This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Women in tech make a timely departure; Smartphones put safety first; Silicon Prairie makes a statement; and more.
Do you have a story – positive or negative – to share about being a woman in comms? Let us know, and take our quick survey about your experiences, right here. Anonymous submissions welcome, and the next 25 survey takers to share their email address will receive a Starbucks gift certificate!
All of the tech news we hear seems to come out of Silicon Valley, but there are tech enclaves in different locations too, right? Right. Silicon Prairie News, for example, covers the tech scene of Kansas City startups, and it's actually ranked much higher for women in tech. "In the Silicon Prairie community, women are forming their own entrepreneurial, supportive culture and driving game-changing technology innovation," the article says, and stresses that women in the area actually make more than their male counterparts. So why does this matter? Maybe because it's not the tech industry that's so backwards and sexist. Instead, maybe the real problem is the Valley. (See WiCipedia: Best Cities for WiT, Born to Code & Dancing Backwards.)
Land of opportunity, or at least equal pay.
And back in Silicon Valley, we're experiencing an unprecedented wave of women coming forward and unearthing their harassment stories. An interesting article from Wired asks, "Why now?" Author Alexis Sobel Fitts states that women in all industries are experiencing these same tales of exclusion and inappropriateness, but few have the job opportunities that women in tech have. For example, if a college professor were to experience harassment and speak out, how many job opportunities would she have waiting for her when she quit? In contrast, when Susan Fowler, who spoke out about her experience at Uber in a blog post, left her job, " 'I had a new job offer in my hands less than a week later,' she wrote." This kind of opportunity is not the norm in every industry. Sobel Fitts writes, "There's no question that the women in tech are taking risks by speaking out en masse. They're demonstrably, objectively brave. But they're also able to be brave because, relative to women in other industries, they have some power. They can tell their experiences and know that, in most cases, it won't put their livelihoods at risk." (See WiCipedia: VR's 'Man-Babies' & No Watershed Moments – Yet.)
Speaking of women in other industries, Healthcare IT News interviewed MGMA President and CEO Halee Fischer-Wright, MD, about her experience working in healthcare as a women, and the reality is not far from many women's careers in tech. The interviewer asked Fischer-Wright if she had experienced pay inequality, to which she replied: "The answer is 'yes.' I think you could say almost through any level -- in a variety of ways -- not just personally, but I see it with my peers as well ... I speak very openly about 'the unconscious bias.' Women in non-traditional women career paths -- technology, finance and the executive levels of healthcare. In healthcare about 80 percent of staff are women, yet less than 10 percent of the executives are women. So, there's a huge disparity there. I know in the past -- about five years ago -- I was having a conversation, was negotiating my salary -- and the professional talking to me about salary said: 'well, you know, your husband is a physician, so you don't need much.'" (See WiCipedia: Eradicating Pay Gaps & Squashing Bro Culture.)
Have you ever been walking down a dark street with your fingers on the call button of your smartphone, just in case? Of course you have -- if you're a woman. One city in particular, Juarez, Mexico, has a particular need for emergency smartphone assistance. Juarez, "the capital of murdered women," is working to make an app "that turns women’s cellphones into panic buttons," The Star reports. The "I Am Not Alone" app sends out emergency messages with location info every five to ten minutes when activated. The app has received praise in the dangerous city and beyond, and has been downloaded more than 13,000 times in just a week. Itzel Gonzalez of the Women's Network of Juarez told The Star, "There is a great need for women to be able to count on these types of tools ... to strengthen our networks and send an alert when we are in a potentially dangerous situation." (See Idea Cellular Offers Women Private Recharge and Facebook Focuses on Women's Safety Online .)
We like to end on an upbeat note, and nothing is more uplifting or inspiring for future generations than Alexia Hilbertidou, founder of GirlBoss (not that GirlBoss), an organization that strives to get more New Zealand girls interested in STEM. The 18-year-old founder started her company as a 16-year-old high schooler in New Zealand, and hasn't stopped there. In a New Zealand Herald article, Hilbertidou is described as the youngest person to ever go on a NASA mission, and also the founder of a non-profit.
New Zealand is in desperate need of more female founders and role models: "The fact that only one CEO of the NZX50 is a woman and that women represent only 2 percent of all NZX-listed companies, fuels Hilbertidou's passion for change," the article states. (See WiCipedia: Pinkification of Tech & Australia's Diversity Endeavor and WiCipedia: Supergirls, No More Excuses & Media Monitoring.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading