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WiCipedia: Lyft Assesses Diversity Growth & Melinda Gates Tackles Gender Imbalance

Eryn Leavens

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Lyft's latest diversity report; a Gender Manifesto relapse; flexible work becomes a necessity; and more.

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  • Lyft Inc. will not go the way of Uber , that much is clear. The ride-hailing company has released its latest diversity report, which by and large shows growth for minorities at the company -- with some caveats. Fortune reports that female technical staff members are up 3% since last year, bringing the percentage to 21%. Yet somehow C-suite female employee percentages have gone down by nearly the same amount, as has the overall percentage of women at the company. Lyft says it is fully aware of its shortcomings and putting plans into place to continually improve them. As Fortune puts it, "The report doesn't show tremendous change across Lyft, but it does suggest that the company is paying attention to diversity as it grows." (See Tech Leaders: Diversity Critical to Product Dev and WiCipedia: Uber Hires New Diversity Exec & AI Comes for Jobs.)

  • Melinda Gates is back at it again; that is, pushing the envelope for equality, CNBC reported in an interview with Gates. She has traveled the whole world yet finds the US and the tech sector in her own backyard need much of her attention due to a gender imbalance in the innovations that affect so many of us. Back in 2015, Gates founded Pivotal Ventures, which funds startups founded by women and other minorities. The articles explains, "Pivotal Ventures is ... studying gender gaps in industries that have an outsize impact on society, including tech, and looking for ways to invest and act as a catalyst for change ... 'Women are so underrepresented in the technology sector in the United States, and yet tech is pervasive,' Gates says, emphasizing the importance of getting girls at the high school level interested in technology. 'That first computer science class in college is too late,' she says." (See WiCipedia: Boardroom Diversity, Bombastic Mansplaining & Women of Color.)

    The 'Impatient Optimist'
    Melinda Gates wants to solve all of our problems. (Source: Vanity Fair)
    Melinda Gates wants to solve all of our problems.
    (Source: Vanity Fair)

  • It's a Gender Manifesto déjà vu: A Pisa University professor, Alessandro Strumia, who was speaking at a workshop organized by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, was caught on tape saying, "physics was invented and built by men, it's not by invitation." BBC News reports that Strumia was speaking at a gender and high-energy physics workshop, of all places. CERN took offense at the statement, though the professor defended his statement and has said he was just stating facts. The article on BBC News states, "One study, he [Strumia] told his audience, indicated that 'men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people' and another, he claimed, suggested that there was a 'difference even in children before any social influence'." While CERN has refuted the statements, clearly there needs to be more oversight at conventions of presentations, before the presentation. (See 'Ladysplaining' Ex-Googler's Anti-Women Memo, Google Fires Engineer Over Gender Manifesto and Netflix's Lesson in Culture Expectation Settings.)

  • Orange France has created a new program to support female entrepreneurs, a press release announces. Women Start, founded in May, aims "to encourage the creation of startups founded by women in the technology and digital sectors." From more than 300 applications, nine winners were selected by Orange -- two from Africa and seven from France -- to join the accelerator program, which provides monetary funding, managerial support, mentorship, work spaces and "high visibility," another press release states. Orange France is a small part of the larger network in this program, which has selected 350 woman-run startups total. (See WiCipedia: Int'l Telecom, Emerging Industries & Back to School.)

  • Companies are finding that flexible work arrangements are transitioning from nice-to-have to necessary, especially for women in tech. The Times and Democrat says that the goal of balancing work and home life -- while always tough -- has reached peak difficulty, and also importance: "With the rising cost of child care and rigid work schedules, achieving work-life balance is becoming difficult for many women in the workforce, according to Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan research company. But it seems that workplace flexibility for mothers is increasingly important to companies today." We don't think it's too far off in the future that a majority of companies where employees do desk-bound work will offer flexible schedules and work-from-home perks. (See WiCipedia: Moms at Work, Ageism in Tech & Girls in Boys' Clubs and WiCipedia: Moms as Breadwinners & Black Panther a Win for WiT.)

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

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