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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Fashionable Coding & Netflix/SAS Lead Innovation Race

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Big names in fashion take over coding programs; Netflix leads race for innovation; how #metoo scandals affect tech and telecom; and more.


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  • If you're tired of waiting for all of these companies that are still figuring out how best to diversify their companies and stop screwing up, look no further than SAS. Fortune says the analytics leader is the "rare technology organization where the workforce is nearly 50% women, and it was recently named one of the 2017 Best Workplaces for Diversity." The march towards a diverse workforce began 35 years ago for SAS when on-site childcare was introduced not as a work "perk," but as a necessity to keep women on staff. Since then, the company has made a point to prioritize retention of female employees and introduce training programs specifically for women who are interested in moving up the ladder. We think the fact that SAS is located in North Carolina and not Silicon Valley might be one of the reasons behind its solid values and success. (See WiCipedia: Best Initiatives for Women & Highest-Ranked Companies.)

  • Supermodel Karlie Kloss and Spanx Founder Sara Blakely are banding together to mentor girls who are interested in tech. While the fashion mainstays may seem like unlikely candidates to push tech, Kloss has an established (free!) coding camp for girls, Kode With Klossy, and Blakely runs the Sara Blakely Foundation for women and girls, Bustle explains. The two organizations are now coming together to host more coding camps at the Spanx headquarters in Atlanta. "An education that teaches girls how to think versus what to think gives them the opportunity to fulfill their greatest potential," Blakely tells Bustle. "Armed with coding skills and confidence, girls can create anything they can imagine." (See Flatiron, Birchbox Offer Scholarships for Female Devs.)

  • It's no surprise that Netflix is leading the race to innovation with its groundbreaking formatting and off-the-beaten-path series. It turns out that the streaming network might also be "cracking the code" for women in tech too. An article in Forbes explains that the transparent culture of Netflix and the company's focus on diversity -- both within its employee base and its programming -- may mean women have a better chance of thriving. Tracy Wright, director of global content operations at Netflix, explains that the company doesn't have formal programs for empowering women, nor does it have set career tracks, though its "Culture Memo" is frequently mentioned. Wright explains, "Freedom and responsibility are important. If there's an opportunity for you to make something better or to make something different that drives value and impact for the business, go do it. You have the freedom to do it. And so I think in that way, we create that safe environment for people taking risks even if it fails, but in the name of creating value for the company or the business. That's part of who we are and how we drive innovation." Also, check out this story on Huffington Post about how the Netflix series House of Cards dealt with equal-pay decisions for actress Robin Wright both before and after co-star Kevin Spacey's sexual harassment scandal was outed. (See Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings.)

  • Curious about what being a woman in tech for the last 25 years looks like? Look no further than this article from Quartz, which profiles Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc. Epstein looks back at her 25 years in tech to multiple moments of sexual harassment that make us cringe. She also focuses on our current predicament and how all of the focus on penalizing men who have been harassers in the past might seem to some like a "witch hunt." Epstein writes, "Yes, women are coming out of the woodwork, and people's careers and lives are being ruined. It does feel like a lot at once, and that's because it happens a lot. Calling this a witch hunt delegitimizes the victims and returns us to the hostile environment where women feel like they can't speak up ... If men are thinking deeply about how they treat women going forward, and women feel empowered to speak up when they are not comfortable with a situation, then indeed we will have our reckoning." (See Time for Women to Demand Equality – Panel.)

  • It seems like every day there are new accounts of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and government, and admittedly, tech has seen its fair share of this as well. With this recent batch of scandals and the #metoo boom, we wondered about accusations in our industry. A few names, such as Android's Andy Rubin and Uber's Shervin Pishevar have popped up in the last few days. With all that the tech industry has been through this year, we certainly wonder how our community will respond to this outpouring. It's likely too soon to tell, and we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Also check out how Sheryl Sandberg thinks the #MeToo movement might affect women in tech on NBC News. (See WiCipedia: #MeToo Hits the Valley & WiC Goes to London and WiC Panel: The Upside of Sexism Scandals.)

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

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