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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Supergirls, No More Excuses & Media Monitoring

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: A Down Under competition celebrates superhero girls; tips for how to find female execs; Motorola celebrates women in engineering; and more.


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  • We often associate New Zealand with sheep and breathtaking scenery, but surprisingly, the land down under has its own burgeoning tech scene, and it's making sure to support girls who want careers in tech from the get-go. Stuff reports that the Search for the Next Girl Superhero competition is coming to New Zealand and Australia from March through July and is open to girls ages seven through 17. The superhero challenge, which is a first this year in NZ, is "to build an app to tackle an issue in their community." More than 2,500 girls are expected to enter this year, and during the process of the 12-week competition, girls are mentored by women in tech and exposed to real tech life, including pitching, business plans and pricing. At least one team from NZ will be flown to California next year for the global Silicon Valley Technovation competition. The founder of the event, Australian Dr. Jenine Beekhuyzen, even writes comic books titled Tech Girls Are Superheroes, "based on women who have inspired Beekhuyzen throughout her life," and which support the competition. (See WiCipedia: How to Make Companies Work for Women.)

    We second that!
    We second that!

  • One way to defeat bro culture and make the workplace better for women is simply to hire more women. It seems so basic, yet this is tech's Achilles' heel; the industry just can't figure it out. YouTube Inc. CEO Susan Wojcicki recently wrote an essay in Vanity Fair about tech's recent sexism and harassment claims, and stated that though she was angered by the accusations of unfair treatment, she was also mad that Silicon Valley can't seem to just get it together. "I was also frustrated that an industry so quick to embrace and change the future can't break free of its regrettable past ... Employing more women at all levels of a company, from new hires to senior leaders, creates a virtuous cycle. Companies become more attuned to the needs of their female employees, improving workplace culture while lowering attrition. They escape a cycle of men mostly hiring men. And study after study has shown that greater diversity leads to better outcomes, more innovative solutions, less groupthink, better stock performance and G.D.P. growth," Wojcicki wrote. (See Silicon Valley Writer Foresees End of Bro Culture.)

  • The media plays a big part in how we view gender roles, for kids who aren't even able to read yet to C-suite powerhouses. And needless to say, the media is not always fair. A new tool from the Association of National Advertisers' Alliance for Family Entertainment (ANA AFE), a collective of the nation's largest advertisers, is hoping to eliminate gender bias in advertising. To do this, it will use GEM, a "module [that] measures ads and programming to help marketers improve planning choices and ROI," Business Wire says. "GEM measures perceptions of how female actors are portrayed in the media by asking consumers four key questions: What is the overall opinion of the female presented? Is she portrayed respectfully? Is she depicted inappropriately? [and] Is she seen as a positive role model for women and girls?" This undertaking is part of the #SeeHer campaign in consortium with The Female Quotient (TFQ), which aims to empower women and girls in the workplace. Shelley Zalis, #SeeHer co-founder and founder and CEO of TFQ, explains that women aren't the problem; the way media portrays women is the problem. (See Why Being a Person in Tech Comes First and Tech Leaders: Gender Diversity Could Add Billions to Economy.)

  • Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI) held a series of events for women in engineering recently for International Women's Day, and it's continuing its commitment to diversity with several new initiatives. A news release this week announces that along with generous education grants, Motorola Solutions' global Women's Business Council focuses on creating women-centric programs around the world. Its research and development center in Penang, Malaysia already employs 40% female engineers, far outpacing the rate of female engineers in major North American companies. Claudia Rodriguez, corporate vice president of devices at Motorola Solutions, says, "The objective of the global Women's Business Council at Motorola Solutions is to create an inclusive, flexible culture to connect and empower female employees to grow, maximising their results for positive impact to the business. We also work in the community to promote STEM education among female students globally." (See Happy Women's Day: How Are You Being Bold for Change?)

  • Tired of hearing excuses about why tech companies still aren't hiring women? So are we. Utah Business ran an article this week about this topic exactly, and while it's geared towards Utah companies, we think it's more of a broad-spectrum application. "One of the things that breaks my heart is to hear executives at the company say that they can't find talent, but for me to know that there are dozens of women execs looking for opportunities. That doesn't match up ... I don't believe the talent pool argument," says Sara Jones, COO of Women Tech Council. Jones advises being open and flexible when hiring new candidates by not creating make-or-break requirements such as certain degrees, and eliminating toxic environments that cater to men but not to the needs of women (helloooo ping pong table!). Her biggest tip of all? "Don't expect the problem to fix itself." (See WiCipedia: Eradicating Pay Gaps & Squashing Bro Culture and WiC: Beware the Glass Wall.)

    — Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, Light Reading

  • Kelsey Ziser 3/27/2017 | 4:41:02 PM
    Re: Ping pong ding dong @Paul a steal of a deal, for sure!

    @Eryn - The part about the Vanity Fair article reminded me of a section in the book "Feminist Fight Club" where the author says that even the "good guys" and some women exhibit sexist behavior as it's so deeply entrenched in our culture. Author Jessica Bennett says, "Recognizing sexism is harder than it once was. Like the microaggressions that people of color endure daily -- racism masked as subtle insults or dismissals -- today's sexism is insidious, casual, politically correct, even friendly. It is a kind of can't-put-your-finger-on, not-particularly-overt, hard-to-quantify, harder-even-to-call-out behavior that maybe isn't necessarily intentional, or conscious. Sometimes women exhibit it too. None of that makes it any less damaging."

    So yes, part of it is simple -- hire more women -- and part of it is for women already in male-dominated workplaces to find constructive ways to tear down the walls built by years of sexism, both overt and subtle.
    PaulERainford 3/24/2017 | 12:48:46 PM
    Re: Ping pong ding dong Judging from the photo, Zuck's technique is poor. Mark, I can supply coaching services for $4000 an hour. It's the going rate, trust me.
    ErynLeavens 3/24/2017 | 12:23:35 PM
    Re: Ping pong ding dong Zuckerberg agrees: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/03/09/ping-pong-night-out-tech-ceos-zuckerberg-houston-and-kalanick/98985578/
    PaulERainford 3/24/2017 | 6:32:21 AM
    Ping pong ding dong Hey, women play ping pong too you know! I used to play table tennis tournaments as a kid, and I can vouch that, in the UK at least, it's one of most gender-equal sports around. I know sexism is rife in tech circles, but don't blame it on the ping pong table.
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