

By Joon Ian Wong // Quartz // October 24, 2016

Konstantin Chagin/Shutterstock.com

Slack, the company that made office messaging apps cool, is seeing its torrid growth slow, even as a far larger rival has emerged. That would be Facebook Workplace, which launched Oct. 10. Workplace is undercutting Slack on price and leveraging its consumer version’s existing userbase of 1.7 billion monthly active users.

Slack’s growth to date is nothing to sniff at, hitting 4 million daily active users in four years, which translates into $100 million in annualized revenue. But its success means its performance will now inevitably be compared to the growth of Workplace. Here are Slack’s latest numbers DAU numbers.

Drill down a little deeper and we see growth slowing significantly, for both total daily actives, which includes free accounts, and “paid seats,” which cost $6.67 and up for each account.

Year-on-year growth Daily active users Paid seats
Oct. 2015 568% 544%
Oct. 2016 135% 166%
Source: Slack

Slack still has a considerable headstart over Workplace in providing chat accounts to workers. It reports 33,000 paid “teams” currently, compared to the 1,000 companies Facebook says has been using Workplace in closed testing. A direct comparison is a little tricky, as each company could...

Video: Charging the Federal Government Up About Electric Vehicles

By Caitlin Fairchild // October 21, 2016

Flat vector illustr, ... ]
Flat vector illustr, ... ] // petovarga/Shutterstock.com

The Energy Department wants to encourage more people to use electric vehicles for their commutes. To do that, the agency has begun the Workplace Charging Challenge to further the adoption of the more environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

The challenge aims to partner with 500 U.S. employers offering workplace charging by 2018. Currently, 380 employers are on board. Federal agencies are coming on board as well, too: 18 have already provided more than 200 charging stations to employees.

"Federal employees can serve as prime candidates as adopters of electric vehicles," said Nay Chehab, of the Energy Department's vehicle technologies office. "In fact, workers are six times more likely to drive an electric vehicle if they have access to charging stations at their workplaces."

To learn more, check out the video below from the Energy Department: 

The Percentage of Computing Jobs in the US Held by Women is Expected to Shrink

By Neha Thirani Bagri // Quartz // October 20, 2016

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

HBO’s "Silicon Valley" depicts the U.S. tech industry as dominated by geeky men in sweatshirts. But the satire isn’t far from reality. Despite efforts to the reduce the gender gap in technology, a new study by Accenture and Girls Who Code, a nonprofit dedicated to closing the gender gap in computing, predicts women’s share of computing jobs in the U.S. is going to narrow even more if steps aren’t immediately taken to the address the issue.

Women currently hold 24 percent of the jobs in computing—a level that has held steady since 2011, according to data from Girls Who Code. That percentage is likely to fall to 22 percent by 2025 if no new efforts are made to create and sustain young women’s interest in computing, from junior high to university, the report finds.

To reach their findings, Accenture and Girls Who Code created a model to estimate future changes in the participation of women in computing and the impact on women’s earnings. They also carried out qualitative research among girls aged 12 to 18 years old, undergraduates, young workers, parents and teachers, to determine which factors impact decisions to study...

Getting Real on Diversity in Tech: Three Tactics That Will Actually Make a Change

By Lauren Alix Brown // Quartz // October 17, 2016

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

On Oct. 13, at Quartz’s The Next Billion conference in San Francisco, I had the privilege of moderating a panel on diversity in tech with Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code, and Kate Mitchell, a co-founder of Scale Venture Partners.

Panelists like these notwithstanding, the tech industry is powered largely by white men, from developers and product managers all the way up to founders, CEOs, and the venture capitalists who fund them. Even when big companies like Intel and Facebook put forth efforts to change their hiring and career-retention processes, change is slow to come.

Mitchell and Bryant offered insight into the tactics they use to make tech more inclusive. Here are three that we can all learn from, and apply in any industry sector:

Take the risk to talk candidly about diversity

Mitchell spoke about the importance of taking risks in the way that we speak about diversity.

“That risk that you all have to take, for men, [is] learning to ask questions,” says Mitchell. “I say to men, I learned, to sit down in the communities of color. ‘Is it Latino/Latina or is it Hispanic? What is the right phraseology I should use?’ ‘Is...

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