Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Diversity in Product Dev & Israeli Entrepreneurs Protest Sexism

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Keeping smart home products safe for all; Merkel finds sexism in Israeli tech community; girls have limited access to mobile phones worldwide; and more.

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  • Despite all of the challenges that women have endured in the tech sector lately, many still have a glass-half-full perspective on the future of women in the industry, reports a new study from Booking.com. Though there are certainly impediments to women who work in tech advancing their careers, the study -- which surveyed women who currently work in tech and women who are interested in entering the industry -- finds that "women globally find the tech sector appealing and hold a positive view of the potential it offers." One of the most important issues to tackle is gender bias in the recruitment phase, which could potentially prevent women from entering the industry at all. "But to empower women to truly succeed in tech, we as an industry have an opportunity to do more. This includes putting forth more female role models, eliminating gender bias that starts right from the recruitment process before a woman is even hired, and investing in initiatives that spotlight the industry as attractive and welcoming at all stages, from new entrants up to the most senior leadership," said Gillian Tans, CEO at Booking.com. (See Progress, Opportunities Still Abound in Tech.)

  • Over in Israel, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel has sparked protesters' anger after visiting the country to meet with an all-male group of entrepreneurs. Female protesters posed with a life-sized(ish) cardboard cutout of Merkel, and asked to be included in future meetings, Reuters explained. Merkel was on board with the request for greater diversity: "Merkel noted at that session that Israel's start-up industry appeared to be 'very male-dominated', adding: 'It would be better if next time, there was a woman among all those hopeful pioneers of the future'." Israel's Foreign Ministry has since apologized for the sexist oversight and confirmed that Israel does in fact have female entrepreneurs as well. (See WiCipedia: Orthodox Women Code & Pop Culture Tech Queens.)

    Cardboard Merkel Poses With Happy Protesters
    (Source: Reuters)
    (Source: Reuters)

  • Product-dev roles have a 10:1 male-to-female ratio, reports Forbes. So why is this different than any other unbalanced tech job ratio? Because products -- especially of the smart home variety -- affect our everyday experiences more than other technologies. Forbes explains that without more racial and gender minorities in product dev, products on the market may be geared against us -- specifically immigrants and women in abusive relationships. (See this New York Times article for some shocking examples.) Organizations like Advancing Women In Product are working to make sure that the industry is more diverse, especially since smart home features are only going to get more pervasive. Smart tech can be our friend or our foe, so let's get representatives of our community in there to make sure it doesn't turn against us. (See WiCipedia: Are Fembots a Boon or Bane for WiT?, WiCipedia: AI for Social Good & a Fitbit Fail for Women and Tech Leaders: Diversity Critical to Product Dev.)

  • A global study of 3,000 girls' access to mobile phones, sponsored by the Vodafone Foundation and Girl Effect, was an eye-opener this week. The "Real lives, real girls, connected" study assessed access and usage of mobile phones by girls in 25 countries, and found that "boys are one and a half times more likely to own a phone than girls." While 99% of girls in the US own a mobile phone, that number plummets to just 15% in many impoverished countries. The study also stresses that without access to resources, phone ownership is not permanent for many girls, as phones can break or be taken away by family members. Girls also may not have the tech literacy needed to learn how to use smartphones, especially with limited access to a device. Check out the full study here. (See WiCipedia: Int'l Day of the Girl & Sephora Shows the Ropes.)

  • Most of us are hyperaware that as technology evolves, our career options do too. Forbes published an article last week on how to advance your career as everything around you is rapidly changing, and we took heed. As technology innovation makes certain job categories obsolete, Forbes said our focus should turn to those Tweetables that we keep hearing over and over, yet should pay attention to nonetheless: keep learning new things and invest in your skillset. After all, the article concludes, "A reputation along with being a life-long learner will go a long way to landing you the next opportunity, regardless of technological disruption." (See DevOps Institute CEO: We're at 'Tech's Tipping Point'.)

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

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