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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Endangered Species, 'the Pao Effect' & Bad Actors

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Recruiting in a time of upheaval; how Ellen Pao's Reset affects Asian women; and advice from female founders.


Join Women in Comms for its upcoming networking breakfast in Denver, Colorado, on September 28 (next week!), where we'll be tackling the question "What's the matter with the tech industry?"


  • Recruiting college-aged female students is the most direct way to attract women to the tech industry, but as this Bloomberg article suggests, this is a particularly awkward time to convince women that tech is a great place to work. Summer 2017 has been a season of scandals, from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) to Uber, but are these scandals impacting the opinions of women considering a career in tech? Bloomberg interviewed a dozen women who "differentiated between the general aura of misogyny they see as prevalent in tech and more specific situations." So, for example, most women would not consider working for Uber post-scandal, but the general issue of sexism in tech is more of a given at this point. One high school student stated, "Sexism in tech is a problem; we know it exists. But I go to these women-in-tech meet-ups sometimes, and all they do is talk about this stuff. I'm like, 'OK, but when can I build a robot?'" (See WiCipedia: Google Sued Over Gender Pay Disparity, Uber Hopes Holder Reform Will Stop Implosion and Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings.)

  • On the flipside, if women aren't recruited by tech companies, is there a danger that women in tech could become extinct? Or at least go on the endangered species list? A blog on Medium this week focused on the rate that women are leaving tech, not to mention the already low numbers of inclusion (only 3% of open source workers identify as female?!). That rate, by the way, is 50%, or twice the rate of men leaving tech. In other words, despite all the negative media talk about the experiences of women working at tech companies, young women persevere and push through the negative talk, only to have firsthand experiences working in tech that make them rethink their career ambitions. Check out the documentary trailer below to see how one woman is tackling the diversity issue. (See Tech Leaders: Gender Diversity Could Add Billions to Economy and Why Diversity of Geeks in Tech Matters.)

  • Clean Technica has released the first in a multi-part series on how to beat misogyny in tech, and while the article itself is useful, it's the comments section that got our attention. Some readers say that suggestions for women about how to counteract misogyny are similar to victim blaming, and that it's the "bad actors" who need to be dealt with. Others say that they've worked with women in tech who never experienced any bias or discrimination, and that they definitely would have spoken up if they had (this one made us laugh!). Clearly, as much as we discuss this topic, there's still so much more to say. The infographic accompanying the article, below, is an eye-opening look into how girls are really winning the STEM game -- that is, until they enter the workforce. (See WiCipedia: Internet by Bicycle, Pay Gaps & Misogyny in the Valley and WiCipedia: Eradicating Pay Gaps & Squashing Bro Culture.)

    Misogyny by the Numbers

  • We've been keeping tabs on Ellen Pao and her new book, Reset, for the past year now, so our curiosity was piqued when we stumbled across this USA Today article about how Pao's journey has impacted Asian women in tech. While Asian women do hold more tech positions than other women of color, the "Pao effect" suggests that Asian women might experience more harassment than their counterparts. A lot of this comes down to stereotypes: "'The story we tell ourselves is that Asian Americans are hardworking and industrious, meek and great at math, conforming, apolitical and, thus, upwardly mobile -- but only up to a point,' says Tina Lee, founder and CEO of MotherCoders.org, which trains women with kids for tech jobs. 'We make great worker bees but we're not leadership material.'" We highly recommend checking out this informative, first-hand account article. (See WiCipedia: Pao Resets; Fowler Goes Supreme and Ellen Pao Returns to VC to Tackle Tech Diversity.)

  • Female founders are taking matters into their own capable hands for the next generation. In a Technical.ly article, women who run successful companies offered up advice for the tech-curious. Some of our favorites include "Raise your rates" and "Know your numbers," since compromising too much can lead to the poorhouse, and "Find your tribe," because community is everything when you're marginalized. Ironically, this Silicon Republic article also gave some interesting advice: "There is no doubt learning to code can help young women advance in the tech industry. But it shouldn't be positioned as the only path to a career in tech. Women can still work in the tech sector even if they can't code. There are so many other opportunities within the industry that are in need of women." We love this, as "learn to code" seems to have become a broken record lately. There's more than one path to success. (See Light Reading's 2017 Survey of Women in Comms.)

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

  • Austin Idol 9/22/2017 | 10:34:51 AM
    Re: girls in engineering didn't Pao sleep around with executives and co-workers?
    Sarah Thomas 9/22/2017 | 10:13:53 AM
    girls in engineering I love the mindset of, "yeah, yeah but can we go build robots now?!" We had a 17 year old babysitter last week who came over from robotics and is applying to the University of Michigan to be a mechanical engineer. She said there were lots of girls in the robotics club. So cool that her school offers that and glad to hear it's attracting girls too!
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