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Women In Comms

WiCipedia: Uber's Catalyst for Change & Trump Signs STEM Bills

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: AT&T celebrates diversity; Trump signs two bills into place for women in STEM; women leave tech 45% more than men; and more.


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!


  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is leading the telecom commitment to change with its recent leadership panel on celebrating diversity at the flagship store in San Francisco, The Huffington Post said. Chief Strategy Officer and Technology and Operations Group President John Donovan, who has been with the "132-year-old startup" for three decades, said, "I grew up with seven sisters, and three of them already had perfect SAT scores before I could take the test myself. I'm dedicated to partnering with organizations like Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code to encourage more women to enter STEM fields." Stressing the need for everyone in the industry to possess STEM skills, Donovan pledged to continue a focus on "multi-ethnic and multi-generational employees" and lifelong learning, particularly through an online coding school Udacity. (See AT&T Exec: It's Time to Stop Fearing Tech and AT&T Releases 2015 Diversity & Inclusion Report.)

  • In case you need another reason why Canada trumps the States, just look to its workplace diversity numbers. Fortune reports that the Great White North places a heavier emphasis on gaining capital for women-owned businesses, has more gender-neutral (and forward-thinking) politics and hires larger numbers of women to fill the upper echelons of companies. A recent meeting specifically about workplace gender diversity between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put the spotlight on the countries' differences and what the US might be able to take away from the comparison. Though many of the changes needed to bring the US up to speed are too large to expect anytime soon, the meeting nudged Trump to sign two bills into law this week that "authorize NASA and the National Science Foundation to encourage women and girls to get into STEM fields," CNET details. (See WiCipedia: Fintech Flexibility, Snap Missteps & Women of Wearables.)

    Supporting Women in STEM

    Get all the info on the two new bills for women in STEM signed into law here.

  • Uber's very public undressing last week has reverberated from tech companies to news outlets and left the company (and the industry at large) in an UberPool of embarrassment. The Sydney Morning Herald says the event is a "wake-up call for Silicon Valley," and also reports that many other companies in the area are trying to get ahead of the news. "If you're a CEO in Silicon Valley, and you haven't yet emailed your whole company, or at least your leadership team, about this, you're behind," diversity consultant and CEO of Paradigm Joelle Emerson shares. Uber board member and general (lady) boss Arianna Huffington confirmed that while the Uber harassment scandal was certainly regrettable and unforgivable, it may also be the shove towards equality that tech companies need: "Change doesn't usually happen without a catalyst. I hope that by taking the time to understand what's gone wrong and fixing it, we can not only make Uber better but also contribute to improvements for women across the industry." (See Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims and Uber Engineering SVP Out as Probe Continues.)

  • IEEE Spectrum reports that the University of Connecticut has made major inroads to increasing STEM gender equality by doubling the amount of women in its engineering department since 2009. The root cause? Marketing the program to K-8 girls. Daniel Burkey, associate dean for undergraduate education and diversity in the school of engineering, says, "We have a whole variety of outreach programs that span the whole K-12 space. Programs that really try and go out and speak to underrepresented populations at all levels pre-collegiately in order to show them what engineers do, show them positive role models in engineering that look like they do, show them how engineering makes a positive impact on the world socially and environmentally." This is just more proof that it's never too early to be a mentor or find a mentee. (See Mentor Matters, 3 Qualities of Leaders, Mentors & Mentees and Mentors Among Us: 65 Inspiring Women in Comms.)

  • With everything that women have to tackle to work in tech, from sexual harassment to a general lack of support, it's no surprise that women leave the industry at the staggering rate of 45% more than men. Forbes explains that unconscious bias, "bro culture" and a lack of paid time off for life changes are the leading causes in why women leave the industry, with "family" being the frontrunner. It also stresses that for all the negative attention that Silicon Valley gets for big tech companies' treatment of women in the workplace, the Valley truly is paving the path for women to succeed in a male-dominated field, "but that's a low bar to be passing." (See WiCipedia: How to Make Companies Work for Women and Women in Tech Leadership Declining – Survey.)

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

  • kq4ym 3/14/2017 | 8:58:48 AM
    Re: Catalyst for change The more things seem to change the more they also seem to stay the same...while understanding the obstacles noted; "unconscious bias, "bro culture" and a lack of paid time off for life changes are the leading causes in why women leave the industry," getting that culture to change seems to be taking way too long. It will be interesting to watch our current executive branch and how their leadership may hamper or encourage more postive movement.
    Kelsey Ziser 3/3/2017 | 9:35:44 AM
    Catalyst for change Will be interesting to see what plan NASA comes up with to encourage girls and women to participate in STEM. From the video, sounds like they have 90 days to come up with a plan that they'll present to Congress, and that plan will likely expand on current programming for NASA Girls and NASA Boys.

    Arianna Huffington made an good point about the Uber debacle in that it often takes a catalyst to spark change. I just started reading "Feminist Fight Club" and the author explains how nowadays sexism in the workplace is subtle and pervasive which makes it hard to both point out and explain to male colleagues.

    Unfortunately, as Huffington points out, it can take an obvious case of sexism to spark change. Looking forward to uncovering more advice on the subject in "Feminist Fight Club" -- could we start a WiC virtual book club?
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