This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Parental leave is pressurized; the only woman in the room sees all; getting rid of cultural fit; and more.
Join Women in Comms for an afternoon of workshops and networking in Austin at the fifth-annual Big Communications Event on May 14. Learn from and engage with industry thought leaders and women in tech. There's still time to register and communications service providers get in free!
Emily Chang, famed author of recent "it book" Brotopia, was interviewed in Salon about "how women can save Silicon Valley." In the interview, she's asked about how tech would be different today if women had been more involved from the get-go, and her response was eye-opening. She said, "I interviewed people like Ev Williams, who is a co-founder of
Twitter, who told me he thinks if women had been on the founding team of Twitter, that maybe online harassment and trolling wouldn't be such a problem. Maybe video games wouldn't be so violent. Maybe porn wouldn't be so ubiquitous. There are so many ways that the world could be different if women had been there from the beginning. It's certainly impossible to prove 'what if' -- we'll never definitively know, but I think about all the women who never got a chance to start the next
Facebook or the next
Google, or the next
Apple, simply because they didn't look the part." (See WiCipedia: Brotopia Shocks, Revolar Protects & CES Disappoints.)
Emily Chang, Author of Brotopia
In a new survey on Indeed of more than 1,000 women in tech about company culture, it was discovered that 83% of women who work in tech feel pressure to return to work before their parental leave time is over. Despite being granted the allotted leave time, internal pressure makes them feel as though they need to return to work more quickly than planned, Recode summarizes. One of the major fears of not returning quickly enough is losing health coverage. Based on the same survey, Moneyish reports that healthcare tops the wishlist of women in tech, with nearly 70% reporting that great healthcare ranks higher than other "perks" such as ample vacation time. To top it off, fewer than 50% of women in tech feel they are treated equally compared to their male colleagues, reports Tech Republic. Many of the issues of equality came down to pay, parental leave and healthcare benefits. (See WiCipedia: After-School Coding, Salary Probing & Pro-Parenthood Companies and WiCipedia: 'Persona Non Grata' Tech Moms & the Refugee STEM Pilot.)
A recent interview with two African-American female CEOs -- Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of DreamBox Learning, and Kimberly Bryant, CEO of Black Girls Code -- on EdSurge, illuminates what needs to happen for young girls of color to have opportunities in tech. While 74% of young girls show interest in STEM, that number shrinks as they get older and real-life situations kick in. Organizations such as Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code and DreamBox Learning are creating opportunities for girls who might not have them otherwise. Bryant told EdSurge, "We absolutely must look at how current processes and systems disenfranchise women of color all along the STEM pipeline from kindergarten and beyond. The issues we face are systemic and require a multi-pronged approach which addresses everything from what images girls of color are presented with as STEM role models, how we train, educate and encourage girls of color in the classroom, to how women of color are recruited for STEM roles once they enter the workforce. There are numerous levers which need to be adjusted and disrupted in order to ensure that women of color are afforded both access and equity in STEM." (See WiCipedia: The Barbie & Unicorn Edition and WiCipedia: Moms as Breadwinners & Black Panther a Win for WiT.)
The term "cultural fit" has become something of a code word, meaning "looks like us, sounds like us, has the same background as us" in tech companies. This sort of mirroring often excludes others who bring as much or more to the table, but may make others uncomfortable just by being different. TechCrunch argues that eliminating this cultural fit may be the way to achieve diversity. The author writes that in recent years, cultural fit has become more important to some companies than actual skillsets, which is a bias that isn't benefiting anyone except the current employees. Getting rid of the cultural fit bias makes room for fresh perspectives and insights that might not otherwise be available in a homogenous office. "After all, the best person for a tech job may be the candidate who stands the farthest out from a tech company's crowd." (See A Women in Comms Glossary and Silicon Valley Writer Foresees End of Bro Culture.)
Nell Scovell, co-author of Lean In, author of the memoir Just the Funny Parts and former writer for The David Letterman Show and The Simpsons, spoke to Recode about her experience as the only female TV writer in the room. In a Recode Media podcast, Scovell spoke about the harassment she faced from male writers, and the sexism she saw others experience -- which most women, regardless of what industry they work in, can likely relate to. Scovell said, "For people working in the TV business, one of the big dangers is that toxic attitudes behind the scenes of one show can be contagious if left unchecked ... I think we need to spread around the discomfort more, because right now you have a select group that can really say anything they want in the room. Some of us have to look at our feet while they say those things." (See WiCipedia: Girls Code, Valley Shame & GE's Big Plan and WiCipedia: Tech in Africa, Female CEOs & Bingeworthy TV.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading