This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Marissa Mayer and the $55 million payout; men hog the boardroom limelight; when did tech get trendy?; and more.
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Ever-evolving NASA has created a coding program with women at the helm. FedScoop reports, "The Datanauts program was conceived when the Open Innovation Team at NASA noticed that participants in the International Space Apps Challenge were overwhelmingly men." The program is multi-generational and multi-level, and while predominantly female, in its current iteration it does include five men. Cindy Chin, a student who brought her young daughter to a Datanauts event, said, "She [my daughter] was definitely a big influence in me wanting to join this. To let her see beyond just kids' games, to one day she may be programming something for a satellite mission or something on Mars."
You may have heard that Verizon acquired Yahoo this week for $4.8 billion, a small percentage of what it was worth in 2000. Yahoo made major waves in the past few years, most notably under the reign of CEO Marissa Mayer who made sometimes controversial changes to the company, but not enough to keep it independently afloat.
Mayer, who spent 13 years at Google, has been outspoken on the topic of women in tech throughout her career. After the announcement of the Yahoo/Verizon deal, she told the Financial Times (subscription required), "I've tried to be gender-blind and believe tech is a gender-neutral zone but do think there has been gender-charged reporting. We all see the things that only plague women leaders, like articles that focus on their appearance... It's a shame."
There's an unflattering stereotype that women are "chatty Cathys" -- a rumor that has been proven untrue in years past -- and it turns out men may be sucking up most of the air in business settings after all. Northwestern mathematics grad and developer Cathy Deng has created an extremely simple website to track if men or women are talking more in meetings, though the tool could really be used anywhere. The website, appropriately titled "Are men talking too much?", consists of two buttons -- "A dude" and "Not a dude" -- which are pressed to track speaking time depending on the gender of the speaker. Deng created the tool at Chi Hack Night, an event where "94 percent of talking was done by men." Her goal is to bring awareness and statistical importance to the issue, since, as Deng puts it, "Men are more likely to speak up than women, and they don't realize they're doing it." (See AT&T's Chiosi: Born to Stand Out and Panel: Men Critical to Change Telecom Culture.)
Workplace equality is certainly at the top of our list here at Women in Comms, but what's even more important? Safety. The Guardian and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have reported, "More than half of the allegations of sexual harassment made ... in 2015 have resulted in no charge." This is particularly common in STEM and academic circles. The Elephant in the Valley report found that "60% of women working in tech had experienced sexual harassment," for example. On a collegiate level, UC Hastings College of Law found that "one in three women science professors surveyed reported sexual harassment." Though this is particularly common in school settings, all women are susceptible to invasive advances. With a "projected deficit of 1 million college-educated STEM workers in the coming decade," how can we show women that STEM is a fulfilling career path when basic freedoms are threatened? (See Tales From the Valley: Bias, Sexism & Worse.)
Tech seems to be the go-to career path these days, especially in metropolises such as the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City and London. But has it always been this way? An interview in Computer Weekly with Dr. Sue Black, computer scientist and founder of Techmums, details the history of women's involvement in tech over the past 20 years with an emphasis on the relatively new popularity of this career option. "It's trendy to be in tech now, but it wasn't always ... There are many theories as to why this is, one of which is ... people thinking it [tech] is populated by 'geeky' men with few social skills." In a fast-moving, constantly changing industry, women's involvement in the tech world is moving far too slowly. In the UK, for instance, women make up only 16% of IT workers.
Re: Dude/Not a Dude Kelsey, This was a big topic at the WiC breakfst last year at BCE - how women don't apply for jobs unless they are completely qualified but men apply whether they are qualified or not. That's a good point that it might be related. I also think it has something to do with thinking before you speak - maybe men just don't do it...? Maybe the pressure to be poised wins over presenting an unfinished/unpolished idea? Lots of theories and contributors here. That book sounds interesting! Love that app though. ; )
Dude/Not a Dude I'm not too surprised by the results of the study on how talkative men and women are at work. Why do you think women are sometimes more hesitant to speak up at the office? Fear of saying the wrong thing? I'm reading a book called "Woman Up!" and the author says that men are more likely to apply for jobs that they may not be qualified for, but women want to make sure they meet all the requirements in the job description before applying. Maybe the same goes for talking - women want to make sure they have all the facts and background knowledge first to feel like they're qualified to speak up.