Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Open Source Favoritism, Fairygod Bosses & Crooked Credit Checks

This week in our Women in Comms roundup: researchers uncover bias in open source contributions; a fairy-god boss reviews the female-friendliness of your employer; why being female can hurt your credit score; and more.

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  • A good way to judge gender dynamics in open source is to take a look at GitHub's 12 million-deep user base and the code they pull for projects. That's exactly what some American computer scientists recently did, and they found out that women's contributions were accepted more often than men's, but only if they had a gender neutral profile. When their gender was obvious, their code was accepted markedly less. Arstechnica has a good breakdown on the methods the researchers used, which led them to the conclusion that there are likely a few dynamics at play here:
    • survivorship bias: as women progress in computer science, only the most competent ones remain by the time they begin contributing to open source, which might not be the case for men;
    • self-selection bias: the average woman in open source may be better prepared than the average man as evidenced by the fact that women in open source are more likely to have Master's and PhD degrees;
    • women are held to higher performance standards than men;
    • there is bias against women, either overt or unconscious, in the open source community.

  • Do you ever wish you had a "fairygod boss" looking out for your next career move? It's a real thing, apparently! Fairygodboss.com's goal is to be the "guardian angel of your career" by providing reviews of different employers, specifically about how female-friendly they are, defined by generous maternity leave policies and a positive work-life balance. The site has more than 9,000 reviews on over 7,000 employers. From this data, it has learned that -- not surprisingly -- higher job satisfaction comes from longer maternity leaves, more flexible work hours and a work environment in which women feel they are treated as equal to men and see other women in top management positions. (See Vodafone: Flexible Work Policies Boost Profits.)

  • In case it's not bad enough that women are, on average, paid less than men, our credit scores may suffer because of it. According to Credit Sesame, men's average credit score is 630 out of 850 compared to women's score of 621. Men actually also tend to have higher levels of debt and higher credit card balances, but -- given their higher salaries -- they use less of their total available credit; 19% for men and 21% for women, the credit analytics company says. It's discouraging news, considering that women make 78.6% as much as men on average, Fortune points out, and that gap isn't expected to be narrowed until 2059. (See Intel Closed the Gender Pay Gap in 2015.)

  • Accenture has become the latest company to release its diversity numbers, including that its workforce is made up of 36% women. But its view of diversity goes beyond just gender and race. It also noted that it employs 1,450 people who self-identify as persons with disabilities and 1,000 veterans. In addition to committing to transparency, Accenture's North America CEO Julie Sweet said in a press release that the company would reward those refer diverse candidates for hiring. "One of the immediate steps we are taking is asking our people to help increase the diversity of our applicant pool in the areas where we need the most focus: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, women and veterans," she said. (See Intel Hired 43% Women, Minorities in 2015.)

  • Further proof emerged this week that having women in leadership positions is simply good business. The Peterson Institute of International Economics and Ernst & Young International surveyed nearly 22,000 companies across the globe and came to the conclusion that going from having no women in corporate leadership to a 30% female share is associated with a one-percentage-point increase in net margin, which translates to a 15% increase in profitability for a typical firm. Of the 22,000 firms it surveyed in 2014, almost 60% had no female board members, half had no females in the C-suite and fewer than 5% had a female CEO. It reached the conclusion that more should by studying the profitable firms in its sample. The impact of having more women in the C-suite was greater than that of having a woman on the board or as the CEO. (See Ericsson CMO: Diversity Is Critical to Transformation.)

  • Twitter Inc. has found itself in the hot seat, much like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers before it. A former engineer, Tina Huang, is suing the company for discrimination in what she says is a culture where women are systematically denied advancement. Huang alleges that men dominated the senior positions in her software engineering division and that when she complained to then CEO Dick Costolo, she was placed on indefinite leave. Twitter calls her lawsuit baseless and fired back that her colleague Sam Pullara, who Huang says can back up her claims, may have violated an employment contract with Twitter by helping Huang find a new job. (See Tales From the Valley: Bias, Sexism & Worse.)

    — Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

  • Mitch Wagner 2/16/2016 | 6:45:01 PM
    Re: It's not just GitHub When Twitter imported an actual 19th Century pioneer log cabin from Dakota (or someplace like that) to decorate its cafeteria, I figured the company jumped the shark. 

    As we say on Twitter: #wtf?

    danielcawrey 2/15/2016 | 5:30:19 PM
    Re: It's not just GitHub Is it just me or does it sound like Twitter is a pretty disfunctional place to work? I have a hard time understanding how they will survive in the future, and it seems like operationally they are always having problems. 
    Sarah Thomas 2/12/2016 | 6:40:25 PM
    Re: It's not just GitHub Indeed. And whether a non-compete contract was violated or not, they are clearly using that counter-suit to try to deflect from the real issue here.
    Steve Saunders 2/12/2016 | 6:16:06 PM
    Re: It's not just GitHub In other commentary... Seems like reality is finally catching up to the Twitter clown car. Quite the mess.
    Mitch Wagner 2/12/2016 | 5:32:30 PM
    Re: It's not just GitHub Makes sense to me. Certainly the women I cited were all put in place in companies in trouble. It's hard to get ahead when you're starting from behind. 
    Sarah Thomas 2/12/2016 | 1:30:09 PM
    Re: It's not just GitHub I thought the reasoning for why women may be more competent were interesting as well -- you tend to work harder when you have something to prove. 

    With CEOs, I'm sure it's very much a case-by-case basis, and there aren't that many women to point to to test the theory. There has, however, been research that suggest women are put into CEO positions in a crisis or when a turnaround is needed, so starting from that base can make it hard to be successful -- at least right away. What do you think?
    Mitch Wagner 2/12/2016 | 1:07:33 PM
    It's not just GitHub It's not just open source. I've observed that women in male-dominated fields (such as telecoms and STEM) are likely to be more competent than their male counterparts.

    In the CEO suite, that rule seems to break down; the high-profile CEOs I'm aware of in tech don't seem stellar: Fiorina, Rommety, and Mayer to name three. I know there have been studies (which we've reported on -- one later in this same article) demonstrating the contrary. Perhaps low-profile female CEOs are more likely to be more successful?

    I exclude Meg Whitman from the list of less-than-stellar female CEOs. Ask me again when we have time to see how the HP/HPE split plays out. tbh early signs are not looking great. 

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