This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Female founders talk diversity; Saudi Arabia and Pakistan make small progress for women; and more.
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TheWrap's Power Women Breakfast in New York last Thursday brought together some very honest and upfront tech heavy hitters. Female founders and other movers and shakers got together to discuss the challenges of being female in tech, from feeling invisible as a woman in a male-dominated field to maternity leave. "Women are put in the 'diversity' bucket but we're 50 percent of the population. So why are we 'diverse'?" The Girl's Lounge Founder Shelley Zalis said. digitalundivided Founder Kathryn Finney commented, "If we're not involved [in tech], then we're not going to be part of the future." A scary thought indeed. (See Panel: Men Critical to Change Telecom Culture and 40% of Minority Tech Engineers Report Experiencing Bias.)
What's one way to hold women in tech back? Pay them 29% less than men from the get-go. A new survey found that "The average female tech worker only makes US$66,000 while the male makes an average of US$85,000," with the largest salary gap between workers in the 18 to 25 age range. While the pay gap shrinks as workers get older, women shouldn't have to work harder to make less at any point in their careers. (See WiCipedia: Young Women, Verizon Strikers Demand More and Happy(?) Equal Pay Day, Ladies.)
So now that women have been discriminated against from the start and paid less than male peers once they finally land a job, what's next? Don't even think about getting pregnant. The Observer compiled the stories of 12 women who lead startups to hear their experiences with starting families, growing businesses and fundraising, and the results were pretty dismal. Pressures to return to work immediately, stop working altogether or stop fundraising ran rampant, and women felt they had to hide their pregnancies. "While there are laws prohibiting discrimination against pregnant women when hiring, they don't apply to investors, who have been known to pass up investments because the CEO is pregnant." (See Vodafone: What's Good for Moms Is Good for Business.)
A very pregnant Marissa Mayer took the stage at last year's Fortune Global Forum. She spoke about how she wouldn't be taking time off throughout her pregnancy and would return to work shortly after giving birth instead of taking a maternity leave.
In more uplifting news, women-only mobile stores in Saudi Arabia are increasing, with female workers and technicians "manning" the shops, the Saudi Gazette reports. These shops not only give Saudi women more job opportunities, but they also allow women more ways to communicate if they are able to obtain cellphones on their own. "...there are 35,000 trained Saudis to work in the telecommunication sector," the article noted, not specifying how many of those were female. The Saudi Credit and Savings Bank offers loans up to SR200,000 (US$53,000) for telecom businesses. (See Saunders of Arabia and Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech.)
In another country where women have fewer rights than men, Telenor Pakistan is leading by example and making it easier for women to be an inclusive part of the workforce. Telenor reports that through their Naya Aghaaz (New Beginnings) initiative, women are given more opportunities not only to get hired but to succeed once they're part of the organization. Driving lessons, in-office childcare, mentoring and career advancement classes are all part of the initiative; a small but important part of the fight for gender equality in the second-worst country for women in the world, according to the Gender Gap Index by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. (See US Earns Top Score for Women Entrepreneurs.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading