This week in our WiCipedia roundup: Vodafone takes the cake for most positive campaigns for women under one roof; International Women's Day and A Day Without a Woman coincide; flexibility and mentorship reign supreme; 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!
We celebrated International Women's Day this Wednesday with a range of activities, from celebrating to protesting. What stood out most this year was that the day coincided with A Day Without a Woman, a political event encouraging women not to go to work, girls not to go to school, to boycott male-owned businesses and only support businesses that are small and women and minority owned; basically, a day to show the world what a mess it would be if women weren't around. Social media exploded with announcements of school closures and images of women taking to the streets with signs and slogans. The jury is still out on the mass effects of this major strike, but we'd say the message was loud and clear. (See Happy Women's Day: How Are You Being Bold for Change?)
Protesters in San Francisco
This might be one of our favorite signs.
(Source: SF Gate)
What do women want? Flexibility. Computer Weekly analyzes a UK study that finds that "76% of women in tech believe flexible working encourages staff to stay with a firm longer." While this is no big surprise, many companies are slow to implement work-from-home and flexible hours arrangements. The article states that a current skills shortage may encourage more companies to make the flexibility plunge.
Computer Weekly also reports that those same women craving flexibility were once girls looking for mentorship. The article states that "More than 60% of girls have admitted they would like to see more encouragement from women who are coders, developers and lab scientists," from a study by Microsoft. We heard about one excellent way to do that this week in the form of free housing for undergrad women in tech in Seattle. "The TUNE house is in its third year and offers eight women free housing, laptops and weekly grocery delivery from Amazon Fresh. The company also provides mentorships with the women living in the house." Count us in! (See Making Mentoring a Priority and WiCipedia: The Case for Grit, Don't Call It Quits & Lawless Politics.)
In the wake of Uber's sexual harassment case heard around the world, Tesla is stirring up dust with its own discrimination suit. The Guardian reports that the fancy electric car company is being sued by current female employee AJ Vandermeyden for gender discrimination, including lower pay, being passed over for promotions and ignoring concerns that were raised. "Currently, all chief executive positions are held by men at Tesla, and out of more than 30 vice-presidents, only two are women. 'It's shocking in this day and age that this is still a fight we have to have,'" Vandermeyden added. This is just one of many lawsuits as of late, spurring USA Today to title a new article about the widespread scandals "Silicon Valley's dirty little secret: The way it treats women." (See Uber Engineering SVP Out as Probe Continues and Uber's HR Nightmare: Company Investigates Sexual Harassment Claims.)
The new hot word is "ambitious," or so says Hollywood. The New York Times ran a piece this week about fashion designer Tory Burch's "Embrace Ambition" campaign, which features a cadre of notable women, including tech mover-and-shaker Melinda Gates. The campaign aims to dismantle gender bias and reclaim the word ambition as something that women can and should embrace. Actress Reese Witherspoon, a spokeswoman for the brand, said, "I can think of a lot of dirty words. Ambition is not one of them." In a similar article on Well + Good, actress Sarah Jessica Parker also promotes the word ambition in "an all-female panel of documentary filmmakers and subjects at last week's #ActuallySheCan Film Series premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival." SJP says, "There's so much about success in our culture, there's such a white hot spotlight on money and arrival, but this process [of development] is one of the most gratifying parts of the work... [It's] the quiet period of learning and making mistakes." Share your thoughts in the comments to let us know if "ambition" needs some reclaiming to rebrand the word in a positive light.
Re: Ambition It was refreshing to see Vodaphone India's move for better equality at work, but not so that Tesla is still hanging behind noting that "all chief executive positions are held by men at Tesla, and out of more than 30 vice-presidents, only two are women." Pretty astounding that it's still taking so long for some major companies to get it right.
Re: Seattle house It's a great concept. Liberated of household bills (and grocery shopping) must really allow these young women to focus on their studies and skills. I'd actually like to see it expanded to include minorities of any gender. That would be fantastic.
Re: Ambition As the mother of a teen daughter who's highly ambitious, I'm proud that my husband and I use this word positively around her and encourage her to aim high and work hard. But sadly you're right, Kelsey, that it's not the norm. When I saw news about this campaign I was both glad it's created and sad that it's needed. Society has changed the perception of and reaction to many words: It's time we did the same for the negative connotations associated with 'ambitious' and 'aggressive' for women. What other words could we add?
Seattle house I think this free housing for women in undergrad tech idea is so great! Seems really unique and like it could be done on a much bigger scale, and also for women in expensive cities just starting their careers.
Re: Ambition Kelsey, I really like your take on this. There are a few issues happening here I think. One is that there are a number of words that have double standards for men and women, ambitious being one of them. The other is that lately it does feel like there's an expectation among women that we need to be ambitious and want to be CEOs, and that's just not the case for everyone. I like how you talk about the flexibility of this word and meaning whatever it is that you want it to be in a positive light.
Ambition It's so frustrating that for men to be ambitious is "good" and for women to be ambitious is suspect. There are so many stereotypes surrounding ambitious women, for example, that to be an ambitious woman means to have an aggressive personality and to put their careers ahead of their responsibility to their family. The worst part is, there's plenty of woman-on-woman shaming. There's no "safe" place for a woman to be in -- a stay at home mom is considered not to have a job (when raising little humans and managing a household seems plenty hard) and working women are blamed for neglecting their family.
So, yes, I do think the word "ambition" needs to be reclaimed in a positive light, and women should be respected for whatever they choose to be ambitious about -- whether it's being a stay-at-home mom, working part-time or working full time.