This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Short skirts and bright colors get attention; few tech jobs for women in Mass.; an out-of-the-box UC Berkeley commencement; and more.
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Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank fame has landed herself in the deep end with her recent comment about getting attention as a woman in business. Her controversial Tweet stated: "I find running a #business in a man's world to be a huge advantage. I wear bright colors, yank up my skirt + get attention." Her intended message, that women should use what they have to get ahead, just as men have historically done in other ways, upset many people who argued that women should not be using their sexuality in business and that the comment was demeaning. (See WiC Pics: Speak Up & Wear Fabulous Shoes.)
While Massachusetts is a leader in employing tech workers, most of those workers appear to be men. The Mass Technology Leadership Council deduced that the number of tech jobs in Mass. grew by 17,283 positions total between 2007 and 2014. Surprisingly, men filled 16,919 of those roles, which left women a measly 364 jobs. While we might have expected some disparity between the number of men and women filling tech-based positions, this is just wrong. It seems like this state, which is one of the top states for tech companies in the US, has some reevaluating to do in the HR department. (See Intel Hired 43% Women, Minorities in 2015.)
A first-of-its-kind nationwide test is measuring how K-12 students are performing in tech. The results proved that girls fared better than boys by three points across the board, though the overall results had the majority of all students (43%) falling into the "proficient" level, as opposed to truly excelling. Dr. Vince Bertram, president of Project Lead the Way, stated, "There's this perceived gender bias in STEM, which discourages girls from pursuing technology and engineering. The test shows that this can be changed if we get to girls early enough in school, before the gender bias sets in." (See A Man, a Mission & an Underwater Flashlight.)
While Uber might lead the pack as the taxi substitute of choice in the US, Didi Chuxing wins the race in China. In just a short year and a half, female President Jean Liu has catapulted Didi Chuxing to the top and averted a taxi war in the process. In China, less than 10% of people have cars, so many rely on buses and ride-sharing services to get just about everywhere, which creates a huge market (and, ahem, traffic congestion!) for companies such as Didi, which has miraculously fended off an Uber invasion. Liu isn't done innovating yet though. The company's biggest goal is "that within three years [they] are going to serve 30 million people a day, by helping them get a car, a bus or any transportation [including other shared vehicles] within three minutes."
Sheryl Sandberg, renowned Lean In author and de facto career inspo, gave the commencement speech at UC Berkeley last weekend. While part of the speech comprised the expected "You can do it all!" message that all new grads need to hear, Sandberg mostly talked about the recent unexpected death of her husband. She reminded students that when Plan A fails, there's always a Plan B: good advice in these competitive times. The main takeaway seemed to be that while we can certainly "have it all," we probably won't win every battle, and that's OK.
— Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading
Re: Shark attack It is amazing what she has been able to brand successfully since the Shark Tank program and her many appearance here and there on news and entertainment programs. It may not be so much as skirt and colors as the ability to get media exposure that will most likely give her more profitable exposure than her legs.
Re: Shark attack I have a feeling by "short" she actually means "knee length," based on pics I've found of her.
I completely understand what you -- and many of the women who opposed her tweet -- were saying. I may be the minority in that I think whatever someone does (within reason, as in not hurting anyone or doing anything illegal) to achieve success is just fine. I think men have done many questionable things to achieve success and if Corcoran wants to show a little (ahem, lower) leg to get more publicity or hold someone's attention, more power to her. As long as she's the one in control, I don't see a problem with it. But I do see both sides.
Re: Shark attack That is just my take on her career -- but, who knows, maybe she attributes it all to her legs?! I hope not though. I think it sends the wrong message.
I also think that both men and women need to dress professionally in professional settings, which you often don't always see in the tech (and especially journalism industry). You only get the respect you demand.
Re: Apple invests I guess I just thought they would rather support the larger American company, but it makes sense given their manufacturing in China. Makes them look good if they're supporting local (though not exactly small!) businesses.
Re: Shark attack While I think times have changed somewhat (not in enough ways though) since she climbed the corporate ladder, her success was a result of making smart business choices and savvy high-risk, high-reward investments that ended up paying off...not using her sexuality. She does herself and her extremely impressive career a disservice by implying otherwise.
Re: Shark attack Sarah, I get what you're saying, but she's obviously getting ahead with her own advice. How do you think the same advice propels her ahead but sets others back? Or does what makes her successful have nothing to do with her short skirts/bright colors tactics?