Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Brotopia Shocks, Revolar Protects & CES Disappoints

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: A forthcoming book about Silicon Valley life is more than a bit shocking; CES is lacking in female keynoters; a new gadget keeps women safe on the go; and more.

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  • It's 2018, and we're all ready for a fresh start. Looking to kickstart your career or find your true passion? Forbes has some tips for getting ahead in tech in 2018. While the tips from Forbes aren't exactly groundbreaking ("Learn new skills!" "Ask for that raise!"), much like New Year's resolutions, they're a good reminder to take stock of our (career) blessings and take action on what we want to change in the future. And according to these predictions from The New York Times, we're going to need all the help we can get. (See WiC New Year's Resolutions.)

  • A new book called Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley, uncovers some of the more illicit sides of Silicon Valley. Author Emily Chang published part of the forthcoming book in an article on Vanity Fair, describing the drug- and sex-fueled parties of the tech elite. Chang describes the parties as secretive yet unabashed -- all in a normal month for the male illuminati yet more of a sinister rite of passage for the women involved. "If you do participate in these sex parties, don't ever think about starting a company or having someone invest in you. Those doors get shut. But if you don't participate, you're shut out. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't," Chang writes. The men involved don't necessarily see anything wrong in their behavior. Change continues, "They don't necessarily see themselves as predatory. When they look in the mirror, they see individuals setting a new paradigm of behavior by pushing the boundaries of social mores and values," yet it's clear that the women, who are much lower on the tech totem pole, don't agree. We'll definitely be pre-ordering Brotopia for the full scoop. (See WiCipedia: Edtech Wins, Bitcoin Bros & Looking Towards 2018.)

    We can't make this stuff up.
    We can't make this stuff up.

  • After the backlash of the #MeToo movement (and perhaps Brotopia), it's a particularly good time for a new app that safeguards women from sexual assault. Meet Revolar, a wearable GPS tracking device created by two Latina sisters to protect women by tracking their location and facilitating easy check-ins with family members while on the go, Latina Media Ventures explains in an interview with co-founder Jacqueline Ros. The device is currently a keychain design, though jewelry options are forthcoming. When asked how Revolar is different from other tech safety options for women, Ros said, "First and foremost, it's a device built by minorities for minorities. Most people in Tech have a hard time relating to the female or minority experience. My co-founder and I always say, 'we built this for us because we know that fear.' I know what it's like to feel afraid walking at night, I know what it's like to be assaulted. We built Revolar to be a simple but highly intuitive and an empathetic tool." (See WiCipedia: #MeToo Hits the Valley & WiC Goes to London and Idea Cellular Offers Women Private Recharge.)

  • Headed to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and looking forward to all of those groundbreaking female keynotes ringing in 2018? Think again, Fast Company advises. Though there was speculation that women might take the main stage at CES this year, apparently plans fell through. That's not to say that there won't be female speakers presenting at the event -- there are 28 female speakers (along with 26 male speakers) listed for sub-conference events, just no big-name keynotes. Light Reading's Mari Silbey will be attending the mega-conference, so we may have more updates soon. In the meantime, check out this tongue-in-cheek blog about being the only woman at a tech conference. (See 5 Trends to Watch at CES 2018 and CES 2017: WIC's Picks & What Made Us Sick.)

  • Fashion has been taking a front seat in the news recently, but not in the way you might think. Women have been talking about how their clothing can send a message about sexual assault, not as a before-the-fact victim blame game, but as a statement about no longer standing for harassment. Celebrities have vowed to wear all black to this Sunday's 75th Golden Globe Awards, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette reports, though this act isn't without its own controversy. Many are asking, "Is this really activism?" Likewise, one woman, in the midst of a sexual harassment lawsuit, questions how her clothing choices impact how seriously people take her accusations. In a New York Times piece, UC Berkeley doctoral candidate Eva Hagberg Fisher puts a playful spin on the weight of a fashion dilemma in the wake of a very serious sexual harassment case. One wrong choice can make or break it. In her words, "And you know what they say about harassment victims with visible shirttails: They're lying." (See WiCipedia: Short Skirts & Back-Up Plans.)

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

  • kq4ym 1/23/2018 | 8:26:45 AM
    Re: Disappointing Start to 2018 While there seems to be some positive movement in equal treament, books like Brotopia still point out the glaring truth of what still exists in this industry and others. How quickly change may take place is still an open question when sometimes it seems observing and reading about bad behavior is taking precedence over correcting and eliminating bad behavior.
    Kelsey Ziser 1/8/2018 | 9:47:31 AM
    Re: Disappointing Start to 2018 Was really encouraging to see so many women wearing black for the #metoo/Times Up movement at the Golden Globes last night. Oprah's speech was pretty epic, too, and I liked that she mentioned she hoped for more opportunities and less discrimination across the board for women, including in industries like tech.
    alison diana 1/5/2018 | 3:37:57 PM
    Disappointing Start to 2018 While it's refreshing to see more women speaking than men at CES, it's discouraging that none of the women slated to present are keynoters. There are some female executives doing exciting things in the consumer electronic space; it's a huge area, after all, and it's hard to imagine organizers couldn't come up with several prospects - especially as more and more traditionally non-tech companies now are tech developers. 

    It is even more disheartening to read excerpts of the Silicon Valley book but, let's hope it describes a disgusting but earlier time, not within the past year or two. Maybe in the first WiC roundup of January 2019 you'll have more positive, encouraging news to share. I hope.
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