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WiCipedia: Dongles, SXSW & Marital Status Bias

Eryn Leavens
3/23/2018
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This week in our WiCipedia roundup: SXSW focuses on gender equality; Globacom has ugly firing snafu; is SF over?; and more.


Join Women in Comms for an afternoon of workshops and networking in Austin at the fifth-annual Big Communications Event on May 14. Learn from and engage with industry thought leaders and women in tech. There's still time to register to attend for free!


  • In the funniest news this week, an uproar has broken out over the word "dongle" on billboards in Portland, Ore., Willamette Weekly reports. Members of Portland Women in Tech (PDXWiT) are protesting the billboards, which are the handiwork of ShopKeep, an iPad point-of-sale company. The ads advertise for consumers to purchase new dongles for their, ahem, units, and the jokes are a bit too tongue in cheek. One reads, "Does your dongle come up short?" while another sign asks, "Dongle not hitting the spot?" (For our favorite, see the photo below.) PDXWiT has written an open letter to ShopKeep asking the company to remove the offensive billboards, though the company has not responded to the requests. Previously, ShopKeep and PDXWiT had worked together for a non-profit event. (See WiCipedia: UK's Crackdown & a Go-Go No-Go.)

    Seriously, Who Named This Thing?!
    PDXWiT writes, 'To date, the only response we've received from your company is defense of the campaign as 'edgy' and needed to attract business since your company is the 'little guy.' This is a tired excuse; when one searches for penis euphemisms in advertising, they will quickly discover it is an old habit that harkens to darker themes.'
(Source: Willamette Weekly)
    PDXWiT writes, "To date, the only response we've received from your company is defense of the campaign as 'edgy' and needed to attract business since your company is the 'little guy.' This is a tired excuse; when one searches for penis euphemisms in advertising, they will quickly discover it is an old habit that harkens to darker themes."
    (Source: Willamette Weekly)

  • In other silly yet slightly frustrating news, Fast Company explains that a new study from LivePerson found that the general public has a difficult time identifying individual women in tech, and, wait for it -- thinks Alexa and Siri are actual people. The study surveyed 1,000 Americans and found that 91.7% of respondents couldn't name even one woman in tech. A quarter of those who said they could then named virtual assistants Alexa or Siri. The full study, which focuses on artificial intelligence and gender, is available here. (See WiCipedia: Richest Women in Tech & Next-Level Hacker Sexism and Why We Need Diversity Before AI Takes Over.)

  • Globacom, a Nigerian telecom company, has fired 90 female employees due to their relationship status, Premium Times surmises. Company reps state that the cuts were part of annual performace reviews and had nothing to do with gender or marital status: "The truth is that people were sacked. Men, women, married and unmarried were sacked. There are many reasons for all those things. But, when people say only unmarried women were affected, I don't understand where that is coming from." Yet a photo posted on Twitter (see below) of one of the termination letters received clearly states the reason for the firing as "marital status." Globacom made no official statement about the firings, which were formalized the day after International Women's Day. (See WiCipedia: Tech in Africa, Female CEOs & Bingeworthy TV, WiCipedia: Secret Courts, Public Lists & Quantifying the Gap and Empowering Women in Africa – From the US.)

    Nice Timing, Guys
    Obviously this wasn't going to draw any media attention...
(Source: Twitter)
    Obviously this wasn't going to draw any media attention...
    (Source: Twitter)

  • South by Southwest had a decidedly political bent this year. The annual event, held in Austin, turned its many heads towards the #MeToo movement and gender equality, according to NBC News. Several events were solely focused around racial and gender discrimination and harassment, and many notable female tech leaders were present. Nola Weinstein, global head of culture and experiential at Twitter, said, "I think one of the coolest things about those conversations is that they don't stay here. People meet here and those connections enable them to better their careers, to better their companies and in turn make an impact in the world." Meanwhile, Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of the dating app Bumble, a tech company that is made up of 85% women, said, "Misogyny is not sexy. Misogyny is not something that you want to be a part of. I think that the message we're trying to send is, let's all just respect one another and you can be a successful tech company with big revenue." (See SXSW Pics: Women, Weirdness & Waiting in Austin.)

  • Several highly shared articles have drawn attention to tech companies and workers leaving San Francisco and Silicon Valley (two separate places, though they're often lumped together). The latest article in The Bold Italic is written by Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of Scripted.com and CEO of The Bold Italic, and while it's a bit of a tongue-in-cheek pain to slog through, it makes some solid points. The article is about tech culture in general and San Francisco being "over," though it does touch on the bad male behavior that has made the Valley so infamous: "Forget bro culture. You could create a company with no culture. You never have to meet in person." Another article in The New York Times states, "Steve Case, the founder of AOL, has pledged to invest mostly in start-ups outside the Bay Area, saying that 'we've probably hit peak Silicon Valley.'" We're curious to see how the fight for equality for women in tech will translate to newer tech cities. (See WiCipedia: Girls Code, Valley Shame & GE's Big Plan and WiCipedia: Head East, Young Techie & New Industries Need Women.)

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

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