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WiCipedia: Fembots Create Gender Divide & Snap Tackles Culture Issues

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Nokia commits to pay equality; female AI assistants promote sexism; Snap's culture gets put in its place; and more.

  • Former Google exec Oona King has moved on to greener pastures over at Snap, which is owned by social media giant Snapchat. King will take on the role of Snap's first vice president of diversity and inclusion, Variety reports, with the goal of "ensuring Snap's employee culture represents the diversity of our global users." King was most recently Google's director of diversity strategy, and with Snap's reputation of "unequal treatment toward women and perpetuating a sexist culture," she's got her work cut out for her. (See WiCipedia: Fintech Flexibility, Snap Missteps & Women of Wearables.)

    Snap Gets a Makeover
    (Source: Pixabay)
    (Source: Pixabay)

  • We've discussed the role of fembots in the past, but now the government is getting involved. Mashable said that the United Nations is weighing in on personal AI assistants like Siri and Alexa, who, remarkably, are all female. In a recent report from the UN titled "I'd blush if I could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education," UN authors write, "Siri's 'female' obsequiousness -- and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women -- provides a powerful illustration of gender biases coded into technology products, pervasive in the technology sector and apparent in digital skills education." (See WiCipedia: Are Fembots a Boon or Bane for WiT?)

  • Post divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, many of us wondered what MacKenzie Bezos would do with all that moolah -- more than $36 billion, to be precise. Well, it turns out that the Amazon heiress is going to take the financially higher ground by donating more than half of it to various charities. No surprise -- her ex-husband isn't parting with any of it. "I have a disproportionate amount of money to share," MacKenzie said. "My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care. But I won't wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty." The giving frenzy was prompted by an initiative from Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates called the Giving Pledge, which asks disproportionately wealthy individuals to "donate at least half of their money either during their lifetimes or in their wills." So far they have gotten more than 200 super-rich people to sign on (though we won't hold our breath for Jeff). (See WiCipedia: Private Groups Tackle Membership Guidelines & the New Richest Woman in Tech.)

  • Nokia is the latest in the telecom world to adjust its pay scale for gender equality. Gadgets 360 explains that the Finland-based company issued raises to a portion of its female employees this summer, "part of the company's effort to close its gender pay gap." Nokia has a newly created goal of eliminating the pay gap between male and female employees who perform the same job, which means that women will mostly be getting equality raises, though there are reportedly a few men who are due pay hikes for this reason as well. Nokia reported that "the pay gaps they found were mostly small, but 'pretty widespread' with a higher likelihood of appearing among engineering and R&D staff." Chief Marketing Officer Barry French said that as soon as the higher ups found out about the pay discrepancy, they resolved to fix it. "It's a values thing," he said. (See Equal Pay Day: Time to Get Paychecks in Check.)

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

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    Kelsey Ziser
    Kelsey Ziser
    5/31/2019 | 2:02:35 PM
    Re: Bezos' beneficiaries
    Probably! And I meant it less vindictive and more of a "see what you could have been doing with your money?" ... no one person needs billions of dollars.
    5/31/2019 | 2:00:45 PM
    Re: Bezos' beneficiaries
    Hmm, or maybe she's just a better person?
    Kelsey Ziser
    Kelsey Ziser
    5/31/2019 | 1:43:40 PM
    Re: Bezos' beneficiaries
    Ah good point, I didn't think of it from that perspective. Do you think part of it is a jab on her part? Like making a point that he should be more philanthropic? 
    5/31/2019 | 12:01:47 PM
    Re: Bezos' beneficiaries
    Oh totally. I don't think her philanthropy is a reflection on the company at all or that anyone is saying it is. If Jeff had donated his money that would be a different story potentially.
    Kelsey Ziser
    Kelsey Ziser
    5/31/2019 | 11:50:26 AM
    Bezos' beneficiaries
    I'm all for philanthropy but I wonder how well Amazon warehouse employees are paid and treated in the first place. I saw a video but a former employee who said they're overworked, don't get many breaks, and have unreasonable expectations placed on them for getting goods out the door to customers. It's totally possible that not everything this person said was accurate, but it did make me wonder -- if I get Amazon packages so quickly within ordering them, how much are employees scrambling to make that happen? Maybe some of those billions could go back to the employees that make it all possible in the first place.
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