This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Gender diversity in AI; female entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa; Fitbit fails women with new feature; and more.
Join Women in Comms for a breakfast workshop and networking at the NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver on September 26. The workshop is open to all women and men in the telecommunications, STEM and IT fields –
communications service providers get in free!
Fitbit is the latest company to come under fire for a feature intended for women that was clearly created by men. The Next Web reports that the activity-monitoring app and device allows users to track menstrual cycles, but only if they fit within a window of ten days or less. This belatedly released feature also clearly doesn't reflect the range of hormones that women may experience, as it only allows users to choose from five menstruation symptoms. Fitbit users on social media and online forums have questioned who exactly created this feature -- apparently not a woman. One user wrote in an online forum, "Locking the entire female population into a 10 day period makes me wonder how many women were involved in creating this feature... please fix." This is a prime example of why diversity matters when creating products intended for a wide range of consumers. (See Why Diversity of Geeks in Tech Matters.)
We've talked a lot before about the dearth of women at tech conferences, though we haven't seen a whole lot about how to improve the gender ratio at conferences, or what to do when you're the only women in a conference hall. Quartz published an article recently about this very issue. Considering "90% of [high-level women who work in tech] said they have witnessed sexist behavior offsite and at industry conferences," it's an important topic to tackle. The article stresses the need for a "conference code of conduct that emphasizes sexual harassment, demeaning comments, stalking, and intimidation will not be tolerated," along with an on-site anti-harassment officer. There should be a designated conference location for discussing issues related to gender, along with including it in more mainstream locations. Additionally, featuring plenty of female keynoters should be a priority, and there should be discounts and childcare for female attendees. If these ideas were all implemented, this would be a pretty kick-ass conference. (See WiCipedia: Programmer Motivators, Affordable Childcare & All-Female Panels and WiCipedia: Best Places to Work & Restroom Lines Tell All.)
Female entrepreneurs are few and far between, yet an unlikely location sees them in higher percentages than expected. The Sierra Leone Times says that sub-Saharan Africa has some of the highest rates of women who are entrepreneurs -- some countries reach nearly 35%, which is a global high. But there's a caveat:
"Most of these businesses tend to have no employees and have low growth expectations: they are, for the most part, one-woman enterprises oriented to consumers," a CNN report explains. While women in Africa are starting businesses at higher rates, it seems they simply don't have the resources or support in order to get off the ground to become fully fledged self-sustaining businesses. (See WiCipedia: Tech in Africa, Female CEOs & Bingeworthy TV.)
A blog post on Jisc tackles the topic of gender dysphoria in the workplace, and how transitioning from one gender to another can change how co-workers treat someone. Chloe Gilbert, a male-to-female developer and architect, documents her 27 years working in IT and how her experience shifted when she fully transitioned. She writes, "At the start of my transition, I was overlooked a lot more in meetings, something that genuinely surprised me. I've even noticed it happening to other women ... Unconscious bias is also very real -- and I've been really surprised how some people assumed that since transitioning, my technical knowledge has somehow been removed." Gilbert has some great tips in the blog about how to support yourself or someone else during a transition. (See WiCipedia: Open Office Fishbowls & Trans Women in Tech.)
With 'the talent' all on holiday we're left with Jamie and Ray for this week's installment. The dynamic duo both had a chat with a senior Ericsson bod about its cunning US 5G investment plans, and Jamie updates us on what Samsung is up to -- namely its AI efforts, 5G and a seemingly pointless Bixby. Lastly, Ray ponders the vacant Cisco position in its service ...
Cisco's top service provider executive is moving quickly to create value for carrier class software in a hardware-based business and helping her customers reach unheard of levels of automation in their networks. Watch this most recent conversation with Yvette Kanouff to find just how well Cisco's service provider business fits in with the rest of the company's ...
Technology can be learned, but critical thinking, decision making and verbal communication are the career-making skills that are transferable and crucial in a digital transformation, says Jennifer Kyriakakis, Matrixx Software's co-founder and VP of marketing.
Parallel Wireless is focused on making networks more flexible under the guidance of Co-Founder and VP of Development Kaitki Agarwal, who shares her thoughts on the industry's most game-changing technologies – past, present and future – as well as offering advice for other female founders with a great idea.
Heidi Westbrook, Fujitsu's director of ICP and North American Carrier Sales, shares the secrets to advancing in comms with a work/life balance in tact, including networking, self-advocacy, unapologetically pursuing the next step and more.
Service providers are refreshing their IMS and looking for real cloud native IMS functions, according to Micaela Giuhat, Metaswitch's VP of product management, Cloud Native Core, who shares her thoughts on everything from container-based approach to VNFs to her experiences and advice as a leading woman in comms.
At the Big Communications Event (BCE) 2018 event in Austin, Melissa Arnoldi, president of Technology and Operations at AT&T, spoke about AT&T's path to 5G and the important role software plays. 5G will eventually have a significant impact on how businesses work and how they engage with their customers.
Executive Producer Janet Leahy, President of Arrow Solutions Kathy Boelter, CEO of Women of Wall Street Karen Ashworth Macfarlane and the Founder and CEO of Corporate Cowgirl Up Wendy Bohling join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas in Denver to discuss ways to combat sexual harassment in the workplace, help women advance and level the playing field.
DALLAS -- Automation Everywhere -- Srilakshmi Valisammagari, senior technologist & strategist - SDN/NFV Innovations for Verizon, addresses the operators' efforts to deliver automation to enterprise customers via Verizon Service Designer. Valisammagari says Verizon Service Designer simplifies the process flow -- from service design to implementation to provisioning ...