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WiCipedia: Apple's Diversity Dilemma & Women Have Tech Edge, Study Finds

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Watch your words to avoid the chopping block; Valley-ites expand to less tech-centric locales; LinkedIn works to close the STEM gap early; 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!

  • One misconstrued comment could land you on the chopping block these days, which is what has happened to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s Diversity Vice President Denise Young Smith, who has been at the company for only six months. Following her comment about what diversity really means last month at a conference, Smith issued an apology, but it apparently wasn't enough. To recap, during a speech onstage, Smith stated, "There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they're going to be diverse too because they're going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation." Smith will be replaced by Deloitte Development LLC 's Christie Smith, News One reports, while the original Smith has accepted a position as an executive-in-residence at Cornell Tech come 2018. Check out Christie Smith's powerful TEDx talk about the cost of not bringing your whole self to work below. (See WiCipedia: Herstory, Apple Diversity Stagnates & Queen Bees and WiCipedia: Gender Editors, Twitter Reform & How to Be Decent.)

  • LinkedIn Corp. is taking closing the STEM gap into its own hands with its high school trainee program. GirlTalkHQ explains that the Linkedin Women In Tech High School Trainee Program's goal is to "inspire the next generation of women in tech." The program matches high school girls with summer internships on software engineering teams, and so far, a staggering 96% of the girls plan to major in STEM in college. Erica Lockheimer, head of growth engineering and women in tech at LinkedIn, said, "Computer science is still considered by many to be a 'boys only' field, but this is clearly not the case. The High School Trainee Program aims to change this notion by mentoring female students, increasing their confidence, and showing them women do belong in STEM." (See WiCipedia: Int'l Day of the Girl & Sephora Shows the Ropes.)

  • A new article on Medium piqued our interest this week. Blockchain Engineer Preethi Kasireddy wrote about her decision to leave a successful career in Silicon Valley to pursue tech in Los Angeles. Though the article isn't specifically about her experience as a double minority in the Valley, it is about diversity, and how a lack of it can breed groupthink. Kasireddy writes that she realized the Valley had become particularly homogenous, and that there was no reason her home base had to be there when her entire job was in her computer. Furthermore, LA offers more diversity on all fronts: "Meeting a diverse group of people not just doing tech is frankly refreshing. I've had a blast learning from people who are in non-tech fields like fashion, media, entertainment, art, real estate, etc.," which can be inspiring in itself. Considering how hard hit many companies in Silicon Valley were in 2017, a change of scenery sounds like it may be a solid plan for many techies. (See WiCipedia: Girls Code, Valley Shame & GE's Big Plan.)

  • Women in venture capital (VC) are some of the rarest of the rare, and while many may think that's not a favorable position to be in, Kimmy Scotti, a founding partner at 8VC, a San Francisco VC fund, says that the rarity has a silver lining. In an article on Quartz, Scotti states, "In this industry, so much deal flow comes from the fact that founders remember you're a person they should be reaching out to and that you'd be a good partner. It's very easy to remember one of very few women in a sea of hundreds of men." She adds that the different viewpoints women bring to the table are also benefits. (See WiCipedia: Queen of Code, Female VCs & STEM Expectations.)

  • A new study finds that women pick up on tech skills better than men do. Forbes explains that the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program's report, "Digitalization and the American Workforce," reveals "women are slightly ahead of men when it comes to developing tech skills needed for employment" in the US. Women received a composite score of 48 while men received a score of 45. The study was comprehensive, covering digital requirements for 90% of the US workforce, and taking into account "the knowledge, skills, tools and technology, education and training, work context, and work activities required." Hiring managers, we'll be watching you next time you say there just aren't minorities out there with the needed skillsets. (See Startup's President on Squashing Self-Imposed Setbacks.)

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

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