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WiCipedia: Twitter Threats, Diversity Hires & Oracle in Hot Seat

Eryn Leavens
10/6/2017
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This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Female founders face Twitter harassment; Amazon needs a new opener; Oracle has lawsuit battle ahead; 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!


  • It seems every angle of gender discrimination has been chewed over again and again, but an article in Forbes made a refreshing point: Who do you want to make money for? Because that's what it all comes down to, right? One female tech accelerator CEO said, "Who owns companies? You get teams who roll in with a woman, and I'm like, 'great, how much [of the company] does she own?' " She continued that while companies may appear inclusive, the women representing the companies are often just for show and have very little actual stake in the company. The article focuses on raising capital for entrepreneurs, but this can really apply to anyone working in any position. (See Women Who Tech Gives $85K to Female-Led VR & AI Startups and The Power of Women-Owned Businesses.)

  • Women who have an online presence are no strangers to harassment. And often, harassers hiding behind screens feel they have nothing to lose. Not so in the case of Xyla Foxlin, a 20-year-old startup founder and college student who received rape threats and other terrifying harassment, including her home address broadcasted. Business Insider reports that while her first attempts to shut down her stalker via Twitter and the police failed (neither took the threats seriously), Foxlin was able file a subpoena, use her women-in-tech network to track down the attacker's personal info via Twitter and locate the owner of the account. Now here's the big surprise: The account belonged to a woman in the same robotics program as Foxlin. The author of the article writes, "'It was two months of not knowing who to trust,' Foxlin said. 'It's incredibly emotionally draining and time consuming to pursue it. But being silent and bottling it up makes it worse.' Although Business Insider saw about a dozen tweets and DMs sent by the harasser, most of them are too explicit to share." This isn't the first incident of Twitter endangering women in tech by not taking complaints seriously, unfortunately. (See WiCipedia: 'Build Up, Never Tear Down'.)

    Xyla Foxlin's Microsoft Surface Commercial(Source: YouTube)

  • Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) is the latest tech company under fire for wage discrimination. USA Today says that the company is being hit with a lawsuit representing all women who have worked there since 2013. The article states, "The case alleges that Oracle's actions towards its female employees are 'immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous, and offensive.'... According to the Labor Department, 1,207 women work at Oracle in the same product development class as the women filing the suit." In other words, the number isn't listed, but if Oracle loses the case, they're going to owe a boatload of money. Though Oracle has attempted to level the playing field recently by upping its ratio of female board members, offering unconscious bias training and committing to a diversity effort, it all comes down to the moolah. (See Google Shares Gender-Blind Pay Policies and US Sues Oracle for Pay, Hiring Discrimination.)

  • Amazon had a particularly embarrassing email backfire to a potential new hire recently, The Register explains. An Amazon Web Services Inc. recruiter sent a female software engineer an email with the subject line "Diversity HIRE :: JOB :: Software Engineer @ Amazon," encouraging her to apply for the position. As The Register put it, "It may as well have started with: 'Dear token minority...' " In a statement, Amazon praised itself for its commitment to diversity measures and high pay, but did not address the email subject line. You can see the full statement here. (See 40% of Minority Tech Engineers Report Experiencing Bias.)

  • CNET reports that while a steady amount of female college students are enrolled in entry-level computer science classes, it doesn't stay that way for long. Referencing "The state of women in computer science: An investigative report," the article lists the "variety of reasons for this decline between freshman year and graduation, including a lack of women role models, professors and even study partners, as well as the usual run-ins with intentional or unintentional stereotyping and sexism. One MIT student said a professor had made comments like 'Some of you should be getting married soon.' " The percentage of female computer science majors stands currently at just 18%. (See WiCipedia: Alternative College & Male Separatism and Trump Commits $200M to Improving STEM in Schools.)

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

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    kq4ym
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    kq4ym,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    10/18/2017 | 8:59:50 AM
    Re: MIT prof
    It is still surprising to see such bad behavior happening is places where one would think intelligence would reign. But with the ease of reporting incidents via social media and instant internet news, I would suspect we're going to read such reports with increasing frequency.
    ErynLeavens
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    ErynLeavens,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    10/10/2017 | 2:13:15 PM
    Re: MIT prof
    That seems like a very literal take, but you're right that we don't have more context so it could have meant something less misogynistic and more historical. I wouldn't put my money on it though. I tried finding more info but there's nothing.
    lstark
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    lstark,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    10/8/2017 | 5:01:02 PM
    Re: MIT prof
    Let's keep in mind that the word "should" is frequently used to indicate compliance with historical trends, not as a moral imperitive. For example, "it's 4pm already. The freeways should be filling up with rush hour traffic." History shows that many young men and women in their late teens, even at MIT, are will be married in a few years. Of course, I wasn't there, so i can't interpret what was actually intended.  
    ErynLeavens
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    ErynLeavens,
    User Rank: Light Sabre
    10/6/2017 | 12:58:24 PM
    MIT prof
    I was pretty shocked to see the MIT prof's comment about how female students should be getting married soon. If ANYONE has made it to MIT, wouldn't you think they have a pretty promising professional career ahead of them? I wonder how old the professor is... 
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