This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Girl Scouts make STEM their mission; Forbes' list of 50 women in tech; unconscious bias is no excuse; and more.
In some particularly refreshing news, Forbes profiled former rocket scientist and Girl Scout CEO Sylvia Acevedo, who is pretty much as cool as it gets in the world of STEM. A former Girl Scout herself, Acevedo says STEM is our future, so it only makes sense for young girls to learn all they can. She told Forbes, "The world is being rewritten in algorithms and code, and we need to have girls and women who have the skills ... to create that future. We want to make sure that America's workforce has its more than fair share of women, who are able to keep us globally competitive." Acevedo has made it her mission to integrate STEM lessons into the Girl Scouts' curriculum, and though she's had no shortage of roadblocks in the process, this Scout isn't stepping aside. (See WiCipedia: Grace Hopper Promotes Diversity, Girl Scouts Code & How to Thrive.)
Girl Scout CEO Sylvia Acevedo
Sometimes Girl Scouts grow up to run the whole joint. (Source: Forbes)
Forbes also released its list of the 50 most powerful women in tech this week, and the line-up really ranged in terms of job, age and public recognition. The yearly unranked compilation celebrates women who have pushed through the glass ceiling, especially in burgeoning industries like AI and cryptocurrency, and made an impact in their specific companies and the tech industry at large. We were particularly pleased to see female VCs, professors and engineers on the list, as well as the CEOs and founders we would expect to find. For the full Forbes' list, click here. (See WiCipedia: Feminist Internet, Young Tycoons & Blind Spots and WiCipedia: Richest Women in Tech & Next-Level Hacker Sexism.)
While female founders aren't known as big money raisers in the tech world (only 2.7% of VC funding goes to female founders), there are, of course, exceptions. Joy Ajlouny, co-founder of Fetchr, an e-commerce company, raised $52 million in funding with co-founder Idriss Al Rifai. Forbes Middle East called Fetchr the number one startup in the Middle East in 2017, reports Business of Fashion (BoF), though that doesn't mean the process of getting to the top has been any easier for the female founders.
At a BoF event, Ajlouny told the audience, "Being a woman in tech has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life ... When I'm surrounded by men and I'm a woman who has a very strong personality I'm called a bitch, I'm called aggressive, I'm called disruptive, I'm called problem making, I'm called difficult ... Every day I fight. That bull in a china closet spirit drives me every day. I am relentless, I am unyielding. The one thing that got me here is that I realized in this world of Instagram where everyone is worried about what everyone thinks of everyone else, I adopted a really great saying: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt said that." (See WiCipedia: Lack of Diversity Creates Blind Spots & Twitch Leads by Example.)
We're big fans of Sigma Systems ' Chief Technology Officer Catherine Michel over here at Women in Comms, so we were excited to see Total Telecom's interview with her about unconscious bias in the telecom industry. Michel recently won the Woman in Telecoms category at the World Communication Awards 2018, so she's no stranger to rising above barriers or setbacks. She stressed that it's important to focus on diversity at large instead of just women when it comes to expanding who is involved in the industry, and also that despite the work that has been done so far, there is still a long way to go. She also made it clear that she didn't think the bulk of discrimination was intentional, and that most of it comes from unconscious bias, yet that doesn't mean we don't need to address it head-on. (See Sigma Systems CTO, Catherine Michel, Wins World Communications Award and WiC Radio: Sigma CTO Talks Transformations.)