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WiCipedia: Uber Hires New Diversity Exec & AI Comes for Jobs

Eryn Leavens
1/26/2018

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: The second Women's March brought out hundreds of thousands of women and some pretty great signs; Finnish telecom boss puts foot down; the "u-turn" factor in gender equality; and more.


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  • While Finland doesn't make it into Women in Comms news very often, the chairman of Finnish telecom company DNA, Pertti Korhonen, surprised us with his moxie this week when he withdrew membership with the Helsinki Bourse Club because of their stance on women. YLE reports that the Bourse Club is a networking association that to this day does not allow female members. The club is 100 years old and "models itself on the English 'gentlemen's club' tradition," which is another way of saying it's very stuck in its ways. According to YLE, "The ... club came under attack last year when various news outlets reported on its enduring policy of not allowing women to become members. The club also made a controversial statement at the time, saying that 'equality doesn't need to happen everywhere.'" Korhonen is the first member to leave because of the lack of inequality, though we hope he's not the last. (See WiCipedia: Badasses, F Bombs & Deodorant.)

  • The second Women's March dominated headlines all over the US this past weekend. NBC News explains that marches took place in all major cities and even in smaller towns, and protesters marched in the hundreds of thousands. The goal was specifically to promote voting this march around, and to oppose President Trump in general. One marcher told NBC, "Marching builds a sense of empowerment and hopefully that will carry over to voter registration and a persistent effort to turn this around. Because this is not acceptable." She carried a sign that said "How to survive Trumpism: stay informed, be vigilant, take action, VOTE." Witty and creative signs stole the show; check out some of our favorites here and below. (See WiCipedia: Vodafone Rules, A Day Without a Woman & Reclaiming Ambition and Happy Women's Day: How Are You Being Bold for Change?)

    The Signs That Made the March
    (Source: Mercury News)
    (Source: Mercury News)

  • Melinda Gates never seems to take a break from fighting the good fight. Her newest venture is to tackle the male-dominated venture capital (VC) world by backing Aspect Venture, an early-stage investor headed by Jennifer Fonstad, formerly of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Theresia Gouw, formerly of Accel. Business Insider says the fund has already amassed $181 million in funding and has backed more than two dozen companies in a range of industries. Roughly 40% of these companies have female founders, and while that's still not the majority, it's a lot more than a normal VC would back (the norm is about 16%). "Gates says she invested in Aspect's fund because of the company's track record in picking winners, as well as its willingness in 'backing diverse entrepreneurs whose potential the venture capital industry has long been blind to,'" the article states. The hope is that such a well-funded VC will be able to have a major impact in the diversity desert of Silicon Valley: "The rise of more successful female VCs is sorely needed in Silicon Valley, a counter balance to the decades where the Valley glorified a frat-boy mentality, rife with sexism and sexual harassment. The Valley's mentality has taken its toll." (See WiCipedia: Apple's Diversity Dilemma & Women Have Tech Edge, Study Finds, WiCipedia: Queen of Code, Female VCs & STEM Expectations and Ellen Pao Returns to VC to Tackle Tech Diversity.)

  • A new report from the World Economic Forum states that women will bear the brunt of the trends towards automated jobs in the future, says France 24. Titled "Towards a Reskilling Revolution: A Future of Jobs for All," the report makes a shocking claim that "the worldwide trend towards gender equality appears to have made a U-Turn, particularly in workplaces, where it now isn't expected to come to fruition before the year 2234." In addition, it claims that of the 1.4 million jobs slated to be "disrupted" by AI in the next decade, 57% of those jobs will belong to women, specifically those in admin roles, which are perceived to be easily replaceable by technology. The article stresses the importance of "reskilling" to ensure job security in the future. The report also notes that it's not all jobs that are traditionally held by women that are in danger, but those specifically in tech: "...some existing fields traditionally occupied by women, like care and home services, are at relatively low-risk in an evolving economy, but women are less of a force in science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs -- the STEM fields likely to thrive in the future." (See Automation's Advocates in Downsizing Denial and Qualcomm's Hayashi on Re-Imagining the AI Revolution.)

  • Will 2018 be a fresh start for the beleaguered Uber? Only time will tell. It's not giving up yet though, if hiring its first chief diversity and inclusion officer is any indication. CNET reports that Bo Young Lee will join the Uber team to tackle the company's many issues with gender equality and workplace culture. Lee has a background in diversity in financial services, another very male-dominated field, and seems to have high hopes that Uber can turn the ship around. Lee said in a statement: "As I was interviewing for this role, it became very clear that Uber is taking their cultural transformation seriously and truly wants to create a culture where every single person feels proud and heard. There's much more work to be done, and I'm excited to bring my experience to the table." (See WiCipedia: Uber's Charity Drive & Boys Buck Bro Culture, Uber Hopes Holder Reform Will Stop Implosion and Culture in Crisis: What's Next for Uber & Tech?)

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

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