This week in our WiCipedia roundup: how men can become allies; automation may steal your job; women hotly recruited to tech boards; and more.
Interested in joining Women in Comms on our mission to champion change, empower women and redress the gender imbalance in the comms industry? Visit WiC online and get in touch to learn more about how you can become a member!
WeWork may have spurred the recent rise in co-working spaces, but the Wing is the newest no-boys-allowed option on the map. Bloomberg reports that the Wing, located in New York City, is a throwback to the popular women's clubs of the 1950s, where women could go unaccompanied for "self-improvement and social reform." While the Wing does provide a co-working space, it also provides plenty of luxuries, such as beauty services and lattes in undeniably posh and feminine surroundings. And the Wing isn't alone; several other spaces dedicated solely to successful working women (with membership fees to match) are popping up around the US with many notable members in fashion, tech and music taking notice. "Women are craving community, connection, and confidence, and that's what we're going to give them," says Stacy Taubman, founder of Rise Collaborative, a similar type of workspace slated to open in St. Louis later this month. (See WiCipedia: Should Men Be Included? & Olympians Face Discrimination.)
Getting women on company boards was a hot topic in 2016, as "only 15 percent of board seats were filled by women" in Silicon Valley, according to The New York Times. That may all be changing in 2017. The article attributes the sudden increase in companies recruiting females to intense public pressure on mostly male tech boards, resulting in fierce competition for the most recognizable names in the game. "Boards are looking at diversity across multiple dimensions, such as gender, ethnicity, age and unique skill sets. If you can bring a number of these different attributes and perspectives to the boardroom, you'll be in high demand," according to David Chun, chief executive of Equilar. This is definitely a step in the right direction compared to the days when having an all-white, all-male board was the norm. (See SBA Leader: It's Time to Get Women on Board and Tech CEOs: Gender Diversity Not Top Priority.)
If you're a man and think that women's success in tech is purely a female problem, think again. TechCrunch suggests that male allies are more important than ever, but that the word "ally" is actually a verb. "The title 'ally' is earned. Being an ally is an action, not a noun. If you're on the sideline thinking about how sensitive and aware you are, you're not an ally. You have to take action, and drive impact. And really, you're not a male ally until women in tech identify you as one," says Jennifer Manry, vice president of Enterprise End User Computing and Access Management at Capital One and a leader in the Male Allies program there. While this may be a tall order for men to get involved in an issue that doesn't directly affect them, check out Capital One's video below for tips on how male allies can take a stand to diversify the tech space. (See Mentor Monday: OPNFV's Kirksey Brings Men Into WiC and Should Men Attend Women's Conferences? )
Automation is the future of many industries, and the fear of jobs being taken away from actual humans is great. It turns out that this affects women more than men though. The Next Web says that while some new STEM jobs will be created in the near future, it's not nearly enough to make up for the jobs that are being replaced by automation, especially for women. "Unfortunately, STEM fields will still only create one job for every four it loses -- and that's the best-case scenario, for men. For women, the numbers are far more worrisome; they stand to gain only one job for every 20 lost." While this is not good news for women who would like to keep their jobs, it's an incentive to gain new skills and compete with the coming robot nation. (See How to Speak Knowledgeably About the AI Threat and WiCipedia: How to Make Companies Work for Women.)
You've heard time and time again how important it is to have a mentor if you're a woman in tech, but what if you don't have access to a mentor? We've got the next best thing: advice. Forbes compiled nuggets of advice from 11 successful female entrepreneurs, engineers, venture capitalists and scientists, and while they are all unique and inspiring quotes, they often hit the same notes. Here's the Women in Comms CliffsNotes: Explore, grow, follow your passion, learn, be confident and take initiative, and you just may find your own success story. (See Mentor Monday: Meet the First 65 and Marcus: Own Your Ambition; Stay the Course.)
Re: the price to co-work It will be interesting to see how automation and machine learning will actually affect employment or the coming years. While the male/female ratio is changing, how will it really turn out in the future as the push moves forward for more equality and pushing forward STEM for all.
Re: the price to co-work Automation is a very scary thing. For some people, there's probably nothing that can be done, and jobs will be lost. For the proactive, however, I think there's an opportunity to build skills that cannot be taken away. That's what everyone should be doing, but it might fall to governments to push people in that direction.
Re: the price to co-work From what I remember, the kitty cheesecake shots were put up by DeusM back in the Darker Ages and had nothing to do with Light Reading. But maybe somebody remembers differently.
Re: the price to co-work An event lasts a couple of hours -- a male-free safe space is a bit different. I mean, if we're going to get all takin-it-to-the-streets about gender-specific restrooms, how does that align with penis-free office areas? As for kegs and ping-pong, I agree: These are environments that are not only banal and cliche but also demeaning for all employees, including the ones who make use of those "amenitites."
Re: the price to co-work I'm still trying to figure out who to talk to in order to get some of those giant kitten decals for my home office. Dennis, is that your dept? ; )
I totally agree about having options that are just for women and also for everyone. There's value in safe spaces and there's also value in bringing everyone together, but in tech, that's hardly a 50/50 split so those "co-ed" happenings will always be mostly male events where women are a small minority, if present at all.
I agree with Kelsey that the Wing price seemed pretty fair. It sounds like a lot for a whole year but for somewhere you're going every day or a few times a week, it's a pretty good deal, especially for all the swanky perks. It's a co-working space but it's also a social club, salon, networking space and continued learning center all rolled into one. I just think of it as equivalent to a fancy gym membership. You just have to actually use it to make it worthwhile!
Re: the price to co-work It's the same logic as women-only networking events. The industry is so male dominated, it's not something that happens often, so it's a unique opportunity to network, meet like-minded individuals and feel comfortable, which some women might not always when they're one of few. It's a different energy and atmosphere. I don't think it's productive to always be separate whether its in events or co-working spaces, but I don't have a problem with their being options designed for both. And, some might argue that traditional co-working spaces with their kegs and ping pong tables do favor one sex over the other in their design...
That's why the old Light Reading office in NYC had huge cat pictures on every wall. It made everyone equally uncomfortable, regardless of gender.
Re: the price to co-work At this point, I know I shouldn't be surprised at anything -- even calls for re-segregation from groups that have been discriminated against. "The World will be a better Place/When we all have our own Safe Space."
Re: the price to co-work Well, when you put it that way, maybe it's not so expensive! I guess it depends if you are a startup/individual paying your own way or if you work for a large company that is paying. I would think a lot of large companies that have work-from-home employees might offer this as an expensable perk.
I would love to sneak a workout in during the workday, but I agree that it could be a distraction more than anything. Co-working spaces are great for networking, but they also need to be about the primary purpose -- work -- right? The more fun they try to make them, the more it seems to move away from that.
I haven't worked at one before, but I did go to some of the events that 1871 in Chicago offered. That was an awesome perk outside of regular business hours -- community, incredible speakers and learning and networking opportunities.
Re: the price to co-work @Sarah I was actually surprised the Wing is only $185/month and includes co-working space + amenities like free coffee, snacks, etc. Plus it's in NY where I would expect it to cost more. In NC, I found a few co-working spaces and one is $150/day for a private room; another location is $300/month. I recently read this WSJ article about the rise of co-working spaces incorporated into gyms. What are your thoughts on that model? I'm not sure I'd be able to concentrate with all the noise.