Women In Comms

WiCipedia: 'Meternity,' Lemonade & Chores

This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Celebrate your favorite STEM teacher; the time suck that's holding women back from advancing in STEM; Beyoncé's "Lemonade" causes a feminist stir; 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!

  • If you can possibly look past the cuteness of National Pet Week, you may have noticed that it's also Teacher Appreciation Week. We talk a lot on Women in Comms about encouraging girls to pursue studying STEM and careers in tech, but the individuals making that possible are the real unsung heroes. The Girls Who Code organization has a teacher-training program titled Teachers Who Code, dedicated to training high school teachers to expand and enhance their coding skills. Make sure to thank your favorite STEM teacher today! And while you're at it, check out the #whyiteach tweets on Twitter for some heartwarming career inspiration. (See WiC Poll: Start Young to Improve the Pipeline.)

  • As DailyWorth reports, Melinda Gates is on a mission to shed light on the inequalities between how men and women -- especially young girls -- are expected to spend their time. She says, "In the US, girls do 100 hours more chores than boys in a year, and boys are 15% more likely to be paid for their chores. As these girls grow into women, they do three times more of the cleaning and four times more laundry than men." Even if we someday have equal pay, gender equality and limitless STEM opportunities for girls in schools, they will still be expected to carry more of a workload than boys and men in their home lives. How can women advance their careers and fulfill their ambitions when they're too busy taking care of everyone around them?

  • This energy drain may also be one of the reasons for the dwindling number of women studying computer science these days. This helpful infographic from the National Center for Women & Information Technology breaks down the barriers that are keeping girls from pursuing computer science in particular and in tech more generally. And here's another visual to display the truly dismal decline of computer science degrees for women. (See More Women in Tech Is Critically Important.)

  • Enter "meternity," the concept that all women should get a paid three-month sabbatical, not just those who are expecting children. The idea, based on a novel by Meghann Faye, has spurred many to share their strong opinions about this egalitarian concept. Inc. posits that because the drop-out rate for women in tech is more than twice as much as it is for men, the ability to take a company-sponsored leave of absence "may be one way to keep women from leaving the industry altogether." Others have argued that employees with kids should be given all the perks they can get in addition to normal parental leave, and that they shouldn't have to share any of the glory since they don't share the misery. Wherever you stand on this hot-button issue, I think we can all get behind the concept of a new pet owner leave of absence, dubbed "Pawternity." (See Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits.)

  • Unless you've been living under a rock this week, you've probably heard snippets of publicity around Beyoncé's "Lemonade" and the strong reactions about feminism and racism that ensued. Ms. Magazine calls it "the feminist manifesto we've all been waiting for," but it also started its fair share of Twitter battles (and one addictive computer game!) about discrimination and gender equality. So is this a step forward for women to be able to speak out about their experiences as minorities or an excuse for male chauvinists to spew their unsolicited opinions from behind the protection of social media? We're rooting for the former.

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

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    ErynLeavens 5/10/2016 | 4:37:08 PM
    Re: The reality of the drop in women in technology I love these suggestions! Especially the last two. The idea of picking the time that works best for you to get whatever you need to get done, whether that's at the crack of dawn or right before bed, is so important for anyone who is pressed for time yet needing productivity. Thank you so much for sharing!
    [email protected] 5/9/2016 | 5:08:06 PM
    Re: The reality of the drop in women in technology Yes I do -

    1.  Education and targeted experience results in learning that can never be taken away; it's as valuable as money in the bank if you use it the right way.  Develop that mindset and it will support resilience.

    2.  Time will pass regardless your circumstances; how you use that time is your decision - it took me 8 years working full time to get my undergraduate degree (without school loans) and the freedom I had to choose the right position for me was well worth the approach I took to avoid debt.

    3.  You need to find the most productive time of the day for you to invest in yourself and guard that time mercilessly.  I found that from 4:30 a.m. - 6:30 a.m. I could focus on my projects successfully.  I recognize that 4:30 a.m. is 4:30 A.M., but once I experienced a full week of daily uninterrupted, productive time, I began making steady progress, in this case, on my graduate work. Five years later, I had my masters. 

    4.  Plan, execute, celebrate.  For me, planning meant identifying flex time, childcare arrangements, and being resilient - conflicting schedules, priorities and deliverables required an emotional intelligence that took time to develop, but ultimately paid off in zen like ability to handle challenges and look to the support of others when I needed it, because I could not have accomplished this alone.


    ErynLeavens 5/9/2016 | 4:33:28 PM
    Re: The reality of the drop in women in technology Congrats on all that you've accomplished, vquinata! It sounds like you would make a good mentor for a young woman just starting a tech career. Having such a demanding career while raising a small child does sound challenging, but that comment actually sounds encouraging to me. I read it as, if you can figure out some time to devote to this project, there's nothing stopping you from achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. I do agree with you that finding ways to encourage women in STEM and make the pursuit easier for everyone is really the key to increasing the number of women working in tech. Do you have any ideas about how this could be done?
    [email protected] 5/9/2016 | 1:12:12 PM
    The reality of the drop in women in technology I realize that as an adult female who has been in the workforce for 20 years, I don't represent the demographic being addressed directly in the article.  However, like every girl and young woman, I have dreams.  I'm a business development executive supporting the technology staffing industry, but I also have a facebook page that just hit 1000 likes and I want to learn how to create both android and iOs apps to support my page.  I checked out Udacity and they launched a chat with me immediately upon loading their site.  I told them what I wanted to do and that I work full time and have a 7 year old daughter.  The response was, "if you can make the time to do so, it will be up to you."  I was immediately deflated.  But then I remembered what I learned while studying for my MS in Learning and Cognition - that for girls and women, resiliency and dealing with rejection/disappointment can be harder than it is for men.  My immediate thought was, OK, this chatperson is warning me and that makes me draw back from the opportunity.  But what if someone who KNEW the challenges had been my chatperson and talked about strategies for accomplishing what I wanted to do?  I'm not making them responsible for my success; I've been accountable for what I do my whole life; however, if we want to know why women turn away from STEM pursuits, it might help if we consider ways to encourage, strategies to find the necessary time, and ways to delegate other responsibilities for the short term.
    ErynLeavens 5/6/2016 | 6:24:02 PM
    Re: meh-ternity Great point, Kelsey! Those types of responsibilies do almost always seem to fall on women. It would be great if adults could implement some sort of "chore wheel" like kids often have. Maybe the responsibilities would be more evenly distributed then. I think it comes down to priorities and expectations though. Whoever wants the house clean is going to keep it clean, and if one person is going to consistently keep it clean then the other people will often just come to expect it. Good to look beyond the normal couple with children image though -- we don't all fall into that! And if you're doing everything yourself with no sharing at all, it's even more difficult, in some ways.
    Kelsey Ziser 5/6/2016 | 4:47:10 PM
    Re: meh-ternity Your paragraph that starts with the reference to DailyWorth reminded me of this blog on "kin keeping" which is the task of keeping up with planning family events, remembering to send birthday cards, keeping in touch with family, etc. that often falls on women http://pickanytwo.net/the-invisible-burden-that-leaves-moms-drained/

    Managing both work and a home is hard, IMHO it's tough even for couples without kids and for single individuals. We live in a busy world and I think delegating household tasks and reserving time for rest goes a long way - for women and men. To circle back on kin keeping, I'd just reiterate again the importance of delegating responsiblities and being OK with your partner handling tasks a little differently than you might. Lets share the load at home so we can excel at work!
    ErynLeavens 5/6/2016 | 4:36:42 PM
    Re: meh-ternity Thanks, Sarah! She doesn't know how to use a phone yet but we're working on it! ; )
    Sarah Thomas 5/6/2016 | 2:53:35 PM
    Re: meh-ternity Congrats on the new pup! I hope he makes an appearance on "Animals With Phones" soon!
    Sarah Thomas 5/6/2016 | 2:36:03 PM
    Re: meh-ternity I think that at companies of all sizes there will be times when certain team members have to pick up others' slack and hopefully it gets reciprocated. But, no, it's not fair for non-parents to have to do more work to accomodate parents. That shouldn't be happening and comes down to company culture and flexible policies. A non-parent can set their own boundaries without having to give reasons (aka I'm leaving at 6 today, even if it's not to pick up the kids).

    Good companies give time off to everyone for many life events, like dealing with an illness or family member with an illness, adoption, etc. It's to accomodate the very hard realities of what that time off entails, not to make anyone else feel punished.
    ErynLeavens 5/6/2016 | 2:27:52 PM
    Re: meh-ternity I just got a new pup a few weeks ago. Luckily I work from home, but if I didn't I would have definitely had to take my own vacation days off. So yes please to Pawternity!!
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