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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Gender-Blind VR & CEO Double Standards

This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Qualcomm pays up for unequal treatment; virtual reality creates a level playing field; is there a double standard for female CEOs?; and more.


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  • Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) made major telecom news last week when its gender discrimination lawsuit came under the public eye. Some 3,300 current and former female employees were affected by the mammoth suit, which alleged that women were paid less than men at the mobile technologies company and were treated unequally across the board, from promotions to maternity leave. The class-action suit has been settled with a bounty of $19.5 million. Qualcomm has also agreed to implement new policies and programs to ensure that women are treated fairly and given the same opportunities as their male counterparts. CNET reports that this was "one of the largest employment discrimination settlements in recent years," yet still, "The company has not admitted to any of the allegations, according to the final settlement agreement." (See Qualcomm Pays $19.5M to Settle Gender-Bias Lawsuit.)

  • Kaspersky Lab , the massive international security firm, could have used some backup of its own this week when it posted a sexist cartoon in one of its anti-virus programs, Daily Dot reports. The cartoon, shown below, depicts an image of a dapper and computer-savvy man with ladies in line for his technical prowess. The image seems to imply that fixing computers is a manly art, and that women are in no way capable of doing something so complicated themselves. Kaspersky has since pulled down the ad and issued a lackluster apology, but not before the Twitteraties got a hold of it. This certainly isn't the first time a tech company has let a sexist and inappropriate image slip through, and it probably won't be the last. (See WiCipedia: UK's Crackdown & a Go-Go No-Go, GoDaddy Looks to Cloud to Shake Sleazy Image and WiCipedia: Woman Cards & Bitch Switches .)

  • It's no secret that as a society, we're on the cusp of a virtual reality (VR) takeover. Though we will all benefit from this newfound technology, women in particular may see the most perks. VentureBeat breaks down the potential pros, which include two major opportunities: a new sector for women to find tech jobs and a gender-blind chance to be developers. As for the former, women currently hold 22% of game developer VR jobs, which may not sound like much, but that's on par with the rest of the tech industry, and still only in its infancy. For the latter, a 2013 study found that code created by women is more likely to be peer-approved than code created by men, but only if the gender of the developer is not revealed. The gender bias is undeniable. In the study, "women's work was more likely to be accepted than men's, unless 'their gender is identifiable', in which case the acceptance rate was worse than men's." (See WiCipedia: From Virtual Reality to Virtually No Black Women .)

  • For the few female CEOs of major tech companies in the US, it sure has been a trying past few months. Both Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, which was just purchased by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) last week, and Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of flailing Theranos, have been under crushing pressure to create successful mega-companies. While Mayer's future at Yahoo is still unknown under the terms of the acquisition, Holmes has been banned from running a lab for the next two years. Both of these super-successful women have conquered and succeeded in the past, and have been put under the microscope when they miss a step. NPR examines why women's failures are any different from men's, and if women are held to a double standard in business. "There are so many other male leaders that ... failure doesn't really create expectations about other men's leadership capacities or capabilities," a gender research sociologist states in the article. (See WiCipedia: Datanauts, Dudes & Deals and WiCipedia: Facebook's LGBT Stats, Broettes & 'Tiny Lady Hands'.)

  • Now for some (mostly) good news: Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is forging ahead to create gender pay equality. The one-of-a-kind company has vowed to pay its male and female employees the same, dollar for dollar, according to CNN Money. The catch? Apple has predominantly white male employees. The company has committed itself to increasing both gender and racial diversity, though not everyone is on board with the change. While "CEO Tim Cook said last year that diversity is a 'readily solvable issue' that can be fixed," Apple's board of directors "criticized a proposal to increase diversity among its board and senior management as 'unduly burdensome.'" Turns out the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Currently, 37% of Apple new hires are female, which is up from just 31% in 2014, and 27% are under-represented minorities, up from 21% in 2014. (See Apple Votes Down Diversity Proposal and A Vast Valley: Tech's Inexcusable Gender Gap.)

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

  • kq4ym 8/18/2016 | 1:28:49 PM
    Re: Double standard That Qualquam has "settled with a bounty of $19.5 million," somehow seems to be a pretty small per person bounty especially since the attorneys will most likely get a huge percentage of it. And just how long has it been going on...one might think there should be some punitive damages added as well.
    ErynLeavens 8/5/2016 | 2:11:26 PM
    Re: Double standard Kelsey, right - male CEOs fail/fumble/falter all the time. Literally all the time. And it's not a big deal (or maybe it is momentarily, but it's not front-page news generally) because there are so many of them and we're so used to it. I hadn't thought of the female CEOs' appearances playing a role in this but of course it does, not necessarily because they're young and blond, but because they're female. If we can read news about Michelle Obama's arms, Hillary Clinton's choice of suit, and Sheryl Sandberg's shoes then of course Elizabeth Holmes and Marissa Mayer are no exception. Plus they make a much better cover image than Kenneth Lay, Enron CEO. No question there! ; )
    Kelsey Ziser 8/5/2016 | 2:00:37 PM
    Double standard I heard that NPR story the other night about the potential double standard for women CEO's of major tech companies. They brought up a good point that plenty of male CEO's have failed spectacularly (e.g. CEO of Enron), but since there are fewer female CEO's, these women end up under a microscope. On the show, they also spectulated that their age and blonde hair might be another reason why there's such a spotlight on Mayer and Holmes. Do you think women in leadership roles are under more scrutiny not only for their performance in the workplace but also for their age/appearance?
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