This week in our WiCipedia roundup: California revamps boardroom diversity policies; women of color are barely represented in tech; VC survival tips; 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!
India's Telecom Secretary, Aruna Sundararajan, has taken a firm stance on education policies for women in India's male-dominated culture, The Economic Times states. Many girls and women in India are not permitted to pursue higher education or a career, and instead their families choose early marriage for them. "We have [a] peculiar syndrome where women outnumber men as students but [the] majority of them never go out to realise their professional dreams because their parents believe that once they have acquired a degree then they should get married. That is a first grade tragedy because number of people in India who get access to higher education is very small," she said at a local university for women. Sundararajan has partnered with Cisco to launch the "thingQbator" makerspace to "drive innovation in the areas of Internet of Things (IoT) and other emerging digital technologies" with the hope that women will have more opportunities if they are interested in working in tech. (See WiCipedia: Int'l Day of the Girl & Sephora Shows the Ropes.)
California is breaking new ground with a policy that would give the old boys' club boardroom a much-needed makeover. TechCrunch reports that the Golden State is attempting to mandate that companies headquartered in California have at least one woman on their board -- yet it is meeting opposition in getting the policy passed. Two female senators are spearheading the bill, Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins of San Diego. Jackson said, "Gender diversity brings a variety of perspectives to the table that can help foster new and innovative ideas. It's not only the right thing to do, it's good for a company's bottom line." Yet those opposing it -- women included -- say the bill is limited in scope and focuses on only one aspect of diversity. We will know by the end of this month if the bill, which has already cleared the Senate, also clears the Assembly and passes. (See WiCipedia: Diversity Fatigue & 'Unprotected' Minorities at Google and Why Telstra's COO Thinks Diversity of Thought Matters Most.)
What Decade Are We in Again?
We've talked a few times lately about what happens when trans people are perceived differently at work post-transition, yet we generally hear the male-to-female perspective. A fascinating New York Times article covered the other side of the coin this past week, and we felt it was important to share. The article is written by Thomas Page McBee, a trans man who was surprised at the unexpected effect that his transition had on how he was treated as a man, compared to his previous life where he was treated as a woman. He also dissects the unintended consequence of falling into the age-old act of mansplaining: "I could hold an entire meeting hostage as I worked through a half-formed idea, watching as heads swiveled toward me in silent, animal unison, waiting patiently for me to finish even as I stumbled through a thought. In the past, I might not have had the confidence to even volunteer a thought without rehearsing it first. Now, more than once, I would catch myself midramble and wonder: Am I mansplaining?" (See WiCipedia: Open Office Fishbowls & Trans Women in Tech and WiCipedia: AI for Social Good & a Fitbit Fail for Women.)
While it's undeniable that some progress has been made to increase diversity in tech, it often doesn't feel as though the results match the effort. This is very true for women of color. CNET analyzed a range of recent studies about diversity in tech, and summarized that despite all of the publicity and diversity efforts, women of color make up only 4% of tech workers, and there doesn't seem to be a quick fix. "The current and pervasive lack of racial/ethnic and gender diversity in the technology ecosystem presents a significant national challenge," said the recent Women and Girls of Color in Computing report from the Kapor Center, Pivotal Ventures and Arizona State University's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology. We're curious to find out the next step for double minorities. (See WiCipedia: Jobs That Matter, Fembot Overlords & Tech Aids in Work-Life Balance.)
We all know that raising VC money as a woman is different than doing the exact same thing as a man, so these "survival tips" on raising capital as a woman on CMS Newswire were very welcome. Leslie Feinzaig, CEO and Founder of the Female Founders Alliance (FFA), advised that when women are looking to raise money they need to be "bombastic" -- or in other words, "be overtly and vocally confident." This is how men present themselves, and though we don't believe women should have to act like men to get ahead in business, this particular tip may propel women towards boatloads of money. Feinzaig has some other tips to go along with this, such as demonstrating your potential and bragging about how awesome you are (we've slightly rephrased this tip). If you're looking for more concrete tips, check out the FFA's four-week program, Ready Set Raise, on how to raise seed money.
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading