This week in our Women in Comms roundup: The richest women in the world; Bill and Melinda Gates aim to end workplace disparity; the rise of the female CDO; and more.
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Forbes has released the 2016 edition of its America's Richest Self-Made Women list this week. The list runs the gamut from women in entertainment to fashion, and of course, technology. No one was surprised to see heavyweights Sheryl Sandberg (number 14) and Marissa Mayer (number 33) leading the way, and big companies such as Facebook and Oracle also got a good amount of page time. Telecom's own Jayshree Ullal made the list at number 30, but the number one spot went to a woman in an even more male-dominated field than tech or telecom: construction. Diane Hendricks of ABC Supply, the largest wholesale distributor of construction supplies in the US, is worth a reported $4.9 billion.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed to donating $80 million to advancing equal pay between men and women. They plan to spend the next three years accumulating data on wage differences and women in the workforce in order to uncover how best to allocate their generous donation, with the intent of focusing the funds on women in tech. Melinda Gates stated: "We cannot close the gender gap if we do not close the data gap. If advocacy for women and girls is about giving voice to the voiceless -- gathering and analyzing data is about making the invisible visible." (See CEO Chat With Bill Gates.)
One thing we think the Gates Foundation might find is that the expectations for appearances for men and women in business, and particularly in tech, are staggeringly disparate. An article from The Huffington Post this week drew attention to the well-known but ever-surprising differences between how Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg dress for work. While Zuckerberg's closet is filled with identical grey hoodies and... Adidas flip flops, Sandberg makes an impressive entrance in more formal businesswear and sky-high heels. Studies have shown that someone who puts effort into their appearance will often secure better jobs and advance faster, but does this hold true for both genders? While the research says yes, the pictures say no. (See WiC Pics: Speak Up & Wear Fabulous Shoes.)
This looks pretty easy, doesn't it?
We often hear about the dismal percentages of women who work in tech compared to men. Well, there's a new role in town, and women seem to have taken note. The job of chief digital officer (CDO) reportedly boasts more than 25% women, and while this may not be an overwhelming majority, it's a clear winner compared to the number of women in CIO roles: just 13%. CIO has a few theories as to why CDO positions are evening out the ranks a bit. First, this job mainly pulls from candidates who have a background in marketing, which is an almost evenly split career between the genders. Second, this particular role may allow for a better work-life balance than other c-suite positions. Third, digital is just cooler. While only 20% of companies currently employ a CDO, we think this may just be the way of the future. (See The Power & Struggle of Women in Tech .)
A new Girls Who Code video, titled "Why Can't Girls Code?," tackles head-on the stereotypes that prevent girls from learning how to code. Teenage girls talk straight to the camera and present their coding impediments. Our favorite? "When I'm not menstruating I'm ovulating, so there's no time to code." Girls Who Code states, "Several studies cite negative stereotypes and media portrayals as top reasons why girls are opting out of coding." We love the straightforward approach to combating these silly and outdated myths. Enough already! (See Girls Who Code to Host 78 Coding Days in 2016.)
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading