This week in our Women in Comms roundup: Should men attend women's conferences?; women still minority in finance and advertising; sexism at Rio Olympics; and more.
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At Women in Comms, we're now all about come one, come all policies for our networking events, but everyone doesn't feel quite so inclusionary. Women in Tech Day at Gamescom 2016 in Germany was for women only, with the intention of creating a "safe space" where women felt they could speak freely. A male writer over at DW took this exclusion hard, feeling that he missed out on worthwhile talks and could have benefited from attending. "We need men to engage with this issue, which, like it or not, concerns us all as people in societies. So why would you shut men out as a principle? Don't you risk 'ghettoising' women in tech?" Do you think men should be excluded from women in tech events or should they be part of the discussion? (See WiC: Change Starts With Women, Must Include Men and Join Women in Comms, Intel, XO, Vodafone, Windstream & Zayo for Breakfast in Denver and don't miss our next breakfast in Denver on September 14.)
Ever wonder how the IT field became so male-dominated? The Huffington Post has detailed the evolution of IT careers and explained how there are somehow fewer women in the field than there were in 1970. The confounding, interesting and not so coincidental conclusion is that when women flock to an industry, it falters. "When women enter a field, its perceived value suffers a decline; when men enter a field, it grows in prestige. Gradually, the image of the ideal tech worker has become that of a white guy in a hoodie working nonstop at a computer. Women have become increasingly alienated from that scenario," according to The Huffington Post. The graph below details the decline of women working IT jobs, which appears to be instigated by the tech boom of the early 1990s. Standard Examiner also looked into the low percentage of women in IT roles, and found that presently, many jobs are going to foreign-born, male workers who receive lower pay because of their visa status. (See Intel's Keddy: Move Beyond the 'Comfort Zone', WiCipedia: Rise of the Female CDO & Adidas Flip Flops and WiCipedia: Hogrammers, Cleavage & Finding a Niche.)
If you thought the sexist and discriminatory experiences of women who work in tech were bad, the stories of women in finance and advertising are sure to alarm.
The Financial Times reports that two thirds of women who work in asset management experience sexism at work, and one quarter of women have endured sexual harassment. This mainly comes to a head in the bonding, or "extracurricular" activities, of male employees, which by nature are not geared towards women. Silicon Angle, on the other hand, uncovers that only 11% of creative directors in advertising are women, despite the fact that there "are more young women graduating from portfolio centers than young men." Kat Gordon, an advertising creative director and advocate of getting more women into the field, says that while there are women prepared for careers in advertising, "We hemorrhage them right when they are most valuable ... If two people have the same kind of background, one of them is redundant in the idea-making sessions. So you need that otherness. You need that discomfort." (See WiCipedia: Facebook's LGBT Stats, Broettes & 'Tiny Lady Hands'.)
Tech related or not, we can't close out this WiCipedia without mentioning the Rio Olympics. While most of us have been glued to our TVs watching the seemingly superhuman feats of these superstar athletes, some of those athletes have been battling sexism at the Games. Many online sources, including Fusion and Well + Good, have been closely following the pointedly sexist comments by newscasters. "Fox News panelists debated whether female Olympians should wear makeup or risk looking like 'washed out rags'," Fusion stated, while a judo match was described as a "catfight" and trapshooter Corey Cogdell was referred to not by name but as the "wife of a Bears' lineman." Let's give these incredible athletes the respect they deserve. After all, more women than men competed in this summer's Olympics, according to USA Today. (See Comcast Shows Off Rio in HDR... in Philly and How CSPs Are Competing in Rio.)
Silicon Valley, that tiny bubble of tech greatness in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, is somewhat of an enigma for those who aren't entrenched in its sea of coders and hoodies. Hollywood has caught on to the appeal in the last few years with shows such as Bravo's Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, which follows kooky and quirky Valleyites in their quests for career success and love. The show even touches on the different ways that men and women are perceived in the Valley, Bravo reports, albeit in a slightly condescending way. Paste Magazine has weighed in with its analysis of the accuracy of HBO's iteration, also titled Silicon Valley. Regarding the lack of women on the show, Dan O'Keefe, writer and co-executive producer for the show, says, "Women are under represented in tech and it's very unfortunate but the show is a satire of reality. You can't show that when it's not happening, we'd be irresponsible if we did." (See From Ass Kickings in China to Kicking Ass in the Valley and Tales From the Valley: Bias, Sexism & Worse.)
Re: Washed out Rags... It still seems moeny is really the issue. Management wants to get the most bang for the buck and whoever they can hire to do that seems to the be rule, with the emphasis on paying as little as possible. It folks from other countries can be imported at lower cost that's where the money goes.
Re: Women-only Spaces/Conferences Just saw this interesting post on trans people in tech, and a not so encouraging salary comparison. Still seems that slow progress is being made, especially in the Bay.
Re: Women-only Spaces/Conferences Hi Heather! We got distracted by National Dog Day. ; )
I'm definitely a proponent for both women-only and everyone welcome events. Living in the Bay Area, I guess I take for granted that trans people are welcome at women-only gatherings, but obviously that isn't the case. Love the gender-neutral bathroom idea. I think it can be difficult in an industry that is relatively male and white to not only be welcoming to women but also to the LGBT community and other minority groups because that might be even more foreign to them. It's certainly the goal though.
Women-only Spaces/Conferences I felt like this discussion was getting buried as part of the other thread, so I thought I'd start one to focus on it because specifically it's certainly something that's often on my mind, especially as someone who organizes open souce events.
I think the answer is that both provide value, and what you do depends on your specific goals. Women-only spaces do provide a respite and place where women in a male-domnated space can relax and share stores and seek for and give support. They can form networks and bonds that can be useful to them as they navigate the more difficult world outside. Obviously there is value in that.
On the other hand, discrimination is part of larger social reality and creating change in the world does require engaging with everyone. Helping men understand some of the issues we face and working with them to change is obviously key in making a concrete difference.
Someone else said in one of their other responses that both can be ideal. I also think that the current state of a community, what the most pressing needs are, and what problems and successes are the most pressing mean that there's no one-size-fits-all answer, but I'd certainly love to hear others' opinions.
Finally, one thing to keep in mind about women-only events and spaces is that they can have a negative effect on trans and non-binary gender identities, and that's also something I try to keep in mind as well. At LinuxCon this past week, there was a gender-neutral bathroom, which is definitely something I'd like to see more of and you can expect at the next OPNFV Summit.
Re: Washed out Rags... Why do any of those things even matter?! That's the silly thing. They've trained long and hard to get there based purely on athletisim and the media is going to focus on hair and makeup?! Something doesn't add up... This isn't just live entertainment, it's the Olympics!
Re: Washed out Rags... @Eryn In regard to the conference, I hadn't thought about it that way, good point! It'll be interesting to see what they decide to do next year if they host it again.
You hit the nail on the head about the Olympics - I agree, the bigger underlying cultural issue is that many newscasters didn't realize their comments were inappropriate. Gymnast Gabby Douglas can't seem to catch a break - last Olympics her hair was a source of debate and this time people gave her flack for the way she stood during the award ceremony.
This week in our WiC roundup: Coding school teaches kids to help others with tech; '90s TV reigns supreme even in the everything-automated age; computer science programs may have more accountability soon; and more.