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WiCipedia: Feminist Fight Club, FinTech Femmes & Feminine Freebies

Eryn Leavens
9/30/2016

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Feminist Fight Club lands on the shelves; sexual harassment affects all women; FinTech is a female-led field; and more.


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  • We recently wrote about the incredible progress of Lesbians Who Tech, and the non-profit's recent annual summit has made headlines again. The Huffington Post relays that the conference celebrated the winners of the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship, which raised more than $200,000 total for 40 recipients. "67 percent are people of color, 10 percent identify as trans and 100 percent are LGBTQ," and it goes without saying that these are demographics that don't get many big breaks in the tech world. The winners of the awards will go on to attend coding bootcamps. Edie Windsor, a former IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) computer scientist and the "person behind the lawsuit that led to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act," presented the awards herself at the ceremony. (See WiCipedia: Big Leagues & Small Screens Take On Gender Parity.)

  • Move over, Lean In. A new book may just become the manifesto for a generation of women optimistically joining the workforce and being met with inequality and sexism. Feminist Fight Club: An Office Survival Manual for a Sexist Workplace by Jessica Bennett was released last week and has already received much publicity from the likes of Forbes, Levo and The New York Times, among many others. Bennett, herself an alum of the Lean In non-profit organization, writes tips that may sound familiar to many women already winning in the workplace (does "Stop saying 'I'm sorry'" sound familiar?), but she also has some new words of wisdom. "Next time a colleague insinuates that a woman is 'crazy,' play dumb. Say, 'I'm not sure I understand. Can you explain?' and put the burden on them to stumble through the explanation," she writes, in an effort to de-stereotype demeaning adjectives that are often associated with women in the office. Levo reports on another favorite tip of Bennett's: "finding a 'Boast Bitch' AKA your 'female hype man.' She boasts for you and you boast for her. Research shows that [when] someone boasts on your behalf it is effective, even if the person is biased." So go nominate someone to advocate for you STAT!  (See WiCipedia: The Women Helping Women Edition.)

    Catch the small print? 'Book is 21 percent more expensive for men.' Finally!
    Catch the small print? "Book is 21 percent more expensive for men." Finally!

  • Sexual harassment is a big deal in the tech space -- Mic reports that women in tech are more likely to experience sexual harassment in their workplaces. This especially applies to women in leadership roles who experience harassment at a higher rate -- roughly a third of women vs. a quarter of women in the larger tech scene. Yet... who are these women being compared to as a group? Surely not restaurant workers, who reported that 90% of women and 70% of men experience sexual harassment, says a 2014 Eater article, and that was only from customers. Certainly this can't be compared to the 58% of American high schoolers who experience sexual harassment from other students, teachers and administrators, reports a 2014 Al Jazeera America article. And this definitely isn't compared to the nearly 100% of Egyptian girls who are sexually harassed (91.5% have experienced "unwelcome physical contact"), reports a 2013 Huffington Post article. So yes, women in tech have some equality to gain, no doubt about it, but so do all women across the world, whether they're working in a fully equipped Facebook office or walking on a dirt road just trying to get to school. (See Tales From the Valley: Bias, Sexism & Worse.)

  • Think the benefits of having women working in tech are just about gaining gender equality and eliminating sexism (if that weren't enough!)? Not so. Tech.co details that having "at least one female staff member [means companies will] have a higher collective IQ than teams with all-male counterparts." Additionally, having a more gender-balanced team will result in higher sales by more appropriately reflecting the market demographic. While it's no secret that tech companies are struggling to reach gender parity, a few unique companies and sectors are paving the way. The European edition of Politico reports that FinTech -- that's the mash-up of finance and technology, not to be confused with FemTech -- has quickly become a female-dominated field, despite traditional finance being a total boys' club. One Russian mobile FinTech company, Yandex.Money, has an executive team of 15 people, 12 of whom are female, says Politico. "More often, women are better suited to the job than men are," stated Yandex.Money's CEO Maria Gracheva. Hopefully other forward-thinking companies will get the hint soon. (See WiCipedia: Should Men Be Included? & Olympians Face Discrimination.)

  • Free tampons! That might be the best job perk you've ever been offered, right? Not! The UK's Government Digital Service (GDS) seems to think they're a pretty important workplace benefit though, and is leveraging the paper product in order to create a more female-friendly environment. Civil Service World reports that "staff now have free tampons and sanitary towels due to a combination of 'months of [presenting] business cases' and 'just saying the word tampon enough times to senior men'." Other, larger measures, such as unconscious bias training, are being implemented within GDS to combat issues of discrimination, and seem to be making steady progress, according to the article. Free tampons for all! (See WiCipedia: Trump's Family Leave Fail & Hostility at Apple.)

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

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    ErynLeavens
    ErynLeavens
    9/30/2016 | 10:17:38 AM
    Re: Fine print
    Thanks, Kelsey! The sexual harassment issue definitely felt like it needed to be put into perspective. It's horrible any way you slice it, but this is a much larger issue than the tech bubble, and it certainly didn't start (and it won't end) in this industry. Every week there's another article about how bad women in tech have it in terms of sexual harassment, pay, treatment, etc., but they also have it better than most other women around the world on all of those issues, so, here's a dose of reality!

    The tampon issue is funny. It's insulting to NOT be given free tampons in an office but it's silly for them to be seen as an actual perk/benefit as well. Just give them to employees and don't make a fuss over it! ; )
    Kelsey Ziser
    Kelsey Ziser
    9/30/2016 | 9:56:31 AM
    Fine print
    The fine print on the Feminist Fight Club book that it's 21% more expensive for men is too clever! Thanks for putting sexual harassment in perspective as an issue that's not exclusive to women in tech but that affects women everyone. I had to laugh at the free tampons...sigh. Free toilet paper is a great perk, too! ;)
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