Women In Comms

WiCipedia: UN Calls for Women's Access to Tech & Men's Bad 'Tudes Halt Diversity

This week in our WiCipedia roundup: "Race-based ticket pricing" fuels outrage; UN calls for tech access for women; negative men are a barrier to women in tech; and more.

  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, celebrated International Women's Day this year by advocating for women's access to technology. At a UN event on behalf of the holiday, Mlambo-Ngcuka stated that access to affordable Internet and mobile phones is just as important as access to clean water and healthcare for women around the world, ABC News reports. "We have made progress toward gender equality. We have more women in significant roles, but we're still leaving many, many more women behind," she said. "Sometimes we even lose the gains that we've already made. And that is why we are emphasizing the importance of innovation and technology." International Women's Day sparked many new initiatives from forward-thinking companies across the world last week, many of which are programs with the intention of helping girls enter the tech industry. You can see a list of new initiatives on CNET. (See WiCipedia: Internet by Bicycle, Pay Gaps & Misogyny in the Valley and HPE Launches Interactive Game Teaching Young Girls Critical Cybersecurity Skills.)

    A Seat at the Table
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, speaks at the  United Nations headquarters at the UN Observance of International Women's Day event. 
 (Source: ABC News)
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women, speaks at the United Nations headquarters at the UN Observance of International Women's Day event.
    (Source: ABC News)

  • A tech networking event in Toronto sparked right-wing outrage recently when the hosts announced that they would utilize "race-based ticket pricing." The Rebel, which appears to be an all-white male privilege site that only links to itself, explains that the Latinas in Tech Panel charged twice as much for white men to attend the event than women of color. Seeing as how the event was specifically intended for black and indigenous people of color, we're guessing that the policy didn't affect too many white men. However, critics still felt that the policy was attempting to fight racism with racist policies. How do you feel about tiered ticket pricing by race, gender, age or any other identifier? (See WiCipedia: Hardwiring Sexism, Brogrammer Culture & Wall Street Fearmongering and WiCipedia: A Female-Only Island, Gender Quotas & Twitter's Oprah.)

  • There are many barriers for women in tech, yet one study has found that "male attitudes are the biggest barrier to gender balance in the technology sector." Based on a study from Trainline for International Women's Day, IT Pro explains that 33% of men and 39% of women reported that men's negative attitudes about diversity in tech was a huge hindrance to their career. This extended to new parents too, with 44% of parents with children under one year saying that they did not feel respected or welcomed at work by men. Yet nearly 70% of both male and female respondents said they "would perform better in meetings with more balanced teams." (See WiCipedia: Careers After Kids, Int'l Women's Day & Minority Founders.)

  • A new Women in the Workplace report by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. found that one in five women reported that they were often the only woman in the room at work. Career Contessa explained that the statistic extended to race and sexual orientation as well, with 45% of women of color as the only person of their race in the room, and 76% of lesbians as the only people of their orientation as well. Since women make up only 30% of the tech workforce, these stats aren't completely alarming, though that doesn't make them OK either. "There is a disconnect in corporate America," Sheryl Sandberg wrote about the report. "Year after year, companies report that they are highly committed to gender diversity. But the proportion of women in their organizations barely budges. For this to change, companies need to treat gender diversity like the business imperative it is." (See WiCipedia: 'You Are Either Sexually Objectified or the Housewife' – MWC19.)

  • A segment on 60 Minutes last week may have "oversimplified" the gender gap and the work of women in tech, EdSurge explains. The show, which draws 11 million weekly viewers, wrongly stated that Code.org Founder Hadi Partovi -- a man -- was the single leader of the movement, devoting his career to getting girls and women involved in tech, which many found "irresponsible, insulting and painfully ironic." Though female founders were interviewed for the segment, producers ultimately decided to focus on a man whose accomplishments, though great, were less focused on the many issues of getting girls into the industry and retaining them as adults and more focused on computer science access for all. Two female founders, Reshma Saujani of Girls Who Code and Ayah Bdeir of littleBits, both penned response articles about their experiences with the segment to set the truth straight. (See WiCipedia: 'It Takes One Misstep to Fall Off Your Pedestal'.)

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

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