Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Tech in Africa, Female CEOs & Bingeworthy TV

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: why you may want to consider a move to Africa; C-level women come out of retirement; encouraging your daughters to pursue STEM; and more.

Join Women in Comms for its upcoming networking breakfast in Denver, Colorado, on September 28, where we'll be tackling the question "What's the matter with the tech industry?"

  • It's easy to find articles suggesting alternative tech hubs to Silicon Valley within the US, but if you want a real opportunity to shine as a woman in tech, you might want to consider relocating to Africa. Almost half -- 46% -- of African ventures have a female founder, according to a report by VC4A. Entrepreneur suggests the reason is that the tech industry in Africa is still nascent, so it doesn't suffer from the same male-driven stereotypes as the US. Women in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Lagos are also accustomed to entrepreneurial activity through informal markets and cross-border trade and are comfortable with risk taking and selling, skills that translate well to the digital world, the site says. In more positive Africa news this week, MTN Group Ltd. is teaming up with Women in Tech Africa to teach girls to code mobile apps. The telco decided to focus on getting more young women coding after it only had males respond to its "apps challenge," so it's now offering camps specifically for females. (See Empowering Women in Africa – From the US.)

  • Want your daughter to pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) career? Better make "math" one of her first words then. Studies repeatedly show that girls get discouraged from STEM or at least lack exposure to it starting at a very young age. Sian Beilock, a cognitive scientist, president of Barnard College and mom to a six-year-old, offers some helpful tips on how to encourage young girls to pursue STEM. They include: talk about math and practice it at home, praise the effort made rather than grades, reinforce positive STEM attitudes and offer relevant role models to counteract the notion that STEM is just for males. (See STEMing the Decline: Scientists Appeal to the Next Generation.)

  • If the summer TV lull has you looking for a new bingeworthy show for the fall, and HBO's Silicon Valley isn't your cup of beer, Mashable blogger Adario Strange makes a strong case for Halt and Catch Fire to be next on your Netflix queue. The AMC show, now in its fourth and final season, takes viewers through a fictional recounting of the tech industry's rise and women's role in it. The latest season tackles both search engines and venture capital funding, and women play the roles of the most powerful VC, the inventor of the first search site, the lead on a VC firm's best innovation and the most talented coder. Strange writes that, "the reality presented by Halt and Catch Fire offers a powerful counter-narrative of how tech history might have played out in a tech industry somewhat less controlled by sexist norms (although sexism is still a challenge women face in the show)." We know what we'll be doing this weekend. (See Silicon Valley Writer Foresees End of Bro Culture.)

    Revisit tech's past that could've been on AMC every Saturday at 9 p.m. EST.
    Revisit tech's past that could've been on AMC every Saturday at 9 p.m. EST.

  • Back in the real world, one positive effect all the drama in the Valley has had is bringing successful female C-level executives out of retirement -- or at least one so far. Former Salesforce.com Inc. exec Linda Crawford announced this week she's coming out of retirement to take the CEO job at Helpshift, a gaming customer support focused tech startup. Crawford told CNBC that part of the impetus for her decision to take the top job at Helpshift was that, "The people who are recruiting, investing, are in large part men. We need to have more women." She says she's currently persuading two other female friends to come out of retirement to take on CEO jobs as well.

  • In other high-profile female CEO news, Hewlett Packard Enterprise 's Meg Whitman reiterated on the company's quarterly earnings call that she would not be leaving her post anytime soon. Whitman was thought to be a top choice to fill Uber's CEO vacancy after Travis Kalanick was forced out, but she ultimately declined or lost out to former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. She said on the call that she was called in late to the CEO search process, and thought Uber had an interesting business model -- disruptive in the same vein as eBay, but "in the end it wasn't the right thing." She restated her commitment to HPE and said there was a lot more to do and she intends to stick around and get it done. (See Uber's New Boss? Expedia CEO Is Chosen One.)

    — Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

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