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WIT – be offended, be visible and stop feeling guilty!

Top tips from adidas’ Nicola Marie Beste – plan for your hour of power

By Madeline Bennett of Diginomica

Imposter syndrome; a lack of helpful role models ; female students discouraged from tech subjects; unconscious bias: these are all common themes that recur during discussions around diversity and gender in technology.

At the recent Women of Silicon Roundabout event, Nicola Marie Beste, Senior Director Projects & Programs at adidas, presented some practical ways women working in IT can overcome these challenges. Beste has encountered plenty of the above during her 20 years working in IT. Her aim now is to help other women succeed in the tech sector, but also to encourage organisations to embrace flexible working for all staff.
Here are her top tips for surviving and thriving in IT.

Call out casual sexism

Beste’s first experience of sexism at work came in her 20s, when she was working as a coder and risk assessor. She was invited to work with a team of 30 systems and manufacturing engineers, tasked with designing a manufacturing simulation system and developing its engine:

I researched, I read about it – I didn’t know a lot about engines so I really studied. I wanted to make sure I was going to be the best risk facilitator there so that I was able to help these people with their great minds come up with a solution.

Beste’s efforts paid off and she managed to help the team find a way to do the project. After the session, they all went for lunch. During the meal, a senior member of the group turned to her to offer some feedback:

He said, ‘When you took your jacket off, people listened to you much more.’ I took a deep breath and said, ‘You have deeply offended me. I spent ages working out how to make this group come up with the solution that we have and it’s not ok and I am offended.’

Then I ran to the loo, had a little bit of a cry.


I decided right there and then that’s enough. It’s not ok to have sexism in the workplace, it’s not ok to make little jokes like that and it’s certainly not ok to say something like that to a young woman in a lunch break. And it is ok to say ‘I’m offended and don’t say that again’ and it’s best to say it out loud and publicly.

Protect your time

Beste insisted that nobody should be working 60 or 70 hours a week. Instead, we should be more clever with our time, and this means starting the week knowing what you intend to do and protecting that time.

Finding your supporters within and outside the workplace is vital to proper time management. One of Beste’s key supporters is her husband, who also works in tech. They sit down every Sunday, get out their calendars, and plan who’ll pick up their two teenage children, drop them off and take them to their doctor’s appointment.

It also pays to seek out employers who truly embrace the concept of flexible working. Before starting at adidas, Beste was working from home and was very nervous about taking a job back in an office with two small kids to look after. But she took the plunge and decided to join adidas after a promise of flexible hours and an on-site kindergarten.

Beste organised a summer play scheme for her kids so she could fully focus on those first few weeks at work – but then on her first day realised that her childcare finished at 5pm rather than 6pm. Her new boss’s reaction proved she had joined the right business: the response was, block out 4pm in your calendar for the next six weeks, let your colleagues know where you are, and go pick up your kids:

You have to give everybody a break. When you’re talking about planning and having your supporters, you need to make sure that you’re not adding a little bit of that ‘She’s not doing her job, she left at 3pm again today’. Men have kids too – that’s how it happens. Make sure your guys also have that time when they need it.

Flexi hours for all – not just parents

Flexible working shouldn’t just be about people with kids, according to Beste. Everyone should be given the opportunity to take some time to do something different, and will become better workers for it:

Maybe you’re a single person, maybe you want to go to a theatre group, maybe you want to go for a run at lunchtime, maybe you want to learn a new language. Whatever it is, you need to make sure you leave time for yourself because if you don’t develop as a person, you’re not going to be a good employee either. We really believe that at adidas. So think about making sure you plan your time. It’s  not a crime to go home on time.

Of course, not all employers are as supportive as adidas, so what was Beste’s advice for those women working at less forward-thinking employers? Start working for someone else, in short. All companies should promote learning for their staff, Beste maintains, as if they’re not savvy to the latest trends, how can they be the best person at work and outside it.

No-one’s perfect

We spend too much time trying to get a certain look or be a certain way, and feeling like a failure if we don’t achieve it, Beste said:

I feel guilty I ate that muffin but it tasted delicious, I feel guilty that I didn’t do sport this morn, I feel guilty that I didn’t have time to talk to some of my team leaders who are going through a difficult situation, I feel guilty that my son wasn’t there when I called last night and I didn’t call back to talk to him, I feel guilty that I’m feeling a bit nervous if I’m doing a good presentation right now.

We have to stop feeling guilty. You can’t do it all. Things go wrong all the time and that’s ok. You can fail. Stop feeling guilty all the time, when you leave on time, when you’re giving your kids time, if you want to go and do something that isn’t your job. It doesn’t mean you’re not passionate about your job. You’re looking after yourself and you’re looking after your company.

Be visible

Beste noted that many of the women in the audience during her session were sat at the back, despite lots of empty free seats at the front. She urged everyone to sit at the front and be visible rather than hiding at the back.

And women need to “stop taking the minutes” – it might be you who has the next idea on how to make your company’s API integration faster, or how to connect that back-end ERP system to the finance system and make it work smoothly:

How can you say that if you’re always the one taking the notes? We’re not a bunch of secretaries, we shouldn’t be doing that. When you come to a meeting, sit at the front of the table and make sure people know you’re there.

Keep learning

Being visible comes with a caveat though – don’t sit upfront and push your ideas if you don’t know the answers. IT is constantly changing, and therefore you have to constantly learn. Beste said:

I want to encourage you all as technical women to never stand still with that. Plan your hour of power.

The hour of power is a scheme initiated by adidas’ CIO for everyone to have an hour in their week to learn something, with the time blocked out in their calendar as an out of office. Beste explained this could be anything from what Google or Uber are doing, to digging deeper into an emerging technology like blockchain or researching a buzzword you heard and want to learn about:

Make sure you learn. As women we need to promote ourselves as technical people and the way to get to the top of your game is to know what you’re talking about, understand the latest trends and make sure when you do sit at the table, you’re able to articulate it and be the best. If you’ve got your devices with you, why don’t you plan [your hour] now?

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WIT: Making Tech Truly Diverse Calls for New Tactics and Renewed Commitment

 

 

By Brenda Darden Wilkerson

This column is part of a series called “Voices of Women in Tech,” created in collaboration with AnitaB.org, a global enterprise that supports women in technical fields, as well as the organizations that employ them and the academic institutions training the next generation.

So much time, effort, and expense go into fixing tech’s diversity problem — why have we seen so little progress?

The proof of our failure is in the data. The 2017 Top Companies for Women Technologists report, which measured more than 547,000 technologists across 63 organizations, showed a mere 1.2 percent year-over-year increase in the number of women in technical roles. Women’s representation in midlevel, senior, and executive roles saw considerably smaller increases of .2 percent, .6 percent, and 1 percent respectively. 

These numbers are likely far higher than the industry at large, since Top Companies participants are already committed to measuring their progress. For women of color, the numbers are even more disheartening. The meager increases in women’s representation have gone almost entirely to white women and women of Asian descent.

For years, tech companies have followed a similar formula to diversify their workforces. They host affinity groups, they hold sensitivity training, they tweak hiring processes. But all of these efforts have yielded scant benefits. If the tech industry continues to “improve” at the current rate, it will take decades before we reach gender parity, and even longer before our workforce accurately reflects the population at large. Clearly, something’s gotta give.

All of us have to be brave and admit that what we’ve been doing is simply not working. We need to face the real data, scrap fruitless initiatives, and take an entirely new approach. This is no time to give in to diversity fatigue!

Why do so many organizations continue to fail? For some, there’s a gap between the desire to look good and the actual effort that progress requires. But even executives with perfect motivations are finding themselves looking at stagnant diversity stats. And I know this is true, because I’m one of them.

I’m the leader of AnitaB.org, the leading organization devoted to the advancement of women in technology. We host the annual Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s biggest gathering of women technologists. We administer Top Companies for Women Technologists, the only program that provides a consistent benchmark of the technical workforce across a wide range of industries.

We are, by all rights, true experts in fostering diversity. And yet, looking at our own internal diversity numbers, I could see no other answer: We had not only failed to move the needle, by most measures we had actually regressed. How could we continue to pressure the industry around us for greater diversity when we ourselves were not able to improve as we intended?

Clearly, we need a new approach. Here’s what we’re advocating: First, the change has to start at the very top. When our board of trustees sought a new CEO for our organization — someone to continue the incredible work that Anita Borg herself began in 1997 — they took a very rare step. Not only did they interview me, a black woman technologist, they hired me. By doing so, they were making a clear statement: It was time for this organization to take the necessary steps toward fully recognizing the intersectionality of the women we serve, and of our own team doing that work.

As part of a series of changes under my leadership, we have hired our first HR director. She’s implementing significantly stronger HR policies and procedures to foster more inclusivity and equity, and helping us adjust our hiring practices — where we advertise, how we assemble interview panels, and other tactical steps — to help us attract a more diverse candidate pool. We’re also requiring that every hiring manager assemble a truly inclusive group of prospective employees. 

When we add to our team, leaders must consider candidates with a variety of intersections, including age, gender, race and ability. We’re also focused on capturing our racial and ethnic data more accurately, especially for those team members who identify with more than one group, to better measure our progress.

 

Right now, I’m also personally vetting every hire we make to ensure we’ve drawn from a broad pool, and that we are bringing on talent that truly reflects the richness of the communities we serve. This commitment takes time away from my other projects, but we accept this trade-off because it’s important to set the tone from the top, and because we cannot continue to operate as we always have.

We’re also focusing on promoting and retaining a diverse set of talented employees — because, frankly, we’ve lost some good people who we wanted to keep. As we always tell the companies who work with us, fixing the “leaky pipeline” is not enough. We cannot hire our way out of this problem. We must fix our retention and promotion process, not simply in addition to hiring better, but first and foremost. 

At our core, we’re technologists: Solving problems is what we do best. We need to focus the same skills that have made technology companies the vanguard of economic growth — disruption and innovation — onto the issues that threaten our industry’s progress.

To win the innovation wars, to fill empty seats, to create products that delight customers, change must start with leadership. Visionary leaders need to make bold moves and acknowledge the depth of the issue. We need to throw out initiatives that haven’t made an impact, look at real data, and build a better way forward. Companies that undertake a new approach are the companies that are going to see change.
And it has to start with those of us who do the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion on a daily basis. 

Already, we’ve seen some progress. Our diversity numbers so far this year look very different than they did at the end of 2017. And, as we set a new baseline and measure ourselves against it, we will be better able to identify places where we’ve improved and those where we’ve regressed, codifying our tactics for future gains. We don’t expect everything to work perfectly — there is no silver bullet — but we do expect to take honest and unflinching measurements of what does move the needle.

Fixing tech’s diversity issues is truly personal for me, and for everyone who works at AnitaB.org. As we offer ourselves as an example, we want the companies we work with to know we’re willing to do the same critical work and, as leaders, hold ourselves personally accountable in the same ways that we’re demanding of them. 

Brenda Darden Wilkerson serves as the President and CEO of
AnitaB.org, an organization working to shape public opinion about issues of critical importance to women technologists in academia, industry, and government.

Weekly Round Up 8/3/18

 

But no warnings for Presidents colluding with Foreign Powers to steal our democracy? That seems fair.
Senate warns tech companies on foreign interference: ‘Time is running out’

 

You know Jeff Bezos is so pissed right now….
$1 trillion market cap Apple says a big swing in a behind-the-scenes tech pricing will boost future earnings

 

Unless they’re planning on hacking his Twitter account, it’s a moot point.
The ACLU is building a tech dream team. Your move, Trump

 

The most liberal city in the country is going to force workers eat fast food?! WTF?!
San Francisco Officials to Tech Workers: Buy Your Lunch

 

They need to hurry up because I’m going to need a pair very soon.
The future is ear: Why “hearables” are finally tech’s next big thing

Anyone who’s bought their produce in Walmart can tell you this is total bullish*t…
$2B suit claims Walmart stole tech that helps keep produce fresh

 

Yeah, where was all that research money when the Kardashians came on the scene, you f*ckers?!
Tech’s impact on kids: Lawmakers push for research

I’m down for anything that will help get those Bridezilla shows cancelled.
The Benefits (and Limits) of Using Tech to Plan a Wedding

WIT: Women in tech – it’s not about being Wonder Woman!

Women working in IT bemoan the lack of relatable role models

By Madeline Bennett of diginomica.com

Quick quiz for you – name the first woman in tech that comes into your head.

If I could do a tally of the answers, I reckon there’s a good chance that names like Martha Lane Fox, Sheryl Sandberg, Meg Whitman and Marissa Meyer would crop up regularly. This well-known group have all proved you can make it to the top in technology as a woman.

But how valuable are they as inspiration for young women making decisions about whether to take a computing A-level or degree over French, English or Geography? Or whether to consider an apprenticeship or career in technology even though it’s still a heavily male-dominated arena?

Not very, according to attendees at the recent Women of Silicon Roundabout event in London. It’s well accepted that role models play a vital part in encouraging more women to join the tech industry. But as Jen Grant, CMO at Looker, noted during a panel discussion on attracting the next generation of tech talent, it’s always Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Meyer whose names come up. The problem is, these women aren’t particularly relatable to the majority of young women at school, university or early in their careers, and so Grant would like to see a broader range of people highlighted as role models for women in tech.

Justine Haworth, Global Head of Digital Engagement at HSBC, feels that there is less of a link between young women and the IT industry now than there was when she joined the sector 30 years ago as a graduate trainee. It’s now either geeks in basements or superwomen, she explained:

“I don’t think we describe roles in technology and roles in science in a way that females can relate to them. Today, we don’t make them attractive. There are a lot of stereotypes that we associate with jobs in technology – darkened basements, hoodies, green screens.

Even when you look nowadays at female role models in science and technology in films, they’re always portrayed almost as super-heroines, as something really different. It feels really unattainable, [young women] can’t relate to it because [they] don’t understand where [their] skills fit in this sort of world. Films like Black Panther, you’ve got these super geeky girls, there’s nowhere in between. It’s shrouded in a lack of realism.”

Jo Morfee, Founder at InnovateHer, called for more role models who are everyday, normal human beings, real people achieving in the world of technology and solving real-world problems. She gave the example of UK startup Open Bionics, which makes low-cost 3D-printed prosthetics for amputees. The firm partnered with Disney to create limbs modeled on Iron Man or Elsa from Frozen, and has succeeded in making them more accessible and affordable for its target audience of young children. Now, rather than kids being asked how they lost a limb, they get asked how they got their cool robot hand.

But this mentality of finding ways to broaden the appeal of technology hasn’t made its way into the early years schooling system yet. Morfee referred to 2017 research from Centrica, which revealed that both male and female teachers feel STEM careers are better suited to men than women.

Morfee’s colleague Chelsea Slater, Founder at InnovateHer, said there is still a barrier in education for girls not feeling they have a place in the technology industry, and this is affecting their choice of subjects to study and career paths to pursue. Slater added:

“A lot of teachers are telling them they can become teachers, nurses, doctors, hairdressers, things that tend to be a little bit more caring and that girls get boxed into. The boys are getting told to go into engineering and science.”

Slater gave the example of a 15 year-old girl she was mentoring last year, who loves engineering and wanted to study the subject as a GCSE. Her teacher declined her request as she would be the only girl in the class.

Fortunately, she persuaded a friend to take the course with her and so was allowed on to it.

The problem here is that teachers are so overworked and under-resourced, Slater maintains, that they are pushing the traditional roles and career paths onto girls and boys because that’s all they know.

Progress

While work is clearly needed within the education sector to ensure teachers are aware of the opportunities out there for young women in STEM, this year’s Women in Silicon Roundabout conference demonstrated the strides made on the corporate side. The event, which is only in its third year, attracted 4,500 attendees, almost four times as many as 2017. It had sponsorship from some of the biggest names on the global business stage – Goldman Sachs, HSBC, BP, Adidas, Sainsbury’s Argos, AstraZeneca to name a few – as well as the big guns of the tech world, from Google to Ebay to Amazon.

Only a few years ago, diversity in tech events would have failed to attract much interest outside the technology sector. Now, organizations in every industry are rushing to throw their money and opinions behind the cause – but how much of this is due to them truly valuing and understanding the importance of diversity and inclusivity? And how much is just paying lip service to the latest trendy cause, the new greenwash?

Haworth believes that by sponsoring women in tech events and making data available for projects like the Tech Talent Charter, shows firms like HSBC are heading in the right direction:

“We’re working at a time when we’re trying to reverse decades of unconscious and conscious bias. I’m really encouraged by the commitment at the top of my organization around both diversity and inclusion. It’s not just about having the right distribution of people. All of those people have to be allowed to fulfill their potential so we as a bank can fulfill our potential.”

HSBC leadership is well aware, Haworth added, of the data that demonstrates where the bank has diverse leadership teams, those teams make better decisions and those decisions lead to better business outcomes, and hence an improvement in profitability.

But balanced against this awareness of the benefits of diversity, is the stark reality of the ongoing battle for tech talent. Haworth sees a risk that the lack of skilled technology staff might lead to firms diminishing their diversity efforts to just get the vacancies filled.

HSBC, which currently has 1,000 open technology vacancies across the world, is taking steps to ensure diversity does not get sidelined. All its hiring managers are undergoing specialist training to reduce and eliminate bias, and to ensure they are tailoring interviews to reflect that men and women demonstrate their skills better in different ways. Haworth added:

“I would love for over 50% of those roles in technology in its broadest sense – they’re not just engineering roles, they’re product manager, project manager, data scientist, optimisation specialist – wouldn’t it be amazing if over 50 percent of those roles were taken by females? Together we can make this happen.

There is a disproportionate number of females at the top, HSBC included, but when you go to the middle and lower management layers, that’s not the case. We’ve all got a role to play in making this happen. There will always be people who pay lip service, but our strength as females is our unity.”

My take

What struck me most when listening to the views shared by the panel were those relating to the school-age girls, exactly the people we want to be including in diversity efforts. Slater’s example of a young woman being turned away from an engineering course as she’d be the only female is an attitude I’d have expected from teachers 20 or even 10 years ago. That young women are still being discouraged from taking STEM courses, rather than teachers welcoming them and making an effort to actively recruit more girls, is alarming.

I’ve also raised the point before that women in technology events often promote those who’ve already reached the top or have done something incredible and unique.  So Haworth’s point about super heroines certainly rang true; let’s hear a little less about Sheryl Sandberg and Shuri*, and more from the everyday female software developers, systems engineers and product managers, who are just a few rungs up the ladder from school children considering their options.

*Black Panther’s super heroine technology genius

WIT: Silicon Valley poll: Women face daunting roadblocks in male-dominated tech

Pay gaps, harassment and a restroom three floors down.

By Katy Murphy of BayAreaNews

Women in the Bay Area’s male-dominated tech world have a strikingly dimmer view of gender equality at work than women in other sectors, according to a new poll that offers the deepest look to date at local employees’ attitudes on pay parity, workplace opportunity and sexual harassment.

In an industry whose sexist reputation is dramatized in court cases and parodied in situation comedies, women in tech say the obstacles they face are all too real: Half of those polled said they feel women have fewer opportunities for advancement at their current workplaces than men, and 43 percent said they are paid less. In contrast, fewer than one-third of Bay Area women outside of tech felt held back or underpaid because of their gender.

Months after the #MeToo movement began to topple power brokers from Hollywood to Congress, the poll found that women in tech were far more likely than women elsewhere to say they had been subjected to unwelcome sexual advances or harassment at work, with more than 4 in 10 saying they had been harassed at their current jobs. Despite those experiences, women in tech, like two-thirds of all respondents, believe the national reckoning will bring lasting change.

The findings of the poll, conducted for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and this news organization, point to the roadblocks, both glaring and subtle, that gender researchers say still await many women at work — particularly in tech, one of the most dynamic and lucrative slices of the economy.

Women remain so vastly outnumbered in this notoriously male-centric industry that writer Emily Chang called it a “Brotopia” in her new book about Silicon Valley. And the string of recent grievances relating to tech’s treatment of women runs from Susan Fowler’s viral account last year of the sexism and harassment she experienced as an engineer at Uber to the uproar over the case of fired Google engineer James Damore, who wrote a memo suggesting biological differences might partly explain the lack of women in tech.

“Women leave the tech industry not necessarily because there wasn’t good maternity leave or flexible work schedules,” said Gwen K. Young, who directs the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative at the Wilson Center, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. “They say it’s the culture and the way men treat them.”

Alicia Lent, a 24-year-old engineer in the semiconductor industry, will never forget the day she went to teach a class in a sprawling factory and asked where the restroom was.

“They said, ‘Oh yeah, the closest women’s bathroom is three stories down,’ because they converted the women’s bathroom to a men’s bathroom,” she said. “They said there’s not enough women to justify a women’s bathroom on every floor.”

Lent felt being a computer science major in college — where she was sometimes the only woman in the class — not only imparted technical know-how, she said, it helped her “bulk up” for the reality of the workforce, where today she is one of two women on a team of 12 people, a job she enjoys. When working in pairs in college, she said, “I felt like I had to do good or no one would trust a woman as a lab partner again.”

Researchers say such experiences are typical in male-dominated departments and industries such as tech. The share of women earning undergraduate degrees in computer science fell dramatically after the 1980s and has since held steady at around 20 percent, a worrisome figure for those pushing for gender parity in the industry.

Stanford and UC Berkeley have begun to reverse the trend on their campuses, in part by making introductory computer science courses accessible to those with no previous programming experience. John DeNero, an assistant teaching professor who helped develop the new courses at UC Berkeley, said he is encouraged by how easily the female graduates he knows are landing entry-level jobs in tech.
When they go out to look for work, he said, “They are highly sought after.”
But mid-career women often encounter stagnation, researchers say.

national study of female scientists and engineers led by UC Hastings law school professor Joan C. Williams suggested that bias pushed women out of the STEM workforce, with two-thirds of women saying they were required to prove themselves repeatedly and the same share having their commitment and competence questioned after having children. Nearly half of the black and Latina women in the study said they had been mistaken for administrative or custodial employees.

Of Fortune 500’s 20 biggest Bay Area tech companies ranked by revenue, just one — Oracle — has a woman in charge: Safra Catz, who shares the title of CEO with Mark Hurd. Last week , the prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz hired its first-ever female general partner, former federal prosecutor and cryptocurrency expert Katie Haun.

Danielle Rhinehart, 35, of San Jose, has held an array of jobs in tech, from office manager to entertainment coordinator. She says she would love to do something more creative but has sometimes felt pigeon-holed — a circumstance she isn’t sure whether to attribute to her gender or to a narrow view of the type of administrative positions through which women often start at major tech companies.

“The more I talk to other women in this industry and others, just professional working women,” she said, “that’s the theme I hear — getting stuck in an administrative role, not being able to be seen as something more.”

The new poll also highlights a disconnect between the sexes over the perception of gender inequality. Just 26 percent of men in tech polled said they thought women lacked the same opportunities for advancement as men in their current workplaces, compared to 50 percent of women in the same sector.

Overall, 35 percent of women and 24 percent of men polled believed women had fewer opportunities where they work than men, findings in line with a recent national survey.

“I don’t think there’s companies right now that are going deliberately out of their way to make sure a girl doesn’t get the job strictly because she’s a girl,” said Rohit Basu, a 21-year-old economics major from Brentwood who is doing a data analytics internship at a local company this summer. “I think it comes down to the skills you have.”

Anthony Defreitas, a 33-year-old software engineer from San Mateo whose team of 20 includes five women, said he believes women at the places he has worked have been treated fairly. He said he hadn’t heard otherwise or witnessed overt discrimination. Still, he thinks companies like his might approach problem-solving differently with more women at the table.

“It’s not uncommon for there to be only one or two women in a room of about a dozen people,” Defreitas said. “I’ve thought at times, ‘If I were the only guy in this meeting, how would I feel?’ ”

Gender equity experts say it is important for managers to listen to the experiences of women and other minority groups at work and to take a closer look at policies — such as job descriptions, performance reviews and task assignments — they might mistakenly assume to be objective.

“Sometimes they’re just shocked. They didn’t realize all of that was going on,” said Catherine Ashcraft, director of research at the National Center for Women & Information Technology, which works with Google, Apple, Intel and other leading tech firms on diversity initiatives.

The poll did find an overwhelming belief — among tech workers and those in other fields — that the changes propelled by the #MeToo movement are here to stay. About two-thirds of those surveyed, including 71 percent of women under 40, predicted the recent attention to the problem of sexual harassment would bring lasting change, slightly higher than the findings of a similarly worded national poll earlier this year.

Kimberly Chun, a journalist-turned-user-experience writer in her late 40s who lives in Alameda, is hopeful. #MeToo seems to be re-shaping the public’s perceptions of harassment, she said, by shining a light on “outrageous allegations of bad behavior” and encouraging people to share their experiences and outrage on social media.

Chun described a flurry of impromptu conversations about sexual harassment and gender discrimination at work after the movement exploded last fall, with a push to create changes in the office. It was energizing, she said. But, she noted, “I don’t see more female vice presidents or leaders at my company.”

Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, said the poll’s finding about the lasting impact of the #MeToo movement was heartening, but only to a point.

“We have to build on that optimism with specific goals and a plan to get there,” he said, “and whether it’s a for-profit company or a nonprofit like ours, we can’t just pretend or hope or be optimistic that it will get better.”

Do you feel any progress has been made with gender equality in the Tech Sector? Sound off in the comments below!

WIT: We need more women in tech in order to get more women in tech

The problem becomes exponentially easier to solve once you’ve begun to solve it.

 

By David Yang and Nimit Maru of Recode.net

While the United States is seeing more women in leadership positions within politics and even classic old-boys-industries like finance, the tech sector can’t say the same. More startups than ever — 70 percent, to be exact — have absolutely no women on their boards of directors, and the same is true for their executive-level employees: More than half of all startups have entirely male executive teams.

And when we drill down to the computing sector — where are nested the kinds of jobs we train students for — the numbers are even more dire: The percentage of computing occupations held by women has declined sharply since the early 1990s, when it peaked at just over 35 percent of occupations held by women, despite the fact that slightly more than half of all college grads are women.

So what does this tell us? It tells us that our current efforts either aren’t working or aren’t being applied on a grand enough scale.

We need to start earlier.

We need to get everyone on board. “Diversity and inclusion,” while incredibly important as an initiative, can’t be viewed as merely that, a siloed initiative that happens in parallel with the same old ways of doing things or is overlaid at the end of projects to make sure everything looks kosher to outsiders. It has to be interwoven into an organization’s protocols.

Women, for example, have to feel comfortable being emotional in workplace conversations and not feel like they can’t bring that part of themselves to the job just because men are taught to operate that way. The default way of conducting business can’t be the “male” way.

Minorities have to feel that micro-aggressions will be taken seriously and not written off as “sensitivities” or “overreactions.” And companies have to go beyond “token” employees — because hiring only one woman or one person of color can be exhausting for that person and cause them to leave. It comes down to this: Companies can’t work toward moving the needle on big issues and then gloss over the small things.

Those little, interpersonal things add up to company culture, no matter what the values on the website say, and it’s precisely the day-to-day concerns that will drive women and people of color away, no matter how much energy a company puts into big-picture efforts.

We also need to come to a cultural understanding that the opposite of systematic disadvantage is systematic advantage. Though that seems obvious enough, initiatives like the Grace Hopper Program, which offer benefits exclusively to women, get a lot of pushback from men (and women, surprisingly enough) who see these policies as “sexist” and ultimately damaging to women, sending the message that women need a helping hand and undermining the idea of women as independent and just as strong as men. But the truth is that women do need at least one helping hand in light of the many hands that have held them down for so long. It’s one thing to say that women aren’t inherently less capable; of course they aren’t. But it’s essential to recognize that society has enforced handicaps, and women’s inherent abilities aren’t the only factors at play.

We’ve seen these same arguments against systematic advantage in the affirmative action context — that built-in preference of historically disadvantaged groups is somehow damaging to those groups. But you won’t see those who argue against affirmative action or scholarships for minorities or deferred tuition for women also arguing against the tacit advantage that majority groups have had for centuries, if not millennia. And that’s because the adage is true: When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. Majority groups that have been unfairly advantaged for too long see any even minute reduction in that unfair advantage as an all-out attack.

We know that initiatives like the Grace Hopper Program’s deferred-tuition model — where women train now and pay only once they find full-time, in-field employment — work. Take Leila Loezer, for example, a Grace Hopper grad originally from Brazil. She came to the U.S. in 2008, and after reading about our unique tuition model in the Women Who Code newsletter, completed our program and was ultimately hired by the New York Stock Exchange.

So it’s on all of us, but especially organizations with a strong following, a wide reach and high-profile leadership, to articulate both the general need for and their specific support for systematic advantage as a tool to combat systematic disadvantage. In this way, we can scale up these efforts — because more women in the industry naturally begets more women in the industry, and the problem becomes exponentially easier to solve once you’ve begun to solve it.

Some 94 percent of Grace Hopper grads ultimately find full-time, in-field work, which means that every year, we’re injecting hundreds of high-quality female engineers into the tech sector. But it also means that those female engineers will attract even more female engineers.

A study from 2016 revealed that 85 percent of jobs are filled via networking and referrals. When both your team and the industry are majority male, you can bet your referrals are going to be majority male. So the snake eats its tail and the problem proliferates.

But when women — who have likely found support in small, women-friendly communities like Girl Develop It, Women Who Code, Black Girls Code, etc. — join your organization, suddenly your pipeline includes those very targeted groups. And more importantly, when many of the women from those groups see your company as more friendly and more accessible — you already employ a woman they know — they suddenly have a chance at employment that they didn’t have before.

What do think needs to be done in order to get more women into the Tech world? Tell us in the comments below!

WIT: This Silicon Valley exec has dedicated her career to empowering women. Has it worked?

 

By Shanon Gupta of CNN Tech

When Sukhinder Singh Cassidy would look around boardrooms, all she’d see were men.

In her 20-plus year career in Silicon Valley, she had only sat on one gender-balanced company board.

“The candor of discussion among all participants was definitely stronger on [that] board,” the entrepreneur told CNNMoney. Cassidy knew there had to be a way to increase the representation of women.

Her solution? Hire more women directors.

“There are a number of seats in the boardroom, versus just one seat as CEO,” she explained. That makes the boardroom the perfect place to gather diverse perspectives.

Three years ago, she created theBoardlist, a site that connects female leaders with opportunities on tech company boards — 75% to 78% of which have no women at all, according to the company’s research.

The site invites executives and investors to help identify and recommend candidates. So far, more than 2,000 female business leaders have joined the site.

Since its launch, theBoardlist says it’s helped place more than 100 women on private and public company boards, including Aparna Chennapragada to Capital One’s board in March.

Before launching the theBoardlist, Cassidy was the founder and CEO of the online shopping network, Joyus, and the CEO of Polyvore, a website that allowed users to make fashion collages. This year, she became the president of Stubhub.

CNNMoney asked Cassidy about her fight to make Silicon Valley more inclusive for women, the power of #MeToo and the scariest part about running her own business.

Where did you find your inspiration for TheBoardlist?

I was a serial entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, serving on public boards, and asked by a venture capitalist, “What can we do to solve the problem for women in tech?” (He was referring to the lack of women in the tech industry.)


I suggested that 100% of VCs in the valley could act now by putting a great woman leader on the board of every company they funded. I believed we could change the game significantly with this one simple act at the top.

While I pitched the idea to him and several other VCs, none took me up on the offer. A year later, I continued to be frustrated by the continued narrative about how there were so few women in tech, and I wanted to provide a tangible solution.

I reached out to 50 influential leaders in Silicon Valley and they helped me launch theBoardlist in less than 45 days.

Has the #MeToo movement had an impact on theBoardlist’s goals or mission?

Our mission has not changed from the day we launched: improve gender diversity in the boardroom.

What has changed is the environment in which we operate. Movements like #MeToo have brought greater visibility and accountability to behavior in the workplace, causing more people to seek out ways to address the issue.

So, while our mission hasn’t changed, the urgency and demand for solutions like theBoardlist have certainly increased.

Have attitudes toward women in Silicon Valley changed since you launched three years ago?

There has definitely been movement in the right direction.

TheBoardlist recently highlighted 30 public and private tech companies that have at least one woman on their board. We receive requests from men and women alike every day for qualified female talent to fill open board seats.

But, when we look at the overall picture — with theBoardlist’s research showing that only 7% of board seats at private tech companies filled by women — we know we still have a long way to go.

What’s the scariest part of your job?

The scariest part is living in constant uncertainty over a period of years, not months.

As a founder and CEO in the tech industry there are two big truths: Change is constant and timing is everything.

Innovation de facto means doing something different from the status quo. But consumers may not yet be ready to adopt even the best new ideas, despite what you build.

And while you are trying to find the right product for the market, the landscape itself keeps changing with new competitors and other companies also pivoting into your space. This creates even more uncertainty.

While I’ve gotten comfortable living with constant change, the fear of pouring all I’ve got into a company or idea and knowing it might not pan out never quite goes away.

If I could tell my 18-year-old self one thing, what would it be?

To relax. It all works out as it’s supposed to for each of us.
I was even more intense and impatient when I was younger, but I did ultimately find my place in Silicon Valley where I thrived by embracing my strengths and going where they were valued.
I believe you can’t “force” everything to happen, but you can feel confident that if you know who you are and focus on excelling in one or two areas where you shine, you will find your professional and personal success.

What brings you the most joy?

Personally, my children and family and being with them. Professionally, its building new experiences that consumers love and working with tremendous people along the way to achieve that goal.

If you could have dinner with any influential figure from any time period, who would it be with and why?

Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Gandhi, because I’m awed by leaders who embrace their resisters and create change over very long periods of time using patience and calm, peaceful protest.

This is often in contrast to the high speed, highly competitive and rapid return mindset we practice in industries like technology. Seeing the lasting and global impact of leaders of this type is inspiring on both a leadership level, but also a deeply personal one.

I’m especially inspired by their abilities to create change using fundamentally different skills than the ones I have.

What do you want to be remembered for?

Creating and building new joyful, delightful or empowering experiences that lots of people love to use.

I’d also like to be remembered as someone who was able to accelerate the success of others throughout my professional career, and who always acted with great authenticity and integrity.

What’s something most people probably don’t know about you?

My parents were doctors, but my father loved being an entrepreneur as much as he loved medicine.

He exposed me to every aspect of his business from a very young age and taught me the value of working for myself. I look back on him today and understand the power of being raised by the quintessential entrepreneur.

If you weren’t a founder and CEO, what would you be?

I’d be a film producer because I loved making movies in high school and am always moved by the power of great storytelling through film.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Work really hard and do great work for great people. There is no substitute for the value of putting your head down and being known as the person who will over deliver without ever needing to be asked.

Weekly Round Up 6/15/18

 

Um, anything more sophisticated than the Self-Check out lines in Walmart will be hard for the American Public to master, guys.
No more grocery checkout lines: Microsoft may rival Amazon with tech that cuts out the cashier

 

Well, if nothing else is working….
Using tech to stop phone-wielding drivers

 

We don’t hear enough good things about Tech these days….
6 ways tracking tech is changing the world for the better

Whatever happened to just going to camp and being a kid?
NDSU summer tech camp designed to encourage young girls to pursue a career in technology

My favorite story of the week…
Apple closing tech loophole police use to crack iPhones

Please God, No. Make it Stop.
Drone swarms are the new fireworks lighting up China’s skies

 

Trump will never be able to wrap his tiny, barely used brain around this….
The Guy Who Created Oculus Has Now Made Surveillance Tech That Acts As A Virtual Border Wall

Literally what they do best….
Apple Shuns the Tech Industry’s Apology Tour

WIT: Supermodel Karlie Kloss’ videos showcase brilliant women in tech

Following up on her coding camps, the next step in the Kode With Klossy initiative is highlighting role models in science and tech.

 

By Katie Collins of CNet

Women perform vital work in science and technology every day. Yet their stories often go untold, leaving girls short of visible role models.

Supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss wants to help change this by shining a light on women who can inspire the next generation of female techies and scientists.
Kloss released on Tuesday a four-part video series called Trailblazers of STEAM to showcase the work of eight women in tech and science who are pushing boundaries in their fields. STEAM, a variant of STEM, stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Each episode examines a different niche — games, food, mobility and space — to show the wide variety of jobs within science and technology. The interviews, which include former NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, dig into their work and what it’s like being a woman in their fields. Kloss doesn’t shy away from asking her subjects about the challenges they’ve encountered and overcome, including how others perceive them and how they’ve handled their own internal struggles.

Kloss had already been focusing on tech through her Kode With Klossy initiative that runs coding camps for teenage girls across the US. 
Kloss told CNET over email about her hopes for the series, which is a collaboration with Ford STEAM Experience, the car company’s education outreach program.

Q. When you spoke to the amazing women featured in the videos, all of whom work in different STEAM-related fields, what things in their careers did they have in common that helped them get to where they are today?

Kloss: They all shared this unrelenting drive and passion for what they do. It was really awesome to spend a day in their worlds and get to see their determination in action. What also struck me was that each of the women I met for the series talked about experiencing uncertainty or self-doubt at different points in their careers — whether in college, grad school or at their first entry level jobs. They didn’t let those feelings of self-doubt stop them from working hard and pursuing their passions. Everyone has experienced self-doubt at one point or another and it’s important to openly acknowledge those feelings but not let them get in the way of your success.

Q: What would be your advice to a young woman who wanted to work in a STEAM field, but didn’t know where to focus her learning or what path to pursue?

Kloss: To start, apply for Kode With Klossy! We help girls access hands-on computer science education and connect with a community of other women in STEAM. It’s a great place to start!

Beyond applying to our program, my advice for any girl interested in pursuing a career in STEAM is to identify your passions (fashion, social justice, music, etc.) and find out how technology is being applied to those passions. The incredible thing about code, and the first lesson we teach our Kode With Klossy scholars, is that code is a really creative language that can be applied to every industry and space. This series is living proof of how technology is shaping everything from food to gaming to space exploration.

Q: Tell me something you learned about an aspect of science or technology while making the series that blew you away.

Kloss: Talking to each woman in the series was eye-opening, but as someone who is interested in both health and the environment, I was really fascinated by my conversation with Lina Pruitt, a process engineer at Beyond Meat. She uses science and engineering to create a plant-based meat substitute that looks and cooks just like meat. We talked about both the environmental and health impacts of food waste and meat consumption, as well as the future of food and what that means for our world. Food is one of those industries that doesn’t always seem scientific, though in reality, is heavily influenced by STEAM. That’s one of our goals with this series — to show how STEAM intersects with and can applied to whatever industry you’re passionate about.

Q: What do you hope people take away from this series and what do you hope their wider impact will be? 

Kloss: Our goal is to address the notion that “you can’t be what you can’t see.” By highlighting these real, accomplished women and their career paths, we hope that young women and girls can visualize themselves in similar positions. We wanted to show our viewers what a career in STEAM actually looks like and how code can be applied to a number of different industries.

Even outside of STEAM, our goal is to celebrate women bringing hard work and creativity to their endeavors. One cool, behind-the-scenes tidbit about the series is that our production team was women-led, including our amazing director Eliza McNitt. It was important for us and the broader Kode With Klossy mission that the series was by-women-for-women.

What do think of Karlie Kloss’ STEM initiative? Sound off in the comments below!

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