Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Hiding Gender to Slip By vs. Flaunting It to Flourish

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Melinda Gates focuses on women in tech issues; obscuring gender online article causes uproar; a new normal for how we view women; and more.

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  • Melinda Gates is known for her magnanimous philanthropic efforts, from creating solutions to alleviate aspects of poverty in developing countries to implementing access to healthcare. Along with her husband, Bill Gates, she has created a nearly $40 billion fund for these enormous charitable ventures at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Backchannel reports in an interview. Now Melinda is turning her attention to women in tech -- both getting and keeping them there. A new offshoot organization, Pivotal Ventures, will be used "to further her work on issues of gender inequity and women's empowerment," GeekWire reports. Still in what she calls a "learning mode," the foundation will be focused on future technologies, such as artificial intelligence; transparency and hidden biases; venture funding; and of course, education. (See WiCipedia: Rise of the Female CDO & Adidas Flip Flops.)

  • One story in particular seemed to get the bulk of media coverage of gender equality issues this week. John Greathouse, a Californian venture capitalist, wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal suggesting that women only use their initials (and not post photos) when submitting, posting or creating anything on or via the Internet, in order to eliminate initial gender biases. Reactions from readers were loud and clear: Women should not have to obscure their gender. The article prompted plenty of discussion on Yahoo Finance, CNN Money, Forbes and many others, along with a Twitter maelstrom. The San Diego Union-Tribute followed up with Greathouse's Twitter apology calling his own WSJ post a "dreadful article," but not before Greathouse and The Wall Street Journal were drowning in negative media hot water. (See WiCipedia: Trumpisms, Marriage Penalties & Back-to-School Inspo.)

    This Faux Pas May Go Down in Women in Tech Herstory
    Just a snippet of the many tweets fired at The Wall Street Journal and John Greathouse in response to Greathouse's article suggesting women 'obscure' their gender online in order to eliminate bias.
    Just a snippet of the many tweets fired at The Wall Street Journal and John Greathouse in response to Greathouse's article suggesting women "obscure" their gender online in order to eliminate bias.

  • Images of women, from sultry to sexy to scandalous, have often dominated societal perspectives of the fairer sex. Now, those images are shifting, Getty Images reports in a Crosscut article. The most popular image search results of women have morphed from temptress to scientist in very recent years, which Getty attributes to a "Female Rising" movement. The article expands that tech companies are making women a more visible part of their web presence as well, and that just seeing these images of successful people working in tech, once the domain of white men in suits, has a powerful impact on shaping the ideas and expectations of the greater population, especially for younger generations. "Kids can't aspire to careers and opportunities that they don't even know exist," Caroline King, chief policy and strategy officer at Washington STEM, an education nonprofit, says in the article. This theory proposes quite the opposite of women hiding their gender. Instead, flaunt it! (See Global Capacity VP: It's Time for a New Normal.)

  • Looking to accelerate your career? Don't think your path to success will be the same as your male coworker's. A new book out this week, Accelerate Your Impact: Action-Based Strategies to Pave Your Professional Path, by technology expert JJ DiGeronimo, sets the course for women looking to advance in tech. In a Forbes article, DiGeronimo advocates for hard work and risk taking while also acknowledging that cultural fit is a crucial component of success. "Much of what I have learned over the last two decades in tech-based roles and companies is that my contributions, attitude, relevance, managers, mentors, sponsors and project alignments are as important to my professional growth as the results I deliver," she writes. A strong proponent of stepping out of your comfort zone, DiGeronimo has outlined a plan of attack for women ready to tackle biases and embrace their full potential. See below for her playbook. (See Intel's Keddy: Move Beyond the 'Comfort Zone'.)

    Ignore the 80s self-help graphics; this might harbor some useful info!
    Ignore the 80s self-help graphics; this might harbor some useful info!

  • Speaking of white men in suits, an interview on IT Business Edge, titled "Why White Men Hold Key to Driving Diversity, Inclusion in Tech," opines that gender diversity needs to be "spearheaded" by white men. The interview is with Bill Proudman, founding partner and CEO of White Men as Full Diversity Partners, a consulting firm that focuses on building leadership diversity. "Proudman said that for the past 30 years, diversity has been looked at as an issue about women and people of color," but in fact, it really involves everyone. It isn't about taking jobs away from those who have traditionally held them, but rather choosing the person who is truly the right fit. "Changing that takes time, and consciously looking at how we've confused the best person for the job, with the person we're most comfortable with," Proudman says. Talk about unconscious bias! This is definitely a read that we recommend. (See WiCipedia: Should Men Be Included? & Olympians Face Discrimination.)

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

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