This week in our WiCipedia roundup: What does it take to be a woman in tech?; How much do you need to make to live in a top tech city?; Why should young women enter politics? We've got answers.
Women in Comms will be hosting its first networking breakfast and panel discussion on Wednesday, March 22, in Denver, Colo., ahead of day two of the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference. Register here and join us!
Jane Miceli, co-founder of Girl Develop It, says women in tech need one thing to be successful in STEM, and it's not a college education -- it's grit. Idaho Stateman interviewed the women in tech pioneer about her stance on sexism in the workplace, implicit bias and how to be successful in a world that isn't rooting for you to succeed. The ex-HP engineer of Boise has encountered plenty of setbacks in her career, including an unsupportive boss who told her to stop talking about women in tech because "You don't want to get labeled as one of those people." She also got flack for starting an organization for girls in tech, particularly from men who didn't recognize the gender bias and wanted an exclusive group of their own. Though Miceli doesn't claim to have all the answers about how to create a more equitable environment for girls in STEM just yet, she always tells girls interested in the field one thing: "It's hard. It doesn't make a lot of sense. But you are going to power through." (See Why Diversity of Geeks in Tech Matters.)
While it takes grit to be a woman in tech wherever you're located, it gets even rougher when the top salary you're pulling in is all going to your landlord. Recently, Statista broke down just how much it costs to live in major tech cities around the world. Surprise surprise, San Francisco comes in at number one, with a single tenant requiring more than $86,000 per year to afford rent. New York City is only a few thousand behind at $82,600, then there's a sharp drop with the next most-expensive cities topping out in the $60,000s. Those high-level tech salaries make more sense when your job requires you to live in an inflated housing bubble, don't they? Check out the full graph of rents in tech cities below.
How Does Your City Stack Up?
The Seattle Times reported this week that Melinda Gates nearly left her position at
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) in the early days due to being one of the only women in the office. In the late 80s when Gates started at the mega-company, "she loved the work but not the acerbic, male-dominated culture. 'I almost left because of that,' she recalled. But she found that by treating people well, she was able to create one of the most sought-after groups within the young company." Now, Gates is at the top of her game and not slowing down a bit. While still dedicated to her lifelong pursuit of helping women and children in developing countries, she's also all hands on deck in Pivotal Ventures, her under-the-radar organization which is currently focusing on increasing paid time off for maternity. Just think what would have happened if Gates had called it quits at Microsoft! (See WiCipedia: Hiding Gender to Slip By vs. Flaunting It to Flourish and WiCipedia: Rise of the Female CDO & Adidas Flip Flops.)
An article in Quartz this week alleges that the gender gap in computer science comes down to marketing in the 1980s. While the 1970s saw an upward trend of female computer science majors, that number is currently at an all-time low, despite a higher-than-average job growth prediction for computer scientists. While there are many factors (the article points out that "In states like Mississippi, Montana, and Wyoming not a single girl took an AP-level computer-science examination in 2014," which we find shocking), marketing may be the root cause. The article cites one of the earliest Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) computer commercials, which markets the large devices primarily to boys, and early computer games that were also only geared towards boys. Check out Apple's formative commercial below and let us know in the comments if you think marketing like this impacted the role gender plays in STEM now. (See WiCipedia: Diversity Awareness & Schooling Brogrammers.)
Apple Circa 1985
Somehow we were expecting a punchline.
A recent Panoply Media interview with Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University, discusses why young Americans -- and young women in particular -- aren't interested in working in politics, and more importantly, why they should be running for office. Though there are 500,000 elected positions in the US available, "89 percent of high schoolers say they've already decided they will never run for office[,] 85 percent doubt elected officials want to help people [and] 79% don't think politicians are smart or hardworking." Fortune reports that Sheryl Sandberg is also entering the political sphere by working with three female governors,
Deloitte Development LLC and Girls Who Code to "share best practices and come up with new ways of increasing girls' interest in tech." After all, how can we expect change if we aren't the ones creating it? (See WiCipedia: Debugging the Gap, GE's Gender Pledge & #ShePersisted and WiCipedia: Small Steps Forward, Big Step Back.)
Re: Surprises It was interesting comparing SanFran to Miami as an example of how much the costs of living might vary, especially if one if renting. If it's true as noted a "single tenant requiring more than $86,000 per year to afford rent," one would have to really think hard about moving to such an city despite a seemingly good salary. Maybe living a good distance away with a longer commute would make better sense? Might be interesting to compute costs x number of miles away from city center?
Re: One Exception to the Politics Trend Thanks so much for the kind words, @Eryn. One secret ingredient, at least in my daughter's case, is her huge interest in history. Combined with a strong sense of ethics and the belief you can change the system, she plans to first go into law - especially civil rights law - and pursue a political career from that basis. I think we, as a country (although it certainly happens elsewhere), have become cynical about politicians (from all parties) and as parents we share that with our kids. No wonder they don't typically view politics as an attractive career. I hope she keeps her optimisim, as well as her dedication and work-drive, because that's what makes a huge difference.
Re: One Exception to the Politics Trend This is so great, Alison! I was thinking earlier today about how many young people are into "activism," yet politics isn't seen as part of activism though it's really the sector that creates the most change, for better or for worse. It's silly that more young people aren't interested in being in politics because they only see it as something that's black and white. I like your daughter's initiative!
One Exception to the Politics Trend Proud to say my 17-year-old daughter plans a political career. It's something she's considered for several years - and wants to take all the way. She's going to major in poli-sci and history in university, then plans to move to Manhattan. I've told her about Emily's List and other organizations that encourage women on both sides of the aisle to enter politics, and am glad to learn some new names here. Thanks - and sharing! (P.S. that is her in the picture when we were both much younger!)
As a Bay Arean, I'm not at all surprised by the rent stats. From a first-hand, non-scientific standing, SF is tiny (almost 48 square miles and not even a million residents vs. NY's 306 square miles and 8.4 million residents in 2013), crazily overpopulated and running out of housing. Even people who work in tech are living three to four to five or more per apt., and competition is pretty fierce to score one of those apts. I do think that other things, like food, are more expensive in NY though, considering how much of it we grow here. Haven't been to Hong Kong, but again, it's much larger at 406 square miles and 7.2 million residents in 2013.
Re: Surprises That stat about computer-science exams from 2014 is pretty crazy and hopefully the numbers have improved since then.
I had to laugh at that Apple commercial. Anyone else notice Brian cutting up in class and picking on the girl next to him while she's trying to use her own computer? Certainly was no mention of the sky being the limit for her career; the narrator only focused on the endless possibilities for Brian.
It was a little surprising to see SF ahead of places like NY and Hong Kong in terms of rent costs. I would have thought NY would be first, then Hong Kong, and then SF.
Surprises Two things really surprised me in this article: 1. That "not a single girl took an AP-level computer-science examination in 2014" in several states -- how is this even possible?! 2. "79% don't think politicians are smart or hardworking" -- I could see teenagers thinking that politicians aren't good or authentic people, but I'm not sure where "they aren't smart" comes from. I can only think of one example of that, and he's certainly conniving, which is its own type of smart at times...
On the other hand, definitely not surprised by SF rents. I'm living it!