This week in our WiC roundup: the case for a 'women's situation room' in elections; the future of women in STEAM; what makes a company work for women; and more.
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Here's something many of us may have needed during the recent US presidential election: a "women's situation room." Ghana is currently in the midst of its own presidential election, and Airtel Business, an offshoot of Airtel Ghana, is hosting a space, both physical and online, where a team will work to "empower women and the youth to be the leading force for democracy and peace before, during and after presidential elections across the African continent." Any polling discrepancies or violent outbursts will also be reported to the group, Modern Ghana reports. Perhaps most importantly, a call center will be available for anyone to "report incidents, violence, voting anomalies or violence against women at their polling stations in real time." (See Facebook Focuses on Women's Safety Online .)
The Huffington Post and Ford teamed up to create an infographic that illustrates the potential for women in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) between the years 2018 and 2030. While women currently make up only 29% of STEAM employees, by 2018 there will be 2.4 million jobs in the industry up for grabs, and with some forethought, women could be filling those positions at a higher than average rate. The clickable image lays out how to immerse girls in tech one step at a time to make sure they see STEAM as a career option by the time they are ready to enter the workforce. Click here to see the interactive infographic below in action. (See WiCipedia: After-School Coding, Salary Probing & Pro-Parenthood Companies and AT&T Exec: It's Time to Stop Fearing Tech.)
Software development company ThoughtWorks is officially one of 2016's top companies for women in tech, according to the Australian government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency. While you might expect one of the mega heavy-hitting social media companies, such as Facebook or Twitter, to take top honors, ThoughtWorks has set itself apart due to its CTO of software development, Dr. Rebecca Parsons. Having experienced sexism and discrimination herself and seen it happen to female colleagues in the workplace, Parsons set out to eliminate unconscious bias. "'Men and women are both harder on women than on men,' and much more needs to be done to change that, especially in the traditionally male-dominated fields of STEM," The Brisbane Times quotes. ThoughtWorks is one of 106 Australian companies that have been voted best for gender diversity and equality. You can check out the full list here. (See Why Diversity of Geeks in Tech Matters.)
So what does it take for a company to be a place where women feel welcome? Business News Daily analyzed a report in which two factors became apparent in regards to what women in tech want: mentors and equality. Women listed "supervisory relationships" as most important for "feedback, communication and availability," three attributes that women in tech do not find readily available in the office. "Fairness and voice" were equally important. The opportunity to be heard, evaluated and treated equally is also something that women in tech struggle with on a day-to-day basis. While these workplace wishes seem out of reach for many women, we at Women in Comms certainly do not consider them far-fetched. (See Women in Comms: Looking Ahead to 2017.)
Finally, how can companies get women to stick around? The MIT Technology Review looked at a study from this summer out of the Harvard Business Review and found that there's very little disparity between men and women's interest in engineering, but the dropout rate for women once they were working in the industry was skyrocketing. The article also referenced the noteworthy Elephant in the Valley survey, and stated, "The majority of women surveyed (all working in Silicon Valley) reported workplace harassment, biases, intrusive questions about their family lives, and negative judgments on their attitudes." If all you want to do is write code and build things yet every day at work you're confronted with invasive comments and questions, it makes sense not to stay. The real question is, what can we do about it? (See Tales From the Valley: Bias, Sexism & Worse.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading