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WiCipedia: Cryptocurrency & a Sexism Code Word

Eryn Leavens
12/15/2017
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This week in our WiC roundup: Where are the women in cryptocurrency?; female CEOs tell tales of being pushed out of tech; international telecom companies make big moves for women; and more.


Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!


  • The rate that women leave tech -- 45% more often than their male counterparts -- speaks volumes about unequal treatment in the industry. As a Forbes article put it, "In one survey only 27% cited family as a primary reason for leaving tech. So something is forcing women out faster than men, and if it's not biology, it's bias." In a new video, The Wall Street Journal examines what's pushing women out of tech jobs, from the perspective of female CEOs in Silicon Valley. From being mistaken for assistants for lower-level male co-workers to "culture fit" being a "code word for sexism" to mansplaining, the video makes clear that the impetus for women leaving the industry at a higher rate has very little to do with the women who are actually leaving, and much more to do with the men not taking them seriously. Rachel Cook, founder and CEO of Seeds, said, "Being discouraged from talking about the nuances of this problem has been one of the biggest hurdles to addressing it." You can watch the full video below. (See WiCipedia: Endangered Species, 'the Pao Effect' & Bad Actors and WiCipedia: Tech in Africa, Female CEOs & Bingeworthy TV.)

  • In international telecom news, Saudi women are getting training in telecommunications focused on sales and repair of devices, Tahawul Tech explains. More than 5,000 Saudi women have gone through training and started working in the industry, which is a major endeavor in the mostly male workforce. Women make up only 10% of workers in Saudi Arabia, according to Arab News. Over in Tokyo, a new app is being tested to help pregnant women find available seats on public transit. News18 says the Tokyo Metro and two Japanese telecom companies are working together to verify that the app "enables pregnant women to send a message -- through the Line messaging app -- to already registered users nearby who support the initiative by offering their seats." Finally, Stuff reports that Theresa Gattung, former telecom chief executive and co-founder of My Food Bag in New Zealand, is working on a new program to advocate and assist female entrepreneurs. They are currently halfway to their goal of 500 backers, who will collectively raise $1 million for the initiative. (See WiCipedia: Middle Eastern Progress & Founders Fight Exclusion, WiCipedia: From New Zealand to the Silicon Prairie & Beyond and Fujitsu Honored for Promoting Women's Success.)

  • We often bemoan the all-white, all-male speaker line-up at industry events. Thankfully, Twitter has set out to upend that norm at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 10, 2018. The historically male event is certainly due for a shake up, CNN Money reports, as the main show's six keynote speakers are all men. Twitter, a CES sponsor, will host the "alternative" event, called #HereWeAre, and feature only high-profile women in the industry. Speakers include Recode Executive Editor Kara Swisher, NIO US CEO Padmasree Warrior and Blavity CEO Morgan DeBaun, and it will be hosted by Leslie Berland, Twitter's chief marketing officer and head of HR. The event will, of course, also be streamed on Twitter. (See WiCipedia: Gender Editors, Twitter Reform & How to Be Decent and CES 2017: WIC's Picks & What Made Us Sick.)

  • Blockchain is an industry that is nearly completely dominated by men, with only 5% to 7% of cryptocurrency users identifying as women, Forbes says. This is unusual. Even in the gaming industry, 42% of users are women, Statista notes. Yet as one of the industries with the highest growth trajectories, women are seriously missing out. According to Forbes, the gender inequality started at the very beginnings of cryptocurrency and blockchain: "While it is common knowledge that the tech industry has always had a lack of women, cryptocurrency seems to be male-dominated right from its roots. Its earliest adopters primarily included male PC gamers and cyberpunk community members. In fact, cryptocurrencies gained popularity through websites, forums and apps like Reddit and 4chan which are also constituted primarily of male users." The article suggests several solutions to this problem. So if you've got a thick skin and are looking for a new industry to break into, cryptocurrency may be for you. (See WiCipedia: 'Build Up, Never Tear Down'.)

  • What's a big taboo after a year of sexual harassment outings, pay inequality and general discrimination? Boosting the number of "eye-candy" models at tech events. Mercury News says that Bay Area companies are on thin ice (and morals) for upping their events with some hired help. The article states, "Several agencies providing models for events said a 'record number' of tech firms are quietly paying up to $200 an hour for each model hired to 'chat up' party-goers." And these aren't the product demo ladies of yesteryear. "Models come and interact with these awkward male engineers who may not be able to socialize with members of the opposite sex or bring a date." Totally believable, right?! (See WiCipedia: UK's Crackdown & a Go-Go No-Go and WiCipedia: From Topless Robots to Killer Airbags.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

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    ErynLeavens
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    ErynLeavens,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/18/2017 | 5:11:50 PM
    Re: Women in Technology
    That's a very good and very scary point. I'm not sure it will be such a small subset in years to come though, which is maybe even scarier!
    danielcawrey
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    danielcawrey,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/18/2017 | 4:59:19 PM
    Re: Women in Technology
    Only a very small subset of the population knows and understands cryptocurrencies. It's really too bad that the industry isn't more inclusive. You have to wonder if the whole thing was designed without inclusion even being a part of the equation. 
    ErynLeavens
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    ErynLeavens,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    12/15/2017 | 1:43:32 PM
    Re: Women in Technology
    Sexism certainly exists in all industries, though it's way worse in some than others. Women should be encouraged to pursue all industries, and I think the real reason should be passion and interest, not money. Someone who has no interest in tech or law or finance isn't going to be happy in the industry just because they're making more money than they would as an artist or a writer, if that's truly what they want to do. 

    Perhaps if we were called Women in Law or Women in Finance we could encourage more girls and women to pursue those fields, but since we focus on telecom and tech over here, we can't always cover all the bases. I would argue though that crytocurrency has an equal stake in finance as it does in tech, and we often cover other financial sectors, such as fintech. I don't believe money is the answer to every career decision though.
    DavidCooper
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    DavidCooper,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/15/2017 | 1:10:43 PM
    Women in Technology
    I agree that sexism exists in all industries. However the fact that there is a disproportionate number of male  engineers is no reason to encourage female students to study technology and engineering. Other professions such as law or finance are on average better paid, at least in the UK, and actively encouraging young girls to strive to enter engineering and technology could actually reduce their lifetime earnings. If girls are encouraged into particular professions, it should be on the basis that they pay well, not simply because there is a disproportionate number of males in that industry.

    Encouraging young girls into engineering could end up disadvantaging them, and worstening gender inequality, if it diverts them from a career in law or finance. 
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