Women In Comms

WiCipedia: A Female-Only Island, Gender Quotas & Twitter's Oprah

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Are quotas the answer to diversity?; women in tech on Twitter get an influx of new followers; is the tech gender gap akin to the lack of men in ballet?; and more.

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  • Leanne Pittsford, creator of Lesbians Who Tech, recently released a TED Talk about how lesbians are solving tech's diversity problem. My So-Called Gay Life describes how the organization pivoted its mission when it more clearly saw the issues around diversity in tech. Pittsford said, "...even though we're an organisation with a mission of promoting diversity in tech and creating visibility for queer women, we quickly found ourselves with a disproportionately white membership and predominantly white speakers at our first summit. My good intentions were simply not good enough. So we took a simple step and implemented quotas." Lesbians Who Tech currently has a 50% people of color requirement for event speakers, plus a 10% mandate for trans or gender non-conforming speakers. You can watch the full video below. (See WiCipedia: Seeking Female Keynoters & Recruitment Fails Women and WiCipedia: Feminist Fight Club, FinTech Femmes & Feminine Freebies.)

    To Quota or Not to Quota?

    (Source: YouTube)

  • Wearables don't always seem like the most useful investments, but the Women of Wearables (WOW) are aiming to change that. Forbes explains that WOW has endorsed "hug shirts, smart umbrellas and gloves that translate sign language on your smartphone" which are "products we actually need." WOW Founder Marija Bukovic profiles several wearables companies started by women who are making useful, everyday products in the male-dominated industry. While some are for locating lost items (we ALL need this!), others are for more serious issues, like safety alerts. We aren't surprised at all that women would be the ones creating products that other women can use in their day-to-day lives to make themselves both safer and more productive. (See WiCipedia: Brotopia Shocks, Revolar Protects & CES Disappoints and WiCipedia: Fintech Flexibility, Snap Missteps & Women of Wearables.)

  • Twitter Inc. doesn't have the strongest history of supporting or protecting female users of the social media site. Men have a much higher following -- at least in the tech world. Yet one woman did a good deed last week to boost the followers of 300 women in tech on the site. Refinery29 reports that Tracy Lee, the co-founder of This Dot Labs, tweeted out a list of 300 women in tech to follow, and the women on the list soon gained way larger networks due to Lee's highly followed account. As Refinery29 put it, "The effect was almost Oprah-like: You get a follow! Now you get a follow!" We love this example of women helping women succeed. (See WiCipedia: Twitter Threats, Diversity Hires & Oracle in Hot Seat and WiCipedia: Gender Editors, Twitter Reform & How to Be Decent.)

  • We focus on STEM here at Women in Comms, but it often comes to our attention that there's a gender gap prevalent in most major industries. While we don't necessarily think one is more important than another, some have questioned why the focus on equality in tech is so important. The Washington Examiner published a rather controversial article asking this very question, while comparing the gender gap in tech to the gender gap in ballet. The author states that the lack of men in ballet -- only a few are generally needed -- is similar to that of tech, and agrees with ex-Googler James Damore, author of the Gender Manifesto, that men in tech experience sexism because of tech companies' commitment to increasing diversity for diversity's sake. She continues, "I salute women who work in fields where they're outnumbered, but I don't appreciate or support policies that patronize women at men's expense for the sake of 'diversity' in any occupation, under any circumstances. My female friends in STEM agree, and they aren't the ones pushing for these ridiculous reparations. As for the radical feminists, you might ask them, if they feel so strongly about equal representation, why didn't they themselves pursue a degree in engineering? Expect to hear something like, 'well, I did always prefer English, and calculus was such a bore.'" We may have just met the female version of James Damore. (See Google Fires Engineer Over Gender Manifesto.)

  • After one too many male-dominated industry events, it makes sense why women might want a space of their own. That's exactly why one woman in tech created a female-only island off the coast of Finland. The South China Morning Post explained that German entrepreneur Kristina Roth founded SuperShe Island, which opens for very exclusive visitors this summer and has already received thousands of applications, after selling her massively successful IT company, Matisia Consultants. Roth said of her experience in tech, "I'm a computer scientist, and I worked only with men. Ergo, how many times did I have to listen to 'Hey blondie, what are you doing here?' And I think judging a book by its cover -- again that's a cliché -- that happens a lot in the tech world." Along with the island, Roth also created a networking and lifestyle organization called SuperShe society where women can have a female-only space, whether that's in person or on social media. So... where's our island invite?! (See Do Women-Only Co-Working Spaces Work for Women? and Why Now Is the Best Time to Join WiC in Austin.)

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

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